Now we get to move on to the more exciting stuff and get our first look at the system.
First impressions are great. After you unpack the ION 330 out of the box, which is packaged safely for shipping, you are greeted by the tiny system. It comes shipped with plastic covers on each side of the system to protect the fancy glossy finish.
As far as size goes, it's small - a capacity of only 2.5 liters. The exact dimensions are 195mm (W) x 70mm (H) x 186mm (L). Compared to the size of a Nintendo Wii, it is about double the thickness, as you can see in the picture above.
Looking at the front of the system, from the top we see the Blu-ray drive. On the left side front of the unit are some air vent holes, which extract hot air generated by the Atom processor. Moving over we see the ASRock logo.
One bad point from a usability standpoint that we discovered while testing is that there are no front accessible USB 2.0 ports. In our opinion this is a bad design flaw since it is crucial to have at least one USB port at the front of a system, not only for easy access swapping out pen drives, but also for USB receivers for cordless keyboards and mice. We were lucky in that we use a powerful USB receiver with our I/O Gear wireless keyboard and mice combo, but for those users products without as much range, they may run into issues by having the receiver plugged into one of the six USB ports on the back of the system. This could be remedied by using a USB extension cable, but you shouldn't need to.
We can see how ASRock wanted to keep the front nice and clean from a design prospective, but usability suffers a little here. Next time we'd like to see the same style, but with a couple USB 2.0 ports at the front, which could be covered by a small door flap design mechanism.
On the right side at the front of the unit is the hard drive activity LED which flashes in a nice orange color. To the right of that is the power on switch, which glows blue when the system is turned on.
On the back of the system we have from left to right - power, S/PDIF (optical) output, analog audio output jacks, gigabit Ethernet LAN port, six USB 2.0 ports, fan cooling extraction point, HDMI output and finally VGA output. Using the included HDMI to DVI adapter in the package, you also add in the ability for DVI output.
As far as noise goes, the system is super quiet at default settings at around 25db. We used the ASRock EZ Overclocking feature in the BIOS to overclock the Atom CPU from 1.6GHz to 2.1GHz and to be safe we increased the fan speeds by using the "Overclocking" fan speed option. This does increase the volume from the system, but it's not that loud and cannot even be noticed at all whilst playing a game or watching a movie.
We have a snazzy little box here and it is sure to impress. Just be sure to keep a cloth nearby as the glossy finish does mean that finger prints and marks add up real quick!