beblu Pentium M component HTPC

Written by Wil Harris

December 13, 2005 | 10:40

Tags: #beblu #center #centre #component #htpc #media #pentium #review #system

Details

The case is designed as before, with ridged edges and a very matt finish. Thankfully, the build quality is much better this time around.

beblu Pentium M component HTPC Details beblu Pentium M component HTPC Details beblu Pentium M component HTPC Details beblu Pentium M component HTPC Details
The beblu mesh on the top no longer comes away from the casing, being secured with much stronger glue. The power button - which before slipped into the casing - is now also mounted fast.

The power LED is built into the top section of the ring around the power button, and the hard drive LED is built into the bottom, giving an awesome two tone effect. The front has the same USB and audio configuration as previously, with a mic in and a headphone out surreptitiously done. On the back of the machine, you can see some of the rear ports - audio, serial, PS2, 10/100 LAN, Gigabit LAN and the ports for the WiFi antenna, mains adaptor and the USB power for the DVD drive. Also on the back is the VGA out for the onboard graphics.

Internals

Moving inside, there are a few differences from the Epia version. The basic concept is the same: a mini-ITX board with a horizontally mounted TV tuner card slotted over the top. There is some power regulation circuitry at the front of the case, and a small - yet fairly quiet - 40mm fan blows hot air out of the case.

beblu Pentium M component HTPC Details beblu Pentium M component HTPC Details beblu Pentium M component HTPC Details beblu Pentium M component HTPC Details
A small Coolermaster fan cools the Pentium M chip. The chip inside is the same chip as used in the ultra-low-power Centrino notebooks.

On the board there are two additional SATA ports, meaning you could replace the included drive with a faster, larger version should you so wish. The included drive is mounted with rubber washers to ensure there is no vibration noise, and it's actually extremely quiet in operation - we couldn't really hear it working at all.

The chipset used is the 915 chipset from Intel, which in this form factor is effectively last-generation mobile technology. It's disappointing that beblu have gone with a motherboard that only accommodates AC97 surround sound audio. One of the great features of the Pentium M is that it can support the 945 chipset for Azalia high-definition audio for optimum sound quality, and this is extremely useful in a living room PC. If you're running the beblu system through some serious speakers, you will be able to notice the difference.

The tuner card is a single, digital tuner version. We're still waiting for a card that supports dual digital tuners, and we suspect that beblu are too. This system is not for those who want to record one channel and watch another - at least, not without cracking open the case and putting in a dual analogue tuner card instead.

We've already covered the workings of the LCD, and this version is the same. Worth noting is that the infra-red receiver is integrated, meaning you don't have to hang a USB one off the back.
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