Reviews / Meivo - Computer Buyer-
» Computer Buyer says 4/5
Better known for its laptops, Rock has a new take on the home PC.
Rock may not be famed for its desktop PCs, but the Meivo is the company·s first attempt at the kind of system normally produced by the likes of Sony and Apple. The Meivo·s clear screen surround gives the system some definite style points, but it isn·t just a pretty face. The 22in display is practical for TV watching from a distance, and we also like the TFT panel·s vibrancy, which makes watching films and TV a pleasure. The screen has a resolution of 1,680 x 1,050, and the Meivo uses Windows Vista·s built-in Media Center to serve up content. The only problem with the monitor is that it·ll never be able to handle full-blown high-definition content: the basic HD standard, 720p, will be fine, but 1080-pixel content will never run in its full glory on this display. Apart from this, we·re hard pushed to find any flaws. The screen is driven by Intel·s venerable GMA950 graphics chip, which will cope with Windows Vista but not with any but the gentlest 3D games.
The 250GB hard disk is the minimum we·d consider for a media centre system. You might be all right for the first few weeks, but once you start recording a few TV shows every night you·ll hit the limitations of this capacity very soon. That goes double if you start buying films over the Internet and downloading them to your Meivo. The test unit also only had one TV tuner, so we could only watch or record a single channel at a time, not watch one while recording another. Rock·s specifications for the Meivo allow up to four digital tuners to be installed. It·s also a shame that the Meivo ships with only 1GB RAM as standard (ours had 2GB): this is adequate, but more memory makes a PC more responsive in Vista applications.
The PC itself is a success. It·s extremely quiet, and although you might hear it in a totally silent room, it·s definitely discreet enough to be used as a TV. The left-hand side of the case is host to a USB port, mini-FireWire, and four 3.5mm audio jacks, one of which is an S/PDIF port for use with the integrated Realtek 7.1 audio chip - so even though the system itself doesn·t have surround sound speakers, you can add your own and output audio to them. There·s also a memory card reader compatible with SD cards, MMC and Memory Stick, plus a PC Card slot for laptop-style add-ons. The other side is home to the built-in slot-loading DVD drive, which handles a full range of formats. There·s not much on the back of the box except for another nail in the Meivo·s HD coffin: there·s no HDMI port to connect to an HD TV.
The version that we saw was a pre-release sample, and had a storming quad-core processor, but the models that go on sale will have an Intel Core 2 Duo. This will nonetheless handle every task you·re likely to throw at it, although we weren·t able to run our benchmark tests to confirm the exact results.
Pluses and minuses
We commend Rock·s leap into the waters of the media PC - it·s a brave and worthy effort from a debut entertainment maker. But we can·t give the Meivo an unqualified recommendation without pointing out a few things you need to bear in mind. The 22in screen isn·t big enough to make it the only TV you have in your house, unless it·s a rather small house; and unless you can get a model with a much bigger hard disk and at least two TV tuners, you won·t be fully satisfied with your entertainment experience. It·s also worth remembering that Rock isn·t the only manufacturer selling this kind of all-in-one PC/TV. But the Meivo is a great example of slick design, and a very striking addition to any home.
Overall **** (4 Star): Compact, quiet and reasonably capable, this is a thoughtfully designed and tempting PC/TV.