Manufacturer: Viewsonic UK Price (as reviewed): £325 (Inc. VAT) With Windows 7 Home Premium, £235 (inc. VAT) Without OS US Price(as reviewed): TBC
Processor: Intel Atom 330 Dual Core 1.6GHz Chipset: Nvidia ION Memory: 2GB DDR2 800MHz
We were encouraged by the arrival of Nvidia’s Ion though, an integrated GeForce 9400 GPU integrated with an Atom processor it made such lofty claims as being the ideal media player or low powered games machine. Sadly though the first wave of Ion products underwhelmed us and despite being technically impressive, the end user experience was disappointing. HD Video was troublesome to accelerate on the GPU with sporadic file support and 3D gaming was, despite Nvidia’s claims, not really playable by anyone but Chuggy McChuggerson, lover of unplayably low frame rates at even the lowest of detail settings.
Click to enlarge - Nvidia's Ion platform and the single core Acer Aspire Revo promised a lot, but struggled to deliver a decent user experience with its features
It was all a bit disappointing really, but there have since been two very notable improvements in the world of ultra portable and ultra-tiny computers since; the use of dual core Atom processors and the recent release of Windows 7. Both offer significant benefits to this burgeoning market with the dual core Atom alleviating some of the performance and multi-tasking issues we’ve encountered on single core systems, in conjunction to Windows 7 helping to reduce a great deal of the bulk of Vista and make your operating system a more hardware friendly place. Not to forget the number of nettop friendly new features too.
Click to enlarge -DXVA was tricky to get working in Vista, and offered limited format support
Hardware accelerated video, one of the biggest selling points of Ion but let down by a lack of decent software support, has now been fully integrated into Windows Media Player 11, along with a huge list of newly supported codecs. Xvid, DivX, and a variety of high definition formats are now supported right out of the box, with DirectX Video Acceleration critically also now part of the Windows 7 package. This means that Ion systems running Windows 7 should be a doddle to set up a powerful media player with.