The Mini PC is Evesham's second interpolation of the Apple Mac Mini. Like the original Mini PC, it uses a chassis crafted by AOpen, but this time it comes with a host of newer and more powerful components that make it a more formidable multimedia PC.
The Mini PC is less of a Mac Mini rip-off than its predecessor. It's the same approximate shape and size but is now finished in black. The sides have a tasty brushed-metal finish, but the glossy, flexible black lid won't appeal to everyone -- many may preferred an entirely brushed-metal look, or if the lid's colour was a more extreme contrast.
The front of the PC has a silver eject button, a bevelled Evesham logo and a translucent, elongated power button. This emits both blue and red LED lights, but the most impressive touch is a row of blue LEDs to either side of the button. These throb like the lights on KITT from the Knight Rider TV series as files are accessed from the hard drive. The effect is especially striking in the dark -- you won't want to hide the Mini PC away.
There's a range of input/output buttons round the back of the PC. Here you'll find DVI and S-Video outputs, an Ethernet port, a 6-pin FireWire port, a miserly two USB ports and three discrete audio ports. There's also the curious addition of an aerial socket for the integrated hybrid TV tuner.
The Mini PC continues where its predecessor left off by incorporating components designed originally for laptops. A range of processor options are available depending on which model you buy. The cheapest in the range, the standard £699 Mini PC, comes with a 1.66GHz Intel Core Solo (single-core) chip, while the fastest retails for £899 and uses a 2.33GHz Core 2 Duo chip.
Our specific review sample, the Mini PC Plus, sits a notch down from the top end. It comes with a 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 processor and 1GB of RAM, which is the maximum amount supported. These components are marshalled by an Intel 945GM chipset, which includes an Intel GMA 950 integrated graphics adaptor -- it's virtually useless for gaming, but fine for just about everything else, including movie playback.
Audio support comes courtesy of the chipset. The Mini PC supports 7.1 sound via its three discrete audio ports and includes an optical digital S/PDIF-enabled line-in port. Evesham provides a range of 2.1 (3-channel) speaker options at the time of purchase, but if you're serious about sound and have the space and inclination to install a 7.1-channel system, we suggest you do so -- the Mini PC is more than capable of handling one.
The Mini PC doesn't have much in the way of expandability. Trailing from an aerial socket at the back is a hybrid TV tuner, wedged into the PC's sole mini PCI slot. This can receive or record digital Freeview and analogue TV programmes, though you can't watch and record programmes simultaneously. It's theoretically possible to add a second hybrid tuner to one of the system's USB ports if you want to watch and record programmes simultaneously, but given the fact there are only two USB ports, you'll probably want to invest in a USB hub before you do so.