Shuttle is best known for its small-form-factor PCs and bare-bones systems, so it was something of a surprise when the company branched out into the low-cost all-in-one market. With the X Vision X50, the company is aiming to dethrone the Asus Eee Top as the all-in-one nettop of choice.
The X50 is available to buy now from Ambros for £535.
The X50 is far smaller than one might first expect. Its screen is a mere 15.6 inches and, even with its relatively fat bezel, it only measures 391 by 327 by 36mm, which makes it approximately the same size as a flat-panel 15-inch monitor. As a result, the X50 isn't the sort of machine you'd necessarily want to sit in front of for extended periods, although it's fine for short to medium-length bursts of usage.
The X50 can be easily moved from room to room. The adjustable kickstand at the rear folds 180° and doubles as a carry handle, although it's just as easy to carry the 3.6kg chassis under your arm. The X50 has a rather low centre of gravity and can stay upright on its stand on surfaces as narrow as 4 inches, so you have plenty of freedom as to where you position it.
The X50's styling isn't particularly inspired, but neither is it offensive. Its glossy white plastic and sharp edges give it an austere, no-nonsense look. We're not massively keen on the thin blue strip of LED lighting the machine casts onto whatever surface it inhabits. It looks cool, but the feature is unashamedly 'inspired' by the blue light strip on the Eee Top. Worse still, the light can't be switched off completely. It can only be dimmed, and that could be annoying at night.
Connectivity on the X50 is pretty good, considering its size. It packs two USB ports on the left side and a further three on the right, plus a four-in-one memory card reader, Ethernet and three discrete audio jacks (line-in, headphones and mic). The left side of the machine is also home to an odd adjuster mechanism that lets you change screen brightness, the volume of the integrated speakers, and the brightness level of the LED light.
This is more complicated than it needs to be. Users are required to press the 'mode' switch to cycle between the aforementioned adjustments, which causes a corresponding blue LED on the lower front bezel to cycle between different settings. Once the LED is positioned beneath the icon of your choice, you hit plus or minus on the rocker switch to make changes. This system is easy to use once you get to grips with it, but it's not particularly intuitive on first use.
The X50 has a pretty decent specification for such a small, unassuming PC. At its heart lies an Intel Atom 330 dual-core CPU running at a frequency of 1.6GHz, and 1GB of RAM. The X50 won't win any speed records, but these components are more than sufficient given that the X50 is unlikely to be used for much multitasking. Some would even argue that the dual-core 330 is overkill, since the single-core Atom N270 is perfectly serviceable for the types of things you'll be probably be using the X50 for.
Storage is pretty average for this type of PC. The X50 ships with a 160GB hard drive, which will give you sufficient room to store an almost endless supply of recipes. It also affords you space to stash a couple of hundred movie files, should you wish to use the X50 as a bedside video-playback device -- not that it's particularly well-suited to that purpose.