This review appears in the June 06 issue of PC Advisor, available now in all good newsagents.

Philips' Showline Media Center MCP9350i could be compared to the Sony Vaio VGX-XL100 entertainment PC we looked at a month ago (click here to read our review). However, this would be unfair.

The Philips has far more to offer, especially in terms of connectivity – it not only gives users just about every conceivable option for hooking up to a TV or monitor, but gives you the cables to do it. And if you want to use Scart or VGA, you have those options as well.

The Philips also beats the Sony in terms of design. It's not often that you can criticise the styling of a Vaio-branded product, but in the looks department the Philips is clearly the better of the two media systems.

And then there's the usability factor. The MCP9350i's remote control has a logical design and the keyboard, though a little small and fiddly, is fine for occasional use. A good Media Center PC should be unobtrusive, fitting in well with your other home-entertainment products. Unfortunately, this is where we encountered one slight problem with the Philips – it's a rather noisy machine.

Though it would be drowned out by whatever you were watching or listening to, there is a noticeable hum to the operation of the PC, especially when it starts up. This wasn't the case with the Sony – we could barely tell it was switched on, it was so quiet. It's a minor quibble, but worth mentioning, as anyone who bought the original Xbox will agree.

Philips Showline Media Center MCP9350i: Specs

  • 3GHz Intel Pentium 4 processor
  • Windows XP Media Center 2005 Edition
  • 512MB DDR RAM
  • 250GB hard disk
  • 8x/8x/8x/4x/4x/4x/4x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW) 24x/24x/24x (CD-ROM/-R/-RW) drive
  • 802.11b/g facilities
  • 1-year warranty
  • 430x392x100mm
  • 9.4kg
  • 3GHz Intel Pentium 4 processor
  • Windows XP Media Center 2005 Edition
  • 512MB DDR RAM
  • 250GB hard disk
  • 8x/8x/8x/4x/4x/4x/4x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW) 24x/24x/24x (CD-ROM/-R/-RW) drive
  • 802.11b/g facilities
  • 1-year warranty
  • 430x392x100mm
  • 9.4kg

OUR VERDICT

Fantastic. The MCP9350i works perfectly, there are loads of options in terms of setup and the noise shouldn't upset you much. There are no problems connecting to networks and it has everything a Media Center PC should have, including a large hard drive and DVD writer for storing your favourite programmes.

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