When this PC arrived in the test centre, we were somewhat taken aback. Housed in EZCool’s huge HT 960 TOUCH Media Centre case, the Eclipse DMS PRO TOUCH i321Z68 could easily swallow up four QuietPC Zeno systems.
It is nonetheless most definitely a Media Centre case. Its aluminium fascia houses a damped lower flap concealing the Samsung Blu-ray combo drive and front-facing ports. Also included are two rows of small media control buttons which allow you to navigate your way around the Media Center interface. Most striking though is the integrated 4.3in touchscreen which functions as a second Windows display. It can be configured to run a media-centre control panel or system information. So, using this panel there’s no need to turn on your TV just to listen to music or Internet radio.
In addition to the standard Windows Media Center software, Eclipse has supplied Soungraph’s HD Frame application, which presents a tile-based control interface which can be run on your TV or the touchscreen.
The system features a powerful dual-core 3.1GHz Intel Core i3-2105 processor. It’s a little slower than the 3.3GHz version favoured by QuietPC, but the combination of an Asus P8Z68-V LX motherboard with Z68 Express chipset and a fast 1TB hard drive enables the PC to match the WorldBench 6 performance of QuietPC’s offering. It is however rather noisy in operation when compared to any of the competing systems.
An ultra-compact Trust Thinity wireless keyboard is included, which comes with a handy recharging dock and a built-in touchpad for easy sofa-based operation.
Curiously the system was also supplied with two remote controls – and this is where we started to get confused. One of these comes with the installed Compro E750 dual-tuner DVB-T card and we suspect the other is designed to work with the IR receiver built into the system case, although we were unable to get it to work.
If you stick to Windows Media Center the PC is simple to use; but the HD Frame software had us foxed. Once set up it may be easy to operate, but if you’re a first-time user we suspect you’ll have some difficulty making it work at all. Furthermore, as shipped the system information displayed on the touchscreen appeared over the top of the default Windows wallpaper, making it difficult to read. Because it’s configured as a second Windows display, moving the mouse off the right hand side of your TV screen causes it to appear on the touchscreen – where you won’t to be able to see it from your sofa.
This system is complex enough to warrant a home installation by a trained technician. At the very least, extensive telephone support would be needed.