Palicomp’s Media PC is a world apart from what we’re used to seeing in this category. Its Palicomp-branded media centre chassis is a rather unimpressive steel-bodied full-size ATX case with flimsy plastic fittings. See also Group test: what's the best budget PC?
It looks very much like a standard PC and simply doesn’t come close to the level of build quality of any of the competition.
Aside from its horizontal format and dual-tuner TV card, the Alpha Media Blaze incorporates few of the key features we’d expect from a Media-centre PC.
A powerful 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Ivy Bridge processor is used, which is great of overall system performance but rather over-powered and power-hungry for a Media Centre. Arbico’s 5300-HD Media Centre uses the same chip, but Palicomp hasn’t included a 3rd-party cooler, opting instead for the standard Intel model which is noisier and less efficient.
A Blu-ray combo drive is included, together with a Peak dual TV tuner allowing playback and recording of two channels simultaneously, supporting Freeview, but not Freeview HD, and coming with a remote control and a Xenta wireless keyboard with a built in touchpad and media transport controls.
A collection of video can take up a large amount of space, so Palicomp has included a whopping 2TB of internal storage to take care of it. Many would opt to keep their files on an external device such as a NAS, but keeping everything in one box can help to cut down considerably on costs – and this is the one area where Palicomp’s Alpha Media Blaze makes a big impact.
The system comes without the SSD or graphics card of Arbico’s model, but at only £549.99 it’s considerably less expensive than any alternative in this round-up. If money is tight, it may be all you can afford, but be aware that you’ll be missing out on a significant proportion of what a Media centre PC can truly deliver.