We've been waiting earnestly for Dell's XPS 420 desktop. It's fast, it's pretty and it's the first desktop we've seen that features an integrated SideShow screen.
SideShow -- or Dell MiniView as it's known here -- is most typically found in Vista laptops such as the. The XPS 420 is proof, however, that it can be used in a desktop to good effect. The upwards-facing 50.8mm (2-inch) display lets you play with all sorts of free, downloadable mini apps -- like those found in the Vista SideBar -- although this isn't possible while the system is switched off.
Some apps, such as Solitaire, are completely useless, while others, such as the to-do list and system performance monitor can come in handy.
Another interesting addition is the hardware MPEG-2 transcoder, aka Dell Xcelerator. This, Dell says, can convert an MPEG-2 video to the MPEG-4 format 25 per cent faster than using the CPU alone. Not that the CPU is slow -- you get a choice of Core 2 Duos, Core 2 Quads and Core 2 Extremes -- depending on how much money you have to spend.
Other media-friendly options include a Blu-ray writer, a 1TB hard drive, and an Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTX graphics card for high-speed gaming. The whole thing is encased in a tasty-looking BTX chassis, which keeps everything running cool and quiet, and there's even a rubberised top section that keeps your USB devices from slipping off.
Prices for the most basic versions start from £680 direct from Dell. We like the look of it, so expect a more detailed review in the very near future. -Rory Reid