Heads up, home-cinema fans, we've just got our greasy paws on the ViewSonic VOT550 -- a Blu-ray playing PC so small it could hang-glide on a Dorito. No, seriously -- it's so tiny it could milk a cow standing up. Honestly, it's like Mini-Me's Mini-Me. What we're trying to say, right, is that it's not very big, okay?
The VOT550 isn't just a Blu-ray player, it's a fully fledged personal computer, in a similar mould to the Mac Mini. Its
50 by 165 by 165mm chassis is slightly larger than its Apple rival, but its specification more than makes up for it. You get a 2.1GHz Core 2 Duo T6500 CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 320GB hard drive, as well as the aforementioned slot-loading Blu-ray combo drive, which also lets you play and burn DVD discs.
The VOT550 has some clever little touches that enhance its credentials as a home-cinema PC. There's a remote control in the box, for example, and it features high-speed, long-range 802.11n Wi-Fi to assist you with your media-streaming requirements. Its DVI port (and DVI-to-HDMI dongle) will let you connect it to a big-screen TV, but as it's not 'proper' HDMI, you can't send audio and video simultaneously over the same cable. You'll need to connect additional audio cables from the rear of the PC to your TV or AV receiver to hear anything.
The VOT550 will go on sale this October for around £690, while a slightly cheaper, non-Blu-ray version, known as the VOT530, will be available for around £450. Both look pretty appealing -- particularly for Media Center fans. We'll be putting the VOT550 through its paces in a full review very shortly, but in the meantime, have a look at the pics in our gallery for more info.
Here it is from a slightly jaunty angle. The front-facing USB ports, infrared receiver and slot-loading DVD drive are all handy, but the blue power LED is a little too bright in darkened rooms.
The rear sports four additional USB ports, e-Sata and Ethernet ports. The DVI video output is a mite disappointing -- we'd have preferred HDMI, as this would have allowed video and audio to be sent via the same cable, minimising clutter.
The Windows Media Center remote comes in handy for... well, we're sure you've used a remote control before.