The Meivo is rock's first foray away from laptops. It's designed to be used as a portal for multimedia, with television, PVR and streaming media all at its disposal.
We're no strangers to these all-in-one designs -- and neither, we presume, are the designers behind this incarnation -- but will the Meivo get things right like the iMac, or send a shudder through us like the Packard Bell Smart TV S320?
The Meivo's biggest selling point is the fact it looks nothing like a normal PC. It could pass as the slightly chubby offspring of a flat-screen television -- the 22-inch widescreen panel occupies the vast majority of the front panel and is flanked by a pair of speakers. This is jazzed up by a clear plastic outermost bezel -- as seen on some of Sony's Media Center offerings. It's an attractive unit whose PC heritage is only belied by the webcam above the screen.
The rear of the unit is home to an e-SATA port (for connecting an external hard drive), as well as S-Video and composite video output. HDMI has been omitted entirely so you can forget about connecting the Meivo to an HD TV -- not that you'd really want to.
Also at the rear is a VESA connector, which lets you mount the Meivo on a wall for the ultimate in eye-pleasing installations. The left of the unit is home to a USB port, a mini FireWire port and a memory card reader with SD, MMC and Memory Stick compatibility. There are also a couple of audio jacks so you can connect the system to a set of 7.1-channel surround sound speakers. On the right is a slot-loading DVD drive.
All-in-all it's a good, solid and attractive design.
It may pose as a television and masquerade as a desktop PC, but the Meivo is a laptop at heart. Our sample uses an Intel Core 2 Duo E4300 CPU clocked at 1.8GHz, but for £100 extra you can plump for the 1.86GHz -- if you really need that extra 600MHz. RAM is 1GB as standard with an option to upgrade to 2GB. We suggest saving your cash and going for the bottom rung Meivo -- particularly if you're only going to watch movies and surf the Web on it.
The level of storage provided by the 250GB hard drive is adequate. At best, the 250GB drive is good for a couple of hundred movies, but keep in mind this number will drop when you start installing other applications. Other Media Center machines put the Meivo to shame, with 500GB or 1TB of storage, so be prepared to invest in a NAS or external hard drive before you start hoarding video. If you're handy with a screwdriver and don't mind voiding your warranty, there's a spare 1.8-inch drive bay inside ready for an extra drive.
At this price point, it's no surprise to see rock has omitted an HD DVD or Blu-ray optical drive. The 8x DVD rewriter you get with the Meivo is only good for making backups of 4.7GB (or 8.5GB with dual layer discs) in size. This should suit most people's needs, especially if you have a large collection of DVD movies. If you really must ride the early adopter bandwagon, you can attach an external Blu-ray player via the HDMI port at the rear.
The Meivo uses Windows Vista Home Premium edition, which ships with Media Center software as standard. The menu system is easy and intuitive to navigate thanks to an infrared remote, and it won't be long before you're watching Freeview TV, playing and recording video, or browsing the TV guide. The Meivo, thanks to Vista, could use up to four tuners simultaneously, raising the possibility of watching one channel while you record three others. But rock has erred on the side of Scrooge by integrating only a single DVB-T tuner for Freeview.
We love Trisha as much as the next gadget site, but one of our favourite things to do with the Meivo was explore Web TV via services such as TVTonic. You can even get clever and stream media around the home using the Meivo's Ethernet jack, or better still, the Wi-Fi adaptor. Naturally, this allows you to surf the Web without littering your living room or bedroom with cables. These abilities, in conjunction with the TV and PC features, make the Meivo far more impressive than an ordinary dumb telly.
The Intel E4300 CPU inside the Meivo offers a good compromise of performance and energy-efficient running. Our sample never got too loud or too hot -- a desirable quality in a Media Center PC. It won't shirk from most computing tasks, either, but forget about gaming -- the integrated Intel graphics adaptor is rubbish at pushing polygons.
We like the Meivo. The 22-inch display isn't large enough to meet the demands of most modern lounges, but it would make a great second PC, particularly in a bedroom or kitchen.
Its most recent rival, the HP TouchSmart PC has a greater list of features, but if simple elegance is a priority, the Meivo is a sound investment.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Kate Macefield