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Tigers Electronics Giada N10 review: Tigers Electronics Giada N10

The Giada N10 is a quick nettop with a nice keyboard, but it's still not good enough for our money.

Alex Kidman
Alex Kidman is a freelance word writing machine masquerading as a person, a disguise he's managed for over fifteen years now, including a three year stint at ZDNet/CNET Australia. He likes cats, retro gaming and terrible puns.
Alex Kidman
4 min read

Design

Tigers Electronics' Giada N10 is a nettop PC in a super-slim case. When we first unpacked the unit we got rather worried, as it comes in a very bright pink case. While pink products clearly sell well enough to warrant their inclusion in certain product lines, an all-pink desktop PC might just be pushing it. Its pinkness only extends to the box and splash screen, however, and the case itself is only adorned with a mild blue floral pattern. It's a slim small case, measuring in at 190x150x25mm. A stand is provided for vertical mounting, and as the Giada lacks any kind of optical drive, there's little reason not to display it in this fashion.

6.7

Tigers Electronics Giada N10

The Good

Runs better than most nettops. ION platform gives it some graphics grunt. Wireless keyboard is compact but works well.

The Bad

The name sounds like a stomach infection. Despite HDMI and 1080p claims, it can't handle HD content well. Ubuntu won't be to every shopper's tastes.

The Bottom Line

The Giada N10 is a quick nettop with a nice keyboard, but it's still not good enough for our money.

The keyboard that ships with the Giada suggests a life as a home media centre PC, as it's small and curved to fit in the lap. A separate mouse is not included, instead the keyboard integrates a trackball on one side that reminds us of truly ancient Mac PowerBooks. The mouse buttons sit on the top and left-hand sides, and while it was on the small side in terms of the keys, it worked well enough in our testing.

Aside from the keyboard and system case, the Giada N10 comes with a laptop-style power adapter, a slim installation manual and a support DVD that you naturally can't run on the Giada N10 itself. We're still not sold on "Giada" as a product name, for what that's worth, simply because it's rather too close to "Giardia", a rather unpleasant intestinal parasite.

Features

Underneath the hood of the Giada N10 you'll find an Nvidia ION platform, comprising an Intel Atom N330 1.6GHz dual-core processor and GeForce 9400M graphics processor. Memory and storage comes via 2GB of DDR2-800MHz RAM and a 250GB SATA hard drive. The ION platform should in theory deal with some of the performance deficiencies we've seen in nettops to date. As with other systems running off the Atom processor, power draw is rather low as a result, but as with other nettops this is less of a concern than it would be with netbooks, as there's no battery to run down. You can feel warm fuzzy green feelings as you feel the need given the lower power consumption.

Networking comes via 10/100 Ethernet or 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, with 802.11n notably absent. Five USB ports are supplied, although if you do use the supplied keyboard/mouse that'll drop to four. Video output is via either VGA or HDMI, and an HDMI cable was included with our review sample.

The ION platform is technically Vista-capable, and we've seen no shortage of nettop systems running Windows XP, but Tigers Electronics has instead gone down the Linux route, shipping the Giada N10 with Ubuntu 9.10 "Karmic Koala". Given the keyboard's got a sticker on the back declaring itself the "Little Kangaroo", this is perhaps the most ocker computer ever built.

Performance

Ubuntu 9.10 is very well equipped with basic utilities for the kinds of tasks that nettops are best suited for, with Firefox for web browsing, OpenOffice.Org for productivity and GIMP for image editing. There's undoubtedly a class of nettop buyer that would prefer a Windows solution, and while Linux has made leaps and bounds in terms of general consumer acceptability, there are still some aspects that users accustomed to Windows may find initially a little baffling.

Basic application performance was reasonably snappy for a nettop, and we were curious to see if Tigers' claims of 1080p output would bear fruit in real world usage. It's long been a stumbling point for any Atom-based system that HD video would bring it crashing to its knees, and with no included optical drive and Ubuntu rather than Windows it's a touch harder to test, as you'd need a player that utilised the GeForce 9400 rather than just shifting the work onto the processor.

Testing with an H.264 encoded 1080p copy of the trailer for Avatar unfortunately bought the Giada N10 to its knees with any of the provided players shipped with Ubuntu 9.10. While there's a complex interplay between codecs, applications and the processor/graphics card combination at play (and newer players may handle 1080p content better in the future), out of the box the experience is less than optimal. It doesn't get any better when you head onto the web, either. Picking a task that many consumers would want to undertake, playing back HD video from YouTube showed this neatly. The Muppets version of Bohemian Rhapsody played back smoothly in SD, but switching to HD it may as well have been a PowerPoint slide presentation.

With an asking price of AU$549 and a two-year warranty, the Giada N10 is reasonable but not exceptional value. Like most nettops, the comparison between it and a full desktop in price terms doesn't look that favourable. A little more spending — or a good promotional special — could get you a system with a lot more grunt, and, if it's important to you, Windows rather than Ubuntu.