- Energy efficient, inexpensive, ready to use
- Slow, bulky and flimsy case, very small monitor
Running a VIA CPU and the gPC operating system, this definitely isn't a typical PC. It's useful for running basic office applications and Web browsing, but that's about it.
Price$ 499.00 (AUD)
The Excel gPC, distributed by Protac, isn't an ordinary PC. From the outside it looks like a typical mini-tower-based PC, but its odd-looking 16in widescreen LCD monitor is the first clue that you're getting something different.
This difference is also evident when you switch it on. Instead of Windows, it loads an Ubuntu-based distribution of Linux called gOS. Its tailored desktop has shortcuts to all of Google's most popular online applications and services, and it has OpenOffice, an open-source office suite, installed.
It's almost a complete departure from the Windows environment and is aimed at savvy users who take advantage of online tools for their everyday work, and who may want a very inexpensive system that's got more features and a larger screen, and is easier to use, than a notebook computer.
However, understandably considering its $499 price, you won't get a PC that's very fast. Rather than an Intel or AMD CPU, the gPC has a VIA C7-D 1.5GHz CPU and a VIA PC2500E motherboard with integrated VIA UniChrome graphics. This technology prioritises energy conservation, rather than speed. The gPC — complete with 1GB of DDR2 SDRAM, a 160GB SATA hard drive and an IDE-based DVD burner — consumes up to 55W of electricity when it's under a full processing load, which is very economical.
But you won't want to put it under too much of a load. It already feels sluggish when changing from one application window to another, so anything more taxing, such as ripping a CD, is going to take a long time to complete (it took us well over 30 minutes). You can, however, listen to music while you work without affecting the performance of the system.
The 16in widescreen monitor isn't a hallmark of user-friendliness either. It's very small for a desktop monitor, with poor vertical viewing angles. Its native 1366x768 resolution feels very cramped when working with office documents and Web browsers. A screen with a 4:3 ratio would go some way to overcoming this.
Physically, the gPC is a little perplexing. Its motherboard has a compact micro-ATX form factor, so it's quite small. However, it has been installed in a tower case that feels flimsy and isn't very nice to look at. A more compact design would be welcome, but that would impact on the low price of this system—its major drawcard.
With a free operating system and open source software at its disposal, the gPC is ready to go straight out of the box. It has six USB 2.0 ports and a 10/100 Ethernet port, including two USB ports on the front of the case. It has space for another internal hard drive and one more stick of RAM, if more performance is required. But the main issue with the gPC is usability. If you're used to Windows XP, then gOS will be annoying until you get used to its menus and settings.
All up, the gPC is a somewhat haphazard attempt at creating an energy-efficient and inexpensive PC for basic office applications and Web browsing. It could use some physical refining and a screen with a higher vertical resolution.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Smart LED Bulb LB130
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Huawei Mate 9
Google Daydream VR headset
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
Lexar® Portable SSD
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Acer Swift 7
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
HP Pavilion x360 13”
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Surface Pro 4
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Huawei Mate 9 full in-depth smartphone review
- 2 ZTE Axon 7 review: Is ZTE dumping old stock on Australia?
- 3 Oppo R9s smartphone full review
- 4 Huawei Nova Plus smartphone review
- 5 Google Pixel XL full, in-depth smartphone review: Phones just got smarter
Latest News Articles
- Intel ships latest Itanium chip called Kittson, but grim future looms
- Samsung Galaxy S7 hardware will come to the DragonBoard 820c computer
- Now you can try Microsoft's supersized Surface Hub before buying
- Samsung scraps a Raspberry Pi 3 competitor, shrinks Artik line
- Google wants to add AI to gadgets made using Raspberry Pi
PCW Evaluation Team
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
- How to quit Pokemon Go (or to start enjoying it again)
- Huawei Mate 9 full in-depth smartphone review
- Time to ditch Foxtel and the iQ3: How to replace Foxtel packages with cheaper alternatives
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- TPProject CoordinatorNSW
- CCCyber Security ArchitectNSW
- FTNodeJS DeveloperNSW
- FTJunior Software Engineer - Positive Vetting, NV2 or NV1 requiredSA
- FTSenior Software Engineer x 2 - Adelaide Based (PV, NV2 or NV1 required)NSW
- CCSenior Business AnalystVIC
- TPDesktop Support OfficerQLD
- TPInformation Management SpecialistVIC
- CCSQL Database Administrator (DBA)NSW
- FTIt Security and process analystNSW
- TPSenior Project Manager - ReinsuranceNSW
- CCTest AnalystQLD
- TPBusiness AnalystVIC
- FTSenior Software Engineer x 2 - Adelaide Based (PV, NV2 or NV1 required)QLD
- CCFinance Analyst/ Project SpecialistVIC
- CCSenior Project Manager - Regulatory/Compliance - BankingNSW
- FTHead of ApplicationsVIC
- FTSenior Network AdministratorNSW
- FTDeveloper - Java/J2EEQLD
- CCSAP ISU Device Management ConsultantNSW
- CCTest AnalystWA
- CCBPM DeveloperVIC
- FTSenior Full Stack .Net Developer - Internet of ThingsNSW
- CCSenior Storage System Engineer - NetApp SpecialistNSW
- CCWPF .NET EngineerNSW