Xperian Loungeroom media centre

The Hi-Grade Xperian looks gor­geous — more like an LCD TV than a PC, and not much bigger. This device deserves a place in the lounge where it can be shown off, rather than tucked out of sight in a back room.

It has a feature called Instant Play which means you can access the TV, DVD, CD, MP3 or FM functions without having to boot Windows. Simply press the button on the remote control or keyboard and it will be up and running in 10-15 seconds — very neat.

If you must, you can then enter Windows by simply pressing the PC button. From there on it functions as a normal, albeit better-looking, PC. You’ve still got access to all the multimedia functions within Windows, as you would expect.

The Xperian is supplied with silver wireless peripherals and it’s clear thought has gone into their design, too. The front of the unit has a lip on which to perch the keyboard when not in use, and you can recharge the mouse with the supplied USB cable so you don’t need to worry about replacing the batteries. It would be nice if there was a facility to charge the keyboard, too, but you can’t have everything.

Generally the catch with all-in-one, great-looking PCs is performance. They amble along, failing to deliver when com­pared to a similarly-priced boring beige box. Not so with the Xperian — it flies along and tested to be among the fastest PCs we’ve seen.

Games performance isn’t bad, either. The Xperian managed 78.1fps in Quake 3 at a resolution of 1024x768, dropping to 53.3fps at 1280x1024.

The Hi-Grade uses standard PC com­ponents: a 2.66GHz Pentium 4, 512MB of DDR SDRAM, and a 120GB hard drive. There are four USB ports — two each at the side and back. You’ll also find two FireWire ports, S/PDIF out for surround sound, modem, network and speaker connections.

There’s even a PC Card slot, memory card reader and DVD/CD-RW drive.

With the Xperian, Hi-Grade has shown that you don’t need to sacrifice power and performance for good looks and ease of use. We found that we had to keep reminding ourselves that the $3950 price tag includes all the benefits of a well-specified PC complete with a 17in flat panel display (with built-in speakers), an LCD TV plus a DVD/CD/MP3/radio player — and remote control! Not to mention the ability to record TV programs to the hard disk through the use of optional third party software.

The Xperian is quite possibly the best PC we’ve ever seen. For the same price as a regular LCD TV you pretty much have it all. You don’t need to wait for it to boot if you just want to use the media facilities, either.

In brief: Hi-Grade Xperian
If you’re after something a bit special, but still want the full functionality of a PC, then the Xperian is a clear winner. By the time you read this, cheaper (and lower-specified) models will be available, starting at around $3500.
Price: $3950
Vendor: Hi-Grade
URL: www.higrade.com.au

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Will Head

PC World
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