- 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!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Huawei P10 smartphone review
- 2 Huawei P10 Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- 3 Motorola Moto G5 smartphone review
- 4 Oppo A57 phone: full, in-depth review
- 5 Moto G5 Plus phone: full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Nvidia's new generation of powerful GeForce GTX Battlebox PCs finally embraces AMD
- The Pi Desktop kit transforms your Raspberry Pi into a stylish, SSD-powered mini-PC
- Qualcomm: First Windows 10 ARM PC coming in the fourth quarter
- User-created patch lets Kaby Lake and Ryzen PCs receive Windows 7 updates
- Samsung DeX turns your Galaxy S8 into a shockingly good desktop PC
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
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.
- LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- Asus ROG Strix Z270F Gaming motherboard review
- The simple RAM buying guide
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- FTSocial Media Executive / Specialist (Facebook) - online gamblingNSW
- CCUser ResearchACT
- TPTechnical AnalystVIC
- CCSolution ArchitectQLD
- CCSenior Solution AnalystVIC
- FTEnterprise ArchitectVIC
- FTChange AnalystQLD
- CCChange AnalystVIC
- FTSecurity ConsultantNSW
- CCData AnalystNSW
- CCSAP ISU Functional ConsultantVIC
- FTWeb Developer - 2 PositionsQLD
- FTCyber Security Technical WriterNSW
- TPDatawarehouse Test AnalystSA
- FTIT Systems Specialists - Collaboration SystemsNSW
- CCWeb DesignerQLD
- CCPega DeveloperNSW
- FTProject Manager or Coordinator - Retail Store ProjectsNSW
- FTNetwork EngineerNSW
- FTLevel 3 Service Desk Support Engineer / Project ManagerQLD
- FTSenior .NET DevelopersSA
- FTSenior Software EngineerACT
- FTNetwork EngineerSA
- CCSQL Analyst DeveloperNSW
- FTJunior-Mid Level Implementation CoordinatorQLD