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The Windows Alternative

Shuttle's New $99 KPC Review

Of course, those folks who prefer the Windows operating system can simply install it on to their KPC.

We installed Windows XP for testing purposes, and added all service packs and updates. While the KPC is a value system, not a high one, loading XP on the KPC via a USB DVD drive proved quite simple and satisfying. The install time was not noticeably different than installing off of an IDE or SATA based drive, the drivers supplied with the system worked well, and the Windows OS was responsive even after installing a trial of Norton Internet Security.

This system worked flawlessly, and could prove to be a nice option for a low-cost small form factor PC. We could easily do the daily tasks that the KPC is meant for, and did not find any shortcomings in this environment. Users could not tell whether they were on the small form factor KPC or the Compaq EVO that it replaced; they generally just liked that it worked and we had no complaints during the day of Windows testing.

TV tuner installed

Our first thought after loading Windows XP was that the KPC could work as a media center. We broke out an old MSI Theater 550 analog TV tuner and installed it.

I did not go to the trouble to install Windows Media Center or Vista Ultimate or Premium, but just used the suite of software that came with the tuner card. The system worked well enough to record live TV, pause it and play it back.

Watching TV

The system is very quiet as it is, and there is enough room to install some sound dampening material to further lower HDD access noise. There is also a space for a 92 mm fan that could be used to help cool the system due to the added load. The KPC could easily be used as a small PVR for those with a standard VGA connection. If you want DVI then you could install a PCI-based video card and then add a USB tuner card, but the KPC case does not seem well suited as a HTPC as it lacks internal space for a DVD drive. An external drive could of course be used, but it would ruin the unit’s clean appearance.

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