Shuttle's New $99 KPC Review

The Windows Alternative

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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  • BaconCache
    Grandma build!
  • imatt
    Great for a public computer for internet access in a family room. Small footprint, low heat, low price. Will be interesting to see what the masses can mod these things into.
  • styln
    Regarding Linux's readiness for prime time...

    Six months ago I installed Ubuntu 7.10 on a compact barebones for my wife, a computer novice. I reconfigured Gnome to look a lot like XP with only one toolbar at the bottom and created desktop icons for common programs: browser, word processor, spreadsheet, media viewers/players, etc. I automounted our NAS and created an icon for that, too. Used CUPS to easily connect two networked printers (yeah, my house is fully networked with a GB backbone :)

    She's as happy as can be and uses it everyday for routine "mommy", tasks including classroom rosters, art class schedules, saving/viewing picture and videos, etc.

    Bottom line is she loves it. As the home IT admin I like it too because it's rock solid and gives me less to do than maintaining the kids and my XP machines. So except for playing games, I see no reason to buy Windows in the future.... and I won't.
  • quicsilver
    Pros: Tried and true chipset, linux, windows, windows server compatible. Small, low wattage, QUIET, stylish. Slot under faceplate for a laptop sized cd/dvd-rom

    Cons: barebone comes with no processor fan, no case fan, no cd-rom. Room for only 2 hard drives. NO CASE FAN

    Rumor has it that they will offer the ICE Genie as an optional separate purchase, which is nice for the processor but I don't know if it's sufficient enough to cool the HDD's. I built one with a celeron 420 and a stock core 2 duo proc fan. (the stock proc fan that came with the celeron was DOA) The fan size on the back is 92mm, I bought an antec 92mm case fan and it's very quiet, the loudest fan on the system is the small power supply fan. It has the slot under the faceplate for a slim dvd/cd-rom. You would have to dremel mod the front clear plastic to make it look right, but it's easily doable. AT LEAST it has the option.

    I built it for a Windows Home Server and it works perfect.
  • Luxcrete
    ** DO NOT BUY THE PC62 PSU FOR THE KPC! ** spite of what this article would have you believe, it doesn't physically fit. I just wasted $100, and I'm pretty angry that the reviewer didn't do his research.

    If you're thinking of getting the KPC for a home server, bewarned that it's not that quiet. Probably fine if you can lock it away in a cupboard, but too irritating to be left out in the open, if you're anything like me.
  • sloto
    There is a cutout for a front USB, but you have to hack and do your own mod. Same conditions for an optical drive. It's doable.
    Mint is my preferred linux and works just fine on KCP
  • uafon
    I have tried many many wifi adapters.....and I can say one thing for sure...
    ..I don't know about you guys, but for me UAWIFI UA3 usb adapter is the BEST.
    No other adapter can compare to this baby, it is VERY powerful.
    There are few people sell them on ebay, but I got mine directly from mft. website price is same.
    I also know that it is Made in USA, so at least by buying it I am supporting US workers.
  • uafon
    In other words, you do not have to power it up, as this adapter. It uses 5V from the USB plug.