Size Matters: Mini ITX Boards Tested
A well-known phrase is taking on a new meaning in PC world: size matters! This is not a reference to the race for the biggest and the fastest, but to the trend towards miniaturization. What this is likely to mean in practice is that the PC we are familiar with today - that noisy tin box - is about to become extinct.
Admittedly, this is not going to happen tomorrow, but the trend is there and it's clear enough - manufacturers and users are moving towards PCs that are as versatile as possible, yet small and powerful.
The movement began with DVD players, which were called upon to play anything that resembled a DVD - XSVCDs and DivX, no matter what format. Other products currently subject to similar market forces are set-top boxes, receivers and gaming consoles. Today's consumers are demanding all kinds of features from their electronic equipment, some of which overlap between the different devices.
It surely can't be too long before we see an all-in-one electronic device to suit every need. It will play DVDs of any standard, record one or more television programs simultaneously (and decrypt pay-TV), stream across the home network to a notebook or projector or, via the integrated Web server, connect to the Internet, the integrated audio and video database, allow remote control from your smartphone via WLAN or Bluetooth, have countless interfaces and memory card readers.....just to mention a few of the possibilities.
Creating such a multi-purpose device will take a good deal of hard work from committed manufacturers. Before this can happen, however, a number of conditions will have to be already fulfilled. VIA has been developing several products based on its own Mini ITX format creation. There are certainly a number of areas where miniature PCs could provide a valuable service right now, whether in the shape of hi-fi components or as the nerve center of an in-car multimedia system.