Skyhawk's Small Form Factor Ambitions


Skyhawk's Light Aluminum Case

Life is rough for must of us, especially so if you are a vendor in the small form factor (SFF) PC sector. In a market in which Shuttle dominates, Skyhawk obviously thought long and hard about the design of its first SFF PC in a barebone package, which represents a reasonably complete and robust system. Indeed, the SFF PC's list of specs, including its Skyhawk Media PC EchoQ package, is the longest and most detailed we've seen.

Alas, this SFF PC's time to market with its i865G chipset and its P4 socket 478 poses some problems, such as how compatible socket 478 processors have only been available in small quantities. There is probably some remaining stock available here and there, but it's just a matter of time before these CPUs disappear altogether.

Newer chipsets based on socket 775 accommodate state of the art CPUs and would have been a good fit for the IMC-6375. Even its graphics interface - an AGP 8x - is no longer au courant. The market screams for PCI Express and DDR2 nowadays, not for AGP, PCI and DDR1.

But if you can accept this SFF PC's shortcomings as-is there is a solid foundation on which to build a more-than-adequate SFF PC. In fact, the IMC-6375 can do more than just muddle its way through boring office tasks by offering some unexpected and interesting capabilities.

In this vein, full-featured DVD, audio and MP3 player software awaits users, ready and complete for your multimedia playback delight. Also, you do not have to load drivers from a CD or from the vendor's Website to get the multimedia playback functions up and running as all the necessary software comes integrated with the BIOS.

During the boot process, you can decide if you want a normal PC startup, or if you would prefer to start up the multimedia player instead. The media player user interface is friendly and inviting, even though it lacks mouse support. Everything's accessible through the keyboard, where the Tab key plays a particularly important role in making selections. This is a pretty bold strategy: it simply skips value-added DVD functions, and starts movies without running users through initial set-up and option screens. The fast remote, alas, didn't work with our DVD player, but a BIOS update is coming soon, and promises to clean out such bugs.

The 3.5" media bay can handle either a floppy drive or an optional memory card reader.

Connectors on the front of the PC are tucked behind a plastic cover.

Lots of ports, but there is no direct connect for television sets.

Siggy Moersch