The Smallest of Them All: The P4/2400 Micro PC

The World's Smallest PC: The Jadetec Micro System

If the customer really were king and had the pick of the bunch, then the decision would naturally fall in favor of a mini or a micro PC. But, in reality, the customer is anything but a pampered monarch, and so must be content with one of the various compromises on offer. The informed observer quickly realizes that the PC market doesn't have the courage to come up with new ideas - and, in particular, more compact forms. The current sales slump cannot be assigned only to the weak economy as a whole. Now, as before, discounters still offer unlovingly thrown-together, hospital-gray crates at dubious prices, presumably in the hopes of at least making the same sales as the previous year. All the same, that gives them acceptable margins on sinking unit turnover. The trend, though, has finally broken out of the stable: PC systems are getting more compact, and the final goodbye to the 8-by-15 gray box is just waiting to happen.

In the last few weeks, we've had some interesting candidates in the mini PC class (Whoohoo! A Mini PC That Goes To The Max ) that we put to the practical acid test. In the results for the last test line-up, the Shuttle Mini System cut an extremely dashing figure. The current version is equipped with AGP graphics that will even sway 3D-game fans. For such compact dimensions, it performs well and, furthermore, needn't feel out of place in an office or the home. Users have the choice between two versions, because the Shuttle PC (see Goodbye to Hulking PCs: Athlon Mini-PCs Set The Trend ) comes in a variety of platforms: as an AMD or Intel version with Athlon XP/ Pentium 4, and complete with an effective heatpipe.

The generation game: micro, mini, midi and maxi PCs crowd onto the market as those hulking tower dinosaurs face extinction. Every company PM manager should be aware of this fact.

The THG lab in Munich had exclusive use of the Jadetec Micro PC for our tests. It is even tinier than the Mini PC, and weighs in at just 3.5 lbs - that's less than a notebook. The first encounter with the Micro PC tends to leave the impression that you're dealing with a kitchen appliance - a toaster, for example. Only when you get up really close do you realize that the whole row of connectors on the back makes it more likely that it's a computer.