We set out today to figure out if the fanless, ultra low-power Shuttle XS29F book-sized PC was really powerful enough for the simple daily tasks of typical office systems, but we faced several hurdles in making any determination. While we did find that it consumed little electrical power, we also found that it offered little computational power.
Benchmarks show that anyone who thinks the Atom is barely sufficient will be sorely disappointed by the Nano. But our own experience was even more revealing. Such a simple task as switching between open windows was often an annoyingly long experience when using the U1700-based system. Double-clicking a program and waiting several seconds before the loading window appeared felt like millennia. Watching as it took nearly an hour to convert a five minute video from DVD to a more Web-friendly format was almost as exciting as viewing a typical PowerPoint presentation. Running Vista on a 1 GHz VIA Nano processor actually felt like running Vista on a 1 GHz processor, and there’s a reason most people don’t run Vista on their old Pentium III systems.
The Atom 330, on the other hand, was almost acceptable, switching between windows in almost real-time and loading program launch windows fast enough that we didn’t have to question whether or not we really double-clicked the icon. The slow hard drive still made us wait for some programs to load, but at least we could see that the system was doing something. In that respect, the Atom felt at least 50% faster than the Nano.
To get back to the original question, is the XS29F really fast enough for daily office duty? In our opinion, it’s only fast enough for the most patient user. Most office personnel will likely require a machine of at least similar performance to the Atom-powered X27D to be truly satisfied with their desktop computing experience.