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If you love the cool looks and diminutive size of Apple's Mac Mini but are unwilling to move from Windows or Linux to Mac OS, check out AOpen's stylish and capable MiniPC.
Like its Mac counterpart, the MiniPC measures 6.5 inches square and 2 inches tall. But instead of white, AOpen uses a silver finish featuring a grid of small dots on top and a blue-lit power button in front.
Powered by a quiet 1.73-GHz Pentium M 740 processor, my $700 test system came with 512MB of DDR2 RAM, a 40GB hard drive, and a slot-fed SuperMulti DVD burner.
Because this was a preproduction unit, we did not run it through our WorldBench 5 suite, but in my informal tests the MiniPC seemed perky.
Like Apple's Mac Mini, the MiniPC offers ethernet, DVI/VGA outputs, a pair of USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire port, and one headphone jack, together with 802.11(a/b/g) and Bluetooth support. Although AOpen's machine lacks a modem port, it compensates with a few other features--namely, an S-Video-out port, a microphone connector, and a mini PCI x1 slot inside.
Still, this is not a system to grow with. You can't expand the machine internally, apart from the single PCI slot, and if you add much external hardware you'll destroy the appeal of the tiny footprint.
Available from AOpen's partners with either Windows XP or Linspire Five O Linux, the MiniPC should suit users who have limited desk space or a penchant for novel PCs.
Preproduction product, not rated
A fine choice if you want a small, sexy Windows or Linux machine.
Price when reviewed: $700
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