Final words and conclusion
Final words and conclusion
We definitely liked what we saw today, the Mini-TOP is an interesting product that offers a lot of features compressed in a really tiny box.
The product is not perfect though, the ventilator is not loud but can be heard in a home theatre environment as it makes bit of a pitching sounds. We do not like that. Secondly the optical audio output is located at the front side of the unit, that's a big no go as it should be located at the backside. Also the installation of an operating system can be excruciatingly annoying as you can not connect a DVD-ROM internally. Your alternative is to use an external DVD-ROM, a cloned drive or as we explained in this article, the use of the Windows installation on a bootable USB stick.
These all are minor inconveniences. As small as it is, the Mini-TOP offers enough performance to do all generic functions you can expect from a small PC. And it really is that, a small PC. Speed and performance wise you can compare it to a decent laptop and then a little more. The Dual core Atom processor definitely offers enough punch. The golden combo is of course NVIDIA's ION2 implementation. The chipset is making the overall performance a little faster and snappier but most importantly, the embedded GPU has a really nice video processor that can accelerate high-definition content all by itself, and 1080P is not a real issue. Though the GPU has very few shader processors, they are enough to apply say a little image sharpening through the playback software.
So yeah, content playback really is nice, but arguably also at it's limits. The shader processor count really is tiny so you do not have a lot of extra reserves left, and that goes the same for the processor. But hey, it works, well, really well ... you've seen the demonstration video, that was 1080P MKV (x.264) content with no framedrops, some post processing and through HDMI outputting a DTS audio stream.
Overall we feel the Jetway JBC600C99-52W MiniTop is a really flexible product with all the connectivity you really need, eSATA, USB 2.0, Gigabit LAN, DVI-I, HDMI, 3-in-1 card reader, and wireless 802.11n WiFi.
Compared to a small media player this product offers much more flexibility. It is a PC, and as such you can configure it in any way to your liking. Do bare in mind though that you'll need to install and setup everything yourself, to some that is a great little project, others hate that. We think the proper combination is to install Media Portal and then use Media Player Classic Home Cinema edition as playback software for your high-definition content.
All the decoding on and post processing 1080P content did not make this unit consume more than roughly 45 Watt. And that's an achievement all by itself as well. And if that is your target, well then that makes this a really interesting purchase. The price of the unit as tested today is just 235 EUR/250 USD, you can find it under SKU code JBC600C99-52W.