A HDCP-enabled PC-PVR, all in a small and quiet form factor

With both AMD and Intel competing in the platform segment, manufacturing partners for both companies are well on their way to shipping both Live! and Viiv compliant machines. One of the first to ship is Acer with its new iDea 500, a Viiv-compliant small form factor multimedia PC that promises ease of use, performance, features and quiet operation.

The Acer Aspire iDea combines leading PC technology with the best Consumer Electronic features yet is so quiet you will be amazed. With dual hybrid TV tuners, HDMI, SCART and numerous other ports combined with internal keyboard and remote control receivers as well as a memory card reader, the Aspire iDea packs rich features into a very attractive Living Room form factor.

The new iDea 500 ships with Microsoft's Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, which has the ability to perform typical PVR features such as record, pause and rewind on the fly. The iDea 500 will also be able to perform more intense duties such as play games. Shipping with Intel's Core Duo processor and Intel's 945GT chipset, the iDea 500 has all the necessary features to call itself a Viiv machine. Some quick specifications:
  • Processor: Intel Core Duo
  • Chipset:  945GT + ICH7M-DH
  • Memory: 2x  512MB SODIMM DDR2 667MHz
  • Storage: 250GB SATA HD
  • Media: Slot-in DVD-RW Dual Layer drive
  • Tuner: Dual hybrid analog + DVB-T tuners
  • Video Output: HDCP-HDMI (1080p), HDCP-DVI (1920x1200 max)
  • Audio Output: 7.1 analog output with S/PDIF digital
  • Network: Intel PRO 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet
  • Wi-fi: Integrated 802.11g
  • Other features: Integrated FM antenna, 2x IR ports, 2x FireWire 400 ports, 9-in-1 memory card reader
One critical feature of Viiv is acoustics performance, in which the iDea 500 performs admirably. At system idle, Acer says that the iDea 500 will sit around 23dBA of noise. Under more heavy loads, the system outputs roughly 28dBA, which is fairly quiet.

Acer's new iDea 500 is also one of the first few machines to fully integrate HDCP-enabled HDMI and DVI outputs. Technically, the machine will be Windows Vista ready. HDCP has been a cause for confusion recently, as many manufacturers claim to ship graphics boards with the feature enabled but in fact left the feature out. Universal Abit recently announced that it was the first to release a motherboard with integrated HDMI output. Acer's iDea 500 certainly packs all the features that make a great Media Center PC but unfortunately at the time, it does not include support for HD-DVD or Blu-ray.

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