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Shuttle, a leading producer of personal computers barebones, this week initiated shipments of its first nettop powered by Intel Atom processor. The novelty offers everything one would expect from a nettop: small form-factor, low power consumption, performance that is enough only for basic tasks; but the novelty appears to be rather expensive.

Shuttle X27 is based on Intel Atom N270 (1.60GHz) single-core processor with Hyper-Threading technology and Intel 945GC chipset with Intel GMA 950 graphics core. The barebone comes with integrated with 5.1-channel audio, Gigabit Ethernet controller as well as usual input/output ports, including DVI-I as well as D-Sub to connect monitor. The Shuttle X27 supports 2.5” hard disk drives as well as slimline optical drives that should be acquired separately. The novelty also comes without DDR2 memory pre-installed.

“The X27 lays the foundation for a new product generation, the nettops: power-saving and affordable mini-PCs. The internet is a constant companion in everyday life and provides information, contents and applications. The Gigabit LAN interface delivers the necessary bandwidth,” said Tom Seiffert, head of marketing and PR at Shuttle Computer in Germany.

Shuttle X27 is just 7cm in height and its volume is just 3 litres, which makes it one of the smallest personal computers on the market. Still, positioning of X27 is completely unclear: it is hardly suitable for consumers since they demand high-performance from desktops, it is also hardly an interesting option for businesses, who are not interested in building computers themselves.

To make the matters worse for Shuttle X27, with €205 ($297) price-tag (without value added tax, which means that the actual cost can be about €240/$348) its affordability is also not obvious: end users will also have to find 2.5” hard drive as well as slim optical drive, which are pretty hard to find and are not really inexpensive. Moreover, if an end-user decides to install Windows operating system, he or she will either have to acquire a basic version of Windows Vista, which will run very slowly on such computer, or get Windows Vista Business that allows downgrading to Windows XP, which should run properly on Intel Atom.

Adding the cost of hard disk drive, optical disc drive and the price of an operating system to an already pretty high price of the barebone itself could translate into about $700 final price of working Shuttle X27, which is hardly acceptable, considering low computing performance of Intel Atom and availability of pre-built solutions featuring Windows XP, such as Asus Eee Box, at lower cost.

But there is a good news for those interested in small form-factor Shuttle X27: fully-configured solutions based on the barebone with Windows Vista are available online and can be customized to meet individual requirements on the company’s web-site. With 512MB of memory, 160GB hard drive, DVD burner and Windows Vista Home Basic a fully-configured Shuttle X2700B costs €410 ($594) without VAT and shipping costs, which may lead to a real end-user price of as high as €484/$701.

Tags: Intel, Shuttle

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