Also available as a barebones system for £135, this compact nettop is currently being bundled by Maplin with 2GB RAM and a 250GB hard drive, as well as the matching optional DVDRW drive and a wireless keyboard/trackball combo.
The size of a hardback book, the glossy plastic case is uninterrupted apart from the gaggle of connectors front and rear. As well as Gigabit Ethernet and Wi-Fi for a choice of networking options, there’s also a choice of video with both DVI and HDMI connectors.
Obviously geared toward home theatre setups, the on-board audio (which can handle 7.1 sound) is complemented by a combo mini jack offering optical SPDIF for connecting to a surround sound amp. The spec is very similar to the Acer Revo, but this device does have a DVI out, and in this bundle, also includes an optical drive.
Combining the nT330i with the special DVDRW device, you can opt to eliminate an extra cable at the price of using up an extra USB port to source enough power for the external device through the provided combo cable. This shouldn’t be too much of a problem, as it does come with six, which still leaves enough for the essentials and the chance of some external storage if the included 250GB isn’t enough.
Review continues after the break...
It isn’t as silent as a Mac Mini, or the fanless range of Shuttle drives - in fact the internal air-shifters will give you a little roar when you turn it on, but unless you tax it too much, it shouldn’t become loud enough to be distracting.
With the onboard Nvidia ION graphics, it isn’t going to struggle to playback even the highest of HD media, so the CPU only really comes in for a hammering if you try to use it for gaming (don’t, unless we are talking about web-based games or old text adventures).
In the fast moving world of low-power CPUs, the Atom 330 isn’t the most impressive any more – it’s over 2 years old now - but it has the power to handle web-related activities and light computing. It did stutter on web streaming services such as iPlayer, but that could be as much to do with the OS as the hardware
Unlike the recent Zotac ZBox, the nT330i does ship with an operating system, which is helpful. Unfortunately, it is FoxOS. It is a noble effort that manufacturers want to add value to their devices with pre-installed Linux, but FoxOS, while simple and easy to use, doesn’t pack the functionality of a full Linux or Windows install, so long term you may wish to replace it.
While essentially using older technology (both the CPU and onboard graphics have been superseded), the nT330i delivers a perfectly fine media performance at a knock-down price.