If this is such a wondrous age of convergence, why do most of us still not have one magical box in our lounge to do everything? A belt ‘n’ braces hi-def source that also doubles as a PC to let you connect to the web.

The reason is mostly because do-it-all media centre PCs generally look as drab, and cost as much, as the I.US XPS HD. But perhaps it’s time for a reassessment – can this re-designed Shuttle PC really cut it as a dedicated hi-def player, and also satisfy your computer needs?

Awesome power

The XPS HD is certainly loaded to the gunwales with home entertainment kit. Dual-format hi-def disc support means you can play all those HD-DVDs you rather rashly rushed out and bought, and there’s also a 500GB hard disk drive, 2GB of RAM, Intel Core 2 Duo processor and a GeForce 8500GT graphics card.

So much for the numbers – what it means is that the I.US has sufficient power to form the heart of an expensive media centre. As the chassis is so packed with PC and hi-def disc gubbins you’re limited as to the amount of expansion you can do with this PC. But it sits neatly under the TV.

Operational quirks

Of course, the XPS HD is a bit more complex to get up and running than, say, a dedicated Blu-ray player. And it’s not exactly the king of convenience in operation. It’s essentially just a box with a sliding disc tray, so don’t expect to be able to do anything except turn it on or off without the remote control.

And if you want to watch a Blu-ray or HD-DVD disc, you have to leave Media Center, change resolution settings and start another program. But it’s fine with a bit of practice and, unlike several other media centres we could mention, the I.US stays quiet even when running at full tilt.


Hi-def heavyweight

What’s more, it’s a cracking performer when judged purely in terms of Blu-ray performance. Picture quality is as good as any most other Blu-ray players we’ve tested (as it should be, given the price) and it’s particularly good at displaying fast-moving action. The lack of audio via HDMI is a bit of a blow, but one softened by the 7.1 channel analogue audio output.

Neat, tidy, dull to look at and a full-on performer, the I.US will conceivably do more than you need it to. Which is always better than not doing enough.   


Stuff says... 

I.US XPS HD review

It’s pricey, sure, and not much of a looker, but the I.US gives the best of almost everything