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Review: Packard Bell Imax Mini NVIDIA ION nettop PC. A little bundle of joy?

by Tarinder Sandhu on 21 July 2009, 14:16 3.2

Tags: Packard Bell Imax Mini, Packard Bell (TPE:2353), NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qas33

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Box o' wonders

Reckon you've seen this box o' tricks in a different livery? Packard Bell has been an Acer subsidiary since the Taiwanese giant purchased Gateway, PB's parent company, in 2008. The Imax Mini is a straight rebrand of the Acer Revo.

Measuring in at 180mm x 180mm x 30mm (LxHxW) and weighing 741g, it's small enough to be stowed practically anywhere. It can be positioned on either side - including 'upside-down', as per the picture - or on a supplied stand.

The guts of the review system are fairly generic, toting a Intel Atom 230 CPU; 2GB DDR2; 160GB mechanical hard drive, 802.11 draft-n WiFi, and NVIDIA ION motherboard with GeForce 9400M graphics.

As per the Revo, models in the range are differentiated by hard-drive size, RAM allocation, and operating system. The sample shipped with Vista Home Premium, but given the cost and resource implications of using Vista on a low-power system, XP is a better bet - a la netbooks. PB retails a lower-specified version with XP, we note.

Switched on, the machine is very, very quiet. A single fan spins at 2,400rpm when idling, rising to 3,400rpm under load, but it's difficult to hear from more than, say, three feet away. Power-draw, too, is good, as the Imax Mini draws 19W (at the wall) idling and no more than 30W when both the CPU and GPU are stressed.

The front-mounted ports' layout is good, offering an SD card-reader, audio and mic ports, and eSATA, for speedy transfers from external storage. A rubber-covered USB port, just above the large power button, sits to the right of the second port.

The rear adds to the connectivity by providing an additional four USB ports, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI (7.1-channel sound), and D-sub-out. We'd rather the design integrated a DVI output which could be converted to analogue by a simple dongle. An S/PDIF output, too, would have been cool, hooking up to A/V equipment that doesn't feature an HDMI port.

It's worth stating the obvious, that is, there is no optical drive on this model, so playing Blu-ray or DVD discs is no-no unless an image is stored or streamed. We reckon Acer/PB should launch a slightly bigger box with a slimline slot-loading drive in situ.