Ok, so my days of wandering through Microcenter’s Apple area pondering whether to buy a NEW Mac Mini are over. It was a short lived dream… or nightmare; I haven’t figured that out yet. Apple almost had me until Shuttle announced its XS35 at Computex this year. The Shuttle XS35 is a new addition to the X Series and sets a new bar, raising the stakes once again. Shuttle’s new addition is just 1.5 inches wide and is about the same size as the very enticing Mac Mini. The XS35 sports an optical drive, and optional HDMI port, a dual core Intel Atom D510 Processor and an Nvidia ION graphics controller capable of true 1080p resolutions, 2GB of RAM, and uses the SPA platform.
The Intel D510 processor is a 45nm dual core processor with 1MB of L2 cache, a processing speed of 1.66 GHz, 64-bit, and can support up to 4GB of RAM.
The unit also sports, an Ethernet port (speed yet to be announced), integrated wireless, 4 USB ports, VGA, HDMI, Power, and audio connections. The simplistic front sports your optical drive (no news on Blu-ray support yet, but I bet it could be done), a multi card reader and a singularly lonely USB port. Hard Drive capacity is not known yet.
The design of the XS35 allows the unit to operate with passive cooling as the enclosure itself doesn’t contain a single fan. The chassis design allows adequate heat dissipation without the need of fans, making it perfect for those of us that don’t want to hear anything other than our surround sound systems.
Another perk of the Shuttle system is that you are free to choose your OS. The PC platform allows you to select the operating system of your choice allowing me to run Windows 7 and manage my HTPC experience with Media Center and utilize my Windows Home Server for automatic backups and media distribution.
So now you must be thinking, how much can this machine cost? Well considering the Mac Mini weighs in at a hefty $699 USD and incorporates much of the same technology that the Shuttle machine does one would think they would be similarly priced. WRONG! The Pine Trail version runs at $199.99 and the ION version for $299 making this one of THE MOST ATTRACTIVE HTPC options on the market… PERIOD!