On my current ESPN the Magazine tech makeover I’m working on – the centerpiece is an HP Media Center PC with the new Intel dual core CPU. The model we’re putting into the athlete’s home is a 7250N which has a gig of ram, 2.8ghz dual-core cpu, 250gb drive and ATI Radeon x300 128mb video card.
This is to be the centerpiece of the athlete’s digital life, acting as the server for audio, video, photos and games. Click through to see how it fares…
The first thing I noticed when unpacking is a few features I hadn’t ever really thought were such a great idea. First – there’s a CD storage case at the top. As much as this is useless for audio CD’s – for games, it a big bonus. All you really have to do is have the first CD of any game when you want to play it to authenticate you own the game. As we’re installing about 8 games on this system – I’ll crack a couple of them so he doesn’t have to put the CD in whenever he wants to play, but the rest – I’ll just leave the first disc in the storage compartment. Nifty. Kinda like a cup holder in a car.
Next – it has all sorts of “accessories”, like a multi-card memory card reader for digital camera memory cards, a special “Light Scribe” CD/DVD burner that will also let you etch an image and text on the non-data side of a disc you just burned. It also has a few front ports for USB and 1394, as well as a second hard disk port. Granted – the hard disk port requires you to buy a proprietary HP cartridge for the second disk, but it’s a nice way to have a backup solution that’s hard-drive based (not a crap-load of CD’s or DVD’s lying around).
The purpose of this machine is as a media center computer, even though it doesn’t have the classic home theater PC form factor (that makes it look more like a piece of stereo equipment, rather than an ugly tower PC). With that being said – it’s not a tremendously capable gaming machine with the included X300 video card. It’s pretty apparent this is exclusively designed around media center work, and as such – playing a DVD or movie, listening to music and printing or browsing email will never tax this box. It’s simply designed for lots of computing – which playing a DVD and doing multiple things at once is a perfect scenario for this computer (and maybe most dual-core computers).
I have a gaming machine as my main computer, and used to have an actual 2-CPU computer. I miss it terribly. I do almost exclusively multi-tasking, including playing iTunes while browsing and emailing, and occasionally installing something or doing video conversions. Whenever I do something CPU-intensive, I regret not having a dual-core or dual-CPU computer.
So, just something more to think about when buying your next computer – you’re better off from now on getting a dual-core system. The manufacturers all realize this – Apple announced dual-core cpu’s in their laptops, and most manufacturers are abandoning single-core CPU’s in the next year or two.
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