DIGN X15e Inverness

Media PC cases are becoming more sophisticated by the minute. Shuttle-style small form factor boxes remain the most flexible options, but a case specifically intended to mimic hi-fi separates will fit more naturally into your living room. The X15e aims for the latter category and also packs something much more novel than a Denon-esque form factor - a touch-sensitive 7in TFT screen built right into the chassis.

Csrlaptops
01463 242483
5, Celt St.Inverness
Inverness
 
ITP SOLUTIONS
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PC World
0844 5610000
79A, Telford St, Inverness
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Laing PC Support
07912 938019
3, Eastfield Avenue, Drakies
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PC Warehouse Ltd
01463 250250
Unit 4, 23, Harbour Rd
Inverness
 
Sutherland Systems & Services
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36, Tomnahurich St, Inverness
Inverness
 
B S COMPUTERS
07745 056669
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Inverness
 
iTek Solutions Ltd
01463 725999
1, Cromwell Rd, Inverness
Inverness
 
Solution X
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Cromwell Road, Inverness
Inverness
 
Computer & Network Specialist
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DIGN X15e

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Media PC cases are becoming more sophisticated by the minute. Shuttle-style small form factor boxes remain the most flexible options, but a case specifically intended to mimic hi-fi separates will fit more naturally into your living room. The X15e aims for the latter category and also packs something much more novel than a Denon-esque form factor - a touch-sensitive 7in TFT screen built right into the chassis. It also claims to have been designed in Italy, a country that may have a good pedigree in haute couture, but is hardly a leading light for computer technology (Olivetti, anyone?).

In some ways, the X15e is a blast from the past. In form factor terms, it's a fairly standard desktop chassis, with room for a full-size ATX motherboard - a bit like those PCs you used to stick under your monitor in 1995, except not so beige.

There's a healthy complement of three 3.5in internal hard disk bays, two of which are situated behind the TFT screen, with the third bay on top of the single external 5.25in bay. All of the hard disk bays incorporate rubber-mounted grommets to reduce vibration noise. These require special screws, but there are plenty included in the box.

There's an additional 3.5in bay with front access, and beneath it are two USB ports and a FireWire port, plus a trio of audio jacks. However, no spare fascia plate is included to cover this space, so if you don't plan to fit a 3.5in drive at all then you'll be left with a gaping hole. Installing the optical drive isn't entirely straightforward either, as you need to remove the drive's front fascia, especially if you want the X15e to look the way it was intended by using the spare fascia included with the case.

The X15e has room for an ATX PSU, and next to this area is a gaping hole for an 80mm fan. Like the hard disk bays, this incorporates rubber grommets, but annoyingly the fan and the appropriate screws aren't included in the box. You'll probably want to install a fan, though, as it's in precisely the right place to extract hot air from the processor.

We had some other little problems with the case too, such as the cabling to the front USB and FireWire ports was too short to reach the auxiliary connectors on our motherboard. Still, none of these niggles will really put you off buying the X15e if you like the integrated touch-screen. A short cable is provided to route the D-SUB output from your graphics card to a nearby connection on the rear of the chassis. This is then carried via a proprietary cable inside the case to the monitor, which requires a Molex plug to power it.

There's an internal USB connection as well, which controls the touch sensitivity on the screen. Yet another internal USB connection from the front hooks up an infrared receiver, as the X15e is bundled with a remote control.

The screen is a standard analogue TFT, so it should work with any graphics card. Activating its touch-sensitive powers requires drivers and a software suite to be installed, and both Windows and Linux software is included.

The TFT is turned off by default and has its own separate power button on the front of the chassis. A mode button allows you to cycle through three different inputs, although we couldn't work out how to hook up the alternative composite and S-Video sources that the screen supposedly supports. A menu button calls up the monitor's on-screen display, but you can also access this using one of the two bundled remote controls.

The screen has a native resolution of 1,024 x 768, which means the pixels are tiny, given that they're packed into a screen with a 7in diagonal. Once you've overcome the sense of wonderment at seeing the screen integrated into the chassis, you start to wonder exactly what it's for.

On the plus side, it means the system can be operated using just the built-in monitor, which is certainly handy when you're setting up an OS. While playing music, you can have it displaying a visualisation or you can use it alongside another display, either as a clone or an extended desktop. For example, with an MCE system that's attached to a TV, it's useful to have a secondary screen. Fairly neat touches, but hardly essential.



CONCLUSION

The X15e certainly has a 'wow' factor about it, with its integrated TFT and no-nonsense brushed black aluminium exterior. However, we can't help feeling that, for £550, a few details are missing, such as the fascia plate for those not wanting to install an external 3.5in device, and the rear fan. The touch-screen TFT is genuinely eye-catching, but you really have to ask yourself if it's worth all that money - after all, you could build an entire HTPC based on Hiper's Media Centre for the same price as the X15e itself.

An alternative model without the touch-screen, such as the HVS, is less than half the price, and is a much sounder proposition.

Author: James Morris

DIGN X15e