We can't help but be left with mixed feelings with regard to the EZW-3060. One one hand, the concept is fantastic, and PCChips has gone further and offered more unique, compelling features than we've seen in a long time. On the other hand, though, we feel there's still a whole lot of untapped potential here that, if explored, could take this unit from being good to being great.
For the beginning to novice user, the EZW-3060 is a pretty neat idea. It's small, quiet, the price is right, and the "wow" factor is certainly there in full force. There are a lot of light users whom we can see being very happy with the EZW-3060 (in fact, several people commented on how "cool" it was during my evaluation period, and one of my relatives even asked if they could have it when I was done!). The fact that the system functions irrespective of operating system, and does not require drivers, is a definite strong point as well, and something that beginning and more advanced users alike will appreciate.
There are a few changes and additions we feel are necessary before we're ready to recommend this to the more advanced users in our community, though. First and foremost, the SiS chipset has to go. If it seems like we're being overly critical of SiS, that's exactly right. There's absolutely no
reason to use an SiS chipset in anything but the absolute cheapest P4 system. Secondly, more sophisticated controls would be nice, such as more advanced BIOS options that are present on high-end boards, and perhaps fan control and display (a LED display that alerts you when your CD-ROM stops responding is great, but how about one that alerts you when your CPU fan stops, too?). Lastly, for the more critical power user, some higher quality exterior plastics, particularly the overclocking dial, wouldn't hurt.
PCChips is definitely on the right track here. It would be nice to see a high-end version with some of the suggestions mentioned, but as it stands now, there are some extremely powerful features here that generate significant appeal. And beyond simple pragmatism, the EZW-3060 is an original idea, designed from scratch rather than copied, which is always something we like to see.
Type: EZ-Watcher EZW-3060 Mini-PC
Price: +/- 200 dollar, 185 euro