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  Iwill's XP4 Mini-PC, cutting size but not performance 
  Apr 01, 2003, 08:30am EST 


By: Dan Mepham

We’re currently in the midst of a period of change in the PC industry. In the past, you really only needed to do one thing to sell a PC; make it faster. There had always existed a healthy appetite for faster PCs, generally bolstered by more and more sophisticated software whose performance was visibly improved by faster hardware.

Not anymore. Demand for newer and faster hardware is greatly reduced, and the PC industry in general can be described as satiated at best, heading toward lethargic. Some upturn in demand can naturally be expected when the global (particularly US) economy improves, but it certainly won’t return to historic levels. The fact of the matter is, at least in North America and most of Europe, PC markets are saturated. Just about everybody who wants one has one, and since there’s virtually no software that won’t run just fine on a 2 GHz machine, they’re in no particular hurry to upgrade. With respect to speed, consumers have essentially said ‘No thanks, what I have is enough.’

However, while consumers are no longer chomping at the bit for faster hardware, we’re witnessing ever increasing demand for other attributes, particularly smaller and quieter PCs. Newer PC designs focusing on reduced size and noise, often at the expense of power, are enjoying much greater success in the current environment than their traditional, larger, noisier counterparts. VIA, for example, has introduced a series of small, fan-less systems based on its C3 processors, and is enjoying increasing success. Currently the most successful, though, are those designs that strike a balance between reduced size and/or noise, but without sacrificing too much performance (VIA’s C3 processors, while very cool-running, are very significantly slower than current Intel and AMD offerings).

And that’s precisely what Iwill will attempt to accomplish (particularly the size factor) with its new XP4 mini-PC. Though the name may seem a bit ambiguous, the XP4 is a Pentium 4 based solution that offers extremely small size, unique appearance, and lower than average noise levels without sacrificing too heavily in the performance department. Further, and of greater importance to us, the XP4 will hopefully maintain Iwill’s reputation for quality, an attribute sorely lacking in a great many small and ‘cute’ PC designs.

1. Introduction
2. Basics
3. Inside the (Mini) Beast
4. Installation & Setup
5. Performance
6. Summary

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