Features

Normally, we like to see how a system is put together. In a typical case review, we'd also have to worry about the ease of assembly, but we can skip that topic this time. The M1000 comes as a pre-assembled unit from Shuttle, complete with all the accessories shown in our test unit. The Shuttle site has a few options that can be modified, but for the most part, you'll buy exactly what we're testing. You can add speakers, a second (external) hard drive, and some additional software. Otherwise, the M1000 is a set design. That can be a good thing, though, as it saves on support and build costs and also allows Shuttle to design within the previously mentioned constraints - upgrading the graphics card or processor could change the thermal envelope. Here's the feature list of the M1000.

Shuttle XPC M1000
Dimensions (w)442 mm x (h)78 mm x (d)350 mm
Processor Intel Pentium M 740 (1.73 GHz, 2MB Cache)
Memory Support 2 DDR SO-DIMM slots
2x256MB PC2700 Included
Motherboard Shuttle Proprietary
Intel 915PM + ICH6M
400/533 FSB
Flash Reader 8-in-1 - SD Reader
MMC, SM, MS, MS Pro, CF Type I/II, Micro drive
Expansion Slots 1 x PCIe X16 - GeForce 6600 LE 256MB
1 x PCI - AverMedia AverTV M113
1 x PCI - AverMedia Grander M187 Tv/FM Tuner
Power Supply 150W SilentX
Audio Creative SoundBlaster Live! 24-bit HD 7.1
LAN 1 x 10/100/1000 Mbps
802.11 B/G WiFi
Drive Bays 1 x 3.5 Internal (HDD) - Seagate 250GB SATA
1 x 5.25 External Slim (CD/DVD) - 4X DVD+RW
Front I/O 2 x USB 2.0
1 x IEEE1394 (4pin)
MIC, Head-phone
Power button
Front VFD (Versatile Front Display)
8-in-1 Flash Card Reader
2.5" External USB HDD Bay (Enclosure included)
Rear I/O 2 x USB 2.0
1 x IEEE1394 (6pin)
RJ-45 LAN Port (10/100/1000Mbps)
L/R Front, L/R Surround, L/R Side, Center/Sub
S/PDIF Out - Optical & Coax
S/PDIF In - Optical
IR Out, 802.11 B/G Antenna
Overclocking None
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce 6600 LE 256MB
Full Image Set Shuttle XPC M1000 Pictures (3.6 MB)
Manufacturer Link Shuttle XPC M1000

It should be immediately clear that this is a system designed to fit into an entertainment center with minimal effort. The Pentium M processor has a very low heat output, making it a far better fit than something like a Pentium D. The processor is also EIST (Enhanced Intel SpeedStep) enabled, so it can drop to even lower speeds - with the accompanying power and heat drop - when the system is idle. The Pentium M isn't necessarily the ultimate powerhouse of multimedia that you might expect in an HTPC, but there are ways around that. In fact, the CPU isn't even one of the top Pentium M models, as the 740 only runs at 1.73 GHz compared to the top 2.26 GHz of the 780.

The chief way to eliminate the need for a high-end CPU is to offload the work to separate, dedicated components. Shuttle has done this by including two hardware accelerated TV tuners/MPEG encoders. The cards used are region dependent for obvious reasons, but the unit that we received included an AverMedia AverTV M113 along with an AverMedia Grander M187. The primary difference between the two cards is that the M187 includes an FM tuner along with the video capture capabilities. Going along with the dual TV tuners is an NVIDIA GeForce 6600 LE 256MB card. This card offers NVIDIA's PureVideo technology, along with a couple of other critical options. VGA output is nothing special in a PC, and in fact, it can be a hindrance for a HTPC - how many of you own a TV capable of taking a VGA connection? For serious TV users, component out as well as a DVI port are going to be far more useful, and the 6600 LE provides both. Composite and S-VIDEO are also offered, though component or DVI will provide the highest quality connection and are essential if you're connecting the unit to an HDTV.

Click to enlarge.

You can see all the included cables and accessories in the above image. There are quite a few other features worth noting. Audio is HD compliant, provided by a Creative Live! 24-bit 7.1 chip integrated onto the motherboard. Gigabit Ethernet along with 802.11 B/G wireless networking are provided, which should more than handle any connectivity requirements. The chipset is Intel's 915PM with ICH6M south bridge, so performance and features will be better than the outdated 855M chipset. USB2.0 and Firewire connections are also present, which comes as little surprise. What is interesting is the inclusion of a 2.5" HDD enclosure that can plug into a front bay on the system; though, unfortunately, you'll need to purchase the actual HDD on your own. That external HDD connection is also the only way to increase HDD capacity, as the internals are completely full. The one area that is a little lacking is the RAM, as Shuttle only equips the M1000 with 512MB. More RAM wouldn't really help the audio/video departments, though, so unless you plan to use the system as more than an HTPC, this isn't a major shortcoming.

Index Construction and Design
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  • jamawass - Monday, October 17, 2005 - link

    quote:

    Did I say "flawlessly" about the PVR functions? Well, not quite. I tried recording a couple of college football games on Saturday, while watching an HD broadcast through my Comcast box. Everything worked as planned. I selected the games to record and came back later to view them. All the games ended up lasting longer than scheduled, unfortunately, and Windows MCE didn't know any better. The Notre Dame vs. USC game was cut off with ND leading 24-21 and 7:33 remaining.

    In all fairness this is not limited to the Shuttle/ Win XP MCE. I had the same problem with the PVR cable box from TimeWarner Cable. The game lasted about 4 hrs and the tivo only recorded 3 1/2 hrs that was on the schedule so I missed the "fake spike" play too as I couldn't watch the game live. Poor software programming as TitanTV doesn't do that with my winfast pvr card on my pc.
    Reply
  • dr_wily - Monday, October 17, 2005 - link

    "watts measured at outlet"

    how is that accomplished?
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, October 17, 2005 - link

    "Kill A Watt" device plugged into the outlet, with the M1000 plugged into that. The Kill A Watt is what most of us use for power testing. You can get them online for about $40 I think. Reply
  • agent2099 - Monday, October 17, 2005 - link

    I'm suprised Shuttle did not use HDTV Tuners. That would make a device like this actually make sense.


    I was sure they would use something like 2 AVERTVHD MCE A180 Tuners instead of 2 analogue tuners.
    Reply
  • glennpratt - Monday, October 17, 2005 - link

    What they should do is make one for Turion with the nVidia 6150 and use three PCI ports. One dual tuner NVTV and two HD AverMedia M180's Reply
  • BigLan - Monday, October 17, 2005 - link

    MCE reuires that there is at least 1 SDTV tuner before you can adda HDTV tuner (don't ask me why though!.) At least with the newly-announced Fusion USB HDTV tuner you could add to this box. Reply
  • agent2099 - Monday, October 17, 2005 - link

    In that case it should use one SD tuner and one HD Tuner. Reply
  • Kishkumen - Monday, October 17, 2005 - link

    Having another black box sitting on top of a DVD player, sitting on top of your receiver, sitting on top of xyz single function device seems so old fashioned to me. I don't see an appliance such as this really having a place in my future home theater. The way I see it, the backend needs to be little more than a massive storage server placed out of sight like a basement with a terminal interface that contains tuners for all your inputs, over the air, cable, satellite, etc. The heavy lifting would be done by the remote frontends. The computers driving the frontends should not be seen as well and they should be capable of handling HDTV resoluations and all audio duties. I can see this being feasible with Apple's Mac Minis at some point very soon. Velcro the suckers to the back of a flat panel and you've got a very clean looking setup. In such a setup, you would have a Mac Mini driving your largest flat panel for your Home Theater, one in your kitchen, one in your bedroom and so on, each sharing the large repository of resources in your basement. I've achieved this to a certain degree using MythTV. I have a regular Shuttle XPC doing the gruntwork for my home theater, an actual Mac Mini driving a display in my kitchen (although it's underpowered for HDTV), an older Athlon XP in my bedroom and my study computer doubling as a remote frontend as well. Not perfect, but I'll get there. Oh yeah, and Windoze zombies need not apply. Reply
  • glennpratt - Monday, October 17, 2005 - link

    You do realize this plays DVD's so you don't need a DVD player? Ever seen MCE Extenders? Everything you discuss is possible with extenders (and there cheaper then a Mac mini). Put a nice MCE box in the basement, extenders on the displays. HD extenders aren't out yet, but the Xbox 360 is coming in Nov. 22 and includes an HD capable MCE Extender (and it's cheaper then a Mac Mini in both forms).

    This thing does support HDTV, it just doesn't officially support HDTV from cable providers (which noone does). In fact it supports two SD tuners and two HD tuners for a total of 4 tuners.

    It WILL however, change channels and record SD and HDTV from the firewire out on many popular cable and DirecTV boxes with firewire using a free plugin.

    Windoze... what's that?
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, October 17, 2005 - link

    Technically, MCE supports HDTV tuners, but the M1000 as shipped only has two PCI slots and they're filled with SD tuners already. Reply

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