Shuttle contacted us and other press to invite us to attend a media event with the unveiling of an "exciting new product". If you've followed the industry news at all, you're probably aware that Shuttle has had a difficult time of late, so we were certainly curious to hear about what they might be planning. Part of the difficulty stems from the fact that Shuttle basically staked their fate on the Small Form Factor (SFF) market that they created back in 2001. Interest in SFF computers has been on the decline, in part due to high prices and in part due to reliability concerns. We can say for certain that Shuttle has a new product that addresses at least one of those areas; reliability unfortunately is something that's difficult to gauge in the short-term.

The big announcement is that Shuttle is launching a new product line called "KPC" to compliment their current XPC SFF systems. (The K stands for "Korporate" - because it's kewl to spell words with a K apparently.) The KPC will be available both as a barebones unit as well as a fully functional system. The reason this unit is exciting is that it's the first SFF from Shuttle that can actually qualify as affordable. The barebones case will run $99 while the complete system will cost a mere $199. There's a catch, of course: there's no support for an optical drive (other than via USB), and there are no expansion slots. The removal of these features allowed Shuttle to reduce the size slightly, but while we can probably live with the GMA 950 graphics for basic computer work, the lack of an optical drive is a serious issue. "Hey, let's go out and buy that new Shuttle KPC that costs $99 - all we'll need is a $50 USB optical drive to get our OS installed!" We'd rather have a $50 slim DVDR integrated and pay $150, and we told Shuttle as much. Still, if you're willing to get the pre-built unit you can avoid that hassle. In that case you get a Celeron 420 (1.6GHz 1MB L2), 512MB RAM, 60GB/80GB HDD (because they can't make up their mind), and the Ubuntu OS. Since we appreciate the korporate naming, here are some Shuttle-provided images of the KPC and other Shuttle SFFs.

Another Shuttle product on display is the now-shipping SX38P2 Pro barebones, which is also sold as a complete system with the P2 3800 moniker. It comes with Vista or XP (choose your flavor), dual-core or quad-core CPU (up to QX9650), 1GB to 8GB DDR2, optional 1GB TurboMemory, support for up to three HDDs, CD/DVD/Blu-ray, and a GPU starting at a single HD 3850 and going as high as a single 8800GTX. An updated version sporting the X48 chipset and DDR3 memory will ship in the coming months, although we're not sure why X48 is really necessary. The X48 model will also come with water-cooling for the GPU and CPU. Load up the system and you're looking at prices that can approach (and even surpass) $5000, with 25-50% markups on most of the components. The KPC seems a lot more attractive after pricing out one of these units.

Shuttle also showed a system using the 780a NVIDIA chipset and running a Phenom 9500, a new "surveillance SFF" for the paranoid users, some multimedia systems, and a prototype with a touch-sensitive display and an iPod dock on top. The latter is not ready for shipping and may change significantly before its release, so they would not allow us to take photos. We snapped photos of everything else, including a couple photos of the interior of the X48 unit. We know that Shuttle was anxious to hear our input on their various new designs, and while we provided it we're sure they'd be interested in hearing what our readers might have to say as well. If you've got any comments you'd like to pass along, please do so!

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  • AmberClad - Wednesday, January 9, 2008 - link

    My thoughts as far as the KPC -

    Very attractive price. But the lack of an integrated optical drive is a major handicap. Also, for not too much more, I could buy myself an Eee PC, which would be far more portable.



    Thoughts as far as the SX38P2 Pro -

    $5000 is really a bit much, considering you could build a comparable DIY SFF system using off-the-shelf parts for a fraction of that. The main selling points here seems to be that 1) it's a pre-built, and 2) it's smaller than even the smallest off-the-shelf SFF cube case.

    Point #1 isn't going to win me over, or other enthusiasts who are perfectly happy to build their own. As far as Point #2, I have seen XPCs in person, and yes, they are quite small -- noticeably smaller than X-QPacks/MicroFlys/TT LanBoxes/Arias/NZXT Rogues etc, in fact. But those cases I mentioned still aren't dramatically less portable than a Shuttle - you can still tote those around one-handed.



    Unfortunately, I think Shuttle might be a tough position right now. They have competitors, like Falcon-NW, that offer pre-built SFFs while at the same time selling non-SFFs, so they're not locked into a really niche market. And while Shuttle may have been a pioneer as far as the SFF form factor (I probably never would have gotten into SFF builds if I hadn't caught a glimpse of someone else's XPC), that trend they started has been moving towards DIY, so that a lot of the SFFs these days are custom-builds.

    I personally think there's a market to be tapped in offering more innovative bare SFF cases. The whole Microfly/X-QPack thing is getting kind of stale, and no one has come up with anything dramatically differently. But I guess the margins for that sort of thing aren't particularly high.
    Reply
  • murphyslabrat - Wednesday, January 9, 2008 - link

    Holy crap, us consumers cannot be satisfied, can we? First, people whine about how small/low-powered the EEE PC is, then along comes a higher powered/lower-priced ultra-small desktop, and people whine about how it's not portable enough, completely ignoring the fact that the only comparably priced computer is the OLPC. Even the EEE PC starts at $349.

    This is a downright God-send for offices on a tight budget. While it cannot match the occasional sale on Vostro's, an office cannot always wait for those deals to start.
    Reply
  • Nyarlathotep - Wednesday, January 9, 2008 - link

    Nice, for the price of a laptop I get a cube but without the dvd and portability. For the regular user this one will be a nightmare with no dvd. They better make these ones Ipodish or they´re doomed. Reply
  • Basilisk - Wednesday, January 9, 2008 - link

    Folks are suggesting that a "Korporate" PC w/o a DVD is a liability?! I know the economy's tanking, but the IT dept can't afford a single USB DVD for build use? Or the corporate Joes don't clone disks rather than do a virgin install? [Does that LAN-boot hook support a full install? Never used it, but it might.]

    FYI: there are many companies where floor-computers are quite capability-restricted: often folks aren't allowed access to writable devices (even USB memory sticks). My bank is that way... not even cell phones are permitted [because of their cameras].

    They should get their money back on the "k" logo: looks much more like "lc" than "k".


    WTH happened to the "Preview" button for posting here?! None in sight [site?]!
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, January 9, 2008 - link

    Not going to find many laptops for that kind of price either, but I agree that it needs an optical drive. Though for those who buy the prebuilt system they may not have much need for an optical drive, not many programs/drivers for Ubuntu come on discs. Reply

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