What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Tue, 26 Jan 2010, 10:00am

I.US XPC HDS

Tested at £2300
80100
4

A solid newcomer from this respected media centre manufacturer – but we can’t help feeling the price is just too high

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For

  • Fine overall performance
  • useful flexibility
  • HD audio streaming and other useful Blu-ray friendly features

Against

  • Very little save the relative value next to the similar XPC HD

We've long been impressed by the I.US range of media centre computers: small of form but full of feature, they're among the most user friendly on the market.

The company has recently revised its line-up to offer three choices: the entry-level XPC (£1600), the mid-range XPC HD (£1800) and this, the flagship XPC HDS (£2300).

The Blu-ray-equipped HDS incorporates Windows 7, an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of RAM and 1.5TB of hard-disk capacity. It also features Arcsoft Total Media Theatre 3, a software player that enables Blu-ray playback from within Media Center.

HD audio streaming is go

Otherwise, the big news is the XPC HDS's provision of full streaming support for HD audio formats via its HDMI output.

In action, it works as seamlessly as it ought. Picture performance from ripped DVDs is fine, the I.US providing stable, insightful pictures, even during the chaotic space battle scenes at the start of Star Wars: Episode III.

So simple to navigate
Switching between media is fast and engaging, and while there's no built-in TV tuner, it doesn't strike us as much of an issue in context – external USB and network models are available, and according to I.US, most prospective buyers have Sky or another set-top box in place.

Blu-ray performance? Here, the XPC HDS is very acceptable, and its HD audio streaming works well.

But as welcome as all these capabilities are, we're not convinced they add up to the sum of their parts: we'd be tempted to go for an XPC HD and spend some of the £500 change on a decent budget Blu-ray player.

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