on 20 February 2012
The Asrock 3d is very well packaged in an Apple-esc style and even shares the type of price tag one associates with Apple, especially since the Asrock does not have any operating system included. This adds @ £100 to the price if you want to use Windows 7 Home Premium; you need a full licence version rather than an OEM!
Because you need to get the operating system separately this is not an `out of the box' product, there is quite a bit of work needed to get it running as a suitable Home Theatre PC (HTPC). The first problem I had was that no UK power cable was included (half a star lost), only a continental cord which plugs into a laptop style external power adaptor. Luckily I had a spare cord and I didn't want to return the item just for that minor point. Amazon were very good when I pointed out the problem, refunding me a small amount for the inconvenience.
The next issue I had, once Windows was installed, was with the driver CD. This contains a number of drivers and applications, and has a useful `Install All' feature, which I selected. The normal process for these things is for it to churn away requiring you have to do the odd `click' to acknowledge various prompts. With this product however, the install got so far and the computer re-booted and then nothing! I went back to the set up file on the CD and re-launched it; the progress screen then presented itself to indicate the next bit of installation taking place. Again after this part the computer re-booted and then again nothing until I re-launched the set up file and again the next step in the process kicked off. This went on for quite a while and became a little tiresome (another half star lost), but eventually everything was installed; now I could play!
The device is very quiet in normal running; the noisiest thing is the optical drive, especially during the install process, but during normal play you don't hear anything. The unit is well constructed, though the eject button for the disc takes a bit of pressing to get the discs to spit themselves out!
In use the unit is very responsive and has plenty of grunt, having an i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 1gb of video memory. I haven't had any problems playing back DVDs though I haven't yet tried Blue Rays.
A remote control is provided, which is adequate but nothing special.
Everything else to say about this product really relates to the operating system side of things, which as I said, you have to install yourself and then configure, which is going to take a while in order to get the best out of this thing.
In short, if you're looking for a plug and play device, look elsewhere, but if you are happy with installing and tweaking operating systems, you won't be disappointed.
on 9 June 2012
Purchased to use as an HTPC, swapped out the supplied HDD for a Kingston HyperX 240GB SSD, and installed Win7 Home Premium. Amazingly fast, turns the TV into a PC. And the feature I love most about it is the fact it's dead silent. Sits next to my blu-ray player, and ironically my Sony BD player is louder (slightly) than this Asrock. Highly recommended!