There was a time when Home Theater PCs, or HTPCs had to be big, pwoerful systems with fast processors, enormous hard drives, and room for a couple of TV tuners to record live TV broadcasts. And while there’s still definitely room for those systems, a few developments have led to a surge in low power nettops that are about hte size of a Nintendo Wii and which look an awful lot better sitting next to your TV than a gargantuan box with a PC stuffed inside.

First, a growing amount of digital media people expect to consume can be either streamed or downloaded from the web, so a TV tuner is increasingly optional. And second, NVIDIA has shown that you don’t necessarily need a powerful processor if all you want to do is watch (or even transcode) high definition video. You can pair an NVIDIA ION chip with a low power Atom processor and build a low power HTPC that costs less money to run and takes up less space.

Personally, I still have a larger PC with a Core 2 Duo processor dedicated to recording live TV shows and compressing the recordings to DiVX to save space on the hard drive — something that’s difficult to automate on an ION-based system. But I also use Hulu Desktop, Boxee and other online video services to catch up on programming that’s not available over the air, and I could totally see picking up a media center like the Tranquil T7-MP2.

Tranquil PC is a UK-based PC maker, and the T7-MP2 is a new system with an Intel Atom D510 dual core processor and NVIDIA ION graphics. It has HDMI, DVI, and VGA video outputs, and SPDIF and analog audio outputs. The system is also nearly silent, thanks to the passive cooling system — there’s no fan.

There are 6 USB ports and an eSATA port for additional storae space, and the nettop supports 802.11b/g/n WiFi. There’s no optical disc drive built in, but you an attach one via one of those USB ports.

The T7-MP2 runs Windows 7 Home Premium with Windows Media Center functionality, and it’s compatible with an array of US internet television services including the BBC iPlayer, SKY Player, and ITV Player.

The base model runs £479 and comes with a media center remote control, 2GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive, but you can up the specs if you’re willing to pay a little more. The Tranquil PC T7-MP2 will ship starting on May 30th, but it’s available for pre-order today.

via Netbook

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2 replies on “Tranquil PC introduces tiny, fanless media PC with NVIDIA ION”

  1. Fanless?
    If i play a 3D-Game with a Atom 330/ION Nettop the fan rotates 100% and it becomes nevertheless >50°. But while low-level CPU-usage i don’t need a fan.

    Dual-Atom + ION + HD +3D-Game with passive cooling…?

  2. I own both a Dell Zino HD with an Ati 4330 grapics card and a Dell studio hybrid (both on sale Zino $349 studio $299) Both have what would be a deal breaker for me, a dvd player. Both have a low end pentium 2,1 ghz cpu and both run at about 38 watts playing a movie.
    I like the amount of i/o ports and the atom cpu but why are all these nettops leaving out one of the most important features, a dvd player. How can you call it a media player when it can’t play a DVD movie. You can buy one easily enough but then you start adding cables and more clutter. I also like the remote control but they should at least add a model with a dvd player for people like me, and I would guess there are a few. I have replaced my desktops with the low power desktops or nettops or what ever you want to call them but in my opinion hardly anyone is getting it right. You might think I am a big fan of Dells but I’m not, you never know what your going to get with a Dell and tech support is a nightmare. Other options would be nice.

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