The compact netbook-based desktop box sports a slick design but this Hornet’s sting is in its $879 price tag...
Amidst yesterday's roll-out of Windows 7 touchscreen systems
, Acer added its entry into the ‘net-top’ space with the Veriton Hornet.
Yes, ‘net-top’ is an abomination of a phrase – but it’s the tag adopted by Intel to promote desktop systems built on the netbook platform.
It’s an area which Asus pioneered as a spin-off of the Eee PC line through the Eee Box, and now several vendors also offer a hardback-sized desktop containing a netbook’s innards.
The theory is pretty simple. Thanks to their low cost and ‘good enough to do the job’ approach Netbooks became the hot product of the year, and last year, too – Gartner says that Aussie sales of netbook or ‘mini-notebooks’ rocketed to 398% between June 2008 and June 2009, with 97,220 of the little beasties sold.
Net-tops apply the same formula to a desktop, in the hope of yielding a similarly happy ending. So in the case of Acer’s Veriton Hornet N260G you get an Atom processor, 2GB of RAM, a 160GB hard drive (using a standard 2.5 inch notebook drive) and 802.11n wireless.
It also delivers all those convenience features such as a multi-format memory card reader and a generous serving of six USB 2.0 ports (two are handily located on the front, with the remaining four on the rear).
It’s a slick-looking package, too, with some smart thinking such as an over-sized power switch built into one corner of the chassis. The Hornet comes with a keyboard and mouse so all you need do is connect a monitor to either the VGA or HDMI video outputs and you’re good to go.
The pint-sized Hornet becomes the heart of a simple desktop setup,
and can also clamp to the rear of a flat-screen monitor using an industry-standard VESA mount
However, while the Hornet N260G looks identical to the Acer Revo
, this isn’t the same beast.
The Revo pairs Intel’s peppy Atom processor with Nvidia’s Ion GPU, which contains a GeForce 9400M engine capable of playing 1080p HD video with 7.1 audio and supporting supports DirectX 10 graphics, so you can run Vista and Windows 7 with full high-gloss Aero effects.
The N260G’s video capabilities remain limited to standard definition by Intel’s integrated Intel GN40 Express graphics, so it’ll struggle to deliver smooth 720p.
That won’t be a major issue for a lot of people who just want something like the Hornet as the desktop equivalent of a netbook – a simple PC that’s good enough for using Office, Web browsing, email, social networking and so forth.
What could cruel the deal is the $879 price tag, which is more than for a similar-spec netbook – and which comes with a screen and battery.
Out it this way. Starting at the Hornet’s $879, a mere $20 extra gets you a complete all-in-one Atom-based system from ViewSonic, the VPC100, which includes a 19 inch screen plus
a CD/DVD drive.
This is a far more suitable ‘spare PC for the kids’, assuming they don’t want a netbook in the first place (and we reckon most kid would much rather have a laptop than a desktop). It’d probably suit a lot of older folk with basic PC needs.
Additionally, $120 above the Hornet sits Dell’s Studio Hybrid desktop – a sexy-looking real
PC with a 2.2GHz Core 2 Duo processor and CD/DVD drive.
So while the Hornet has some pleasing traits, that $879 sticker shock is something it can do without...