Review: Gold Class Media Centre PC

Gold Rabbit is likely a company you’ve never heard of before. The short story is that it was started by Corwin Tse, Accounting and Finance graduate from University of...

image

Gold Rabbit is likely a company you’ve never heard of before. The short story is that it was started by Corwin Tse, Accounting and Finance graduate from University of Technology in Sydney. Tse believes Windows isn’t typically showcased in all of its glory, with low-end hardware in the race to the bottom, resulting in a less than desirable end-user experience.

In 2006’s International Microsoft/IDSA Next-Generation Windows PC Design Competition (later merged with the Imagine Cup), Tse’s design was shortlisted, motivating him to start Gold Rabbit. With that intro out of the way, lets talk hardware.

image

Design
The Gold Class Media Centre PC comes in a sleek black finish, perfect for blending right into your entertainment system and matching most of your other devices. The case feels solid and sturdy, when in turn means it weighs in at 10.9kg. Not light by any means, but its not something you’ll be moving around a lot, so lets move on.

Connectivity
If you want to connect it, chances are you can. Gold Class has a pretty awesome list of connectors. VGA, DVI, HDMI, Mini Display Port, 7.1 surround sound, 4x USB3, 4x USB2, TV tuner. Your really spoilt for choice with this. Don’t forget about the Ethernet or 802.11N wireless. Turns out wireless is a pretty killer feature in a desktop, something I’ve never experienced before. Simply connect power + HDMI and your away and racing.

While we’re talking about adding things, behind the the Gold Class’s front panel (flips down), there’s a Blu-ray drive  also has 2 slots for a hot-swappable SATA drive. Not sure how many people have a media-filled hard drive laying around, but this is the second device that I’ve reviewed that features this option.

Experience
Something you’ll notice very quickly after firing up the Gold Class for the first time is its lack of trialware / bloatware – much appreciated. The Gold Class system features and SSD to get you booted into Windows quickly, on a side, SSD’s are still relatively expensive, but so very worth it.

Shipping with the Gold Class is a couple of accessories. The first is a Microsoft Arc keyboard (strangely no mouse), as well as a PC-enabled Xbox 360 controller. Timing is a little awkward with Games for Windows in hiatus until Xbox Live takes over the desktop gaming hub for Windows. Still, the intention is good.

It’s exciting to see a computer ship wit IE9, something even the big guys like Dell and HP aren’t even doing. Its great to have a hardware spec sheet as long as your arm, but ultimately the experience a user has is with the software. All Windows 7 users will be moved to IE9 eventually, so by shipping with IE9, its just saving time.

Performance
This machine was built to be a powerhouse and it is. Boot-time is impressive, launching applications is virtually instant, Blu-ray startup time was good (probably better than PS3). The bottom line is, this machine can take pretty much anything you can throw at it. One downside of this performance is always heat. The chassis design features a number of vents at the rear, sides and top of the case to allow the hot air to escape. Unfortunately the noise of the system is noticeable. Think Xbox 360 first version. While not a massive issue in-day-to-day use, while watching a movie, the quiet scenes are distracted by the noise.

Specs

  • 4GB memory
  • 1.8TB usable hard disk drive
  • Blu-ray 3D player + burner
  • 2 × digital + analogue terrestrial TV tuners
  • Up to 300 hours of HDTV recording storage supplied
  • 2 × internal hard disk drive expansion slots for additional recording time
  • Up to 300,000 12 megapixel photo or 292,500 4-minute song or 300-hour 1080P video capacity
  • HDMI 1.4a + Mini DisplayPort + dual-link DVI + S/PDIF output
  • Dolby TrueHD + DTS-HD Master Audio output for AV receivers
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + Wi-Fi 802.11n + Gigabit Ethernet wireless networking
  • Xbox 360 Wireless Controller supplied
  • 4 × Xbox 360 Wireless Controllers support
  • DirectX 11 and OpenGL 4.1 graphic effects
  • 8 × USB ports 2 × front, 6 × back
  • Wireless remote + keyboard

image

Price
The Gold Class comes in two versions.

  • Gold Class with Blu-ray (Windows Experience Index of 7) – $2,800 (free delivery)
  • Gold Class with DVD (Windows Experience Index of 6) – $2250 (free delivery)

That comes with a 30-day money back guarantee, but I’d suggest you’d be fitting the bill for shipping it back. There’s also a 3-year warranty, the terms of which I’m unsure of. Payment options available are currently PayPal and Direct Deposit, as Gold Rabbit grows these will need to extend to credit card etc. For more information about pricing visit Gold Rabbit.

Gallery

Overall
This machine lets you flick from recording 2 shows in HD via Windows Media Center, to playing a 3D games, to watching Blu-ray movie or surfing the web all on your HDTV. I think the decision to ship it without a mouse is an interesting one, probably something that could be included for little cost that would really complete the experience.

The remote was ok, not great. After a week of use i was still unable to comfortably know where buttons were without looking. The arrangement of key buttons was a little awkward, something that’s a must when your using it everyday.

One thing to be aware of is the control uses IR, this means using the Media Center button will turn on your Xbox 360 if its close by. I have a low-line entertainment unit which stores all the consoles and set-top-boxes, this happened multiple times. Actually its a difficult problem to solve, one of which only Boxee has really dealt with adequately by using RF.

Buying off an unknown company is always scary, that if your an enthusiast looking for a media centre PC and can’t be bothered building your own, then take a look, Gold Class may suit your needs. There’s a lot included for the price, but I can’t fathom paying $2k+ for a machine of any kind in 2011.

More
information @ http://gold-rabbit.com/

Categories
GamingPCReviews

Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis.