Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Claritas 14.2 VFD
A powerful media centre PC.
- It's powerful enough to play back any current media format, great build quality, VFD screen
- Might be too large and obtrusive for your A/V rack
If you’ve got somewhere to put it, Claritas’ new media centre PC is more than powerful enough for your high-definition media playback needs.
Price$ 2,950.00 (AUD)
Claritas is a company that’s dedicated to building powerful, high quality media centre PCs. Its latest, the 14.2 VFD, is a product that has plenty of power, great looks and exemplary build quality.
It’s built into a desktop-style case that is 435mm wide, 150mm tall and 390mm deep. It’s heavy, too; it might be too large for an A/V rack, but it will definitely look good sitting alongside your television. Our test unit was the brushed black metal version and it was very attractive.
The party piece of the unit is the vacuum fluorescent display screen built into the fascia. It has enough room to display plenty of information, and it helps make the 14.2 VFD look like it belongs on an A/V rack.
If you want to get a proper media centre experience it’s necessary to hook the 14.2 VFD up to a Full HD flat panel TV. We used the fantastic Samsung Series 9 (LA46A950), which we connected via HDMI. The Claritas unit has full HDMI 1.3 capability as well as an HDCP-ready DVI port. It can handle 7.1 surround sound through either analog 3.5mm jacks or optical digital SP/DIF. HDMI audio is also supported.
A powerful 3.0GHz Core 2 Duo processor runs the show on Windows Vista Home Premium, while 4GB of DDR2 RAM and a 1TB hard drive provide plenty of breathing room for storage and programs. In the unlikely event that you fill the hard drive with recorded TV shows, a DVD-RW burner and Gigabit Ethernet allow you to store files somewhere else.
The system produced a gutsy WorldBench score of 111, which puts it far ahead of competitors like the Sony Satellite P200 (PSPB6A-0CS04M) as well as performance notebooks like the Zepto Nox A15. Frankly, it's got more than enough power for all the HD tasks you can throw at it.
Video is outputted through an integrated X4500HD Intel chipset, so the system will handle high-definition content with no dramas, as well as older 3-D games. Television broadcasts are captured with a dual HD tuner card built by Hauppauge, while a year-long subscription to IceTV will keep fans of electronic program guides happy.
As well as a media centre remote, Claritas bundles a Logitech diNovo Mini for controlling the system from the comfort of your couch. We think this is a fantastic addition; it really lends a sense of occasion to watching movies and normal computer browsing.
When it comes to video and audio playback the 14.2 VFD excels. Because it’s based on a fully functional version of Windows Vista, a range of tweaks can be made to get video saturation, contrast, gamma and brightness exactly how you desire. When hooked up to a set of Axiom Audio Audiobytes as well as the Samsung television, the image and sound quality was as good as we’ve heard from any other media centre or high-definition player.
Another great advantage of the 14.2VFD is its silence. With all components securely ensconced inside the heavy case, it’s not audible at all if there’s any ambient noise in the room. This is a great advantage for a media centre; it won’t steal your attention away from whatever content you’re watching.
If you want a powerful, versatile machine that has the ability to handle any HD content you throw at it, consider Claritas’ 14.2 VFD media centre.
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