The Media Centre Functions
As the GD02-MT is classified as a HTPC (Home Theatre PC), it's important that we discuss the case's Media Centre abilities. The most obvious starting point would be to discuss the 4.3" LCD touchscreen, which is located on the front panel. The screen has a native resolution of 800x600 and can be used to directly control media playback, as well as display media information and system settings. In addition, it can also display news feeds, weather amongst other things.
Using the screen requires a graphics card with two VGA or DVI outputs, and you connect the main monitor to the primary output and the case screen to the secondary. You then need to set the graphics card to dual monitor output. Once this is done. you install the supplied iMON software, and select which monitor the iMON software will run on. To be able to use the screen as a controller, you then need to calibrate the screen by touching points displayed on it. Set up was easy, and it worked well on Vista 64, which has had some problems with previous versions of the iMON software.
The iMON software is easy to navigate and alter to your preferences. The display has various background colours available, and you can alter the font type too. It's worth spending five or so minutes messing around with settings that best suit your preferences. Once the software is installed and configured, the screen is ready to use. The touch functions can be used to open and control shortcuts, media and settings. It really does work well and is a welcome addition to the case.
As mentioned, the screen also displays system properties and media information when in normal mode. For someone who is nearing middle age like myself, the displayed information would be too small in a lounge environment to be abe to read, unless you were sat a couple of feet away. That's the only gripe I would have for the display as it works flawlessly and lifts the case from being a vanilla PC enclosure to a true HTPC capable case.
Not content with just providing just a LCD screen, Sliverstone have also provided a remote control with the GD02-MT. You can use the remote to fully control your HTPC, and it has such features as:
- Virtual keyboard, with onscreen character/command selection
- Mouse emulation, using a joypad and button on remote
- Configurable Application shortcuts, hotkeys and macros
- Full media playing control
- Live TV control (channel changing, recording and playback)
- Power system On/Off
It really has everything you would need to take control of your HTPC, and you should not need a keyboard and mouse. Inputting text can be a slow process witht the virtual keyboard, but I was surprised at how well the mouse emulation works.
Using the remote is simple and prety foolproof. I tested it out using Vista's in built Media Centre with my Hauppage TV card, and it worked extremely well. I have the Microsoft MCE remote controller and found the supplied Silverstone one to be more intuitive and pleasurable to use. For those who wish to use a HTPC without having to store a keyboard and mouse, the remote can be used to replace both, but it does take more time to perform functions such as web browsing etc.
iMedian HD Software
Bundled with the latest version of the iMon software is the iMedian HD application, which is basically a poor man's relative of the Windows Media Centre. From here you can view live and recorded TV, view or listen to media, view pictures and listen to the radio. For those without Vista Home Premium , Ultimate or XP MCE, it gives you a convenient way to mange all your media. If you do have the afore mentioned versions of Windows, the in built Media Centre is a much beter alternative.
If the PC you build using this case is to be used as a HTPC, then all of the above provide a great way to control and manipulate your media. I found everything above to be really simple to set up and use.
So now let's move on to testing the case...