|HP Pavilion Slimline S3330f Media Center PC|
|Home Theater Media Servers Home Theater/Media Center PCs|
|Written by AVRev.com|
|Friday, 09 May 2008|
Although Hewlett-Packard has exited the living-room Media Center PC business, the company still offers a number of desktop models with Windows Media Center functionality, including the Slimline S3330f. The marquee feature, given the unit’s $949 price, is the inclusion of a Blu-ray/HD DVD player, so you can enjoy both Blu-ray movies and all of those now-obsolete HD DVDs you got for $1 on eBay. The disc drive is also a SuperMulti DVD/CD burner that uses LightScribe labeling technology.
The S3330f has a solid connection panel for the price, with HDMI, DVI and coaxial digital audio outputs, as well as six USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire port, a 15-in-1 card reader and both headphone and microphone jacks. It also supports the addition of HP’s Pocket Media Drive, which lets you add up to 160GB of additional storage. The unit has one NTSC and one ATSC tuner, but does not include a Clear-QAM or CableCARD tuner. It connects to your home network via built-in Ethernet or 802.11b/g.
Because this model is not a true living-room PC, it sports a traditional desktop (i.e, vertical) configuration, although the box itself is fairly compact and you can lay it on its side. A wireless keyboard, mouse and remote control are included.
The S3330f offers good video performance and features for the price. It can play both Blu-ray and HD DVD discs at 1080p, it has a fairly thorough connection panel and its processing speed is solid for other computing functions.
Only one over-the-air HDTV tuner means you can’t record one HD show while watching another. There’s also no CableCARD tuner for viewing premium HD channels. (However, both of these issues can be rectified with the addition of an external tuner module.) It lacks high-resolution audio decoding and 7.1-channel analog audio outputs.
In terms of advanced functionality, the Slimline S3330f can’t compete with the high-end Media Center PC manufacturers, but this a nice entry-level solution for someone who wants to enjoy Blu-ray/HD DVD/DVD playback and basic Media Center functionality.