The NEC Powermate X8500 is a media centre PC that features plenty of useful connectivity options and storage space. An 802.11g wireless adapter is installed, which makes it easy to connect the machine up to the Internet if you've got a wireless network up and running. For storing recorded TV shows, music files and photos, NEC has installed 1TB of hard drive space in a RAID 0 (striped) array.
Its configuration comprises an Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 CPU (which runs at 2.13GHz) and 2GB of DDR2 RAM, which runs at 533MHz. For rendering 3D graphics, the machine comes with a PCI Express graphics card that uses an ATI Radeon X1300 Pro graphics processing unit (GPU) with 256MB of dedicated memory. This GPU is not fast but if you don't play games then this card is fine; it has enough power to display high-resolution photographs and high-definition TV.
Included is a hybrid TV tuner, which can display analogue or digital TV channels, and has a dedicated FM radio tuner. The overall layout is user-friendly, with plenty of accessible ports on the front panel. We like the wireless keyboard that ships with this machine. It doesn't need to be within the line of sight of the machine in order to work and it has an easy to use analogue thumb-stick built in.
NEC also provides plenty of software that enhances the out-of-box experience. As soon as you set it up, you can use Microsoft Word, Works or Encarta and antivirus software is also provided. Our test machine came with Windows XP Media Centre Edition, but NEC does provide a free upgrade to Windows Vista Home Premium Edition.
NEC has built a quiet and well-featured media centre with plenty of storage space. It's easy to use and also comes with a good software bundle.