[Review] Stuck on Mini PC Look, Ripple Look

2009-08-27, Joshua Reporter

SEOUL, Korea (AVING) -- <Visual News> Couple look, military look, vintage look, hippie look, ripple look••• Ripple look?

The meaning of '~ look' is a detailed category of fashion, which symbolizes a certain trend or fashion. But what if this ~ Look is applied in PCs?

MyRipple has introduced the Mini PC 'Ripple Look', which expands the realm of viewing joy. Ripple Look is, as seen in its name, a product specializing in design, displaying a sensually designed exterior fit for any place while also living up to its previous Ripple MiniPC functions. (Product handled in this review is 'Black Dot ISSB-H001')

Ripple Look is, in one phrase, 'PC like no other PC'. When I saw the cube-shaped Ripple Look with the round corners, I had a hard time guessing what this product was about. It was after noticing the power button on the frontal center, the HDD LED and several terminals on the back that I realized this box was a PC.

I was amazed once again after lifting Ripple Look, which is far lighter than other laptops, thinking 'Is this really a PC?' Ripple Look is extremely light, made of glazed tempered plastic. The compact dimensions of 235 X 215 X 69mm make it easy to carry around.

The black color of Ripple Look seems very simple, but has a small dot-pattern designing all over the surface. It is not prominent, but is an indistinct point of the exterior, just as dressing would be to salad.

Besides the Black Dot model of this review, the black color models have Water Mark and S-Line, while the white color models have While Hall and Magic Circles for a total of 5 patterns. I certainly hope for a wider range of diversely designed covers or separate sheets of various patterns so that users would be given a wider range of selection for use according to the season or surrounding environment.

As mentioned above, there is a power button and HDD LED to the front of the exterior, covered with dot patterns and the Ripple logo. The simplified exterior does not stand out in living rooms, inner rooms, or on top of desks, but rather harmonize with its surroundings

On the left side is an air inlet that intakes external cold air, and on the right side is a 60mm cooler fan as well as an air outlet. The heating and noise issues are common in Mini ITX, but Ripple Look succeeded in improving these issues by adopting 200 air vents and a 60mm low-noise fan to reduce heat and noise.

Due to the design of the air vent placed on both sides, the product is highly recommended for use on its horizontal belly. If space does not allow, the user may rest it on its left side, which will not cause any problems in circulating internal air.

To the back are PS/2 type mouse/keyboard ports, printer port, serial port, VGA port, 4 USB 2.0 ports, LAN port, speaker port, microphone input/output terminal, power AC connection terminal, and burglary prevention hall (from the left). Although a Mini PC, it has a passable extensibility that does not fall short by much.

However, it is inconvenient in that it does not provide a more diverse connection method of DVI and HDMI terminals for connecting to TV and monitors. Moreover, the design concept has placed all USB ports to the rear, which may create some inconveniences.

The bottom side has a bottom plate attached with rubber pads that prevent vibration/sliding. Removing this bottom plate reveals a VESA mount hall in the middle. This VESA mount hall allows the optionally provided VESA mount to use Ripple Look as a wall-attachment type on the back of monitors or on walls, allowing its transformation into a USF (Ultra Small Formfactor) PC.

The interior is filled with the know-how of Mini PCs accumulated through the history of Ripple lineups. Separated into the top plate and bottom plate, the bottom plate has a basic mini-ITX type main board, INTEL Atom Processor CPU, memory, and power supply, while the top plate has a 2.5-inch SATA hard disk used on laptops, for an optimized utilization of space and convenient attachment/detachment of the hard disk.

The selection of a 2.5-inch hard disk seems to be a well-informed choice in terms of the functions of low power, space utilization and heat generation of an Atom Processor base, excluding the lower speed compared to a 3.5-inch hard disk.

This product displays a significant amount of transformation and devotion with its exterior design, internal space utilization, and transformation allowed through VESA. Seeing the price range around 300,000 won, Ripple Look can be considered as significantly complete.

In particular, the tempered plastic exterior has its merits and demerits. The light weight allows Ripple Look to be used as a USF PC. On the other hand, the metal frame results in a somewhat low durability, requiring some caution when opening the case.

Of course, the recently introduced Ripple Look is a complete product that mounts RAMs and hard disks, different from conventional Ripple MiniPCs that are bare bone types. Even if the user does not need to open the case, it is inconvenient that the user may not freely comprise the specifications according to one's own taste.

Moreover, as same with the original Ripple, Ripple Look is not installed with an Operating System (OS). Therefore, the user must purchase an OS and install it. Also, a CD driver is not separately mounted, requiring the purchase of an external ODD or installation through USB. The installation through USB method can be easily learned at the Ripple Website (www.ripple.co.kr/mini/support/faq.asp).

Let's take a rough calculation through respective test programs. (The values may differ according to respective OS, installed programs, etc.)

This review model is equipped with an INTEL 945GC/ ICH7 main board, INTEL Single Core Atom 230 (1.6GHz, 512kb) CPU, 320G HDD, 2G RAM, and INTEL GMA 950 Graphic Card giving it a mid/low class specification among the various Ripple Look series. Atom 230 is a Pentium D standard, displaying a rather insufficient capacity compared to current desktops.

The crystal mark value shows that Ripple Look has a roughly similar capacity to the net-book with an N270 Atom platform.

When comparing the Single Core Atom 230 with the Dual Core Atom 330 currently sold in INTEL, Atom 330 provides exactly double the capacity in terms of function. Ripple Look has models that support both Atom 230 and Atom 330.

This review model is an Atom 230-based product. The hyper-threading technology was applied to allow control over the BIOS option, and through this function, the user can confirm through the window that two threads are activated although this is a single core. Of course, since it is a logical thread composition rather than a physical core, hyper-threading shows an approximately 1.5 times the capacity when activated and deactivated

According to the test results above, the Atom 230 model cannot support high-specification games, but is fit for games like KartRider, web-surfing, document processing, simple photoshop, movie viewing, etc. As for movies, it may be a strain to play high specification images like 1080P.

An actual video image was played. Hyper-threading was activated, and the video was played with KMP for MKV 720P, 480P, and player. As a result, 1080P could not be run, and as for 720P, CPU usage was close to 90~100%, which would not cause any problems in viewing the movie, but made the use of other programs difficult. Other videos below 720P, like 480P, are playable without any big problems.

Nonetheless, this MiniPC should not be judged only by its functions. Ripple Look is not targeted towards consumers exclusively wanting game-support or high specifications, but is rather fit for connecting a low-end PC to the TV or for use as a home server or home theater. Also, Ripple Look is for consumers requiring low power consumption between 25~30W and usage purposes of web surfing or simple document processing.

Thus, rather than debating on its functions, it should be assessed to have a certain target group of users and purposes. For example, Ripple Look would be a good choice to someone wanting to somewhat limit games for his/her children. Also, Ripple Look can be used as a home server, connected to a TV, and can play movies and music.

That was a brief overlook on the new Ripple Look.

Products introduced these days are too often judged to have over-specifications. It seems to be more important to know how much I would really need and what I would really need.

Ripple Look is considered to be a different breakthrough in the already saturated desktop market, with its good harmonization in diverse environments. This product can certainly solve consumers' concerns for diversity. Ripple Look advocates a high-class design, durability, super-low power consumption, and low-end price as its merits. There is no change in expectation on the lineup that is scheduled to steadily arrive.

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