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When we first received WinBook’s Viiv-ready Jiv (both words rhyme with five—go figure), we realized that we didn’t really know exactly what it meant to be a “Viiv” PC. And remember, we pride ourselves on knowing the difference between an AMB and AMT.
Is Viiv a marketing code-name for paired technologies, like Centrino’s triumvirate of Pentium M, Intel 855 chipset, and Intel wireless chip? Or is it some content service you sign up for? Perhaps it’s special software that’s bundled with Microsoft Media Center Edition 2005?
We’ve since come to the conclusion that Viiv is any and all of these things. Combine any Intel dual-core CPU with certain Intel chipsets (why you couldn’t be Viiv-ready with ATI or nVidia chipsets, we don’t know) and certain Intel network chips, and you’ve got a Viiv machine. Also toss in a standby mode that actually works, some media content of dubious value, and HD Audio drivers, and you’re ready to, uh, Viiv. Even though Viiv is supposed to be for living room PCs, you don’t actually need a TV tuner or even adequate 3D graphics to get a Viiv badge. That’s right, Viiv is a total quagmire.
Fortunately, despite its Viiv sticker, WinBook’s Jiv is an entirely refreshing tack on the Windows Media Center PC theme. While most MCE machines we’ve seen are little more than desktop cases with a crapload of loud and hot hardware stuffed inside, the Jiv goes in the other direction.
About the size of an external USB hard drive, the Jiv features a mobile Intel 1.66GHz Core Duo T2300 processor coupled with an Intel 945G chipset and wireless chip and a TV tuner. With its notebook heritage, the power-sipping system trades the fan-cooled PSU found in other MCE boxes for a simple power brick.
A slot-fed double-layer DVD burner, a 100GB Seagate Momentus 5400.2 hard drive, and a Microsoft MCE keyboard make up the rest of the package. This all adds up to one hell of a quiet PC. Its diminutive size lets you put it in an unobtrusive spot in your media cabinet or tuck it aside your TV.
The Core Duo T2300 is quite capable of handling most media center chores, but the Intel 945G graphics is a pathetic weak sister to the puniest discrete part—the Jiv generated an astounding 3fps in Doom 3 and a whopping 416 in 3DMark2005.
These benchmarks, mind you, aren’t our standard desktop benchmarks. We used our standard notebook tests for this review because the Jiv is more notebook than desktop.
Aside from gaming, the Jiv performs OK. It’s actually faster than our zero-point notebook—a 2.13GHz single-core Pentium M rig—in the multithreaded Adobe Premiere Pro test, but the Jiv loses by about 10 percent in Adobe Photoshop CS. That’s likely due to the app’s single-threaded nature and the 200MHz difference between the machines. The 100GB Seagate Momentus 5400.2 is quiet and fairly spry for a notebook drive, but it’s sorely lacking in storage space—the Jiv’s biggest weakness.
Because the unit has a tuner, we’d imagine that recording TV in MCE would be a primary function. With only 80GB free, you’ll have to make some tough choices when TNT runs its Law and Order marathons. You can, of course, connect a second drive using USB, but that destroys the benefit of the Jiv’s tiny, space-conscious profile. Seagate’s 160GB or Fujitsu’s 200GB drive would greatly up the recording space while keeping the unit slim, but we’d really rather see a slightly larger box with a 500GB or 750GB desktop drive.
That leaves the Jiv in a tough spot. We like the concept and compact size of this machine but the poor graphics and small hard drive make it a tough pill to swallow.
Month Reviewed: November 2006
+ FOXY BROWN: Almost silent and unobtrusive, the Jiv should fit anywhere.
- ORIGINAL GANGSTAS: Low-capacity hard drive and pathetic graphics power make this a TV-only device.