The Fit PC 2 is neatly finished in a black paint over the custom-cast alloy case, and features an SD Card slot and two mini-USB sockets on its front panel. Also here is a soft-touch power switch, plus an infrared receiver window. With the help of an extra remote handset (not included), you could use the Fit PC 2 as a modest media centre PC. Meanwhile in a business setting, we can imagine the Fit PC 2 being attached directly to the rear of a monitor.

Prices for the Fit PC 2 start at £241 for a diskless version, then £293 or £333 for Ubuntu 8.04 or Windows XP Home versions, ready-filled with an 160GB hard drive. These Fit PC 2 models are all using the slower 1.1GHz Z510 Atom processor. For the 1.6GHz version that we tested, prices are £286, £339 and £373 respectively for the no-disk/Linux/Windows options.

Our Fit PC 2 sample had been set up to dual-boot Microsoft Windows XP Home and Linux Ubuntu 8.04. While the Fit PC 2's chipset boasts HD capability, we found smooth playback was available only under limited circumstances.

Under Linux, the MPlayer app could make use of the GMA 500 graphics chip to smoothly play 1080p video. In the Ubuntu OS we also found the other popular open-source video player, VideoLan Client (VLC), already installed. This gave choppy, unwatchable playback of video, suggesting it wasn't taking advantage of the Intel GMA 500 for hardware acceleration of video decoding, specifically of MPEG-2, AVC and VC-1 high-definition content.

Under Windows XP, a codec for Windows Media Player has now been added which allows full-screen playback of 1920x1080 high-definition video. We found this to work well enough to give essentially undisturbed playback of rich HD video. But beware that any other video playback program such as QuickTime or VLC will not necessarily benefit from GPU decoding of video.

As with the Dell Mini 10, we were unable to log any 3D benchmarks for the Fit PC 2 as the machine wouldn't run the test. Running the WorldBench 6 test in Windows XP, we recorded a score of 33, a typical figure for a humble Atom-equipped PC.

In use, the Fit PC 2 felt snappy on either OS, and quite up to general office production and internet browsing and networking duties.

Our measured power consumption figures - while very low at 7W idling and 11W under load - were not quite down to the ‘5-9W (full load)' figures claimed of this nevertheless highly economical-to-run miniature computer.

The distributor has since informed us that the advertised figures reflect the Fit PC 2's raw consumption and do not include the losses from the small external power adaptor. Most switch-mode power supplies (SMPS) this run at around 60-80% efficiency. To get a true measure of the PC's consumption, we'd nevertheless highlight the real-world composite system figure of 7-11W - which remains a truly neglible draw.

OUR VERDICT

The Fit PC 2 could earn credentials as a baby media PC when it becomes less fussy about HD video playback on either of its recommended OS platforms. Until then, even as it stands the Fit PC 2 is neat solution as a low-maintenance midget computer. While prices start relatively low, by the time you spec up the Fit PC with the 1.6GHz processor and Windows XP, the price is becomes somewhat less competitive. If you’re on a budget, you’ll get a better deal by simply buying any Dell Mini 10 laptop, up to and including the top spec version at £349. That way, you’ll even get a free 10in screen, keyboard, webcam, Bluetooth and battery pack included in the package. If on the other hand you need something to tuck behind a desktop LCD display, or just fancy a cute-sized personal computer little bigger than a packet of 20 cigarettes, the Fit PC 2 presents itself as a great solution.