So what else is there to talk about with the Alto?
One bug bear I do have is the Zalman remote. It just doesn’t seem to work very well. It has a built in mouse function which I quite like, but it barely works. It’s not that it doesn’t, every single time I begin using it, it works perfectly, for about 3 seconds, then it just stops. Regardless of what I do it won’t work from then on. It’s not a distance thing or a direction either. The only way to get it to work for another 3 seconds is to restart the system.
Now this could be a case of needing to update the drivers, but if I’m getting a remote I want it to work out the box.
Because of this, I spent most of my time with the Alto using an Enermax wireless keyboard with rollerball. This was a great way to access the HTPC and made it a much more enjoyable experience overall.
While we touched on the CPU speed with our WPrime and other tests in Part 1, one function that I felt was important to test for a media system like this was DVD ripping. As more and more people digitise their collections, anyone purchasing something like this can expect to at least rip the odd DVD from time to time.
I’m pleased to say, that even though the undervolted 2100T isn’t the most powerful chip out there, it certainly does well enough in this function and will outrip previous generation Core 2 Duos without a problem. It’s not going to bang them out in 15 minutes, but you can expect to have Handbrake finish its run in under 20.
HTPCs are here to stay and they offer a good middle ground for those still hanging on to their desktop system and the Alto is a great version of this. It comes in a completely silent package, with some quite fleshed out gaming ability, TV card, Blu Ray compatibility and its look fits in nicely with other lounge electronics.
The only real down sides of note are the flaky remote and the fact that there’s no bundled software. I’d have liked to have seen some DVD ripping and Blu Ray watching software.
For £1,000, you could of course build yourself a more powerful system, but with Cryo PC’s Alto, you get a professional build with a nice chunk of warranty, cable management, a silent, undervolted system and a wide feature set. There are a few things I’d personally tweak, but Cryo’s customisation lets you do that. The Alto makes a great base to build upon for a solid HTPC. If you’re in the market for an upgrade to your lounge media system, I suggest you give this HTPC a look.
Handles all forms of media with little issue
HD video looks great
TV card lets you do everything through the system if you want
Silent, passively cooled
Strong, if slightly limited gaming ability
Fits in with lounge electronics
Remote is flaky
No bundled software beyond OS