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Save space and cash with an affordable net-top computer

No space for a desktop pc, but want something with more processing clout than a netbook? Step forward the net-top: small and discrete, yet powerful enough to run all of your office applications with ease. If you're willing to sacrifice graphical oomph, a net-top is cheaper, quieter and uses less electricity

ACER ASPIRE REVO R3610

Price: Rs. 19,500

www.acer.com

The Revo combines Intel's ubiquitous Atom processor with Nvidia's ION graphics, resulting in a surprisingly capable machine. As with many net-tops, there's no space for a DVD drive, but it's otherwise well specced out, with 2GB RAM, a 250GB hard drive, HDMI, eSATA, six USB ports and N Wi-Fi. To save more space the Revo R3610 can be mounted on the rear of an existing monitor using the included VESA mounting kit, turning it into an all-in-one PC – with wireless mouse and mini keyboard – for under 20k. Spend 2k on an external DVD drive and it's still a bargain.

LOVECheap. Well connected and nippy

HATE No DVD drive

MEDION AKOYA MINI E2076D

Price: Rs. 22,400

www.medionshop.co.uk

The 20mm-thick Medion Akoya Mini has a slightly lower-powered single-core 1.6GHz Intel Atom 230 CPU, 2GB of memory and a measly 160GB hard drive, making it the weakest performer on test. The internal fan can be surprisingly rowdy for something so small and connectivity is poor — you get N Wi-Fi and six USB ports, but there's no HDMI or eSATA. Don't expect a DVD drive either: there's no room. The Akoya Mini is slim and compact, but there are better-specced offerings in this test for similar money.

LOVE Extremely compact and reasonably cheap

HATE Noisy fan. No DVD drive or HDMI. Only a single-core processor

APPLE MAC MINI SERVER

www.apple.com/in

The original net-top now comes with Snow Leopard server. It's great for small businesses, being both very simple to set up, user-friendly and also pretty powerful by net-top standards. Since the Mac Mini's recent upgrade, the DVD drive has been replaced by extra storage in the form of twin 500GB hard drives, while the CPU and RAM have been maxed out to a 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo and 4GB respectively, with a Firewire 800 port, five USBs and Wi-Fi N. Packing file-sharing and other collaborative treats, it works with both Mac and Windows clients.

LOVE 1TB of storage and a powerful processor

HATE No DVD drive or HDMI. Pricey

VIEWSONIC PC MINI 132

Price: Rs. 26,500

www.viewsonic.com

ViewSonic is a name usually associated with PC monitors and this mini PC is designed to be mounted behind your existing screen. It's not a particularly powerful machine, although it can easily tackle all office-based tasks, with a 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor, 2GB RAM and Nvidia GeForce graphics. There's no room for a DVD drive, no mouse or keyboard included, and onboard storage is kept to a below-par 320GB. Connections include HDMI, Wi-Fi N, card slots, digital audio out and a sextet of USB ports, but no eSATA or Firewire.

LOVE Extremely compact and stylish with plenty of useful connections

HATE No DVD drive. Not enormously powerful

ASUS EEEBOX 1501

Price: Rs. 27,500

www.asus.com

At its heart the EeeBox 1501, the cousin of the similarly simplistic and stylish Eee PC netbook, runs the same combo of Intel Atom 1.6GHz CPU, 2GB RAM and Nvidia ION graphics found in both the Acer Aspire Revo and the ViewSonic Mini PC. Performance-wise it's no whiz-kid, and the hard drive, like the Acer and ViewSonic, is a below-par 250GB, but the EeeBox has one trump card up its sleeve: a built-in DVD drive. Connectivity is also good, with four USBs, HDMI, eSATA and N Wi-Fi.

LOVE DVD drive. Good connectivity, including eSATA. Smart, typically Asus design

HATE Pricier than most similarly specced net-tops. Lacks storage

DELL INSPIRON ZINO HD

Price: Rs. 43,500

www.dell.com

The Zino HD is heftier than most net-tops, but packs a processing punch. As with most Dell machines, numerous configurations are available, costing from 21k to over 61k. Our unit came with a Blu-ray drive, an AMD Athlon X2 Dual Core 3250e CPU, 4GB of RAM and ATI Radeon HD4330 graphics, able to handle a wide variety of tasks with ease as well as a big 1TB hard drive. The exterior is also customisable, with a choice of “artistic” skins, about which the least said the better. You can get a plain one too, so fear not.

LOVE Individual design and customisable specs. Some impressively high-end spec options, too

HATE More expensive and bulkier than most

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