When drawing conclusions on a relatively unique piece of equipment, we needed to break things up a bit when collecting our thoughts on the S-presso Deluxe. As we reported, the S-presso Deluxe comes with a number of unique features, but is not without its problems. To try to keep things organized, we'll break things down into categories for clarity.
Construction: The S-presso is a slick looking machine, with its dark blue color and novel illuminated touch panel. The touch panel was an impressive feature that worked nicely. We did find the all plastic construction to take away from the overall impressions of the S-presso's case, cheapening the feel. We also didn't care too much for the method for opening the case. We continually struggled with the sliding hinged mechanism, having to literally hit the handle forward several times to get it to move. What the design did deliver on was an extremely quiet experience. Even under heavy load with the system sitting three feet away on our test bench, the S-presso Deluxe was exceptionally quiet.
Setup: Our biggest issue with the setup of the InstantON software was the poor instructions. We think a lot of users are going to be in for some headaches if they actually follow the steps to the "T". In our experience, we recommend leaving a small amount of unpartitioned space on the drive for InstantON, but installing Windows first. This follows along the lines of their second set of instructions regarding installing to a hard drive with Windows already present. We do not believe instructing the user to simply reassign the drive letter of the Windows partition should ever be considered a viable option. On an up note, hardware installation was a breeze, thanks to easy access provided by the cases unique design.
Features: There is no arguing the S-presso has a lot of features, but they seem to work against each other where it counts. First, there is the lack of a TV-Out on a system pushed as a home theater centerpiece. Yes, you can add an AGP card, which will add TV-Out with the right card, but this kills the InstantON feature. Yes, you can use the Home Theater 2 software, but then why buy the Deluxe model if you are going to negate the InstantON features with the installation of a video card? The other alternative is to leave the system with its integrated graphics and run the entire experience through a monitor. It just doesn't quite add up to us. On the plus side, being able to power on a computer system with a remote control is an awesome feature.
Performance: When comparing the performance of the S-presso to a similarly equipped comparison board, the performance was on-par with what we should expect. The performance deltas between the two were close throughout our testing. Overall, user's would be hard pressed to notice the slight variations in real-world usage.
In summary, we were both impressed and frustrated with the S-presso Deluxe. The unit seemed to have so much potential, yet we felt our hands were tied whenever we tried to take full advantage of its features. On the one hand, you can have a deluxe multimedia PC that supports InstantON but is limited to standard VGA video with integrated graphics. On the other hand, you can add an AGP card with TV-Out support and essentially disable many of the deluxe features you bought the unit for in the first place, namely InstantON. The obvious solution would be to simply add TV-out to the machine, opening things up and allowing the S-presso Deluxe to truly fit the model of a home theater centerpiece. Instead, with the potential difficulties in setup coupled with the aforementioned design flaws, the S-presso Deluxe is more of a proof-of-concept that is somewhat limited.
We give the ASUS S-presso Deluxe a Hot Hardware Heat Meter rating of...