GoogleGear Zilicor3 RW
WHAT'S HOT: Best known as a vendor of computer hardware components, GoogleGear has recently begun selling assembled systems that target SOHO users. Though harder to say than "Dell Dimension" or "HP Vectra," the GoogleGear Zilicor3 RW has a lot going for it. The company packs several high-end components into the Zilicor3 RW while keeping the price tag just below $2000. The system has an ample 80GB hard drive, Plextor's high-quality PlexWriter 24X/10X/40X CD-RW, and a top-of-the-line CardExpert GeForce3 Ti 500 graphics board that offers DVi and S-Video output. Audio isn't lacking, either: The high-end SoundBlaster Audigy Gamer sound card includes an IEEE 1394 FireWire port, and the sound is output through the impressive surround-sound Creative Desktop Theater DTT3500 Dolby Digital 5.1 speaker set.
WHAT'S NOT: With a 2.0-GHz Pentium 4 and 256MB of RDRAM, this Windows XP Professional system earned a PC WorldBench 4 score of 105--marginally lower than the scores achieved by the four similarly configured office systems we've seen to date.
Documentation for most of the individual components came with our Zilicor3 RW, but there was no overall system manual.
Support policies--weekday-only technical support for 9 hours daily, on your dime--seem a bit thin.
WHAT ELSE: The 19-inch ADi MicroSan G910 monitor displayed deeply rich colors and natural-looking flesh tones in our test image; it also yielded readable 12-point Arial text in our test document, but with some fuzziness around the edges of individual characters.
The ergonomically correct will appreciate the Microsoft Natural Keyboard's smooth, accurate, and quiet typing and its built-in wrist rest and split-key design.
Performing system upgrades is reasonably easy with the GoogleGear chassis. Opening the basic beige midsize tower requires removing two screws; then the sturdy metal side panel pulls off and slips back on smoothly. Inside, two PCI slots and three drive bays (two for removable-media drives and one for hard drives) are available for future additions. You'll need your screwdriver to get into the system and install new components; but the drive cabling is bundled and mostly out of the way of the slots, bays, and memory sockets.
UPSHOT: A little work, a little fun, the Zillicor3 RW may appeal to SOHO workers looking for a balance of power and price in their next PC. Given the company's support hours, this is probably not a good choice for technically shaky PC users.
By Joel Strauch