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Dell's XPS 420 is a desktop package that focuses on being the hub of your digital media life.

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Integrated video input is very convenient

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Includes N wireless protocol

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SideShow LCD panel is a useful addition

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Decoding chip isn't easily accessible

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Certain configurations are too pricey, forcing you into specific packages

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Only has options for a 375w or 425w power supply, which limits it's potential for gaming.

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Dell's XPS 420 is a desktop package that focuses on being the hub of your digital media life. In this role it combines features from traditional home theater PCs, performance gaming machines, and adds in its own mix of new functionality for handling media. Three "featured" configurations are available, with customizable options that let you pick and choose which hardware and software components to better suit your individual needs. The biggest differentiators with the XPS 420 are the integrated LCD panel for SideShow access, a built in media decoding chip, and the included media editing software.

  • Core 2 Duo processor (Extreme, or Quad optional)
  • Intel X38 Express chipset
  • 2GB of DDR2 800MHz RAM (upradable to 8GB)
  • Integrated S-Video/Composite input and output ports
  • Integrated 3"x2" LCD display
  • Dedicated media decoding chip
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements 6, Adobe Premier Elements, Soundbooth CS3
  • Vista Home Premium
  • Two 320GB 7200RPM hard drives in Raid 1 configuration
  • Integrated Bluetooth and optional Bluetooth headphones
  • Wireless A/B/G/N adapter
  • Optional 2x Blu-Ray drive recorder ($350)
  • Optional LCD remote control ($70)

The LCD screen is built into the chassis and runs off of Vista's SideShow technology. What this means is that you can interact with the computer while it's in sleep mode using a variety of widgets to access information such as your e-mail or stocks, or control the media player. New gadgets can be downloaded from Microsoft's website.

Dell is calling their media decoding chip the Dell Xcelerator. Marketing names aside, the decoding chip offloads video processing from the processor which decreases conversion times and speeds up overall performance. The chip doesn't get activated automatically with any decoding process, but instead has to be manually initialized using the bundled software. For people doing real-time transcoding to their Xbox 360's or PS3's the extra chip won't be a benefit with the current software.

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