Viglen is one of the last British computer manufacturers to have survived the glorious era of the late 1990's and is best known for being acquired by Sir Alan Sugar's Amstrad back in 1994.
The company, which will be 35 years old in 2010, is based in Hertfordshire and has Bordan Tkachuk as CEO. Its main focus over the past few years has been in the public and educational sectors selling a wide range of products, from desktops, workstations, servers, HPC, mobile to software.
We received their latest Omnino 4 all in one computer, which according to the online description, is "stylish, compact and manageable" and which is available direct from Viglen for £765 including VAT. Viglen chose to send two boxes one containing the base unit and the other, a 22-inch Hanns-G monitor; obviously, we were slightly baffled since all-in-one computers are supposed to be err... integrated.
But that's not the case and we had to literally build the all in one by ourselves armed with a screwdriver, definitely NOT running out of the box and the fun doesn't stop here.
To connect most devices (speaker cable, power cable, VGA cable, Keyboard, mouse etc), you have to take off the base unit's cover, the side panel and slide the cable through a hole, then connect the peripherals.
Not straight forward and the end result is nowhere near as tidy as one would have expected. You see the Omnino 4 is actually a normal case embedded in another bigger, snazzier case, one which comes with coasters, has a silver finish with black fins and is made up entirely of plastic.
We did manage to connect the screen, a keyboard, a mouse, a LAN cable and a speaker cable and soon ran out of space and yes, the monitor requires two additional cables (power and VGA). There's a second hole at the back but it would be limited to the power cable. To make things even more painful, the computer only had two external USB ports plus one earphone and one speaker connector.
The rest of the specification is, to put it succinctly, abysmal; there's an Intel Pentium E5300 processor, which was released back in late 2008, comes with two cores, 2MB L2 Cache, clocked at 2.6GHz and can manage only two threads. Someone at Viglen thought it was sufficient to have a mere 1GB memory (DDR3 PC3-8500) with some of it shared with the onboard graphics module.
The rest of the specification reads as follows; Viglen Vig625N mATX motherboard with two DIMM Slots (one occupied), a 160GB Western Digital SATA2 hard disk drive, Intel GMA 4500, HD Audio, one PCI x16 Express Slot, two PCI Slots, one PCI x1 Express slot, four SATA connectors, four USB ports, one VGA out, one DVI-D, six audio jacks, GbE LAN, two PS2 ports, a 250W PSU, a Viglen Soft touch keyboard, a Microsoft Basic Optical USB mouse and a slimline DVD writer. Not all of the ports are easily accessible as you can see below.
Other than that, Viglen has bundled a HannsG HI221D (rebadged as the Viglen Envy 22HQ), Windows 7 Professional and a driver CD.
Oddly, there's no Microsoft Office 2010 Starter business application suite but you do get Cyberlink Powe2Go and Power DVD, not what I'd expect from a business oriented computer and there's no security apps as well. The system is covered by one year onsite maintenance with a seven-days response.
One of the rare positive features about the system is the fact that the base unit comes on wheels, which allows it to be rotated neatly; the other is the screen which at 22-inch and with a screen resolution of 1680x1050 pixels is sufficient good.
Performance, as one will expect, is sluggish and the combination of tiny memory capacity (64 MB is dedicated to graphics expandable to 302MB), an obsolete processor plus a slow hard disk drive is lethal.
The Windows Experience Index test returned a lowly score of 3.1. A computer with 3GB, a separate video card and a Pentium E7500 returned a score of 5.0 out of a maximum of 7.0.
We'd really, really like the British computer manufacturer to succeed but if the Omnino 4 is the best example of what Viglen can achieve, then it might just be too late.
True, users will be able to use their existing TFT monitor instead of using Viglen's supplied one, but it's a hassle to remove the stand and actually fix the display in place. One could also argue that the opportunity costs involved will outweigh any potential savings.
There are a number of suggestions that we'd make to Viglen in order to improve the Omnino 4 AIO device. Make it easier to connect devices and peripherals to its successor, decrease the size of the base unit, lower the price and deliver a truly integrated solution with some innovative features. For example, we're craving for one laptop without the display.
Something like the Vostro V13 but without the screen. Ultimately, there are much better, much cheaper options out there and we cannot therefore recommend the purchase of the Omnino 4 All in One computer unless Viglen significantly reduce the price or changes the configuration massively.