Gigabyte Brix Review

I had the opportunity the last week to get my hands on the new Gigabyte Brix for a customers presentation/show room. At first glance I was a bit dubious whether I made the right decision on the purchase, but as they say size isn’t everything. I went for a modest spec that would contain enough guts to carry out most tasks and live up to the customer needs, however, I wasn’t prepared to pay the extra £140 for a Windows 8.1 operating system…would you?  So I opted for the DIY approach and installed trusty Windows 7 – 64bit, saving the customer a wedge of cash in the process.

How did it do?
Once installed and ready to go the device was rather fluid in terms of processing and pace. Testing a majority of Office apps and image renderings with Photoshop was pretty much on par with a standard business pc and if I am honest I was rather pleased with my decision to purchase this device based on my research. However, I did pickup on the slight bottle necks that occurred when really pushing the device, which I put down to the lack of power or the voltage protection limiters they configure in small form factors. Pretty much the same as giving you a BMW M3 with only 3 gears!!

Was it the right choice?
Absolutely, it ticked all the boxes for me and lived up to expectations in terms of what the customer expected it to do and some.

Any plus points?
Yes,  having 4 USB ports plus the display port was handy, plus the icing on the cake was the fact that it looks cool, plus the way I placed it made it really accessible staff yet unobtrusive all at the same time.


 i5 Intel Quad core / 8Gb Ram / 240SSD.

£298 (optional OS £120 to £140)

Overall a great piece of kit with some limitations  7/10



HP Sprout

I was lucky enough last week to setup and use the new HP Sprout computer, which was released a month or so ago. At a staggering £1800+ I was expecting something rather special and to hopefully experience the next stage in computer development.  After an hour of setting up and memorising how it all works, I suddenly grasped what it was all about and begun to dive into the key hardware features.

The way this device clicks together is incredible, the speed of the computer itself was blistering, it felt sharp and precise regardless of how many applications you were running or large imagery you had open. Looking past the blistering speeds of this device and as a stand alone computer it simply hit the mark in every respect.

Moving on to the real meat on the bone, the 20″ touch mat and projector are without doubt a designers dream. Having the ability to copy anything you place in the projectors view into a 3d image on your screen is revolutionary in terms of conversion time, ease of use and imagination. Using the touch mat to design your work is also a huge bonus, either by stylus or simply using your fingers to manipulate designs. It took me a while to generate something of worth, but in the end it looked good and had a huge amount of fun doing it. The touch mat is responsive but on occasions it appeared to stagger a little whilst stretching a layered image too much. However, the touch mat/projector are great feature regardless and brings a whole new dynamic to desktop computing but only for a niche market.

Overall the whole HP Sprout package isn’t for everyone and with the price tag reaching high spec Mac levels, I wonder how many people will opt for the Mac over this contender. The big question is whether it will grow roots or simply wither away with the next season?

Synology or Sy-NO-logy

Providing small businesses with an affordable Raid storage solution without spending thousands on a server can often be taxing. All to often budgets dictate the use of a NAS solution instead to bridge the gap, however, with the amount of NAS boxes on the market, making the right decision is crucial.

Over the years I have purchased several NAS boxes that have simply not cut it and all to often have been returned or replaced. Three years ago I made the decision to purchase a Synology device for one of my customers and was pleasantly surprised by the functionality and features this device contains and haven’t looked back to this day.

Recently I purchased the DS215j for a customer along with 2 x 2TB drives, which took less than an hour to setup and configure. To add to this solution I also bolted a DS115J as an additional backup device which contained 1 x 2TB drive. This customer now has peace of mind because his business data is now mirrored via Raid and backed up daily for a dual redundancy solution.

Not only is the Synology a great storage device solution, but there is a wealth of apps that work well when configured correctly, such as remote file access, cctv, media library control & much more. For an affordable small business and home solution I would not use anything else.

iOpen Solutions Ratings
Ease of use 8/10
Reliability 8/10
Redundancy 9/10
Functionality 8/10
Price 8/10

Ups: Lots of features – easy to use   Downs: limited support – hard drive compatibility


Gigabit Network CAT6 Installation

Replacing old office wiring can be a tedious task at times, especially when the existing CAT4 cabling is twisted around electrical & coaxial cable. For this particular job, all the existing cabling needed to be ripped out and re-organised throughout the office trunking, which ran around the plasterboard in the 1st floor office.

As there were three trunking sections, we were able to split the electrical and CAT6, removing the obsolete coaxial cable completely. Splitting the electrical and CAT6 cabling reduces the noise interference overall, improving network data performance slightly.

Job Spec
14 x Dual Network Points
3 x Office Rooms re-wired
3Com Gigabit Switch
ADSL Broadband + WIFI

(Below Images) Old cables removed and electrical/CAT 6 now split.