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Mac Mini competition? Shuttle's ultra-slim X350 PC packs dual-core Atom D510 CPU, Nvidia Ion graphics

Looking for an alternative to the new Mac Mini? Shuttle is introducing one that's similarly svelte, plus features the latest in -- well, let's be honest -- netbook technology.

Looking for an alternative to the new Mac Mini? Shuttle is introducing one that's similarly svelte, plus features the latest in -- well, let's be honest -- netbook technology.

That's not a slight, as Shuttle is clearly promoting the new X350 as a living room PC that provides more performance than its predecessors. Considering most of those home theater "nettops" came with an older, single-core Intel Atom processor and integrated graphics, the X350's updated hardware should provide the promised boost. In addition to the new dual-core Atom D510 CPU, the desktop features Nvidia's Ion graphics technology, which may not let you play Crysis at anything but the lowest settings (if that) but can help with any HD video playback.

The company has managed to reduce the X350's footprint by a third from its X100 and X200 ancestors, with its 1.5-inch height a mere tenth of an inch more than the new Mac Mini. Like the Mini, it can still squeeze in a DVD burner, though it's unclear if it will be offered with a Blu-ray option. (The Mini does not.) Fortunately, we won't have long to wait to find out, as the system will be available to order on the Shuttle Web site this week. We'll presumably learn more about the pricing of the X350 as well, since Shuttle hasn't disclosed any details yet.

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