It's my first post after many visits in the last months.
So, first of all let me say THANK YOU to MikeC and the other enthusiast contributors for this great site!!!
Sorry for my lenghty post, but after reading so many threads, reviews and articles on this site and others I still have many doubts and questions.
TASKS FOR MY SYSTEM
I'd like to build a small and very quite system for my very tiny home office to use as an individual workstation for translation jobs, a small startup online business (building a professional website), heavy websurfing (with several tabbed windows open at the same time), webreasearch, music download center to use with an iPod and other projects. Gaming is not required at all. DVD burning and playback are a plus, but not essentials for this system. Portability would be a very great plus: it would be wonderful to board airplanes with this system in my carryon bag and a Shuttle 17" LCD in its own carrybag (I dont't need to use the system on the road, easy transport is enough, and a nice display with a quality keyboard is better for me than a not so ergonomic notebook with a smaller display). Heavy photo and video editing is not required (but storing, viewing and light photoediting of my personal pictures would be a nice plus). The system will be connected to Internet on broadband ADSL from home, but it would be very nice to connect on a mobile phone operator GPRS/GSM network when I use the system in different locations.
The system should run Windows XP and applications as those belonging to the Office 2003 family, Computer Aided Translation (CAT) tools, multitabbed web browsers, Adobe Acrobat (full, not only reader)... Many times more applications should be open all together at the same time in different windows. (For the moment Linux software is not a viable solution for me for the lack of adeguate CAT tools for translators and the lack of the perfect MS Office compatibility required by the translation industry even for documents with heavy formatting and very particular language settings.)
The system should be paired with a 17"/19" LCD display: for space constraints I had to give away recently a superb 17" Eizo CRT (now I use a 17" Samsung SyncMaster 173P but maybe I'll upgrade to a 19" Samsung or Eizo LCD in the future because at the 1.280 x 1.024 native resolution everything is a little bit too small for me on the screen).
VIA EPIA MII
I am very tempted to build a very quiet system based on a mini-ITX VIA EPIA MII12000 (or 10000) mobo in a small case (like Travla C-138 or maybe a fanless e-Otonashi), but I am not sure whether this system can fulfill the above mentioned tasks. What do you think? Maybe P4 ITX mobo is more indicated? Or as minimum Shuttle XPC (Zen/ST61G4) and Antec Aria based micro-ATX should be considered for such a quiet system?
VIA EPIA MII ONBOARD VIDEO
Searching this site's forums and the Internet I found some negative opinions concerning even the 2D capalities of the EPIA MII onboard video. What do you think about it? Is it really so far in 2D from ATI onboard solutions? For me sharp text and no eyestrain are first priority. Consider that I expect to read text on my LCD display for all day long, 5-6 days a week. I already wear glasses, so it's not the case to challange my eyes with so-so 2D video quality.
Microsoft suggests to turn on ClearType on Windows XP because it improves drammaticaly text quality (they promise an effect tending to printed paper). However I am not sure if it really works because on my old system with old video card it has resulted even more eyestrain. But given that it really works MS says that it works better with DVI than VGA connection and this is also problematic on the EPIA MII mobos without DVI output. I found that a DVI output daughterboard was developed, but iit does not appear available for purchase. And I don'understand if this daughterboard solution really helps improve 2D immage quality or it is only a kind of adapter for DVI displays without VGA input (my SyncMaster have both VGA and DVI). What do you think about? Or maybe a PCI video card with DVI output could help If yes, what about the possibilities for adeguately/passively cooling it in a small case without giving up much silence?
And finally, what do you think about the possibility to connect to the Internet via a mobile phone operator provided GPRS/GSM network? The VIA EPIA MII12000 PCMCIA cardreader will accept the cards used on notebook computers? If not, is there any other solution (maybe again via PCI)?
Your thoughts on these (or any of these) points?
Thank you very much for your attention/help!