If you read the title and think this is meant to be unfair, fret not. This isn't merely to pick on the I-Opener, but to see if a discussion of the SV24 as a path for I-Opener upgrades is of any general interest.
Some background, my daughter has been loving (hating, abusing and most of all USING) her dog eared I-Opener for almost 2 years. However as she has grown so has the software she runs, more and more stuff isn't working, or is working poorly. Even when bumpted to 300Mhz, the I-Opener is still slow.
My first hope of upgrade was the net-computer from microcenter, I tried to get one, however I was unable to snag one. $99 is hard to pass up, for an I-Opener or for anything else really. Some on the network computer thread have mentioned some problems... thus perhaps I'm sort of glad I was forced to go another route.
Outpost is selling an SV24 for $299 with a 1.1Ghz Celeron (running 100Mhz bus speed) ultimately my inability to snag a dirt cheap network computer (or anything else) and watching my child not enjoy her computer as much caused me to take the leap.
The I-Opener and network computer beat the pants off the SV24 in terms of price, the SV24 is $299 for case/mb/cpu plus $80 for 512MB of ram (compgeeks) and $68 for dvd player (also compgeeks) not to mention $359 for a 15" flat panel screen (from Dell, 20% off $449 it includes speakers and has analog and DVI inputs). This is not inexpensive, do you get what you pay for (of course on this group everyone wants everything free). Hard drive was the only thing carried over with a $3.95 adapter.
Ok, so for about $800 we wind up with a 1.1Ghz 15" screen sized (decent screen) DVD playing 512MB I-Opener like device with a lot of ports for various devices. This vs say $99 for the I-Opener, $87 for an external USB CD ROM, $59 for 128MB of SODIMM, $39 for USB ethernet. Yup the I-Openers not free compared to this, but the cost of an I-Opener is more about $250-300ish with CD ROM (note also the SV24 has built in ethernet). Frugal people may also note the SV24 can do 800x600 on a TV (it's got the best TV output I have ever seen), thus someone frugal may wish to discount the cost of the monitor and then discount the memory down to about $39 from $80 for 128MB to have the systems comparable memorywise, this results if you really cust corners in a cost differential of at a minimum $100 SV24 over I-Opener. I don't view this as practical, however if you have an HDTV or have kids who mostly game... it's viable. I found the TV output of the SV24 superior to the I-Opener at 800x600 fwiw.
Ok, so lets say you find $800 high, but affordable. What do you get, is a great system built like a brick. It's amazingly stable, and has most of the bells and whistles you could want from a small desktop computer. I'll now review what the SV24 has over the I-Opener, and what the I-Opener has over the SV24, also what neither has but should (imho).
SV24 positives vs I-Opener......
1) Faster than heck, more memory than you'd dream of in an I-Opener, 512MB DIMM just popped in and ran right away.
2) USB ports in front (2) this is a mercy, very useful.
3) Headphone and Mic ports also in front (this really helps when you don't want to hear a billion repetitions of the hundred things kids play).
4) Restart button under power button, very easy to restart on hard crash.
5) Solidity, it's not as timid as the I-Opener, the case is all metal, but still it's light.
6) DVD/CD built in, USB CD is nice, but lets face it, it isn't 48x read, it isn't 12 or 16x write in cd or 8x read in dvd.
7) Ports, 2 firewire, 2 usb in back (2 in front), serial, parallel, ethernet, speaker out, line in, TV out (composit and Super, plus VGA), keyboard and mouse. Really at least one of any port you'd expect and sometimes 2 of those you'd not.
8) One real honest to goodness PCI slot!
9) The SV24 can boot anything, USB, SCSI, ZIP, hard, soft it doesn't care. USB FDD, USB HDD, USB CD ROM, ZIp Drive, network boot... it really doesn't seem to care, almost anything you can attach to it can be booted from.
Things the I-Opener has over the SV24....
1) Built in Monitor (yeah it sorta sucks, but at the cost it was/is still great and you can always use vga if desperate).
2) Built in speakers.
3) VOLUME control, big easy and often used! (this mitigates against the positive of the SV24 having headphone jacks, I wish the SV24 also had a volume/mute control on the front panel).
4) Cost, it is still darned cheap
5) NO FANS, the I-Opener was the quietest thing I ever used, and the SV24 is noisy compared to it (but quiet relative to other towers I have).
Things neither has but could use...
1) AGP slot, any future appliance device which doesn't have a 4x AGP slot is imho toast once someone develops one with this feature, likely more than anything else the I-Opener groups were unable to overcome the limited graphic engine of the I-Opener while the SV24 has a single PCI slot permitting a video card to be installed, lets face it AGP 4x would have been sweeter.
2) PCI slots, while the SV24 has one, IMHO any decent appliance will have either 1 PCI and 1 AGP slot, or 1 AGP and 1 or 2 notebook PCI type slots.
3) CF readers, the I-Opener permitted installation, but it'd be nice to have had this on both devices out of the box.
Well that's it. Constuctive dialog (not necessarily in agreement, just no slander please) is always appreciated