|A member of the Funky Media Group|
|Review: Zotac ZBox Blu-Ray Mini PC (HD-ID34BR)|
|Posted by Winston|
|Wednesday, 08 September 2010 00:02|
Page 9 of 9
Verdict and Conclusion
Overall, I was pretty impressed with the performance of the Zotac's Zbox Blu-Ray HD-ID34BR. In our system benchmarks, it produced scores which I thought was more than respectable. This is all thanks to Intel's dual core ATOM D525 running at 1.8Ghz, along with 2Gb of DDR2 ram as well as the Nvidia ION graphics chipset with 512Mb DDR3 ram onboard. Zotac has done a good job in beefing up their latest nettop/mini PC. Having already introduced over 10 different models, the Zbox Blu-Ray HD-ID34BR is by far one of the most powerful nettop or mini PC on the market.
What makes the Zbox Blu-Ray HD-ID34BR really appealing to home users and even some HTPC enthusiasts, is the fact that it comes with a built-in slim Blu-Ray rom drive and WiFi, as well as a host of connections. These include HDMI, DVI, eSATA, RJ45, SPDIF Optical, 1x USB2.0 and 2x USB3.0 ports. There's also a 6-in-1 multi card reader, which is great for transfering photos. The overall build quality is good and very solid. The unit itself looks very much like a standalone DVD/Blu-Ray player with its smooth exterior and slim silver/black chassis. It blends in well with other audio/visual equipment you have in the house. Having said that, it's only let down by the lack of a remote control and maybe some extra cabling such as a HDMI and USB3.0.
For expansion, the Zbox Blu-Ray HD-ID34BR has a spare unused SODIMM slot for adding a further 2Gb DDR2-800 module. The hard drive can be replaced if 250Gb isn't large enough. I was tempted to replace it with a SSD drive ... now that would be interesting. Imagine a "suped-up" nettop with an Intel ATOM D525, Nvidia ION grapics, 4Gb of DDR2 and 120Gb SSD ... mmmmm.
There is a blue ring (as shown in the video clip) that glows on and off when the system is sleep mode, which I think is pretty cool feature to have. One thing the Zotac Zbox Blu-Ray HD don't include is a pre-installed copy of Windows 7, which I think is a shame really. It's the kind of unit you just want to connect up, plug in and hit the power button ... then sit back and let the system run. With no Microsoft Windows included, it means you have to install your own copy, and that could take hours.
During our tests, we also measured the overall temperature of the Zbox Blu-Ray HD-ID34BR during normal operation. I have to say ... I wan't that impressed. The CPU reached 67 degree Celsius, while the onboard ION graphics chipset easily hit 66 degrees Celsius ... it was something which I didn't expect. At this temperature, it's not perfect but the system can handle it. I'm always wary about high operating temperatures, especially when you can feel the hot air being blown out of the exhaust port. The heat issue maybe a concern for some users, but I found it acceptable. I would recommend you placing the unit in an area with good ventilation.
The VESA wall mount/bracket is pretty nice feature to have. You're now able to mount the unit on the wall ... in the Kitchen, in the living room or even in the bathroom (yes, I've seen it done before). As a mini PC, the Zbox Blu-Ray HD-ID34BR is great little unit ... but falls slightly as a HTPC, as it's lacking a few of the necessary components needed ... such as extra cables for HDMI, SPDIF, USB3.0 as well as a remote control. But having said that, I would probably go out and buy my own "higher quality" A/V cables to connect the system up.
Pricewise the Zotac Zbox Blu-Ray HD-ID34BR will probably cost somewhere in the region of USD $599 (GBP 410) for the version we reviewed which includes the hard drive and ram, and USD $475 (GBP 320) without. At this price, it's a little more than I expected, but considering all the great features you do get with it ... I think it's acceptable.
Final words. Having looked at the specifications of the Zotac Zbox Blu-Ray HD-ID34BR, it's currently one of the most feature-packed nettop or mini-PC on the market. It offers very good performance powered by Intel's dual core Atom D525 running at 1.8Ghz, along with 2Gb of DDR2 ram, as well as the Nvidia ION graphics chipset with 512Mb DDR3 ram onboard.