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58 of 60 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2011
Verified Purchase
I use this box as a living room media center connected to a remote media server. I successfully set it up using both Linux and Windows 7 64, though for 3D compatibility with my TV I was forced to use Windows 7 for now.

The good:

Quiet
Good 1080p video and 8 channel audio
Good 3D playbay
Front and top USB 2.0 ports (USB 3.0 in the back) -- Great for wireless dongles
HDMI connectivity to 3D tv (using nvidia 3DTV) works
Wakes up quickly from suspend with IR remote
Zbox linux setup works beautifully with ztreambox. I never bothered trying to properly configure the sound using XBMC Live or other Linux distributions since ztreambox made it so easy.
Small size
HDMI recognized by my home theater receiver.

The bad:

Poor native wifi. It was impossible to stream 720p at times without numerous buffering pauses. I ended up buying a Dual-band N USB Adapter 300MBPS Push-button Setup USB 2.0 which solved the streaming problem and allows 1080p streaming. As a $40 fix, the wifi problem was not a deal killer for me for a barebone system. My max transfer speed with the native Wifi card was only 8 mbps through 1 wall at about 25 feet away.
Can't play 2 separate 1080p streams to make 3D video. Well, you can try, but it is not pretty as it pegs the CPUs at 100% and stutters like crazy even with the graphics acceleration activated. 720p 3D streams work fine, as do most integrated 1080p 3D files.

General thoughts:

Some people mention it puts out a lot of heat. It does get warm, but if you use it in an upright position, the heat rises out the top like a chimney. I have not had any problems with the heat, even after turning down all the fan settings in the BIOS to run as quiet as possible.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 23, 2011
A surprisingly featureful miniPC that uses only 25W fully loaded out.

I selected this mini-PC for its small footprint and dual-core 64-bit-capable processor, to run lightweight Linux-based services. I'm using Ubuntu 11.04 (Server, 64-bit), which runs fine, supporting the Zbox's AHCI SATA and Realtek-based gig-ethernet without any additional config.

The unit opens easily, the inside looks solid, neat, and well-designed, with no cables in the way. The glossy case and bright power LED are a touch of pleasing bling. There's a ton of external connectors/connection-types considering how small this thing is. It uses AmiBIOS and boots very rapidly at default settings.

Loaded out with a 7200rpm 320GB drive, and 4GB of Crucial DDR3-1333, keyboard, and using the DVI output, my KillAWatt shows only 25W power draw. Adding a USB-powered external DVD-ROM drives that up to a still-miserly 33W during software installation.

The very similar ZBOXHD-ID40-U is available on Amazon also, but I skipped that one because it uses slower, older (and currently more expensive) DDR2, and lacks this unit's USB3 ports.

The only quibble I have is that the air intake is on the side of the unit that sits nearly flush to the included stand; the air coming out of the top vent is pretty warm, it would be nice to have some way to increase airflow. But pleasing to see the common-sense top-placement of the exhaust.

No complaints so far. Recommended.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
I am very impressed with this little box. I have a 60BG SSD installed with 4GB of RAM running XBMC. No complaints at all. I have a wired connection to my server to stream videos/TV Episodes. No issues with streaming Blu Ray quality content.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 2012
Verified Purchase
Before you buy one of these do some homework on google. Search for Zotac Zbox won't boot. You'll see dozens of sites with some pretty scary commentary. I wish I had done that first. Everthing from no VGA output, no bios/setup screen, bad USB DVD driver etc....

From the specs I learned this box can take 4 Gb. Then that it had 2 slots for memory. Presumabluy a single 4 Gb card would work in slot 1, but it does not. I'm presuming the maximum card size is 2 Gb and it may eventually load once I obtain some smaller cards.

Like many people, I have no VGA output yet, It cant read from my Sony DVD drive, and it won't boot my USB stick. This could be fixed by replacing the memory - but I would have had the right memory in the first place if they had better documentation.

Unless you are a techno geek with a good inventory of junk parts and a lot of time to waste, don't buy this computer. I figure its worth about 1/4 of the price. I may update this if I get it working in the next week or so. If I find something better, these are going back.

UPDATE

I got it all to work. Here is a rundown:

1. The Corsair value select memory was not compatible. I swapped out the memory in my laptop and got it to
boot and work just fine. No idea what the issue is, it's got the same specs BUT

2. The ZBOX board accepted and worked with a 4GB card, giving me 6 GB total and is working just fine. The docs
I got say 4 GB total. Guess there was an update.

3. I was able to get CENTOS running on this box. There is an issue because both graphics interfaces power up
no matter what the settings in bios, and the HDMI port is Monitor 1. I had a VGA device, and only got the
second screen. I had to connect an HDMI monitor too, then swap the logical screens in linux and disconnect
the HDMI monitor. It now works fine, booting the main screen to the VGA.

4. The DVD drivers are really messed up. I have two external USB drives, one is Sony the other LG. Neither
one works reliably with this box, and I can't figure out why. Once you get your OS installed, you don't
really need it. I'm not going to work on that issue anymore.

HERE IS THE GOOD NEWS:

1. Once you get past the hardware issues, the idea of a laptop in a small box in very nice. I put a 1 TB
drive in it, and with the 6 GB of memory it's really a little power house. I decided my first deployment
would be as a squid proxy server for my 40 MBit internet connection. It works GREAT! The fan is too quiet
to hear, which is a big plus.

2. After having luck with Centos running Squid, I decided to try virtualbox to run a Windows 7 client. Hats
off to the Atom. It not only works, it works well enough to use it! This means that this little 20 Watt
box will replace my older 250 watt linux system.

3. This box is very small compared to older systems you can replace with it. It consumes much less power than
your old box, and if it runs what you need you can replace the legacy hardware and help the environment.

Summary

This is a reasonable device, but its over priced for what you actually get. Its a bare board with no memory and
no disk. I raise my value to $100. At $200, after you add memory and a disk you are probably better with an
average low end laptop with an acceptable graphics chip, which includes, keyboard, mouse, and display. I rate the construction quality as medium. This is no Apple product by a long stretch, but its probably good enough to "sit working on the shelf" for years.

If any of the big boys enter into this marketplace, computing will take a major step forward. These kind of devices hung off a home network make a very nice accessory to a tablet. They save a lot of space, and when you add in cloud based disk storage, they can improve the home power foot print, increase and quantize computing power (ie just add another one if you have to to obtain what you need), and give you better logistical integration of computing in your home, decentralizing computing power to places where you need it, almost no matter where that is.

A 20 watt box in the room where your internet first enters the house can give you advanced proxy and firewalls. Another near your TV gives you a media center. They also make nice development platforms for testing software or Amateur Radio stations.

/Len
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2011
Verified Purchase
Instead of getting an Acer AspireRevo, the price went up just by $20 and pushed me to get this. I put 4GB DDR3 1066MHz RAM and a OCZ 60 GB Vertex 2 Series SATA II 2.5-Inch SSD OCZSSD2-2VTXE60G(Minimal size for a windows installation) in this baby. It boots so fast, I love it. Installing things take a long time (because of extracting with an Atom), but that's it. You would have no clue it was an Atom CPU it even has 4 logical cores (I disabled logical cores in the BIOS in attempt to get it to run cooler, therefore quieter). I also got a Bluetooth mini keyboard with multitouch pad.

Playing Video:
I tried Boxee for desktop, it sucks, too out of date. Apparently no update on the way either. Boxee Boxes thoughThe Boxee Box by D-Link HD Streaming Media Player are awesome and up-to-date. XBMC is definitely what I'm using. Super hard to choose one of the many great skins, plays BluRay MKVs (had to dump my ISOs into MKV). DVD ISOs play fine. The internal WiFi is only 150MB/s, even though it used only needs 3 MB/s (tops) to stream BluRay or 1080p Netflix, I used a USB 300MB/s WiFi adapter and that solved my major buffering issues. Streaming DVDs and low-deff Netflix is no problem on the 150MB/s adapter. 1080p Netflix and VLC can't play hardly at all. 1080p MKVs through XBMC play no problem. Silverlight is at fault because it doesn't support hardware acceleration (at the time of this review) like XBMC does. VLC should support hardware acceleration but still can't play 1080P that XBMC plays fine. XBMC launches a full-screen Windows Explorer window pretty seamlessly for Netflix. To exit it, you need to press Alt-F4 and it seamlessly goes back into XBMC. When it is closed, it returns right to where you were in XBMC. XBMC has apps like one that I love that pulls information about your movies or scenes and quizzes you on them.

BIOS:
You can disable the blue glowing ring on the case if you don't like awesomeness. Can disable logical cores, built-in overclocking, adjust fan speed manually, enable energy lake, and other normal features like turn on after power loss which I use to turn it on from across the room using a wirelessly switched outlet Skylink WS-100A Wireless Remote Control - Channel A

Conclusion: As long as the video you play on this supports hardware acceleration, it can play anything you throw at it.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2012
Verified Purchase
With this Mini PC I also purchased the Crucial 8GB Kit (4GBx2), 204-pin SODIMM, DDR3 PC3-10600 Memory Module (CT2CP51264BC1339)and a OCZ Technology 128GB Vertex 4 Series SATA 6.0 GB/s 2.5-Inch Solid State Drive (SSD) With Industry's Highest 120K IOPS And 5-Year Warranty - VTX4-25SAT. Windows 8 Pro 64bit loaded without any issues using the front USB slot and installing from a USB key. Video drivers were updated from Nvidia and I download the win 8 drivers from Zotac's website. The overall score in the Windows Experience index was a 3.5 (Processor 3.5, Ram 4.9, Graphics 4.4, Gaming Graphics 4.4, Primary HD 6.8). Purchased this for my wife and it works like a champ.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2012
Verified Purchase
The box itself is well made. RAM was really easy to install. The case has small thumb screws for easy access without tools. There is a small stand and a mounting bracket for attaching to the back of an LCD. Plenty of USB ports! So far I'm really pleased with my decision to get this model. I chose it for the ION GPU since the media center applications I use will take advantage of it, leaving the CPU mostly untouched.

I also have an older Atom 330/Nvidia ION that I use upstairs as a MythTV DVR, which works great. I record over-the-air HD channels with an antenna, but my 60" DLP downstairs in the den can't pick up the OTA channels that well. I also wanted to be able to stream DVR recordings on the larger screen in my den, and the Zotac Zbox fit the bill! I wanted to keep costs down, so I got 4GB of Corsair RAM and originally I planned to install OpenELEC/XBMC on a 16GB SDHC class 6 card, but I found it a little limiting. OpenELEC was really easy to install using a USB thumb drive and unetbootin, and boot time was *quick*, maybe 8 seconds or so. I soon figured out that I couldn't use it to stream live TV from my DVR upstairs with XBMC though :-( I may have been able to hack it together and get it working with add-ons, but I just didn't want to spend the time on it.

Since I couldn't easily get Live TV with OpenELEC, I installed MythBuntu instead. Initial boot isn't as fast, and it's not optimized for Atom/ION like OpenELEC is, but it still runs well, and I'm just suspending or hibernating when not in use, so it's back up pretty fast when I want to use it. It runs fairly well from the SDHC card. Not sure what the longevity of the card will be. I probably shouldn't, but I have swap turned on. Hopefully with 4GB of ram, the swap won't be used that often. Will have to wait and see! I'm planning to make a backup ISO of the card so if it dies, I can easily get it back up and running with a new card. I had to add one line to /etc/pulse/default.pa ( load-module module-alsa-sink device=hw:1,7 ) to get audio working over HDMI, and then set MythTV's frontend to use that output as well. Works great! Although, since changing the OS is as easy as putting in another SD card and rebooting, I may play around with some other media center distros as well!

To control it from my couch, I added a bluetooth keyboard/trackpad. I couldn't find any configuration options with the base MythBuntu install, so I added Gnome in the MythBuntu Control Center. Probably overkill, but that gave me an easy gui to setup bluetooth devices and all the gnome desktop software if I decide to use it later. I also had to go into the display settings and change the overscan to fit the desktop on my DLP. For an LCD, Plasma, etc. you won't have that problem, but for the DLP it was easy to fix. I also had to calibrate the Myth Frontend using the screen setup to fit the DLP screen.

This box easily plays anything I've thrown at it so far with the Nvidia VDPAU GPU acceleration option on. Both MythTV and XBMC will use VDPAU. Other programs like VLC or MPlayer may or may not yet, so videos might stutter.

In summary, I like it and would recommend it to anyone building a low power Linux Media Center :-)
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 21, 2011
Verified Purchase
If you want to stream Netflix, Youtube, Hulu, etc... this is a great little machine. We had it up on running in less that a couple hours. Installed the hard drive, RAM (went with 4GB), Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit. The BIOS provides plenty of settings for improving performance if you are savvy enough to overclock the CPU. (hit del key upon boot to enter BIOS). If you have issues booting to DVD/CD for the OS install be sure to hit F11 so you can select a boot option.

We did have some performance issues the first few hours of use due to Microsoft .Net Framework pre-compilation of the core assemblies. This caused high CPU but could be easily attributed to csc.exe. Once the compilation was complete the CPU went to around 4%.

Overall a good machine for the price.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2012
Verified Purchase
In general I love this product. I am using it with Ubuntu Linux 12.04 and XBMC with an HDMI connection to my television. Works great as a home theater system. Installation from a USB key was straight forward.

The only issue is that the USB 3.0 ports won't work properly. Devices plugged into them at boot time won't come up, and even USB 2.0 devices don't work properly if there is a device plugged into the USB 3.0 ports. I have found a number of comments online about similar problems. I switches my drives back to USB 2.0 and everything works.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2011
Verified Purchase
Picked this up to replace an Asus nettop which I was using as a HTPC and just couldn't handle the high def content. With the dual core Atom and the next gen Ion graphics, this thing handles 720p video - even the screen full of birds from the Planet Earth documentary - with no problems. Can't quite handle 1080p, but that's running on Windows XP. Still have to try the XBMC live image and see how that does.

Installation was very quick and easy, and the BIOS has all the options, it's not a cut down version like my older Asus nettop. Installing the memory was simple, and the hard drive mount is clever, simple, and secure.

When I was buying this, Amazon offered this paired with 4GB of Crucial RAM - but searching I found the same exact part number memory outside the bundle for $3 less. Just something to watch out for if you're going to buy, the "buy together and save!" actually wound up being a couple bucks in the wrong direction.
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