Most helpful critical review
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Poor documentation and technical issues but what a concept!
on December 22, 2012
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.
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.
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.