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80 of 85 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I just had a nerdgasm, but a couple drawbacks
Pros:
-Bluray. Woohoo!
-Very thin/light/quiet/small. And I mean quiet!!
-Attractive, has options in BIOS to turn off the blue light which is great!
-I created a bootable SD card using Windows7-USB-DVD-tool.exe ... if you want to create a bootable SD/USB flash card from a DVD ISO, this is the best way to do it!! Worked like a charm on this unit...
Published on November 22, 2010 by James A. Suddarth

versus
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Bluray performance but not very good at flash video
I bought this few days ago at Amazon. I added 2GB, installed Window 7 Ultimate (clean install), installed CoreAVC codec, installed the bcm970015 mini express card. My internet provider is Verizon Fios, at least 10Mb up and 30Mb down.

Playing the Bluray is flawless. It is very smooth even at 2560x1600 resolution. I am surprised how well it plays!!! It is just...
Published on March 4, 2011 by Book Addict1


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80 of 85 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I just had a nerdgasm, but a couple drawbacks, November 22, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Zotac ZBOXHD-ID34BR Intel Atom D525 1.8 GHz Dual Core with Blu-ray All-in-One Mini-PC (Personal Computers)
Pros:
-Bluray. Woohoo!
-Very thin/light/quiet/small. And I mean quiet!!
-Attractive, has options in BIOS to turn off the blue light which is great!
-I created a bootable SD card using Windows7-USB-DVD-tool.exe ... if you want to create a bootable SD/USB flash card from a DVD ISO, this is the best way to do it!! Worked like a charm on this unit.
-Reasonable speeds... one of the best nettops out there, this is new hardware folks.

Cons:
-Only one legacy usb port, for some reason my legacy usb devices and thumb drives don't work in the newer high speed usb ports on this, needed to buy a usb hub to be safe.
-250GB HD? You do realize people are dishing out $500 for this thing, and using it almost entirely as a livingroom media solution, most likely to rip DVD's, etc... I would expect 500GB at the VERY LEAST.
-Would have been happier with more than 2GB RAM, especially at this price point, but that will suffice for most applications of this box. This is not as big of a deal to me.
-If you use NetFlix streaming to a TV like I do, be prepared that HD encoding will slow down majorly on this box at times. I turn off HD feature on NetFlix streaming entirely to avoid this. These units are hardware equipped for Flash acceleration, unfortunately NetFlix uses MS Silverlight. This is not Zodac's fault and does not count against them in this review, just pointing that out because I know other people will be trying the same stuff.

Overall, you can't get a much sexier nettop than this, but I have to give honest criticism where it is due. Don't cheat your customers on basic necessities. You should have had one less USB 3.0 port, and one more legacy port. This isn't 2015 yet. And you went cheap with the 250GB HD, IMO. I would have gladly spent a few extra bucks for 500GB.

But again, gosh this thing looks sexy in my living room next to my TV. Love showing it off.

Come to think of it, haven't tried overclocking yet... can't comment on the overclockability of this unit.

EDIT: my CPU overclocks stable at 206MHz (base speed) without any changes in fan speed/voltage

AND, buy this HD Decoder card that fits perfectly on this Motherboard in the extra mini-pcie slot, it makes a huge difference in your ability to watch streaming HD video without lag/choppiness: (search google for "logicsupply" which is where I got mine, and get the Broadcom Hardware Decoder BCM970015 - PCIe Mini Card (BCM970015))

It was on sale for $35 from this same website when I bought it a couple weeks ago... now it's at $50. Still well worth it.
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53 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very nice packaging of capabilities, poor WiFi, maybe scrimping on memory and disk, March 31, 2011
This review is from: Zotac ZBOXHD-ID34BR Intel Atom D525 1.8 GHz Dual Core with Blu-ray All-in-One Mini-PC (Personal Computers)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Overall, this is a very nice design, both in the tradeoffs and the layout, especially the connectors (some quibbles below). My admiration as an engineer for how well they packed so much into a small package gives it one star of "extra credit" that offset the deduction of one star for the collection of minor problems.

This review does not summarize the readily available specs, but adds details that I expect are useful to an "enthusiast", which in turn I hope will help you decide whether this is the system for you.

NOT JUST HTPC: Although the Blu-ray drive causes this system to be considered a HTPC (Home Theater PC), it and similar "nettop" models from Zotac and competing manufacturers (ASUS, Acer, Lenovo,...) could be suitable in a range of other uses. If I was still Corporate, I would experiment using it in conference rooms and sending out with sales reps for presentations: uses where it will be connected to a projector/big screen and controlled with a wireless keyboard and pointing device. Laptops are currently used for this, but the convenience of having an integrated display and keyboard has been diminished by much of that usage shifting to smart phones, and that convenience is often offset by "bad behavior", such as preemption (reallocation) of the laptop and the loading of unrelated software that introduces conflicts and other problems. For offsite use, the portability of this system compares favorably to corresponding laptops. Similarly, the form factor is likely to be well liked by the SysAdmin/assistant who needs to load/refresh a presentation and give it to the presenter for practice and verification.

Another situation where a nettop is a possible replacement is where a laptop is used as a space saver rather than because it is actually mobile--hanging a nettop on the back of a monitor could be even more efficient.

----Basic Details----
Be aware that various summaries/reviews on the Web can be misleading about the available connectors because the ZBOX has some combined connectors, most notably an eSATA/USB2.0. Sometimes the summaries fail to highlight the either-or; sometimes they double count, for example omitting the "combo" designation on one or both of the table entries.

Performance: Roughly what I expected from the specs. The standard benchmarks can be found in various reviews on the Web. For a quick first assessment, the Windows Experience Index is: Processor=3.5, Memory=4.5, Graphics=4.8, Gaming=5.6, Disk=5.9. Notice that the processor has the lowest rating--this may be a surprise to those unfamiliar with the Atom's intentional tradeoffs. But also recognize that the Graphics/Gaming scores show the ability of the ION graphics chip to offload computations that might otherwise bog down the Atom CPU, that is, for a range of tasks, the _system_ performs much better than the CPU stats might lead you to expect. But for tasks that make demands on the CPU, this system is likely to be sluggish (The web has a range of comparisons between various models of the Atom and mainline Intel processors. The rough guideline for roughly comparable Atom and mainline Intel CPUs is that the Atom needs to have a 50% higher clock rate).

Ports: As I thought through the various combinations of devices I would be connecting, I was impressed with the layout and the combo ports (also on other nettops). That said, the box would benefit if there was room for one additional USB 2.0 port on the back because a keyboard connected to a USB 3.0 port is not recognized during booting. The USB 2.0 port on the back is combined with the eSATA port, which may make it undesirable for the keyboard. Although the need to have the keyboard input during booting is infrequent, that also means that if you have it connected to the USB 3.0 port, it may take you some time to remember why the keyboard isn't being seen, with the accompanying frustration. Remember that once the system is up and running, the keyboard can be hot-swapped to another port.

Main memory: The system is advertised as having DDR2-800 memory (PC2-6400), but mine reports DDR2-667 (PC2-5300 although some versions of the specs do specify 800/667). My system's memory has a SPD for 800, but the default data rate is 667, with timings of 6.0-6-6-18-24 and 5.0-5-5-15-20 respectively. The fault is partially Samsung's: Its model number uses the higher data rate ("2Rx8 PC2-6400S-666-12-E4" with chip ids of "M470T5663EH3-CF7"), but the 5.0-5-5 timing are _often_ regarded as corresponding to the normal/default data rate (but with plenty of exceptions). When I switched the data rate to DDR2-800 (in the BIOS, from "Auto"), my Windows Experience Index for memory increased from 4.5 to 4.9, and the reported timings had a CL (CAS Latency) set at 5.0 (instead of the 6.0 in the SPD, but corresponding to the "566" in the chip's id). I am currently using this setting. If you have a laptop that is to be handed down and it has faster memory, you might consider swapping. Similarly if it has a now-unneeded SO-DIMM, you might move it to the empty slot.
Note: Stats via a combination of CPU-Z and the BIOS.
Note: Even when memory is _capable_ of being used at the higher data rate, it sometimes may be better to run it at the lower one: Way back when I did (modest) overclocking, some architectures benefited from higher data rates (Intel?) while others gave better results from tightening the timings (AMD?) and certain classes of applications benefited from different choices. Normally one finds this info in the discussions of overclocking, but since the Atom allows only trivial overclocking... Before worrying _too_ much about this, consider whether the overall system would benefit. My _guess_ is that any gains aren't worth the effort. Aside: A web search for other Atom D525 systems returned many that were using DDR2-667.
Note: Competing models also come with only 2GB of main memory. My ZBOX came with 2GB in one slot and one slot free. At least one competing model has 2x1GB -- a memory upgrade requires replacement rather than addition.
Note: DDR3: There is a sibling model that offers DDR3 memory, but from what I found on the Web, DDR2 may well be preferable for this class of processors. And when I looked at current competing systems, most were using DDR2. Recognize there are complicated tradeoffs: That for DDR3 to be better than DDR2, it needs to have a data rate enough higher to offset its higher latencies, plus the processor needs to be able to take advantage of that higher data rate. DDR3 has the advantage of using less power = producing less heat, but I don't know how relevant that is to this type of system.

Disk: My system came with a Samsung "HM251HI". Other reviews complain about its relatively small capacity (250GB), but that is not an problem for me--my personal preference is to have smaller disks on systems such as this and have most of the disk storage on my primary home computer which also serves as my file server. While one might guess that the small capacity is to reduce noise or heat, the larger capacity disks in this product line have the same or better stats. Consequently, there doesn't seem to be a barrier to upgrading to a larger capacity disk, if desired. The disk is readily accessible and seems trivial to replace. Reports on the Web rate this disk highly, but there are warnings that this series is "overly vulnerable to power surges and overheating" (SalvageData), so make sure to take what should be normal precautions. This disk is one "sub-generation" back (suffix "J" is current), but I couldn't find what the differences were (probably insignificant). It has Samsung's SilentSeek and NoiseGuard features, and Advanced Format Technology (larger sectors for efficiency and better error correction).
Note: Replacement disks are limited to 9.5mm thick.

Blu-ray drive: It is slot-loaded and worked as expected as a reader, but is painfully slow writing discs. It seems to take almost an hour to write a DVD+R from a 4.3GB ISO image. The drive's interface is USB 2.0. It smoothly handled 8-cm mini-discs (contained software for additional USB peripherals). If you should need to replace this drive, it appears to require first removing the motherboard, and this appears to be something that the manufacturer wanted to discourage you from doing. Not only are there no instructions for either, the first set of screws that you would need to remove are under the glued-on feet for the case.

Video: The "Next Generation ION" (aka ION-2) is superior to what you probably expect from onboard graphics. Start with the dedicated 512MB of GDDR3 memory (vs 128MB of _optional_ sideport memory on various desksides). The choice of connectors allows you to have a broad range of monitor combinations via adapters: The HDMI and DVI connectors are convertible to the other (without audio), and a DVI-to-VGA adapter is provided with the system. As a test, I connected two widescreen monitors and simultaneously played a Blu-ray movie on one and streamed a TV show (from Hulu at 480p) to the other and didn't see any problems with either image.
Note: when using two (widescreen) monitors under Windows 7 with Aero, I get the message "The color scheme has been changed to Windows Basic - The current color scheme has exceeded its allowed memory..." even with only a single window open (nothing on the second monitor). I suspect that this is just Aero being a pig. I couldn't find if it was possible to share main memory with the graphics processor (although I did encounter others on the Web asking this question). If you are running two monitors and need Aero, I expect there is a setting somewhere that will raise the relevant resource limits.
Note: Earlier reviews here reported problems with video quality. Their tests may have better stressed the system or they may have better eyes than me. Or the intervening patches (drivers, Flash, Windows) may have dealt with those problems.

Audio: The ZBOX spec claims 7.1 audio, but this needs to be qualified. The ION GPU supports 8 channels over HDMI, but you need software that uses this capability, such as the included PowerDVD Blu-ray playback. Be aware that the Windows 7 audio drivers support only two channels: the NVIDIA and Realtek drivers for HDMI and the S/PDIF connector, respectively. Other reviewers reported being unable to play audio files with more than 2 channels with the normal Windows software.

Motherboard: DMI info is "Zotac". The specs omit that there are two mini-PCI-Express slots, one free and one occupied by the WiFi card. With a hard drive installed, the second slot is difficult, but not entirely impossible, to access (my WiFi card was in that second slot, leaving the more accessible one open).

----Split personality product----
The advertised all-in-one nature of this hardware targets it for people who don't want the hassle/fun of assembling a system, but the terse instructions assume that you have experience with system building or leading-edge systems. For working with the hardware--for example adding/removing cards--the system is simple, straight-forward and immediately obvious if you have worked with other systems, or are mechanically inclined. And if you don't have that experience, the instructions are clear and provide adequate detail.

The deficiencies come when installing an OS and potential customizations of the devices. Because the system doesn't include an OS, Zotac has slighted those instructions. The primary gotcha I spotted is for loading Windows: The instructions do not tell you to plug your keyboard and mouse into a USB 2.0 port because the USB 3.0 ports are inactive until you load the drivers from the provided CD (system builders are aware that new/unusual hardware doesn't have drivers in the Windows distribution).

----OS----
I loaded Windows 7 Home Premium because it seemed simpler to get operational quickly and because that configuration would be easier to compare to my other computers. I am considering switching to XBMC at some point.
Be aware when reading early reviews (here and elsewhere): XBMC "Dharma" was in Beta until Dec 2010, so some of the reported problems with XBMC (HDMI audio, Blu-ray support) may have been resolved.

Windows Driver Updates: I was surprised that several of the updated drivers were not handled by Windows Update but had to be downloaded from the Zotac website (Realtek HD Audio, USB 3.0, WiFi). The descriptions of the updates were little more than the device and OS, when I would like at least a quick summary of changes that are often provided.

----Included Software----
As to be expected, the included Blu-ray software is dated but functional. PowerDVD versions have a history of being released annually in the spring. Version 8, of Spring 2008, is the one included.

----Cooling/Noise----
Cooling: The CPU, GPU and nearby components are cooled by a ducted fan that draws from the bottom and exhausts to the right side. The remainder of the system is passively cooled, with a large vent on the bottom and vents on the two sides. During active use, the fan exhaust peaked at 45 degrees F/25C over ambient (112F/44C in a room at 67F/19C with the CPU reporting 125F/52C degrees). The air at the vent on the other side ranged from 1-5 degrees F above ambient, which may be side-effect of heat from the other side.

Ventilation: The instructions have the usual statement from consumer electronics products about providing adequate clearances. The small size of the box may mislead people into providing too little (for example, treating it like a Blu-ray player). You should provide both clearance and air flow especially on the right so that the hot air isn't being sucked back in.

"Noise" is subjective, but let me try to quantify: I estimate the noise from the fan to be about two-thirds that of the Blu-ray drive when it is operating (although masked when the drive is running). Consequently, the fan noise is noticeable in a _quiet_ room at close distances, and being a small fan, it has the predictable higher frequency noise. The fan has the expected smart (temperature) control, but I haven't _heard_ any decrease when I am not using the system (short of going to sleep). Typical fan speed seems to be around 2500 rpm.
If this is an issue, some of the fan noise exits via the intake vent and you may be able to reduce it by putting a less reflective surface underneath the device, for example a thin rubber mat, felt, or other cloth. Important: Don't use something thick that the feet will sink into--reducing the clearance not only impedes airflow to both sides of the system, but will likely make the fan work harder and thus be noisier.

----WiFi----
WiFi hardware: There may be differences in the hardware you receive. Some of the reviews written at the time of the product announcement stated that the ZBOX had _onboard_ WiFi. Mine came with a mini-PCI-Express WiFi card, the AzureWave AW-NE766 (Ralink 2700-series chipset). I found Web posting on this card back to 2007 (ASUS Eee), but it is no longer listed on the manufacturer's web site, and I didn't see it listed for sale except as used. This card supports both the 2.4 and 5.0Ghz bands.
Note: IEEE 802.11h support--which provides DFS and TPC--is disabled by default, but is required to be enabled in many countries when using various channels in the 5.0Ghz band (configurable by Windows Device Manager, under the device's "Advanced" tab).

These cards may be multi-sourced: The Installation CD has three subdirectories under WiFi--Atheros, Ralink, Realtek--suggesting that you could get different WiFi capabilities, plus the envelope of my Installation CD had a sticker telling me which of the drivers from the Setup menu that I should install.

For performance measures, I didn't have a different card so I can't separate the capabilities of the card from the built-in antennas.

WiFi, my experience: The performance was adequate at short distances, but very poor at medium distances. WiFi performance is always very much YMMV because it can be significantly affected by minor details of the environment in which it operates, both how easily it can pass through obstructions and how well it bypasses obstructions by reflecting off other surfaces. Setup: For comparison, I used a cheap USB mini-dongle (body 1.5 inches long) built on the Realtek RTL8191SU (WiFi-N, 300Mbps) and several older WiFi-G adapters. I used WirelessNetView to monitor signal strength (reception) which is a good first approximation of performance and has the advantage of being easy to monitor.

1. In the same or "next room" to the router/access point (AP), performance was the same or slightly better than the dongles. Its position in the "next room" was 29 feet from the AP with an always-open doorway that was about 5 feet off line-of-sight, thereby providing an easy path for reflections.

2. Because of the absence of external antennas, the ZBOX needs to be able to operate in various orientations relative to the AP. I tried various orientations--horizontal, vertical and various angles of both relative to the AP--and saw negligible difference in signal strength at _my_ location (same range of variation that occurred with the box just sitting there). In contrast, the various dongles registered roughly 25% changes in signal strength going through similar orientations.

3. I then moved the ZBOX to the room just beyond the "next room", about 40 feet from the AP, but without an easy path for reflected signal around that interior wall. The ZBOX was intermittently able to establish a connection, but unable to maintain it for long enough to do even modest data transfers (such as POP'ing recent emails). In contrast, the dongles provided usable connections, providing signal strength readings 30-50% higher. I put a 15dB directional antenna on my AP and pointed it towards the ZBOX and got a tolerable connection. At the dongle's worst orientation--horizontal with top pointed at the AP--it still had slightly better signal strength than the ZBOX.

4. As a _proxy_ for testing the relative range of a WiFi adapter, I use the SSID broadcasts from my neighbors' APs (all WiFi-G). The dongles pick up 7-10 stations reliably and quickly. My adapter with a good antenna sees 10-15 quickly and picks up another 5-20 intermittently. The ZBOX never got more than 3, including never detecting a next door neighbor. This implies that its capabilities fall off very quickly with distance.

5. With an adequate signal strength, I didn't see any dropped connections, pauses or other glitches. First was the download of the Windows updates (lightly monitored). I also did a 10GB of file transfers that I monitored (10GB because my typical _weekly_ downloading from the Internet is 10-20GB). However, because of limitations of my setup, my speed tests were very limited. For cross-the-room WiFi-G/N (2.4Ghz, 20Mhz wide channel, AES, WPA-PSK/WPA2), I got slightly better than 30 Mbps _data_ transfers which is effectively the maximum one could expect in my environment.

My first reaction to the WiFi performance problem was "Why didn't the system have provision for external antennas?". Then I remembered my experience helping a range of people with WiFi problems: I would suggest upgrading the antennas (and had loaners) but they were remarkably resistant to that, preferring to buy a new device at considerably greater expense and with no guarantee that it would provide any improvement. Consequently, the designers' apparent assumption about how customers would improve WiFi performance--using a USB adapter rather than antennas--appears to be well-founded.

----Mounting----
The package includes a mounting plate that can be used to mount it on a wall (or other vertical surface) or on the back of a monitor. The plate has both 100x100mm and 75x75mm VESA-D patterns. Here are additional measurements because some monitor designs don't anticipate the VESA mount being used in conjunction with the stand: The plate extends 3/8 inch beyond the 100mm holes and the bottom of the case extends 1/4 inch beyond the plate, but the box can swing out on the mounting hooks so that the case is almost 1.5 inches away from the back of the monitor.
Note: On various monitors the VESA mount is used to attach the stand to the panel, in which case it is unavailable for mounting the ZBOX. This configuration seems very common on smaller monitors (22-inches and less).

----Power Supply----
Although I don't like power adapters ("bricks"), this is the right choice for this system: It keeps its heat away from the system box. The adapter itself appears to be one commonly used with laptops (19V, 4.74A, 90W) which should simplify replacement should it be misplaced or fail.

----BIOS----
WARNING: The window for getting into the BIOS is _very_ small: I was unable to catch it pressing the DEL key 1-2 times per second, and got it only pressing the key very rapidly (and not always then). I rarely see the Logo/BIOS screen--even on Restart'ing, the monitor stays black until the "Starting Windows" screen appears (well into the boot sequence). If you want to lengthen this window, turn off the BIOS's default setting of abbreviated POST (Power On Start-up Tests).

----Case----
The bottom half of the case is 1/32-inch steel and it provides a strong, rigid frame for the case. Good rubber feet combined with the inertia from the overall weight of the system keep the case in place when there are minor forces on the cables.

----Status Light----
The large circular blue light on the top of the case is very bright. If you find it annoying, you can turn it off in the BIOS: The small Power On/Off Indicator next to it provides the same info (in sleep/standby mode, this indicator flashes slowly). If you have the case mounted on the back of a monitor, the large light is bright enough that the status info is visible without you having to peak behind.

-- Douglas B. Moran
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great design, struggles with fullscreen video and wifi, November 28, 2010
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This review is from: Zotac ZBOXHD-ID34BR Intel Atom D525 1.8 GHz Dual Core with Blu-ray All-in-One Mini-PC (Personal Computers)
So I'm one of those early adopters that you read about, generally trying out some of the latest and greatest gadgets and always looking for products that can do a few things for me all in one, so when I came across the Zotac with Blu-Ray for my HTPC, I was sold!

Let's start off with the good:
Very well built, solid little piece of hardware, and all of the integrated components zip along well. I installed Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit and the install went smoothly
Built in video card and Blu-Ray perform admirably together, not sure that I'm fully in love with the Cyber DVD suite that it comes with though, it's a pretty heavy program that tends to bog the system, so I'm using VLC instead which does great

Netflix on demand does pretty well, Silverlight streaming seems to perform acceptably, but be very aware of your connectivity

Looks like a piece of electronics that belongs in your stereo rack, unit is quiet and HDMI performance is great

The newer 1.8 GHz Atom keeps up with web browsing and light load really well.

USB 3.0!! Nice!

Ok, now the bad:
It's a little spendy, especially since it doesn't ship with an OS or wireless keyboard/mouse package- this is a common complaint for this company, but you know what you get up front.

For a dual core 1.8 GHz, I should be able to stream full screen flash videos without a glitch, unfortunately even working with support I'm unable to do so, making Hulu and other sites like them unusable on my system (Even tried a variety of workarounds, but looks like some flash is unable to utilize the video card for rendering, making the videos a bit choppy)

The embedded wifi adapter is junk- I'm running the highest end Netgear, and it was barely picking up enough signal to stream. Adding an external usb stick fixes the problem, but would like to see a place to just screw in an antenna, I'm sure that the source of the problem is the material the PC is built out of with a limited length on the antenna

Be aware that if you're using the USB ports, 3.0 is not recognized during the install of the OS- made for a confusing few minutes when initially trying to install the OS- they include a standard USB which is recognized just fine- an OS issue really, but something to be aware of

Would I buy it again? Probably. Being the geek that I am, it does way more than a regular DVD player, and it's quiet enough for the living room, when a normal PC would be too big and loud, and building a HTPC with components to be quiet enough would cost a bit more to do it right, so it's a nice compromise, and hopefully they will get the video drivers fixed to give me full screen Hulu at some point.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Bluray performance but not very good at flash video, March 4, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Zotac ZBOXHD-ID34BR Intel Atom D525 1.8 GHz Dual Core with Blu-ray All-in-One Mini-PC (Personal Computers)
I bought this few days ago at Amazon. I added 2GB, installed Window 7 Ultimate (clean install), installed CoreAVC codec, installed the bcm970015 mini express card. My internet provider is Verizon Fios, at least 10Mb up and 30Mb down.

Playing the Bluray is flawless. It is very smooth even at 2560x1600 resolution. I am surprised how well it plays!!! It is just like my Desktop. Watch any Flash video is choppy if I do anything such as moving your mouse "only".If I don't do anything while watching flash, it is good but not perfect. My i7 desktop is much better! (Of course, it may not be fair to compare with Atom). The computer is not very responsive too from time to time if I watch video on Internet. I have 30 inch monitor. It has no problem at 2560x1600 resolution. The image is just as beautiful as my top desktop graphics card a year ago.

I like the computer except I could not play flash smoothy consistently. The ethernet and wireless is not as fast as I like. My i7 desktop can download the youtube 1080p video very quickly about 30 seconds most of time (1Gb ethernet or 300Mb wireless on my desktop). ZBOX takes significantly longer to download the youtube 1080p video either by wire or wireless. I am not sure why. (Maybe it is related to the speed of CPU or the speed of hard drive or the ethernet/wifi card is not as good as desktop)

I was planning to install the Intel SSD. Since the problems I had, I decided to return it. I can build a small itx pc with i3/i5/i7 which will perform much better and will not cost a lot more. However, it will bigger than ZBOX!!! (I like the form factor of ZBOX, it is so small. That is why I bought it in the first place.) Depends on what you want to do and how picky you are, you may like it better.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect solution for a HTPC, February 27, 2011
This review is from: Zotac ZBOXHD-ID34BR Intel Atom D525 1.8 GHz Dual Core with Blu-ray All-in-One Mini-PC (Personal Computers)
I bought this back when it first came out and used it as my first HTPC. First thing I did was install XBMC Live. Then I purchased an external HDD case by Mediasonic and loaded it up with 3 2 TB HDDs and connected via USB (to the back of the unit. The ext. case goes on/off automatically with the Zbox). Then I purchased a Rosewill remote (w/ dongle). I then programmed my Harmony One to take the place of the Rosewell remote and that's that. This has taken the place of a Western Digital TV (media streamer), my DVD player, my old XBOX equipped with XBMC, and NOW my Blu-Ray player. Getting Blu Ray support with XBMC is tricky, but possible. IMO, anyone buying this to use as a HTPC should NOT install Windows, JUST XBMC Live. Use it as a media browser / player ONLY. It has played EVERYTHING I have thrown at it. 1080p / 720p videos play perfectly.
The only ONE drawback of this machine is not having the ability to output DTS-MA and Dolby TrueHD. It's not a deal breaker, but I would have liked to take advantage of my receiver that is capable of playing them.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars my review and my return, March 19, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Zotac ZBOXHD-ID34BR Intel Atom D525 1.8 GHz Dual Core with Blu-ray All-in-One Mini-PC (Personal Computers)
Bought the device and it shipped quickly. I was able to test both windows 7 pro and Ubunutu 10.10 out of the box on it and here are my thoughts as I had wanted to use this device as an HTPC but could not:

Pros:
1) Ubunutu 10.10 works out of the box however for XBMC to work, I needed the proprietary NVidia driver which Ubunutu found for me.
2) Windows 7 Required using the driver CD for the Video card & Sound.
3) Strong WiFi signal on 802.11g network
4) Sound via stereo sound via HDMI in Windows 7. Stereo sound via HDMI in Ubunutu required 1 line config change

Cons:
1) Very noisy fan
2) Cannot boot off thumbdrive for Windows and Linux install
3) Drive is a bit slow
4) No surround sound (5.1, 7.1) over HDMI in either Windows or Linux. I bought this as a media box and surround is a MUST. I returned the device less than 24 hours later. Also spoke to Zotac tech support which as helpful as they were, were not able to help. HDMI port, Optical port and Speakers all report L/R sound only not surround.

In conclusion, if using XBMC on Windows or Linux and don't mind stereo only sound, this is a perfect little box. However, if you already have a nice surround sound system (receiver) and want to use HDMI with pass-through, you might want to find a better device.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great small footprint HTPC, January 31, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Zotac ZBOXHD-ID34BR Intel Atom D525 1.8 GHz Dual Core with Blu-ray All-in-One Mini-PC (Personal Computers)
I did a great deal of research before settling on the purchase of this unit. I am very pleased with it's performance as a small footprint HTPC running XBMC on Ubuntu Linux. I plan to try it with Windows 7 using Media Center in the future. For now, it is working very well for its intended purpose, playing all movies in my archive.

If you are looking for a pre-built HTPC instead of a DIY solution, this is a great system.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Liking It / Loving It, April 10, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Zotac ZBOXHD-ID34BR Intel Atom D525 1.8 GHz Dual Core with Blu-ray All-in-One Mini-PC (Personal Computers)
Here is my quick 2 cents worth of a review. I've had the ZBOX for about 4 days - so I haven't gotten too deep into it yet.

*** Update as of 8-22-12
Thought I would slide in a small update to my April review. I can now safely say I love this little HTPC! Honestly, you cannot go wrong. I swapped out the HDD and put in a 60 gb SSD, this has helped out on the loading of the goodies within XBMC. It runs slightly smoother despite the 2gb of RAM inside. That will be the next upgrade. If you are using this with XBMC you cannot go wrong. I have a small 3TB NAS and it streams my HD movies like a charm no problems at all. I haven't found any content it won't run.

Like
-Small size
-Run extremely quiet. One review I read said it was loud and they couldn't control the fans. Look, watching a movie with it even on a quiet scene I could not hear it. It is about 15 feet away currently sitting under my 55" Sammy (temporary spot during my evaluation period) eventually it will live in my cabinet hidden from view.
-Runs XBMC like a champ *see my slightly negative comment below
-Streaming via Win 7 Pro - IE 9 no problems noted on ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC. So far.

Don't like
-With XBMC skin AEON MQ3 - there is a bit of jerkiness to the menu animation. Not sure if the processor is beefy enough of if it is a RAM issue as I have not added more than the standard 2. This is not a huge deal but I'm a perfectionist when it comes to my electronics.
-No IR port built-in, bummer ZOTAC come on now I had to buy an IR dongle, at least put that and an RF module in there and it would be 4 1/2 stars
-Blu-Ray software included by ZOTAC would not install for me. (more research needed on the why), I was able to rip AVATAR blu-ray to my NAS but that took about 1 hr 45 min. Not sure if that is normal yet.

So far I am liking it as well as my wife who is not tech. savy at all.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceeded My Expectations, December 11, 2011
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Zotac ZBOXHD-ID34BR Intel Atom D525 1.8 GHz Dual Core with Blu-ray All-in-One Mini-PC (Personal Computers)
There are a lot of excellent reviews on this box that eased my concerns of buying this. I'll keep mine short.

I bought this to replace my college age Daughter's old PC that ran like a dog and she couldn't play Sims 3 on it either due to video card requirements.

So far this has done it all.

I was able to install Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit with no problems. (Just be sure to hook your keyboard to the USB 2.0 during install)
I saw a review that said it shipped with DDR 667, while 667 is on label, I looked up the model and it is DDR2 800. I bought another for under $30 at New Egg.
Thanks to the ION2 it actually runs the SIMS 3 with no problem.
Use a wired Ethernet connection unless you are in same room as your wireless router or access point.

This will clean up my daughters room, because it does so many functions.

1. Blue Ray with HDMI to her HDTV
2. HD Cable box with connection to our networked HDHomeRun Prime Cable Card tuners.
3. Save and View pictures to/from our Media Center Server
4. School Work with MS Office and Web browsing
5. Leisure: It runs SIMS 3 and other Medium Gaming Apps.

It's the little engine that could!!!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My first HTPC, February 25, 2011
This review is from: Zotac ZBOXHD-ID34BR Intel Atom D525 1.8 GHz Dual Core with Blu-ray All-in-One Mini-PC (Personal Computers)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Before I got this, I wasn't quite sure what it was. If you are looking for this item, you probably already know. For those of you new to the HTPC market, here are my thoughts.

Background: Running Windows 7 Home Premium on a Samsung 55 inch LED LCD TV via HDMI.

An HTPC to me is essentially a slim and powerful PC that can fit on your TV console (or monitor) in your living room or kitchen. It is basically a mini-PC and has all the functions of a PC. If you are looking for a media device that can do more than just watch movies in your living room, this type of device is for you. The Z-Box is so slim it reminds me of the 1st generation portable DVD players I use to carry on my travels. It is extremely quiet, and just looks stunning with the stainless steel look, and black case with blue light when powered on.

The use of the device is simple. You basically use it like you would a normal PC.

The Z-Box does NOT come with an Operating System (OS). I had to purchase Windows 7 Home Premium separately in order to use the device. You can use Linux, or Windows, the choice is yours. When you turn on the power without an OS, it will not function and will tell you to install one. Basically if you buy this before you have an OS on hand, you cannot do anything with it.

You also need a keyboard and mouse. I am using a wireless Dell keyboard and mouse, and it works perfectly with it.

You are looking at roughly $200 extra (for Windows 7, Keyboard, Mouse etc) in order to get this up and running.

It took me about 4 hours to install Windows 7, all the drivers the disc came with, Window Updates, iTunes, the included Cyberlink BD Suite, Adobe and etc. Your time may vary depending on your internet speed and what you choose to install on it.

The BD player can play Blu Rays, DVDs, read and burn DVDs, and CDs. It cannot burn Blu Rays. The included Cyberlink Suite it comes with has an outdated PowerDVD8 included. I believe as of this review, they are up to PowerDVD 10. You cannot view Blu Rays until you have the appropriate Blu Ray software installed on it.

I also installed Boxee to view some content. The interface looks fantastic, but the quality of the videos online look terrible full screen. I don't think they were meant to be viewed on a 55 inch TV. Youtube has the same problem. These are problems with the videos themselves, and no fault of Zotac Z-Box. Another reviewer recommended installing the Broadcomm HD Decoder to help with lag/choppiness of HD content.

Blu Ray movies played on PowerDVD8 look fantastic. I used the Zotac to watch Inception, and it looked stunning. The only problem was I saw a bit of lag and frame skipping. I might need to change some settings. I get audio out from my TV when connected via HDMI.

The WiFi connection for me worked fine. I have my Verizon Fios router on the 2nd floor of my house, and I used this downstairs in my living room and I get a full 5 bars.

The device has a VESA mount, and can be mounted on your wall. The manual shows a nice picture of the device in a living room mounted next to a large screen TV, BUT they don't show where the wires went. If you mount this device on your wall, you will have the power cord, and HDMI cables running down your walls. The cords plug on the bottom of the unit, not underneath. I don't see how it will look aesthetically pleasing mounted on the wall unless you can figure a way to hide the cords. I have mine sitting on my media console next to my cable box. It's 1/4 the size of the Verizon Set Top box.

I'm still testing this device out, and will explore all of its capabilities shortly. Right now, I am basically using it as a PC in my living room. I even typed this review using it.

250 GB memory won't be enough to store all my music, movies and photos, but will probably be sufficient for most.

If you want a device solely to view Blu-Rays, you are better off just buying a dedicated Blu-Ray device.

Now that Amazon Prime members have unlimited access to streaming content, this device just added an extra plus for me to have in my living room. However, the quality of the videos from Amazon Online looked awful on a large TV.

In conclusion, this is a fantastic device, albeit pricey. It can offer you endless uses. I highly recommend the Z-Box.
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