31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2012
This PC has a lot going for it, the size is wonderful, it seems solidly built and installing memory and a hard drive was a breeze. The problem I have is that I bought this for HTPC use and it really does not have enough power for this purpose. It is no where nearly as powerful as some of the online reviews would lead you to believe. Yes it can handle some 1080p video streams as indicated but only barely and using a lot more CPU than the reviews indicate (and yes I do have all the latest drivers). Flash Videos at 1080p consume ~80% CPU but do play smoothly - H264 videos (MP4s) play extremely well at around 20% CPU usage. Amazon Prime videos stream without issue at 720p, although the CPU usage is pushing 90%. The real issue I have is with Netflix - the box can only manage SD. With HD video from Netflix one core of the CPU is solidly pegged and the picture only updates maybe once a second at best - completely unwatchable. This is probably the fault of Silverlight, the Microsoft technology that Netflix uses for PC streaming because of its DRM capabilities. The net result is if you want to stream Netflix look somewhere else.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2012
-The Small Form Factor fits just about anywhere.
-Comes with everything that's important: Graphics, wireless, usb3.0, card reader, etc.
-Can't beat the "cool factor" when friends see it.
-Some components (fan for example) are not user, or even Factory replaceable!
-Fickle usb ports & remote control
I've had my AD10 almost 4 months now. At first, it seemed the perfect solution to my problem, namely that I needed a media pc for my bedroom. This seemed to have all the answers. It has decent built-in graphics that plays nice with Netflix, movies off my HDD, movies off USB drives or SD cards. It has a remote control that lets you remotely turn off or on the PC. It has a wifi card so that you don't have to run Cat5 cable to pick up your internet connection. It even has two USB 3.0 ports around the back.
It does have its faults though. The first issue was solvable: the green (or orange) ring that lights up to tell you machine is on can be distracting in a dark room. There is however a BIOS setting that will let you turn the ring light off, so that turned out to be a non-issue. A more perplexing problem is the cooling fan. This CPU on this machine can get HOT if you are putting the graphics through their paces. The fan itself is quite loud in a bedroom setting. There is a setting to make the fan slower (thus quieter), but in my case it caused the CPU temperature to rise to dangerous levels. I had to trade cooling for noise pollution. Here is the problem though: you can't change the built in fan. It is some proprietary part that you can't get from anyone but Zotac, and it's expensive. Don't think about trying to replace it yourself though, that voids the warranty on the box! If your box is out of warranty, you are doubly screwed because Zotac won't fix it, and you can't buy the part from anyone, not even them on this older AD10 model. The final negative is that loading the OS is painfully slow. The reason for this is because until you load the component specific drivers from the DVD they provide, all the USB ports & the card reader don't work to their full speed potential. The Drivers will ONLY install once Windows is installed though! In short, be prepared to have it take between 2-3 hours for Windows to load onto the hard drive the first time. Once it does, pop in the Zotac drivers DVD and suddenly your machine will run smoothly and speedily.
Summary: This little machine would be perfect if they could just reduce the fan noise. Every other limitation it has is something most people can probably live with.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2012
I bought this to use as an XBMC server and it works beautifully. I installed XBMCbuntu on it and you can get it up and working pretty quickly, although there are some tweaks you may need to do to get full sound (5.1 etc) working and there are some buttons on the remote that don't work out of the box. This is not an issue with the ZBOX though, it's an issue with the drivers that come with ubuntu for generic multimedia server remotes. There are tutorials online to get you through the driver update process but you will need to be comfortable running command-line commands in linux.
Installing the RAM and Hard Drive was painless.I stream 1080P, 5.1 surround movies over my wireless network to this box and output to my 60" TV with 5.1 surround setup. It works very well. I've been using it daily for just under a week and only once did it pause to buffer the video. It buffered for maybe 5 seconds and then continued. While slightly annoying, the pause and resume while buffering worked smoothly and there were no issues or stuttering video. I can even make full use of the fast forward, rewind, chapter skip, and manual track control without issue.
My only complaint, which is minor, is that the fan in the ZBOX is rather loud and obvious when there is no sound playing. When something is playing however I never notice it. If you watch with the volume very low you may notice it.
While I would say this is probably only just barely above the requirements necessary for 1080P with surround playback, it does it smoothly and without issue, even when streaming over wifi. A solid multimedia box.
EDIT: I have NOT tried using Netflix with this machine. I have heard that there are issues with it due to its use of Silverlight not taking advantage of the integrated onboard video. Since I was aware of this, and since my TV has a built-in Netflix app that works great, this is a non-issue for me but I wanted to mention it since other reviews do discuss the ZBOX's issues with Netflix.
16 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on March 7, 2012
First of all: Yeah, I don't think it's fair to go after one individual on their review. Pat specifically stated that his worked fine with Amazon streaming at 720p. You really didn't add anything to this by suggesting that his Netflix streaming issue might be his fault and might not be an issue with the Nano. In fact, you couldn't even comment on that other than to say that you hadn't even tried streaming HD Netflix through yours. I'm not sure why you wrote an entire review based on someone else's when you had NOTHING to argue in the first place as having not used it your self. Your entire argument about Netflix streaming HD content was ridiculous as it was based entirely on your own postulations, whereas Pat's was based on experience. In fact, if you do ANY research (Google), you will find that the Nano does indeed fall short in the Netflix HD streaming area. It's an unfortunate fact, but it's a fact. While you might have written your review/response as respectfully as possible, all it does is confuse people. Don't make people think they're getting something they're not just because you don't AGREE with the reviewer above. Get some proof before you make assumptions like you do (btw, one streaming is not the same as another, especially in regards to Amazon and Netflix).
One of the biggest issues is the CPU. It's under powered to handle that kind of stream. With programs like VLC and XBMC, you can force the GPU to get involved and take the load off of the CPU. It seems like this isn't the case for flash based/silverlight based videos.
Pat told it like it is. The little computer excels in a lot of areas. It has a tiny footprint, and the fact that you can mount it to the back of your television is great. Combine the tiny footprint with XBMC and a little scripting to get WMC Netflix and Hulu Desktop running from XBMC and all your friends will wonder who your amazing cable company is.
I've had mine for a little over a month now. I have a Crucial 128GB SATA III SSD in it (turns on so quick) and 4 Gigs of RAM (maximum). It performs well in basically all areas except Netflix HD. I even have a 1TB drive in my main computer upstairs that I keep all my media on. I mapped the drive to my Nano and set XBMC to pull all TV shows and Movies from the network drive. I can get flawless 1080p streaming from that drive on our basic wireless. Remember though, you HAVE to enable GPU acceleration (System>Video>DXVA2).
I'm really only taking off one star for the Netflix issues. Zotac does sell the box as an HD capable machine. In my eyes, it isn't until Netflix works. Mind you, this COULD be related to Silverlight, but I've had 10 machines before this one that could all handle Netflix HD, which means that it's SOMETHING related to the Nano.
I apologize for spending the first paragraph ranting against another user. But seriously; you can't just write a review to say that someone else's experience was wrong when you haven't tested it yourself.
on January 25, 2013
I connected this PC to Sony 52' TV via HDMI cable and tried to install Ubuntu 12.10. Two problems took place:
1) The generated picture was larger than TV screen, so half off icons were out of TV screen.
2) Wireless Internet adapter did not work after the install. Zotac offers on their support website driver for wireless adapter for Linux. I installed it, but it did not help.
After a short fight I gave up with Ubuntu. People say Ubuntu worked for them, but it apparently required more efforts.
Second attempt was to install Windows 8. It was much better - wireless Internet adapter worked immediately. But two things did not work:
1) Generated picture was smaller than TV screen, thus, about one inch black stripe was present on the perimeter. I was not able to fix it by adjusting display adapter.
2) Remote with infrared did not work and driver was not working.
Both problems were related to software drivers. Zotac offers several software drivers for AMD chipset, display and remote control on their support website (they also come on 2 CD's with the system). But all drivers are only for Windows 7. I could not install any of them under Windows 8. They either crashed during the installation, either gave error message "This drivers works only with Windows XP and above".
After three hours of struggle I gave up again.
Finally, I came to Windows 7. There everything worked perfectly as designed. First, system installed without any problems, then all drivers which came on 2 CD's installed flawlessly, including display driver. It still was about 0.5' black stripe on perimeter, but it was easily removed by adjusting special controls on display adapter. The system loaded and responded with Windows 7 much faster than with Ubuntu - apparently specific drivers and accelerators made difference.
on January 25, 2013
I bought this as a system for basic web surfing and other minor tasks, freeing up my larger desktop's resources as a torrentbox. I installed a 64GB SSD, 4GB of RAM, and 64-bit Linux Mint xfce 14. I find it to be EASILY POWERFUL enough to handle web surfing while listening to music and other typical tasks most of us do 99% of the time.
-VERY powerful UEFI BIOS, allows all sorts of tweaking you wouldn't expect with a $220 barebones PC, including overclocking CPU and RAM.
-very energy efficient.
-more than enough peripheral types and interfaces.
-I wish the motherboard supported more than 4GB of RAM, particularly with a SSD, and sending all logs and caches to a ramdisk to reduce wear.
-CPUs run pretty hot. I show 65-70 deg Celsius with only a sustained 30% load. That's with a 65 degF room temp and plenty of space all around the box. I'd be leery of pushing this system to its limits unless the fan really kicks in big time to compensate.
-The fan is pretty audible, which was disappointing, although it certainly doesn't compare to my gaming system
Overall, build quality and documentation are excellent. Linux support is excellent, with no driver issues at all. USB speeds are fine under Linux. I can't comment on the remote, as that isn't something I use.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2012
Have it for my home use, I installed a 4GB SODIMM, and 1TB HDD.
Installed Latest Ubuntu (x86) no driver nightmare, everything up and on-line on first boot.
Then Installed XBMC and LIRC ([...] it's in spanish but is the best guide to setup the Nano Remote on Linux).
Later Installed Netatalk and Avahi for Apple AFP and TimeMachine support (follow these guides: first [...] and no frustration -it's for ubuntu srver, if you as me use desktop version, don't need to install webmin, vnc, ) Latest Netatalk support OS/X Lion.
Tips: use "<txt-record>model=TimeCapsule</txt-record>"as descriptor instead "<txt-record>model=Xserve</txt-record>"
Use wired network connection if your backup is too largue, will be 10X faster than Wireless. reboot twice fefore first usage (despite is linux, nothing is perfect).
If something fail, don't get frustrated, just look for a newest guide at google for Netatalk/Avahi install on ubuntu.
that's all for now, later I plan to use it as router too (just google on howto)...
on May 24, 2013
It's probably my own fault that I don't like this nano-PC better - I bought it as a low-power home web server that I was hoping would run cool and quiet. It's quiet, but it's a mini-blowtorch. Even when it's idle, the temperature sensors show it running at 68 degrees Centigrade (about 155 F). It blows hot air like a hair dryer.
It also is the first unit I've ever bought that didn't have a VGA port - you get HDMI and DisplayPort only. (It sat on the shelf while I ordered an adapter.)
That being said, it IS a nice little unit, which includes WiFi, USB 3, a memory card reader and an infrared remote control which I'll never use. And Ubuntu 12 installed on it with no problem. So, if this is what you want, and you live in a cold climate, you have two reasons to get one!
on April 22, 2013
We're American's living in South America. We obviously can't get American TV stations. After exploring our options, I decided to go 100% internet and bought this mini pc. I'm not a computer geek so I was a bit scared. But I shouldn't have been. I bought 4gb of ram memory, and a couple of memory sticks. I already had an external hard drive and that's all the hardware I needed. I loaded a program called 'openelec' onto the pc and everything was working and doing what it was supposed to do in literally 15 minutes. You load 'addons' into the computer to get different video streams and feeds. You can even record shows to watch later. The Zotac even comes with a remote control which works perfectly with Openelec and the XBMC media center.
on February 20, 2013
So far this little PC has worked great.
It is very easy to setup, you supply the memory, hard drive, and O/S.
Install the drivers on the enclosed CD and you are in business.
I use it with a Hauppauge DVR to record and play movies, works great.
The WiFi didn't work as well as I expected it to and it has an external antenna, in fact it is not usable with my Router.
I can see it but not hold a connection to it.
The Router is about 25 feet away through one wall.
My phone will connect in the same location as the pc with no problem.
So I just have to make my phone into a Hotspot and connect to it, that works fine.