Unboxing Impression

The ASRock Vision HT 321B package contained the following:

  1. Main unit in a 2.5L chassis (195mm x 186mm x 70mm)
  2. 90W AC / DC adapter
  3. Media Center remote with batteries
  4. Support CD with drivers and miscellaneous software
  5. DVI- VGA dongle
  6. SATA and power cables / screws for user installation of second hard disk

Unlike the CoreHT 252B, the industrial design of the Vision HT traces its roots to the Vision 3D series. We have pleasing rounded edges, though the chassis doesn’t have a unibody construction. ASRock deserves credit for bringing the industrial design of the high-end units to the mid-range segment this time around.

When compared to the Core HT from last year, we find that the two USB 3.0 ports and the microphone / headphone jack in the front panel are retained. However, the power button changes from a circular version to a square with rounded edges. A SD card reader also makes an appearance. There are no ventilation slots in the front panel this time around.

Just like a notebook, this unit also supports simultaneous display on two monitors. Testing was done mostly with the HDMI output connected to a Sony KDL46EX720 1080p 3D TV through a Pioneer Elite VSX-32 AV receiver. For non-media playing related testing, the HDMI port was connected to an Acer H243H 1080p monitor. Our review unit shipped with Windows 7 x64 Ultimate and a OEM version of Cyberlink PowerDVD for Blu-ray playback. However, the OEM version doesn't support 3D Blu-rays and is also crippled with respect to the number of audio channels that can be decoded / HD audio passthrough. To test these, we installed the full versions of both Cyberlink PowerDVD 12 as well as ArcSoft Total Media Theater 5.

We will conclude this section with a table to summarize the data and A/V connectivity options for the ASRock Vision HT 321B HTPC.

A/V Connectivity Options for the ASRock Vision HT 321B
Option Status
   
HDMI Yes [v1.4a]
Component No
Composite No
VGA Yes
SPDIF Yes [Optical]
Stereo Yes
Data Connectivity Options for the ASRock Vision HT 321B
Option Status
   
Optical Disk Drive Yes [Blu-Ray / DVD-RW]
USB Yes [4 x v2.0, 4 x v3.0]
eSATA Yes [1 x v3]
LAN Yes [ 1000 Mbps GbE ]
Internal HDD Yes [ 500 GB ]
WiFi Yes [ 300 Mbps 2T2R 802.11n (Dual band)]
Bluetooth Yes (v 4.0)
Card Reader No

 

Introduction System Teardown and Analysis
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  • Death666Angel - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    I had a WD TV (the first one I think) and it always annoyed me that it could not decode DTS, which meant that I did not have dual audio for most of my library. It also lacked menu support and Blu Ray support. The menu was terribly slow and browsing a somewhat larger HDD was just awful.
    I'm sure those boxes have come a long way, but that was the point where I decided I would much rather go all in and have something that I know handles everything I throw at it in one way or another, than to have something that is cheaper and smaller, but worry about whether or not it will play everything I have the way I want it and be burdened by somewhat lacking software/firmware support.
    Easy browsing of the web and games are the added bonus and I always have a good back up PC in case one of them breaks and someone needs a quick replacement.
    If your set up has never failed you with a film you had, awesome. I have been disappointed by it too much to go back. :)
    Reply
  • Jaybus - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    I have two WD-Live boxes and they do have their use. A PC brings several things to the table.

    To begin with, it brings adaptability. My biggest complaint with set top boxes in general is that it puts you at the mercy of the manufacturer for software fixes / features. When any of the online services change something, it may be months before an update is available. A HTPC is far more adaptable in terms of software.

    Another area is remotes. The WD remote is sluggish and is an oddball format that hardly any third party remotes can emulate.

    I can see why someone wouldn't care if they don't wish to play games. But it is damn handy to have real surfing capability along with a keyboard and mouse. Is there anything else it beats the set top box in besides surfing and games? Of course! It can do almost anything that a laptop can do! It essentially is a laptop.
    Reply
  • prdola0 - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Atom+ION might be quite slow, but for SFF HTPC usage, it served me quite well. I've been using it for the past two years and it still does the job. Of course it's not a gaming machine - it can't handle anything more demanding than TESIV: Oblivion with low details, but for casual Steam games like Machinarium, Worms Reloaded etc. it's completely sufficient. You shouldn't bash the Atom+ION combo so much. After all, it was the one thing that made this from factor popular, in my opinion. Reply
  • Death666Angel - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Kinda sad that AsRock does not provide a unit that has an AMD APU inside it. I don't think many HTPC uses are limited by single threaded performance and the better iGPU can make a difference when playing games on the big TV (I use my A6 Llano HTPC as a console sometimes). The only thing I could think of to stop the use of an AMD APU is power consumtion. Pity AMD chooses way too high voltages (I dropped mine from 1.4xxV to 1.15V at max turbo). Reply
  • ericore - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    If you do the math, it costs them about 450$-475$ to build, but you only get a dual core CPU (TRAY: $225.00). Since Intel is charging so much for a mobile dual core, you might as well get the quad core for just under 300$. The whole system retails for 700$. Even at 600$, it would still be a crappy deal. A good deal would include 8 GB of RAM, and quad core CPU for 670$. To top off this shitty deal of theirs, they give you a piece of crap power supply adapter, and cheap plastic enclosure. Apple gives you a solid enclosure and a solid adapter, and ships with the same stuff for 599$. Reply
  • ericore - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    This AMD system is much better value; complete build 250$. I would just wait for Jaguar since current E-350 isn't quite HTPC prime yet. Reply
  • joetekubi - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Form factor is great, performance would fit my needs, but just a little too procey.
    I may go for this 6-8 months from now when they version the platform and the old ones
    are available for (much) less.
    Reply
  • valnar - Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - link

    How quiet is it? Does the fan speed up on load? Turn off on idle? What? Reply
  • johnny_boy - Sunday, November 18, 2012 - link

    The product isn't bad but compared to a premium machine like a mac mini, the price of the ASRock makes no sense. Reply
  • jeffkibuule - Thursday, November 22, 2012 - link

    Mac Mini only has integrated graphics. This system does not. Reply

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