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  • kake - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    Why don't these essentially hyper blu-ray players come with IR receivers built into the front of the device? Make adding a remote so much more intuitive for the impulsive buyer. Reply
  • CZroe - Friday, October 22, 2010 - link

    Probably because there is no one IR receiver that can work with everything. For example, MCE remotes require an RC6 receiver and will not work with a standard IR receiver. Reply
  • ckryan - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    Imagine if this Zotac wasn't just BD, could be your digital cable box and DVR solution. THAT would be something. As impressive as this system may be, Zotac could add true two way cable-card support and have a (IMO) all around awesome device. Not just a BluRay player that went to finishing school, but something I've been craving for a hot minute. Reply
  • iSmug - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    It could be when the HDHomerun Prime comes out. Just hide the network attached tuner somewhere. Reply
  • IceDread - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    "The Zotac ZBOX obtained 308 out of a maximum possible 358 points (86%) in our media streaming test suite. Most of the points were lost in files containing a bitstreaming test for an HD audio codec, which the Zotac Zbox is simply incapable of doing due to the limitations of the hardware. Also, points were lost due to stuttering in high definition Real Media video streams. These decode for Real Media is not accelerated by the GPU and the Atom D525, without the aid of the ION, is not able to playback HD content stutter free."

    So streaming is not a good idea? Sound quality is not good ether? Then what's the point?
    Reply
  • therealnickdanger - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    "stuttering in high definition Real Media video streams"

    "Real Media" being the point. I haven't seen, streamed, or downloaded a Real Media file since 2001, and even then I avoided them the best I could. That sentence doesn't apply to any other tested HD media, so I don't think you have to worry.

    That being said, I'll wait for the Core i3 model - if it comes. No bitstreaming, no sale.
    Reply
  • ajlueke - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    Correct, a handful of media types do not support hardware acceleration from the ION. The Atom dual core is not capable of streaming playback stutter free in 1080p on its own in these scenarios. Reply
  • IceDread - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    True, Real Media is not something I use normally. Bitsteaming however, as you pointed out, must work.

    When you say i3, which one's do you think about then?

    Personally I'm very interested in the coming cpu's with integrated gpu. Thou it's some time left before they come.
    Reply
  • ProDigit - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    the core i5 is one of them. Reply
  • therealnickdanger - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    I have personally used a Core i3-330UM laptop (Acer Timeline X) for bitstreaming lossless to my receiver. It handled Blu-ray flawlessly as well as every other file type I tried *except* it didn't handle 1080p Youtube quite as well, there were very mild frame skips depending on content. A higher speed i3M or an entry-level i5M would probably do the trick. Without the need for Ion, hopefully such a platform could fit into the same chassis. They draw similar power (~18W) and would possibly generate less heat than the Atom/Ion combo.

    I wish Newegg sold more notebook components. I would just build one myself.
    Reply
  • cjs150 - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    It looks pretty.

    As you said most people thought it was a high class AV component.

    And then it drops the ball big time:

    1. HD audio codec: how simple do we have to make this? With my AV receiver I expect sound and video through the HDMI cable in full glorious HD - any HTPC has to do the same. Really what are manufacturers thinking of, my requirements are exactly the same as everyone else with an AV receiver

    2. No OS so I have to add my own (extra cost) which brings me onto next problem

    3. What about a remote? This is in the living room it has to be controllable from a logitech remote

    4. Any room for a TV tuner - I guess limited to USB stick tuner which are not the best
    Reply
  • Golgatha - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    I totally agree with point #1. If it can't do HD audio + video output via HDMI, I am completely not interested. Yes it takes more horsepower than what this device has, but it is a necessity. My HTPC has an ASUS Slim1.3 sound card and a Q9400 for a reason. Reply
  • ajlueke - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    1. As I said in the review, the lack of bitstreaming support in the hardware really will keep this machine from functioning as a living room HTPC. However, in my bedroom the display setup features a wall mounted TV alone, using only the TV speakers. In this situation the Zbox is an elegant solution for expanding my HD movies and videos music etc into the bedroom over the wired connection I have in the house.

    2. It is interesting the the unit includes windows software to playback blu-ray's (PowerDVD 9) but no windows. There is some extra cost associated with supplying some OS's, but you can get an upgrade version of Windows 7 professional for relatively cheap, ($64.95 is the lowest I have seen with a .edu email address.) But added cost is added cost.

    3. I'll agree with this limitation. Having to try and add an IR receiver to a slim wall mounted device does detract from some of the asthetic.

    4. There are two PCI-e mini ports within the device, one is occupied by the dual channel wireless card, while the other is open. Othereise USB is always an option.
    Reply
  • Golgatha - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    This is true. I do wonder if they included GbE or just 10/100 though. GbE is pretty much required for streaming Bluray rips. Reply
  • Golgatha - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    I suppose the inclusion of USB 3.0 would be fine though for GbE if it doesn't come standard. Would be nice if you didn't have one more needless dongle coming out the back of this device though. Reply
  • mindbomb - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    it probably does have gbe, but bluray discs tend to have bitrates of like 30-40 megabit, so 100 megabit can handle it comfortably. Reply
  • ajlueke - Wednesday, October 20, 2010 - link

    GbE is included standard. All the tests I ran I streamed the media off my main HTPC to the Zotac via wired gigabit connections in my home. Reply
  • mindbomb - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    just a reminder, it can bitstream DTS and DD and LPCM.
    It can't bitstream TrueHD and DTS-HD. FFdshow can convert truehd to pcm, and dts-hd has a dts core, so on both fronts, you are set.
    so, do you want to qualify your statement?
    Reply
  • mindbomb - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    oh wait, you're the guy that wrote the review.
    i want to take my comment back lol.

    just wanted to say i can imagine it as a living room htpc, it just wouldnt be ideal.
    Reply
  • ajlueke - Wednesday, October 20, 2010 - link

    True enough. It can bitstream core DTS and Dobly digital, as well as decode and output 5.1 or 7.1 LPCM, but the lack of HD audio codec bitstreaming will keep it out of the living room for mnay users. I also feel than some of the aesthetic apeal is lost mounted on a wall by a TV that already has a sizeable A/V rack for a receiver, STB etc. Reply
  • ProDigit - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    1- you get 2.0 channels just like most stereo's. The audio plays back just like your laptop or home pc.

    2- It's easy to install an OS. Worst case you get Ubuntu or another Linux on it, which costs you nothing next to a 30 minutes install!
    Besides there are EeePc versions of WinXP available on the black market for free.

    3- you can get a bluetooth remote, or get a USB-IR receiver and install that; though there's little use for IR when you are planning on mounting this behind the TV.
    Bluetooth works even in a couple of rooms next to the TV room, and is much better!

    4- pics say enough, it's a laptop mobo with a desktop cpu and an nvidia graphics card crammed into a DVD-player sized box.

    I wished they did some gaming on this system though!
    Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    erm... who even has a receiver with an hdmi input? Not many would be my guess. I have toslink and that is better than hdmi anyway. (No ground loops.)

    So the question is, how does this thing work if you are not getting your audio from hdmi?
    Reply
  • ajlueke - Wednesday, October 20, 2010 - link

    The optical out port works just fine. I really had to dig in my basment to find a Toslink cable and give it a whirl. If that is your preference I don't think you'll have any issues other than hiding another cable. ;) Reply
  • numberoneoppa - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    holy smokes, that thing is ugly. Reply
  • garrun - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    Does anyone know how this works streaming HD from Netflix and Hulu? If it was in the review, I didn't see it, but I remember other Ion devices had a problem with that in the past. Reply
  • ajlueke - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    I'll give it a try and post back here. For everyday web browsing the unit does fine. I noticed that Windows Media Center, as well as the PowerDVD plugin for blu-rays loaded a bit slower than on my main HTPC. My main system has a sizeable hardware advantage however, so that was to be expected. Reply
  • ajlueke - Thursday, October 21, 2010 - link

    Both appear to work fine, I had no lag or choppiness in the hulu videos I tried or using Netflix with Microsoft silverlight. Reply
  • angelor - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    Is the Netflix HD still working for you on the zotac system? I have the barebone model and installed 500gig and 4gigs of memory on it. It is running windows 7 ultimate 64 bit. All drives updated and installed shark codec. I do have display at 1080P and have both video and audio passing through it. Reply
  • ProDigit - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    Nice design, nice project, I had just hoped the integrated audio card would be able to channel 2 channels to the stereo system.
    4 USB ports is not much, seeing that a keyboard and mouse take up 2 already.

    A USB3 port is pretty ridiculous for such a machine, most USB2 ports are fast enough to copy files upto ~50MB/s perfectly fine!
    Besides USB 3 bandwidth will probably take so much of the already taxed machine, that it would stutter or interrupt any movie playing.

    But the price is just too much!
    You're basically trading mousepad, keyboard,preinstalled OS and LCD screen for a bluray drive and a second memory slot; other than that it is nearly identical to a netbook.
    Reply
  • mindbomb - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    I'm still a little wary of atom based htpc's. I know it can totally offload video processing, but is the atom powerful enough to render pgs subtitles and decode lossless audio comfortably?
    i would feel much better if it had a low voltage core 2 cpu or something of that sort.
    Reply
  • ajlueke - Wednesday, October 20, 2010 - link

    It really was a good experience using the system. Of course, my main dual purpose machine runs a Phenom II 965 @ 3.8 GHz with an Intel X25-M 160Gb boot drive, so things will of course not measure up to that. But standard web browsing was responsive as was loading into PowerDVD or Media Center. I haven't tried gaming on this machine, so I am unsure how it would fair there. Reply
  • tukkas - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    can this be resolved via a future firmware update or is it wired into the chip. if so, which one? thank y oui Reply
  • Mumrik - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    "Most users need DTS-HD MA and Dobly TrueHD bitstreaming from their primary HTPC for their AV receiver to decode. "

    That's just a hilarious quote :-D
    Reply
  • numberoneoppa - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - link

    I suppose it is. :P Reply
  • blarfmarfle - Wednesday, October 20, 2010 - link

    I bought one of these to use as an HTPC in my living room. I needed a tiny computer that could play back all my kids' ripped DVDs through Media Center + My Movies, and this fit the bill. I swapped out the HD with a Vertex 60GB SSD so it would sleep/wake quickly, which it does (~2sec). It is near silent, and it is slim enough to tuck away on top of the XBox in my entertainment center. Playback for both Netflix HD and ripped DVDs is good, and the few MP4 files I have tried playing (720p from my Flip HD) look great. Bluray playback is acceptable, although I generally use my PS3 for Bluray. Build quality seems pretty high, and it is easy to open and work inside.

    The complaints about a missing remote are valid- I bought an IR receiver so I could use my Harmony remote. I can't really comment on the HD audio codec problem, since I'm running this into a Samsung Soundbar with simulated 5.1 which is nothing to scream about.

    All told, for my limited requirements, this is a neat little computer that works well.
    Reply
  • ET - Thursday, October 21, 2010 - link

    The second sentence on page 3 is "I also can the system through our media streaming test suite." I assume it should be "ran" and not "can".

    As for the Zotac, first of all I like it that it's possible to get a PC with Blu-ray for $500. That's a lot less than I remember such devices costing. I like the device of the Zotac, and since I use the TV's speakers it would have been enough for me. However, I'm not really sold on an HTPC as a media solution. I tend to get along better with devices geared for the task. Now if I could get a PC that could also do gaming on the TV that might be good, but then it couldn't have such a streamlined design.
    Reply
  • ajlueke - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    No, building dual purpose media/gaming systems tend to require larger less stylish case as some hi end video cards are nearly as big and heavy as this entire PC. I myself use a larger machine as a gaming/media system, that also has enough room for harddrives to store all my media and serve it to the rest of the house. But using this unit to stream media to another TV where less gaming is goign on works quite well. Reply
  • Milleman - Monday, October 25, 2010 - link

    As I use XBMC myself, I would like to know if this product is able run XBMC as well. Reply
  • ajlueke - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    I did install XBMC on the Zotac Zbox, cand in ran acceptably, without much slowdown at all. I think you'll be pleased with the XBMC performance on the Zbox. I know I was, given the performance of past Atom systems. Reply
  • angelor - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    I have hdmi cable passing both video and audio can that the reason that I do not get any HD to play properly on my system? I also have set as 1080 screen rate of 60. I will check display to 720p. I am using Windows 7 ultimate 64 bit and have installed shark codecs on it. Aero is currently disabled on my system. Reply

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