Vittorio Bertocci

Scatter thoughts

Unboxing of the Zotac ZBOX ID34

Unboxing of the Zotac ZBOX ID34

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[warning: no identity or technical content here]

It’s so long that I don’t write a post about gadgets that the term disappeared from my tag cloud. Well, tonight after dinner I took a break from the usual grind and decided to pay homage to this ceremony that gadget lovers seems to have grown accustomed with, the unboxing. I found it a tad awkward at first, but it does prolong the pleasure of the discovery; I may end up doing it again :-)

Aaaanyway, what did I unbox? A brand new Zotac ZBOX ID34. I was tired to have one of the tablets constantly sequestered on the media tower for all the streaming that the other players can’t handle (for example Amazon Video), and when last week I’ve seen this little guy on Engadget, i decided it was time to get a more proper solution. Went to an online store, ordered the version for the lazy (ie with memory and HD already on board) and tried not to think about it, until today it finally showed up.

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Here there’s the box as received from the courier. There was a time in Italy in which shady people would approach you in service stations, offer you a videotape recorder for super low prices, quickly close the deal and vanish; the recorder invariably ended up being a chassis filled with as many bricks as it is necessary to simulate a plausible weight. I never fell for it, and of course the online store has an excellent reputation and would never pull out anything remotely similar; but I cannot avoid thinking of that when, as it is the case with the image above, it’s still possible that the package contains something totally different from what I expect. Ah, I also don’t leave my jacket in the car truck since that time (circa 1999) in Milan in which they forced the car open and stole it  :)

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Alrighty, once again it seems I may have avoided the bricks! Not certain yet.

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Nice box, though the color scheme is reminiscent of the Sound Blaster. That gives away that I’m old, doesn’t it.

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Inside the box, another box with handle.

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Finally, some hardware!

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The content of the package, all laid out on my post-flooding carpet. From the left topmost corner, clockwise. Box with power adapter, cable, DVI2VGA adapter; quickstart poster; copy of powerdvd blueray; user manual; a vesa wall mount, strangely resembling a giant security token… nevermind. In the center, the PC itself.

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The PC is real small, here shown in comparison with the PDC tablet.

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Here there’s the PC on its intended destination, the top shelf. Looking forward to peel away the plastic, it’s almost as enjoyable as popping bubble wrap! The slot for the blueray is very discreet, and so is the card reader. I am very happy for the USB port on the right: the fact that it’s blue means that it’s USB3.0 :-)

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The back. More USB3 goodness, Ethernet, eSata, DVI, HDMI, digital audio. There’s also the WiFi, but for streaming nothing better than the Ethernet (from which I want to squeeze as much ROI as possible, since we pierced the wall for bringing it through the floors).

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It’s on! The blue circle has that “Caprica” look & feel that I approve of in furniture :-) though I am sure that the blue light will eventually annoy me in the darkness (the BIOS has a switch for it, luckily). The ARC mouse & keyboard are there for show, of course they belong to the coffee table.

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The review on engadget suggested that Windows 7 should be already on board, but i didn’t see any license anywhere: in fact, the disk is there (phew!) but empty, not even NTFS.

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That’s pretty easy to solve, also thanks to the integrated blueray drive. In 20 mins or so Windows 7 is up. I had to do everything with the keyboard only, since the 2 USB3 ports needed the driver before functioning properly and the ARC mouse & keyboard each have their own dongle.

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Shortly after, tah dah! One of my favorite shows, unfortunately cancelled (can you guess which one? The screen shows the opening credits), is happily streaming from Amazon Video (via IE9. try it, it’s awesome!).

All in all I am happy with the purchase so far; there are few optimizations left (at 1920 the screen gets clipped a bit, the streamed playback is not always perfect smooth) but in general this thing is a little jewel. Now the challenge will be to stay away from it, at least until after PDC, TechEd Europe and OreDev… more details in the incoming weeks ;-)

  • have you tried the boxee media player with it?

  • What store did you purchase it from?  How much?

    Thanks

  • pretty cool and slim for a pc!

  • @smnbss: not yet

    @graham: NewEgg

    @amox: "for a pc", eh? ;-)

  • Looks cool.   Can it output bitstream audio over HDMI?

  • I looked at the newegg item, it says barebone and does not say it includes win7?

  • How loud is the fan?

  • How loud is the fan?

  • the fan is very quiet, or at least my couch is far enough from the media tower to to hear it. The bluray drive, instead, can be pretty noisy

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