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Old 16th July 2010, 16:22   #16
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Whats the update on this?

Zotac Zbox HD-ID11

I'm planning to go for the same too, but how does it fare as a download box?

I got a cheaper quote through a dealer.
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Old 16th July 2010, 22:17   #17
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The built-in Atheros AR-9285 Wireless b/g/n adapter in both Zotac HD-ND01 (ZMag) and HD-ID11 (Zbox), is absolutely useless and one may not count on it for any streaming/downloads from the network. I am using a D-Link wireless adapter with which I have been happy for a longtime now. I hope that answers your question if it is that you mean by a download device.

I have just today after a hectic two weeks, completed giving the finishing touches to the Zotac Zbox (HD-ID11) after moving it to the living room last Sunday. Right now I have started gathering and organising the material for the final review which may come out in a day or two. I am very happy with the Zotac machine's performance. Here are some pictures and screen shots I clicked today. More in my final review.

The set-up: Zotac Zbox finds it home on the base of the LG TV.

A cute Mini-HTPC - Preview-setup.jpg

The desktop: Windows appearance and fonts tweaked for a comfortable
viewing from 10' away.

A cute Mini-HTPC - Preview-desktop.jpg

The Movie: Playing a BD ISO image "Beautiful Places" (scaled to 95% <
1MB)

A cute Mini-HTPC - Preview-beautiful-places.jpg
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Old 17th July 2010, 11:07   #18
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^^ Nice - and the comparison with the older MAG. Most reviews state that the older MAG is better than the newer ZBox. Some architecture problem.

But the MAG is apparently noiser than the ZBox.
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Old 17th July 2010, 13:09   #19
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i have been using the mag for more than 8 months now ... no fan issues for me.
sweet and crisp.

a few points to note:

using windows 7 and then windows based movie software is NOT the BEST option for these boxes
there will be occasional jitters and frame drops on the windows platforms ( 7 and XP)

XBMC is the way to go
i use an external USB Drive ( 2gb sandisk mini cruzer) with XBMC Live
perfect rendering - zero frame drops including the RAW footage from planet earth camera feed in MKV format @ 35mbps bandwidth for video.

I would recommend the following:
1GB memory is enough
use xbmc live and install onto mag
then configure network or usb external storage to play the movies in your collection.
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Old 17th July 2010, 14:30   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brix View Post
Whats the update on this?

Zotac Zbox HD-ID11

I'm planning to go for the same too, but how does it fare as a download box?

I got a cheaper quote through a dealer.

it works well as a download box - used it a few times as well..

what quotes are you gettting? mind sharing/pm'ing?

note there are two versions of the zbox ( i use the MAG)
the zbox is a brand new product.. 2 months max
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Old 17th July 2010, 15:32   #21
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The first release of ZMag was indeed reported to have a noisy fan. But this was addressed in the second updated bios release and the ZMag I purchased locally had this second updated bios. It is as quiet now as the Zbox. So no longer an issue. (Just about a week back, after gaining enough confidence, I flashed its bios to the third release which is supposed to fix HDMI hot plugging issues.)

I noticed the following change: Earlier it used to show four HDMI audio Playback devices even with no HDMI playback device plugged in - the Realtek HD Audio (SPDIF out) being the default playback device. As soon as I plug the HDMI cable into my LG TV, one of them will show The LG TV as the default HDMI audio playback device. With the updated bios, no HDMI playback device is shown. I became a little apprehensive. But as soon as I plugged in the HDMI cable, LG TV was shown as the active HDMI audio playback device. Oh........ that is hot plug-in. I choose the Realtek HD Audio as the default playback device since I do not use the LG TV for audio but my Philips AV receiver through SPDIF.)

In a way, yes, the Intel atom 330 + nVidia ION chipset as in ZMag is a better match as far as HD Flash Video is concerned. Intel changed the architecture in their latest Pineview atom 510 by integrating the memory controller,the GMA 3150 Graphics core (but no HD Video capability) and a DMI Link output. nVidia has no license to use the DMI link and thus cannot make a chipset for it and was forced to use the Intel NM10 express chipset. More on this here .

nVidia redesigned its ION, now called Next Generation ION (and not ION2) that uses one PCIe channel of the Intel NM10 Express chipset. (The nVidia NG Ion is no longer a complete chipset as in the ZMag but a HD capable GPU with some DDR3 memory integrated ) The PCIe channel however has a limited bandwith that cripples HD Flash Video Playback which by design involves a lot of to and fro Video data flow and processing between the CPU and GPU. Early Zbox had Flash Video stutter on any thing above 480p or so. nVidia had promised an updated video driver to resolve the issue and has indeed released a beta driver which I have installed in my Zbox. I have not tried any HD Flash Video and so not in a position to confirm whether it has improved. For Blu-ray discs and other format HD Video is concerned where all the processing is done by the GPU itself Zbox may have a slight edge because of the included DDR3 memory in the NG Ion. It does not scrounge on your system memory. The 45nm Pineview cuts on power and makes the system peppier because of the integrated memory controller.These differences however may not be readily discernible for an ordinary user. That said, there is talk that Adobe may redesign its Flash Player so that most video will be processed in the GPU itself and in that case the Flash Video problem will vanish in toto.

Finally, I have not considered the ZMag for a HTPC since it comes with a 160GB HDD which is totally inadequate. If one does not care for the one year warranty, he can jolly well pull it out and put a HDD of his choice. Also it has two memory slots stuffed with 2* 1 GB memory.You can pull these out too and replace them with two 2GB memory sticks making it 4GB. The Zbox has only one memory slot. I understand that single stick 4GB laptop memory sticks are available elsewhere but not here. Any info on this is welcome.
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Old 17th July 2010, 16:19   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by babhishek View Post
i have been using the mag for more than 8 months now ... no fan issues for me.
sweet and crisp.

XBMC is the way to go

I would recommend the following:
1GB memory is enough
use xbmc live and install onto mag
then configure network or usb external storage to play the movies in your collection.
Quote:
Originally Posted by babhishek View Post
it works well as a download box - used it a few times as well..

what quotes are you gettting? mind sharing/pm'ing?

note there are two versions of the zbox ( i use the MAG)
the zbox is a brand new product.. 2 months max

I'm going to be using it mostly as a download box. And for watching the movies I download. Would mostly install Mint. I have a Dell 22" and my current Atom setup outputs only through RGB. So wanted a pure digital solution that is powerful and does not consume much power.

This is the more powerful one. The other version uses GMA graphics.
But the ZBox needs Laptop RAM and a Laptop HDD. So cost would come to the older MAG itself.

I got the quote through Yantra Online. Costs 12400 inclusive of shipping and taxes. Warranty provided by Aditya Infotech.

Though newer is not always better - I'm thinking of going for the newer Zbox only.
I hate these turf wars of Intel and nVidia.
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Old 17th July 2010, 16:26   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ponmayilal View Post
The first release of ZMag was indeed reported to have a noisy fan. But this was addressed in the second updated bios release and the ZMag I purchased locally had this second updated bios. It is as quiet now as the Zbox. So no longer an issue. (Just about a week back, after gaining enough confidence, I flashed its bios to the third release which is supposed to fix HDMI hot plugging issues.)

In one word - which one would you recommend?

The MAG or the ZBox?

My needs :

Running it 24x7 as download box.
I rarely run Full HD - but would like the option.
Computer should be nippy enough.

I could go for an assembled solution - but the ZBox is quite elegant at what it does.
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Old 17th July 2010, 17:19   #24
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The Zbox of course. It has a slightly faster CPU, less power consumption than ZMag and the integrated memory controller makes it more peppier. It can fulfill your occasional HD needs now and later. Also ZMag comes with a VGA port while the Zbox has a DVI port that fits your requirement.

Go for a wired LAN and you are good to go. That I believe will satisfy all your needs.

(When babishek said it works well as a download box, I was a little perplexed but then it dawned on me that he must be using a wired connection - I am a little naive. It never occurred to me that most people torrent.

The Atheros wireless adapter in both ZMag and Zbox is the same and universally condemned both by experts and users. My own trial has confirmed it.)

Last edited by Ponmayilal : 17th July 2010 at 17:33.
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Old 18th July 2010, 16:00   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ponmayilal View Post
The Zbox of course. It has a slightly faster CPU, less power consumption than ZMag and the integrated memory controller makes it more peppier. It can fulfill your occasional HD needs now and later. Also ZMag comes with a VGA port while the Zbox has a DVI port that fits your requirement.

It never occurred to me that most people torrent.

The Atheros wireless adapter in both ZMag and Zbox is the same and universally condemned both by experts and users. My own trial has confirmed it.)
Thanks Pon. This is purely for torrents.
WiFi - I almost never use it, if I needed one I'll get an external USB based solution.

I'll probably get it in Aug. Thanks for the prompt replies. You and Abhishek.

I had one more last doubt. Would you recommend a DIY solution that sips the same power as an Atom setup - but is available as a Mobo and CPU and also that fits into a tiny cabinet.
Because I have plenty of Desktop RAM and HDD, but getting this for 12500 is quite high. Its ultra snazzy, but for a download box it can be more demure.
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Old 19th July 2010, 07:47   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brix View Post
......I had one more last doubt. Would you recommend a DIY solution that sips the same power as an Atom setup - but is available as a Mobo and CPU and also that fits into a tiny cabinet.....
Down two months, I started off with exactly the same idea, but then jettisoned it when I chanced upon the Zbox. ( I had never before bought a stuffed or semi-stuffed box.)

Down the memory lane, when I brought a state-of-the art ASUS motherboard from U.S., I had to wait for almost a year for a 350W PS, SATA drives and a good AGP card to go with it. I was looked upon as an alien from Venus, when I went asking for them.

Though things have much improved now, A DIYer still faces the problem of getting what he wants, when he wants, straight off the counter.

If you enjoy doing it and are confident of getting what you want without losing your hair, by all means go ahead and build your box.
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Old 19th July 2010, 11:53   #27
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Default Zotac ZBox HD-ID11 Review -Part 1

The Zotac ZBox HD-ID11 hit the store shelves in U.S.A. sometime in the first week of May 2010 a few months after the MAG.

1. The specifications direct from the Zotac site:

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2. The box and the Zbox:

A cute Mini-HTPC - Preview-01boxzbox.jpg

3. The ZBox uncovered: Just put it upside down on a soft surface, uncrew the two thumb screws you see in the previous image and pull the cover out.

A cute Mini-HTPC - Preview-02bare.jpg

4. The ZBox furbished: A Seagate 500GB 2.5" HDD and a single Kingston 800MHz DDR2 stick is all that it could take.

A cute Mini-HTPC - Preview-03equipped.jpg

5. The bios update: before and after. The unit as I got it, came with the first bios update that added support on 4GB memory module. The second update flashed now improves cooling fan noise level and efficiency. The fan is admirably silent now. I can hear a slight whirring noise only at midnight when there is no ambient noise whatsoever.

A cute Mini-HTPC - Preview-04biosupdate.jpg

To be continued.
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Old 19th July 2010, 15:46   #28
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Default OT and not part 2 here.

OT:

Ahoy..... I am elated and wanted to share my joy with fellow BHPians.

Wandering aimlessly on the net, I stumbled on this. Two of the images from my "Introduce yourself" post appear in the connect.in.com site here and here . 2 out of 47 and the credit goes to Team-BHP. As a matter of fact, I had not entered one-india chat for more than a month now since I was otherwise busy.

Incidentally, that was my second HTPC which is now doing duty as my primary desktop.

Last edited by Ponmayilal : 19th July 2010 at 15:50.
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Old 19th July 2010, 18:00   #29
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Nice photos Pon. Very nice indeed.

I'm just waiting for August.
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Old 19th July 2010, 23:15   #30
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Default Zotac ZBox HD-ID11 review -Part 2

6. The bios update - How to: While most motherboard manuals have a full chapter on BIOS with details of default settings, how to enter, how to update etc., the Zotac User Manual is all but dumb.

The downloaded zip file gives a DOS flash utility and a Windows flash utility alongwith the bios file itself with some cryptic instructions. Flashing the bios from within Windows always carries an added risk. I had also read in the Zotac forum that many who tried to flash from within the Windows ended in misery and had to return their boxes to Zotac.

While there are many ways of creating a bootable DOS USB drive, I chose to go by this blog/tutorial.

(Rafel’s blog/tutorial deals with the MAG in which the boot screen does not show the plugged-in USB drive as a bootable device at all. I resolved the issue in my own way as mentioned in an earlier post. At that point of time I hadn’t seen Rafel, who did it in a slightly different way achieving the same result)

In the case of Zbox however, there was no problem and hitting the F11 during the post (with Zbox logo showing up) one could select the USB drive in the boot menu and hit enter. Followed Rafel for the rest and I was through with the bios update.

Installing Windows 7 from the USB drive was no problem now, but before that I made some changes in the bios settings.

I had downloaded the Intel AHCI driver (included F6 floppy installation drivers) from the Zotac website alongwith all other Win 7 32bit drivers.

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For the first time I wanted the HDD to operate in the AHCI mode – so far I always had two HDDs in Raid 0 in all my systems. I invoked the AHCI mode in the bios and fed the driver during the Windows installation from an USB drive.

(After an extensive web search on AHCI mode, I had learnt this has to be invoked in the bios prior to the Windows installation. Invoke this mode after, Windows will go for a toss necessitating a reinstall – of course there is a registry hack which one can resort to, to invoke the AHCI mode afterwards without pain)

Everything went smooth and I was into Windows 7, installed the other drivers and updates to Windows. During this process I had restarted Windows many times. Thereafter at a random time it froze and I had to switch off power and then reboot. (There is no reset button on the Mag and Zbox.) But windows failed to start and asked that I do a startup repair. Said Ok but nothing happened except that after sometime it asked me to restore the system with a backup image. I had none.

I reinstalled Windows two or three times but every time at an unpredictable moment it froze. I finally decided to do away with the AHCI mode and went back to the normal IDE mode for Sata and since then it had been a smooth sailing.

(So here is a situation where even though I invoked AHCI mode prior to the Windows installation, I ended up reinstalling Windows. Reasons unknown except that the AHCI mode in the bios was responsible for it. It may perhaps be due to a bug in the AMI bios)

7. Final Bios settings:

A cute Mini-HTPC - Preview-06bios-settings.jpg

To be continued

Last edited by Ponmayilal : 19th July 2010 at 23:30.
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