Zotac HTPC experience

by Marin Franković on 29 August, 2011

zt-zboxhd-nd01-eAs I already announced it on my FB page, here is a short review of Zotac mini-PC ZBOX, ION, Atom330 HD-ND01 which I have purchased at Microline.  Since this is bare bone computer, I installed one 250 GB disk in it that I had laying around and I also purchased 4 GB or RAM and Lenovo Mini Wireless Keyboard at Mikronis. Since I decided to install Windows 7 Ultimate x64 and utilize its Media Center capabilities, I have also purchased HP MCE Media Center Remote Control. Idea behind all this was to replace my old and trusty WD HD Live media player (which I kept just in case).  

I used VGA cable to connect Zotac to my TV for initial installation and setup. After I installed all drivers, I switched it to HDMI. After installing memory and hard disk, next step was to install operating system on the machine. Since this particular Zotac model does not have DVD drive, I used USB stick to install Windows 7 from it. Hint: Prior to powering on Zotac, plug in USB stick with OS and go to BIOS. Change primary hard disk drive to USB stick and reboot. After first restart of the OS installation, remove USB stick. Complete installation worked like a charm and after that I installed Zotac drivers and applications needed for NVidia ION $(KGrHqJ,!g4E3uZ0zMfJBODCqtT)!!~~_35chipset.

Since Zotac was designated to replace WD HD Live player, I used Windows Media Center features to catalog all my movies, music and pictures. Since MC can not read MKV files out of the box, here is solution for that problem. All movies, music and videos are shown in Media Center libraries.

Least, but not last, I dug up my old Pinnacle USB DVB-T TV card and installed it. Windows MC recognized it and found about 60 channels of TV program.

Zotac is very quiet machine, and I keep it hidden behind TV. Now I have full blooded PC that can be used by anything. I must say, for any serious typing I recommend buying full size keyboard. I will be connecting my USB camera on it and use it for Skype video calls to my wife and children.

Next order of business will be to test out how Windows Media Center plays HD movies and how it handles subtitles.

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