Technology review: Zotac Zbox nano Xs AD13 Plus [XPRESS (United Arab Emirates)]
(XPRESS (United Arab Emirates) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Dubai: Zotac International, a manufacturer of graphics cards and motherboards, has upgraded its mini-PC series with AMD Brazos 2.0 platform by adding more power to boost performance.
I have reviewed their early model Zotac nano XS AD11 and was quite impressed by how Zotac was able to shrink a desktop CPU into a mini-PC, smaller than a Mac Mini.
Zotac's palm-sized PC nano XS AD13 Plus runs on dual-core 1.7GHz AMD E2-1800 processor coupled with AMD Radeon HD 7340 graphics processor. It is the world's smallest computer and can fit in your pocket or handbag. It looks and feels the same as the earlier device but uses noticeably less power.
The Zbox nano is available with barebones, leaving you the option to chose the specifications, or with 2GB of DDR3 memory and a 64GB SSD.The main drawback is that it does not come pre-installed with any operating system. Users are free to install any operating system, including Windows 7 or Windows 8.
If you are not keen on the additional cost of an operating system, users can install OpenElec a free XMBC-based distribution from the company's website. It is a Linux-based system that is built to deliver a set-top box-like experience and easily installs on ZBOX mini-PCs. It supports hardware-accelerated high-definition video playback of all formats. Users can stream content and easily organise their digital media to turn the mini-PC into a media centre. I am not very fond of Linux, so I used a Windows 7 operating system. For connectivity, it has 802.11n WiFi via USB dongle, two USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI output, Gigabit Ethernet, one combo eSATA/USB 2.0 front port, 6-in-1 card reader, digital mini-Optical S/PDIF, one headphone and one microphone jack. It has a remote control with integrated IR receiver.
Warm and humming
The machine gets warm and produces a very light hum when running for a long time, despite having enough heat ventilators on the sides. This is quite natural, as the machine is small.
If you need to install anything, it is an external optical drive, as the drivers for the device come on a DVD-ROM. Zotac should have come out with a flash drive, which would have made it simpler for installation. If you don't have a optical drive, you need to transfer the drivers to a USB drive with another computer. Setting up the device takes time and lot of procedures, but once done, it is easy to continue.
Do not buy this mini-PC with an intention to run high-end games. This is not a gaming machine, even though I played Minecraft and Left4Dead with ease.
I also ran some HD films and played some music without any trouble. The box also comes with a Vesa mount to fix the device on to the back of your monitor.
It is an ideal machine for a bedroom PC or as an expensive media centre, but lacks the raw power for anything more taxing. The Zotac Zbox nano Xs AD13 Plus is priced at $379 (Dh1,391) and the ZBOX nano Xs AD 13 (non plus) is $269.
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