Review Price free/subscription
£399.99 with 2GB RAM, 250GB HDD/ £349.00 barebones.
No, the Zbox is not a sequel to the Xbox. Instead, it's Zotac's miniscule home theatre PC (HTPC) based on Intel's Atom platform, in its latest iteration offering highlights such as Blu-ray and USB 3.0 in a chassis that's quite simply the sleekest and most attractive we've yet come across. Let's find out if the overall package can match its looks.
Starting off with that class-leading design, at only 40mm (1.5in) tall it's easily the slimmest machine with an integrated optical drive we've seen. This makes it ideal for wall-mounting, and a great clip-on VESA bracket is included for mounting on a monitor or television. Though the Acer Aspire Revo is actually slimmer, the Zbox's two-tone tapered edges and curves make it look like the more diminutive PC. In fact, the Zotac makes its power brick look positively gargantuan.
The machine's base is textured black plastic with four broad rubber feet giving a secure grip. Its top is a stylish combination of silver plastic, brushed aluminium and lacquered piano black, which features a large blue-backlit ring that doubles as a power status indicator (constant when the PC is turned on and lighting up at intervals when it's in standby).
Admittedly the glossy black half of the Zbox does pick up fingerprints easily, but Zotac has cleverly chosen the section above the Blu-ray drive for the metal finish so that the part you're most likely to touch doesn't require any cleaning. The optical drive is also of the slot-loading variety, which is far more attractive than a tray-loading solution. Overall, this is one HTPC you won't need to hide away in your high-end home cinema setup!
Build quality doesn't match its looks but is nonetheless adequate. Aside from the occasional flex or creak the machine feels fairly solid, and the power and drive eject buttons offer a positive click.
The Zbox comes well packaged, with a driver CD, Cyberlink's PowerDVD software, full-colour quick-start, contents and specifications guide, flexible VESA mount and DVI-VGA adapter. You'll have to get your own OS, as one isn't pre-installed or provided on disc.