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I just took a look at this device (it's a new HTPC from Dell) and I believe most people would be better served building their own HTPC from scratch if they have, or acquire, the knowhow if they want more than a minimal system.

The problem I see with the Zino HD is that there are way too many configurations possible and they won't all perform the same so one persons Zino may perform great while anothers may not.

The other thing is cost. The basic Zino goes for $249, but I went through the process of building a custom Zino and selected the "Dell Recommend" options - at the end the final product would have cost over $1200!

BTW, the Zino does not come standard with WiFi, that is either a $25 or $45 upgrade; and the default OS is Vista! :doh:

If the proper configuration is chosen for the desired purpose these may be good systems, but their cost rises rapidly over base cost as capability is added. For example, it's a $130 bump to move to Win7 Pro.
 

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I went through the Dell wringer and set one up for myself and came to $529. But I don't know squat about HTPCs. My upgrades were Win7 Home Premium (why have pro on a HTPC), Athlon dual core cpu (I'd much rather have an intel quad core but they don't offer it), 7.1 sound (don't even know if this is a good idea or not - I know that the soundblaster upgrade is a scam), and a wireless keyboard/mouse (probably cheaper to buy one locally.

I thought about upgrading the hard drive and the GPU. But looking at Dell's prices it'd be half the price or less to do it on your own. I can get a 2TB drive locally for what Dell wants for a 1TB.

I think that I could probably do a bit better on my own than this. It does have a nice looking case though! ;)
 

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I was under the false impression that Win7 Home Premium did not have Windows Media Center, but I was wrong about that and W7HP would be my OS of choice for a minimal Zino system (I still can't force myself to recommend Vista for anything). The only thing I see that you get by going to Windows 7 Professional is XP Mode, which I would like if I was going to use the system as a general PC.

I totally concur with Mech on the outrageous cost of some of the upgrades at the Dell site, similar items can be found for much less elsewhere.
 

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Let me start by saying in no way do I want to be a naysayer.

With that said I do want to share the experience my brother had.


His son really wanted a Zino. He really wanted to get him one for Christmas. Life is simple, and an order was placed... which was just as simple. The order was place well in advance of the Christmas rush and my brother was guaranteed the Zino would arrive in time for Christmas.

After his order was placed and his charge card charged he was later informed there was a run on the Zino's and they were back ordered and he had to call to confirm whether he still wanted his order or not. He called. After going through a slew of options and prompts and then getting someone that spoke less than stellar English, he was told his order would be processed.

A week later he got another email from Dell stating there were delays in Zino orders and he had to call to confirm whether he wanted to continue his order.

This continued until he was informed his order would not make it for the Christmas deadline. He called his son and told him the news and asked if he still wanted the Zino, and his son said yes. Then there were more delays... more calls, more emails, more delays. Ultimately my brother canceled the order. A couple of days after he canceled his order he recieved an email asking if he still wanted his order processed and account charged. He called Dell and went through a grunch load of automated options and foreign languages, he was told the order was cancelled.

Then a week later he was sent another email asking if he wanted the order processed or not. By now it it was late January and both him and his son no longer wanted the unit.

I don't want to post this as a naysayer. This is however an experience that many have encountered.
Also the Zino in my opinion is way under powered to deliver true HD playback. I know some will not like hearing this, but with a 1.8Ghz processor as the highest option it isn't going to deliver trouble free playback at current standards let along future requirements.

The Hauppauge PVR-1212 recommends at least a 2.2Ghz dual core for HD playback and I fully concure with that. 1.8Ghz will be fine for SD content (for the most part) but that's about it.

I certainly don't want to tick anyone off, but I also don't want to see people think this is the ultimate player/extender option and end up wasting their money. Fully loaded these units can cost a lot of money and they simply don't deliver the goods worthy of the money spent. There are other options out there that deliver better performance at a cheaper price.

If a person wants simple SD playback and doesn't care about options or price then this is an option to consider. But if anyone wants something that will grow with them and be able to play true HD content as well as anything a person can throw at it, then the Zino comes up a bit short. If customer service is a concern, then it is a definite buyer beware.

I know there are a lot of opinions out there, but as moderators here we present things as factual as we can. Our job is to sift through things so people can make decisions.

The Zino is popular. It is okay for SD content and is pretty cool, but it is also expensive and the base unit is lacking in performance and the fully loaded unit can cost $840 or higher and still won't perform as well as a custom built HTPC.

It is a cool unit, but anyone that is interested in it should take a closer look at it and weigh thier options.
 

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Bill, thanks for your comments re the Zino. You've convinced me that it's not the best solution for my needs, primarily because of my desire to play hdtv. You mention "a lot of options"...what are your top two or three recommendations? Would these be the Popcorn Hour and O!Play that you've mentioned? Or other HTPC options?
 

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I don't want to derail this thread since it is about the Zino.

To try and keep it somewhat related, I would say to take a look at the list of features and price and compare all three (the Zino, A200 PCH, and O!play).

The Zino of course would be the most expandable since the other two are sealed units and not intended to be upgraded.

The spec about the Zino that really concerns me is the processor. I know some have said they playback HD content without any trouble. The question is though, what is their 'definition' of high definition? To different people it means different things. It even means different things to my cable company... who seems to think HD content means the image is 16x9 and that's about it!

Where I can see some problems is for the more than casual users that wants to archive everything and play back from a media server like I plan on doing. It's when you take your Blurays and put them to hard drives is where I see the trouble starting. When the file sizes start getting to 30plus GB and the bitrate is 24Mbps or higher. And forget wifi.

Wifi issues aren't a Zino problem, all media devices have issues with wifi, especially when it comes to HD.
 

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Thanks Bill. I am continuing to look at HTPC as an option although I will check out the other devices you mention. I'm also eager to follow your "Let's Build a Media Server" thread.

Sticking to the Zino topic, or at least its potential direct competitors, can anybody comment on the following machines that appear to be better suited than the Zino as far as processing power and overall features relevant to HTPC:

--Gateway SX2840 [2.93 Ghz, 6 GB RAM, 1TB HD]
--Viewsonic VOT550 [2.2 Ghz, built-in Blu-Ray]

Any other recommendations? Or should I just build from scratch? I certainly wouldn't be able to build the computer myself but I could get somebody to do so.
 

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Bought a Dell Zino HD from the local PC World on Feb 4th. Brought it home, hooked it all up to my 32" Sony, turned it on and saw a pretty Win7 loading screen. It got halfway through booting up for the first time, rebooted itself and gave me a message that my hard drive was non-existent.

Walk back to PC world 2hrs after purchase, tech guy doesn't believe me, plugs it in, confirms the issue, orders me a replacement from another store as they had no more in stock.

Feb 8th, I get a phone call that my replacement is in stock. Get it home, turn it on, boot it up, install a few updates, latest flash, etc. Bought a Hauppauge WinTV USB stick for it, remote control seems useless in Win7 (never had any issues with it with Vista HP Media Center x64), already had a wireless keyboard and mouse to use. Everything seems ok for the first couple of days.

I soon realise that I've not got a chance of playing Youtube HD videos even inside the regular browser page (it's just about watchable in the Youtube interface on a 480), let alone Youtube HD at full screen (even 480 is stuttery full screen). Browsing through TV listings in Media Center, the interface is sluggish and unresponsive, takes a good few seconds to switch channels from one to the other, and there's a definite lag just going through the Media Center interface. It's pretty much only good as a standard def DVR (which I could've bought for about half the price at the same store if that's all I wanted). The DVD drive is pretty useless. It plays, it's smooth enough, but it whirs up to annoyingly loud levels every couple of minutes while watching a movie - and one some DVDs the Dell Zino randomly throws the machine into 576i mode - yup, I'm in the UK - rather than simply scaling up the DVD to fit the HD resolution of my TV through HDMI (which means I have to use the Cyberlink DVD software, which runs even slower).

Today, only 7 weeks after receiving the unit, Windows is informing me that "Windows detected a hard disk problem". Earlier it rebooted itself and gave me the same error that the original Zino I received was giving about my hard drive being non existent. Powered off, powered back on and it seemed to boot up OK, although getting errors every 5 minutes or so about the dying hard drive.

Really not impressed. To be honest I feel ripped off by Dell (never thought I'd be saying that, I've had several of their desktops & laptops in the past with no issues at all). Wish I could get a refund, as a replacement unit isn't really that much use to me. It'd still be slow and useless even without the hard drive failures.
 

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Welcome to the forum Kaouthia. :wave:

Sorry to hear about your Zino troubles, but thank you for sharing the info.

May I ask what CPU your Zino is using? It certainly seems to be underpowered for the intended use, which is Dell's fault, not yours.
 

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It was the base model (the only one that PC World sells, advertising that it'll do everything I wanted it to do). Funny, I just checked PCWorld's website, and they don't even list it for sale any more. Given the relatively short time it's been available, I'm guess they had too many returns/complaints.

I didn't expect great things from it, but smooth full screen youtube (even 480) would've done me, it's only for the bedroom.

Btw, just to really press home how bad the base model is, that was only a 720HD TV, so not really that demanding. I'd dread to think how slow it might be on my 1080 screens (I didn't want to depress myself, so didn't check). :)

Edit : Oh wait, yes they do still list it, it's just labelled as "Inspiron 400".

PCWorld said:
The Dell Inspiron Zino HD mini PC not only has the mighty AMD Athlon™ Processor 2850e powering it, but it also comes equipped with Microsoft's Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium operating system. There's an impressive 3GB Memory which ensures your computer operates without any hiccups, no matter how many tasks you make it perform simultaneously. The 500GB Hard Drive provides space to store your multimedia files, space-hungry games and downloads.

With integrated ATI Radeon HD 3200 graphics, vibrant colours and smooth video, the Dell Inspiron Zino HD is your first-choice entertainment centre for viewing films, playing visually intensive 3D games and other multimedia programs. DVDs can be watched using the integrated DVD Rewriter, also useful for burning backup discs.

The display delivers superb brightness and contrast, perfect for viewing movies with a friend or two. There are multiple connectivity options, including four USB 2.0 ports, two eSATA ports, HDMI and VGA display and monitor connectors.
Hell of a sales talk huh? :)
 

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There's an impressive 3GB Memory which ensures your computer operates without any hiccups, no matter how many tasks you make it perform simultaneously.
Anyone that has actually multitasked with their PC knows this isn't true. I'm amazed they would even say this publically.

moo baby moo of a sales talk huh? :)
Looks like you ran afoul of the "naughty filter" here and tried to use a banned word. "moo baby moo" is many times substituted for the banned word as a bit of a joke by the admins. This is a family-friendly board and we try to keep things squeeky clean here. ;)
 

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I did figure that out after I hit preview and saw what it had been changed to. I considered altering my wording, but I couldn't stop laughing at "moo baby moo", and decided it was funnier than any alternative I could've come up with. :)
 
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