I am really interested in the new Dell Zino HD. First, I’d like to point out that it starts at under $250 delivered. It is like the Mac Mini in form factor, but features better hard drive, memory and graphics card expansion and capacity while also featuring slower processors. With its combination of outputs, its seems to be the perfect little box for a media center PC that is mainly used to stream media. Given its lack of expansion slots, one would be limited to USB TV tuners which is less than optimal. This is not a huge deal if you’re mainly playing back recorded TV as you would be well served to use your bigger main PC in this case to install your tuners and capture drives. For Hulu, YouTube and Netflix this guy would be awesome. A front IR port would have been nice for the use of Media Center remotes and the option for blue tooth for nice wireless accessories.
Pretty robust expansion with the eSata ports – this thing would be an *awesome* base for a home server with 65W consumption maximum and the ability to attach eSata drives or multi disk enclosures for just mind boggling expansion along with the prerequisite and surprising at this price point gigabit ethernet. Note you could would need an HDMI to DVI adapter for most digital panels and that you would need a mini stereo to RCA converter to get the 5.1 digital sound (just like the older Audigy cards) which is a bit of a pain, but at least the options are there.
Options go up to 8GB of ram and a 4330 discrete/separate video card. These are both luxuries as the integrated graphics are fine and you really don’t need more than 2GB of ram in most user scenarios. Especially as the CPU choices are pretty slow – the dual core upgrade would be a great one at the current price of $65. For me that would be the only change I would make as I have easy access to more Windows 7 licenses. If you are looking to make this into a real media box hooked to a TV, I would go for the 7 upgrade.
Bottom line, if you are looking for a little media box or home server, this is a great option. Even as an inexpensive desktop, the package is pretty compelling. Maybe I’ll buy one to check it out 🙂