The Dell Zino HD mini-desktop has been on the market for a while, but the company has upgraded the hardware a few times since first introducing this small form factor PC. Several different Zino HD models were deeply discounted after Thanksgiving this year, so I picked one up with the goal of turning it into a media center PC.

The model I got has a 2.2GHz AMD Athlon II X2 P340 dual core CPU, 2GB of DDR3 memory, a 250GB 7200RPM hard drive, and ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4250 graphics. It comes with Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit, a DVD burner, and a decent array of USB ports, an eSATA port, and HDMI and VGA ports.

The computer is bigger than your typical Intel Atom-powered nettop, but it’s still tiny by desktop PC standards, and should fit pretty comfortably into the small space by an HDTV I have picked out for it. It should also offer significantly better performance than a typical nettop, thanks to the dual core AMD processor and Radeon HD graphics. I don’t really expect to do a lot of gaming or other heavy lifting, but I expect the computer to able to handle 1080p HD video and Flash video reasonably well.

The model I purchased came to about $370, but the Zino HD is available in a variety of configurations, starting as low as $294

.

I’ll have more details after I’ve had a chance to test the Zino HD a bit more, but for now you can check out my unboxing video. Sorry for the poor camera quality. There was more light coming in from the window than I had expected.

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5 replies on “Unboxing the Dell Zino HD”

  1. Now that you’ve had some time with it, how do you like this box for a media center device? How does it do w/ 1080p? Noise and heat? Thanks!

    1. I’m planning on doing a full review soon, but other things have been taking precedence.

      But the short answer is that it fits my HTPC needs perfectly. I have a more powerful HTPC in my living room and I’m using the Zino HD to stream content from that box to a TV in another room, as well as internet video. I haven’t tried using it to record live TV shows, but I’m certain that with a good USB tuner it could handle that.

      I’m primarily using the computer for 720p video over a home network, 480p to 720p Flash video, and music/other media using Windows Media Center or Boxee. It’s performed perfectly for those tasks, and goes to sleep and resumes quite quickly.

      It’s reasonably quiet, but I haven’t really tested for heat — and I’m using it in my basement gym, so I haven’t really tested noise very much either as there’s usually sound from exercise equipment.

      I’ll make sure to pay closer attention, test 1080p video and run some benchmarks before posting a full review.

  2. You should install XBMC on it; the latest version is only days aways from release; I dual-boot it with Windows. The frame rates almost double when Windows is not involved, which comes in handy when you want to play 1080p videos with a weak CPU.

    1. Right now I’m mirroring my living room setup, with a combination of Boxee, Hulu Desktop, and BeyondTV Link. Turns out it’s kind of tough to configure the included media center remote to do everything I want, so I might spring for a Snapstream Firefly remote.

      I know Snapstream isn’t really supporting the consumer version of BTV very much anymore, but we’ve been using it for years and I’m too lazy (or busy) to switch to SageTV right now.

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