Dell Zino HD - New mini HTPC - Page 43 - AVS Forum
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post #1261 of 5041 Old 12-02-2009, 07:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by kevm14 View Post

The feature is useless for almost anyone who isn't involving themselves in some level of piracy, or at least breaking the encryption. And that is why I can't believe regular OEMs would even bother to introduce (and market) the feature!

Not at all. You forget, there is more to computing than just blu-ray playback. There are plenty of applications where you might want 7.1 digital audio out that isn't PAP encrypted. 7.1-capable games certainly aren't encrypting their audio output in real time. Dolby Pro Logic IIx (which is built into several DVD software players) will convert 2.0 and 5.1 channel audio tracks into 7.1, and it does a pretty decent job of it at that.

Eventually (hopefully), the open source crowd will come up with a clever workaround for PAP and build it into ffdshow or one of the other codecs. Then nobody will have to worry about whether their hardware conforms to these arbitrary DRM requirements. If that happens, then 7.1 LPCM output will be capable of flawless playback of all HD audio codecs.
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post #1262 of 5041 Old 12-02-2009, 07:38 PM
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Found an answer to my question and I don't think Zino's HD3200 is a miracle. Media Center UI most likely will be laggy.

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...0#post17613550

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post #1263 of 5041 Old 12-02-2009, 07:49 PM
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My order was canceled and reprocessed as well -- It does still include the $60 gift card though. I just hope it doesn't screw up the bing cash back. The new ship date shows as 12/23 -- I placed the order on 11/18 originally!
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post #1264 of 5041 Old 12-02-2009, 08:35 PM
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Mine is coming ahead os schedule - ordered blck friday - fedex # says will arrive this friday so 1 week turnaround, 6850 w 4330 + wireless N, no bluray ( i bought an internl slimline blu ray burner on ebay for $60 since I wanted the option of 2 drives when I sell the zino as soon as a real bitstreaming option comes out)
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post #1265 of 5041 Old 12-02-2009, 08:43 PM
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Originally Posted by klas View Post

Found an answer to my question and I don't think Zino's HD3200 is a miracle. Media Center UI most likely will be laggy.

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...0#post17613550

Sounds like he's playing a video in the background while doing other stuff. Can't say I'll have to worry about that ever
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post #1266 of 5041 Old 12-02-2009, 09:01 PM
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Originally Posted by andyd2k View Post

Sounds like he's playing a video in the background while doing other stuff. Can't say I'll have to worry about that ever

well, if you are planning to use Media Center it is kinda graphics intensive, so I would really love to know the experience on the Zino with HD3200. Looks like HD4500 w/ su4100 I am using it now, handle it ok.

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post #1267 of 5041 Old 12-02-2009, 09:02 PM
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Originally Posted by klas View Post

The deal seems to be still active (value code + bing), so you can still go with Plan B. I don't think you can modify your order, but you can cancel. You just request to speak with the manager and he has the power to cancel it.

You are correct that the deal e-value code I originally used and Bing is still available (I think through today). But my problem was getting the order canceled. I have placed about 6 calls to Dell (including one manager and long waits) and a few online chats and ended up getting nowhere (while others were getting their cancellations + $25!). I think I need to be a bigger jerk. (Luckily, after failing the other day as well with a Radio Shack deal and the HDHomeRun supposedly OOS, my wife had success).

I am now taking it as a sign from above that I was destined to have the 3250/4330 combo.

The other issue with re-ordering is the later ship dates. As usual, I need to have it NOW! I have grand plans for that poor little box. However, if my current delivery date 12/17 (with shipping 12/11) gets pushed out, Dell will be getting an another call (if it was locked in production two days ago then it better go out on time).
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post #1268 of 5041 Old 12-02-2009, 09:03 PM
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No internal pics yet, but do we know if the internal wireless card is in a pci-e slot. I ask wondering if I could cram a pci-e dual atsc tuner in there rather than get 2 external usb tuners??

I ordered mine without the wireless card. Long shot, i know.
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post #1269 of 5041 Old 12-02-2009, 09:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Buzz K View Post

I think I need to be a bigger jerk. .

Not really, I asked CSR nicely to get manager and he had no problem with it. Then when speaking with manager I nicely explained to him that I placed 3 orders for Zino with and just needed to cancel the first one, he didn't ask any more questions and cancelled it. Then I suggested 2 my friends to do the same and they were able to cancel it and re ordered it with the current deal.

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post #1270 of 5041 Old 12-02-2009, 09:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by askat1988 View Post

I ask wondering if I could cram a pci-e dual atsc tuner in there rather than get 2 external usb tuners??

Sorry. The wireless card uses a mini-PCIe slot and there definitely isn't a regular PCIe slot in the unit. There are some mini-PCIe ATSC tuners out there, but you'd be on your own rigging up an antenna, and they're OEM-only, so there's no real guarantee it would work at all.
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post #1271 of 5041 Old 12-02-2009, 09:15 PM
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Originally Posted by candre23 View Post

That is correct.

LPCM is an unencoded digital waveform. Blu-ray discs do not generally have any unencoded audio tracks. Instead they have 7.1 HD audio (TrueHD or DTS-MA) and 5.1 encoded (AC3 and DTS) tracks.

AC3 and DTS are encoded, but not encrypted. Pretty much any software can decode them and produce an LPCM waveform for output. You can also bitstream these formats over coax, optical, or HDMI without having to do anything special.

TrueHD and DTS-MA are encrypted with a DRM scheme called Protected Audio Path (PAP). This means that only specially licensed hardware and software can pass these streams (bitstream) over HDMI. Technically, nothing in your computer is supposed to be able to decode them into LPCM. The only thing that is allowed to do this is the HD audio decoder chip in your receiver. There are some programs that can decode these tracks and convert them into multichannel FLAC (see here), but this is an at-your-own-risk procedure that technically violates the DMCA.

If you do transcode the HD audio tracks to FLAC, then there are several filters that will decode the FLAC track to LPCM during playback. This is what you will have to do with the Zino (with the 4330 only), as there is no way to bitstream encrypted HD audio as-is. This may change in the future. The developers of various filters are working on the issue, but there is no guarantee. As it stands now, ffdshow can decode TrueHD, but only by downsampling it to 16khz. It cannot decrypt DTS-MA, but it can extract the 5.1 standard DTS track that is embedded in every DTS-MA track. This functionality is probably "good enough" for most people until workarounds for this annoying DRM are found.

If you feel this is an unnecessary pain in the ass, I would agree. PAP is just another example of how DRM ruins the experience of owning content for paying customers, while doing nothing to limit piracy. Pirates can simply download ripped copies of films with the audio already converted to FLAC, without worrying about this nonsense. It's only people who have paid for their blu-ray discs that have to jump through these extra hoops to enjoy content that they own on the devices they prefer.

This article on Anandtech seems to contradict your statement about 7.1ch LPCM. Seems like PowerDVD is able to decode the DTS-HD MA track into 7.1ch LPCM and pass it on through supported gpu hdmi out. I personally do not have any hands on experience with any of this so I can't add insights into the matter.
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post #1272 of 5041 Old 12-02-2009, 09:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by kevinqian View Post

This article on Anandtech seems to contradict your statement about 7.1ch LPCM.

Just like ffdshow, PowerDVD downsamples the HD audio to 16KHz. For all we know, they might be using ffdshow to do it. You're getting 7.1 audio, but it's not the original, lossless track you would get from bitstreaming or transcoding to FLAC.
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post #1273 of 5041 Old 12-02-2009, 10:51 PM
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Originally Posted by candre23 View Post

Just like ffdshow, PowerDVD downsamples the HD audio to 16KHz. For all we know, they might be using ffdshow to do it. You're getting 7.1 audio, but it's not the original, lossless track you would get from bitstreaming or transcoding to FLAC.

Oh well in that case, powerDVD CAN decode the lossless audio into LPCM, just at a lower resolution. And this loss of resolution is more due to PAP restrictions limiting all decoded LPCM content to 16bit/48kHz, and not a PowerDVD limitation. It may not be bit for bit lossless, but i think you'd be hard pressed to hear the difference between 16/48 and the original 24/48. So for all intents and purposes, having 7.1ch LPCM out on a gpu HDMI out is good enough for all but the most discerning audiophiles.

I should also add that many Blu-ray titles aren't even encoded at 24/48 so it would be a moot point worrying about downsampling to 16/48, when they were already 16/48 to boot.
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post #1274 of 5041 Old 12-02-2009, 10:52 PM
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Ordered mine on 11/18, estimated delivery 12/8 and now rescheduled to 1/1/2010. Can't. Wait. That. Long!
(4330+blu ray)
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post #1275 of 5041 Old 12-02-2009, 11:20 PM
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Originally Posted by askat1988 View Post

No internal pics yet, but do we know if the internal wireless card is in a pci-e slot. I ask wondering if I could cram a pci-e dual atsc tuner in there rather than get 2 external usb tuners??

I ordered mine without the wireless card. Long shot, i know.

forget internal tuners... HDHomeRuner

Mac Mini HTPC (Win7)
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post #1276 of 5041 Old 12-03-2009, 01:55 AM
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I have another question.

I know we cant' decode dolby True HD and DTS HD MA.

Does Zino have a free PCI-E slot for connecting for example a sound/video card PAP compliant? For example Asus Xonar HDAV1.3 Slim which is indicated for HTPCs...

Or all of its slots are full? Or there isn't enought space?
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post #1277 of 5041 Old 12-03-2009, 04:16 AM
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Originally Posted by domipheo View Post

I have another question.

I know we cant' decode dolby True HD and DTS HD MA.

Does Zino have a free PCI-E slot for connecting for example a sound/video card PAP compliant? For example Asus Xonar HDAV1.3 Slim which is indicated for HTPCs...

Or all of its slots are full? Or there isn't enought space?

No slots. There is a mini-PCI-E slot that is occupied by the wireless if you got it.
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post #1278 of 5041 Old 12-03-2009, 05:33 AM
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Originally Posted by andyd2k View Post

I wouldn't consider the bump in specs to be future proofing but I do agree that it makes more sense just to go for the top end for both video and cpu for this PC. It really isn't that much of a price difference especially when you consider cash back. I guess some just rather not spend the money

I'm in for 2 of the stock single cores ($199, with $60 gift card) and 2 dual cores ($229, with $60 gift card).

These will just be attached to TVs in the house, connected to my media server. As long as they can run media center, and 1080p MKVs , I'm happy. Flash will work fine with 10.1, but it's not a big concern.

At $140 each, I can't come close to finding/building anything that comes close.

I'm not contradicting what JJ is saying, and until an experienced tweaker gets their hands on one, we're all still a little in the dark. However, I find it odd that so many people are flocking to dual core/upgraded graphics.

Nobody has tested the single core with the new flash drivers, although plenty have been able to play HD flash on a single core atom/Ion with them, without an issue.

"Future Proofing" as far as these upgrades is a complete myth. Consider the number of things you'll be looking to do with the big cpu / video that you couldn't do with the stock. We're not talking about a night and day comparison, we're looking at a little more cpu, and a little more graphics power, neither of which compare to a bottom level desktop cpu, or bottom rung graphics card. I'm not bagging on the product, I just want people to see it for what it is, and set their expectations appropriately.

As I (and several others) have mentioned here ad nausem, if you are looking for a very small desktop, and will be using it as such, you might be getting some real value out of several of the upgrades. If you want a media box with some other capabilities, and are looking to "future proof", I don't think it's a wise idea. 12 t0 14 months from now, we'll be seeing devices using next-gen AMD/Intel parts that will blow these early mini-boxes away. That's always the case, and I'm fine with it.

Side note:

Java, a lot of people are buying based on your recommendations here. You have been steering people towards dual-cores and upgraded graphics, but haven't conclusively said why. Just wondering if you have clean installs with real framerate data we can use. (ugh, NEVER watch flash in windowed mode but maximized. Run a cpu meter log in the background... it's a very significant difference).

Cheers all, can't wait!
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post #1279 of 5041 Old 12-03-2009, 05:59 AM
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I was looking into media streamers until I ran across the Zino. I ordered mine fully loaded, but now I have a Bluray player, which I did not have before, and for a price about the same as the OPPO Bluray player. The latter was also on my list, but I don't need any 5 channel music format capabilities.

So, I got a Bluray player that's much more than a Bluray player. I can now check my email, play video games, play bluray, watch Hulu and netflix, serve my FLAC audio, stream my home movies (which my 2 year old loves), etc.

I may also buy another one of these as a streamer and one more as my general purpose (email, writing letters, etc.) computer. For less than $200, why not? I'll then take my massive, 6 hard drive holding case and put it in a basement as a server for all my songs (and potentially DVDs and Blurays, one day anyway).

Bob
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post #1280 of 5041 Old 12-03-2009, 05:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by baltik View Post

Mine is coming ahead os schedule - ordered blck friday - fedex # says will arrive this friday so 1 week turnaround, 6850 w 4330 + wireless N, no bluray ( i bought an internl slimline blu ray burner on ebay for $60 since I wanted the option of 2 drives when I sell the zino as soon as a real bitstreaming option comes out)

I'll believe it when I see it.

CD

Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything. -Plato
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post #1281 of 5041 Old 12-03-2009, 06:04 AM
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I've been building and using HTPCs for several years now. Based on my limited experience, a dual core CPU is an absolute must if you plan on any type of HD video playback. The minimum accepted standard for full-sized HTPCs is a dual core 2GHz CPU, although you could probably get away with a slower CPU with the proper setup.

I'll agree that "future-proofing" is somewhat of a myth because the next generation of CPUs will almost always require a completely new motherboard and chipset to support it and probably newer and faster memory as well. However, in the case of the Zino HD, depending on what you plan to use it for, upgrading to a faster dual core CPU and graphics card makes perfect sense. The only "future-proofing" that really takes place is when a new OS is introduced that requires more memory and faster CPUs and GPUs. Since the Zino HD is being introduced almost concurrently with Win 7, we should be content to keep it with the latest OS for many years to come and not worry about it falling behind in performance.

Let's face it, once you've bought a lower-end version, there is little or no venue to upgrade it, at least with respect to the graphics card. The cost to upgrade the CPU would probably exceed the difference in price between the lower-end CPU and the higher-end options offered by Dell. Personally, I'd rather spend the money up front and be assured that it will do what I want rather than gamble with a cheaper setup only to discover it can't handle the intended tasks after it's too late. Just look at the hundreds of posts and threads from people that have struggled with decent Blu-Ray playback performance and it will almost always fall back upon an inadequate CPU and/or GPU.

I already have a full-sized HTPC with 7.1 HD audio and Blu-Ray playback capabilities so I'm only looking at the Zino HD as a remote PC that will handle streamed Blu-Ray rips. The remote setup will probably be limited to the internal speakers of the TV it's connected to so anything more than 5.1 audio would be a complete waste for my needs. I suspect many people will be using the Zino HD as an extender of sorts and not for their primary HTPC, although it could become quite attractive for a basic configuration (not to mention a high WAF).
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post #1282 of 5041 Old 12-03-2009, 06:21 AM
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Originally Posted by captain_video View Post

I've been building and using HTPCs for several years now. Based on my limited experience, a dual core CPU is an absolute must if you plan on any type of HD video playback.

Er... I suppose the only question is, what do you consider "HD"?

There are hundreds upon hundreds of reviews of people playing 1080p video flawlessly with 5.1 on atom 230 / Ion setups.

The processor requirements to play back HD media just isn't that huge!

Heheh, I feel like it's X-files. Where are people getting this? Anandtech, Tom's Hardware, HardOCP... they all have benchmarks, and extensive reviews explaining this.

Sorry Captain Video. I'm not trying to war, I just want people to have the right information. If you have anything that indicates a single-core can't play HD, please let us know, because everything out there dispels that rumor.
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post #1283 of 5041 Old 12-03-2009, 06:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by captain_video View Post

I've been building and using HTPCs for several years now. Based on my limited experience, a dual core CPU is an absolute must if you plan on any type of HD video playback. The minimum accepted standard for full-sized HTPCs is a dual core 2GHz CPU, although you could probably get away with a slower CPU with the proper setup.

I'll agree that "future-proofing" is somewhat of a myth because the next generation of CPUs will almost always require a completely new motherboard and chipset to support it and probably newer and faster memory as well. However, in the case of the Zino HD, depending on what you plan to use it for, upgrading to a faster dual core CPU and graphics card makes perfect sense. The only "future-proofing" that really takes place is when a new OS is introduced that requires more memory and faster CPUs and GPUs. Since the Zino HD is being introduced almost concurrently with Win 7, we should be content to keep it with the latest OS for many years to come and not worry about it falling behind in performance.

Let's face it, once you've bought a lower-end version, there is little or no venue to upgrade it, at least with respect to the graphics card. The cost to upgrade the CPU would probably exceed the difference in price between the lower-end CPU and the higher-end options offered by Dell. Personally, I'd rather spend the money up front and be assured that it will do what I want rather than gamble with a cheaper setup only to discover it can't handle the intended tasks after it's too late. Just look at the hundreds of posts and threads from people that have struggled with decent Blu-Ray playback performance and it will almost always fall back upon an inadequate CPU and/or GPU.

I already have a full-sized HTPC with 7.1 HD audio and Blu-Ray playback capabilities so I'm only looking at the Zino HD as a remote PC that will handle streamed Blu-Ray rips. The remote setup will probably be limited to the internal speakers of the TV it's connected to so anything more than 5.1 audio would be a complete waste for my needs. I suspect many people will be using the Zino HD as an extender of sorts and not for their primary HTPC, although it could become quite attractive for a basic configuration (not to mention a high WAF).


Amen brother!
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post #1284 of 5041 Old 12-03-2009, 06:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by captain_video View Post

I've been building and using HTPCs for several years now. Based on my limited experience, a dual core CPU is an absolute must if you plan on any type of HD video playback. The minimum accepted standard for full-sized HTPCs is a dual core 2GHz CPU, although you could probably get away with a slower CPU with the proper setup.

I'll agree that "future-proofing" is somewhat of a myth because the next generation of CPUs will almost always require a completely new motherboard and chipset to support it and probably newer and faster memory as well. However, in the case of the Zino HD, depending on what you plan to use it for, upgrading to a faster dual core CPU and graphics card makes perfect sense. The only "future-proofing" that really takes place is when a new OS is introduced that requires more memory and faster CPUs and GPUs. Since the Zino HD is being introduced almost concurrently with Win 7, we should be content to keep it with the latest OS for many years to come and not worry about it falling behind in performance.

Let's face it, once you've bought a lower-end version, there is little or no venue to upgrade it, at least with respect to the graphics card. The cost to upgrade the CPU would probably exceed the difference in price between the lower-end CPU and the higher-end options offered by Dell. Personally, I'd rather spend the money up front and be assured that it will do what I want rather than gamble with a cheaper setup only to discover it can't handle the intended tasks after it's too late. Just look at the hundreds of posts and threads from people that have struggled with decent Blu-Ray playback performance and it will almost always fall back upon an inadequate CPU and/or GPU.

I already have a full-sized HTPC with 7.1 HD audio and Blu-Ray playback capabilities so I'm only looking at the Zino HD as a remote PC that will handle streamed Blu-Ray rips. The remote setup will probably be limited to the internal speakers of the TV it's connected to so anything more than 5.1 audio would be a complete waste for my needs. I suspect many people will be using the Zino HD as an extender of sorts and not for their primary HTPC, although it could become quite attractive for a basic configuration (not to mention a high WAF).

Why wouldn't you consider it as primary? I bought it specifically for that. I live in an apartment so I'm not going to have several HTPCs. I don't see why specs wise this can't be primary. I'm not going to use it as a ripping / re encoding computer but I wouldn't use an HTPC for that anyway. Why would a HTPC specs wise need to be anything more than what Zino top end already is?

I'm coming from NMT players that are way lower spec'd and can play HD video with the only issues with rewinding / forwarding. I can't imagine a Zino won't be able to outperform them if spec'd out properly
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post #1285 of 5041 Old 12-03-2009, 06:47 AM
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It won't be my primary computer because it doesn't have enough hard drive space and no expandability. I plan on getting a Ceton card to put in the primary, then stream cable to my two televisions (well, one projector, and one television). I also have the space for 6 (or 8?) hard drives in my main computer, so that's plenty of space.

You could use this as a primary, depending on what you want to do with it.

Bob
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post #1286 of 5041 Old 12-03-2009, 07:14 AM
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No idea what a ceteon card is but if you're going to have several HTPCs in home you seem like the person that would also have a server of some sort, like WHS, for storage alone. I would want my media centralized than have terabytes in my HTPC
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post #1287 of 5041 Old 12-03-2009, 07:17 AM
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It will be my primary. My storage is on a Drobo shared via my main computer. But the Zino will be my primary playback device hooked up to my plasma and 5.1 receiver.
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post #1288 of 5041 Old 12-03-2009, 07:21 AM
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I don't understand why so many people are so concerned with what other people are ordering. Each person has their own requirements, tastes, and budgets.

The Zino will be my primary PC using VNC on my N800 internet tablet when I don't want to fire up the Plasma. It is replacing an old Barton core Athlon that served me well and was a killer machine when I built it years ago. The Zino will be a faster machine with much lower power consumption. I will be using it to rip and re-encode as well at HTPC, and lite gaming. I did upgrade the CPU to the 6850, the GPU to the 4330, and the RAM to 4Gb. It is exactly the low power PC that is at home in the theater that I have been waiting for.

On another note, I ordered on 11/17 and my estimated received date is unchanged for 12/09. A friend who ordered with the 3250 and 4GB RAM on 11/18 had his ordered changed from estimated delivery of 12/10 to 12/16. If it is a part shortage what is the part? Is there a trend in the changed orders?
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post #1289 of 5041 Old 12-03-2009, 07:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by domipheo View Post

I have another question.

I know we cant' decode dolby True HD and DTS HD MA.

Does Zino have a free PCI-E slot for connecting for example a sound/video card PAP compliant? For example Asus Xonar HDAV1.3 Slim which is indicated for HTPCs...

Or all of its slots are full? Or there isn't enought space?

Just to be clear, I think there is some misinformation going around. The Zino HD can decode TrueHD and DTS-HD with PowerDVD. In software, it will decode it all to 16bit/48khz LPCM for output over HDMI. So in order to get any type of HD audio out, you must upgrade to the ATI HD 4330. I think candre23 may have over exaggerated the limitation of the LPCM out.
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post #1290 of 5041 Old 12-03-2009, 07:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CDLehner View Post

I'll believe it when I see it.

CD

package is progressing nicely fedex # 918192615103242


so unless dell shipped me an empty box...
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