Hey, they've resurrected the Google Nexus Q! Not quite – though this spherical mini-PC takes a lot of design cues from Google's ill-fated streamer, including the glowing blue band that pulses when it's switched on. This is the Zotac Zbox Sphere OI520 – which doesn't trip off the tongue quite as readily, but packs in plenty of PC for the price.
What sort of spec are we talking here?There are two models. The basic OI520 packs in a 4th Generation Intel Core i5 4200U processor – a dual-core running at 1.6 GHz (turbo up to 2.6GHz), with Intel HD Graphics 4400. There's space for a 2.5in SATA HDD or SSD, plus capacity for up to 16GB RAM; in the specced-up Plus model, that space is occupied by a 500GB 5400rpm HDD, plus 4GB RAM on top.
You won't be running Skyrim on Ultra settings, but then the Zotac isn't really intended for that; it's a nicely-designed alternative to an all-in-one desktop PC, or a more powerful alternative to media devices like the Chromecast or a Roku box.
So what sort of connectivity options do you get? You won't want for plug sockets, that's for sure. As well as HDMI and DisplayPort outputs – the Sphere will reportedly support 4K – you also get a multi-card reader, Gigabit Ethernet, four USB 3.0 ports and three USB 2.0 ports, plus audio and microphone jacks. There's also 802.11ac Wi-Fi & Bluetooth 4.0, plus SATA and mSATA connections inside for HDD or SSDs.
What's the price? The basic model will set you back £275, while the specced-up Plus model costs around £345. Bear in mind that doesn't include an operating system, though; Windows 8.1 will set you back £90.
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