Looking every bit the harbinger of 21st century home entertainment, the Zbox radiates style from its slimline perspex and aluminium casing. A blue ring of power throbs into life when you activate the device (which is just as well, because it doesn’t look quite as great when turned off) and beckons you to insert something into its integral slot-loading Blu-ray drive.
It isn’t all for show either. The Zbox comes well equipped to deal with your digital media: HDMI and DVI outputs connect up to a monitor or TV at the various HD resolutions, and there is an optical SPDIF port for real home theatre sound. If the installed 250GB drive isn’t enough for all your home movies, you’ll find it easy enough to attach extra storage via the USB3.0 or eSATA ports, and the Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11n Wi-Fi take care of streaming media from other parts of your home network.
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Dual core Atom CPU
Deep within the almost silent casing (unless you like to watch TV with your head pressed against the box, you’ll never notice it) the silicon in charge is an Intel D525 Atom processor. This has a moderately respectable 1.8GHz clockspeed, but more importantly, it has dual cores.
Atom processors have been known to be poor performers when it comes to multithreading or multitasking, but with twice as many cores, this is no longer such an issue.
The DDR2 memory installed doesn’t make the most of the CPUs potential, but coupled with the Nvidia ION chipset, it is more than capable of playing back any media you throw at it. It doesn’t do too badly in the gaming stakes either - you might not want to try Black Ops on it, but it can cope with older games. Naturally, web browsing and online apps pose no difficulties.