There’s no doubt the format war between HD-DVD and Blu-ray scared a lot of consumers away from upgrading from DVD to a higher definition format. Even though it’s been more than two years since Blu-ray took the honors and HD-DVD was relegated to the technological scrap heap sales of Blu-ray players haven’t really scaled the heights that manufacturers would have liked. But as prices continue to drop more and more Blu-ray devices are hitting the market. The latest is the world’s first mini-PCs with an integrated Blu-ray drive in the form of the Zotac Zbox Blu-ray series.
Like the Zbox HD-ID11, the new HD-ID33 and HD-ID34 are designed as HTPCs, but in an even more compact Mini-ITX form factor. They both feature a slot-loading Blu-ray drive capable of 4x Blu-ray, 8x DVD and 24x CD speeds and the ability to write to DVD±R/RW and CD±R/RW discs.
They are powered by a 1.8GHz dual-core Intel Atom D525 processor and NVIDIA ION GPU with 512MB of video memory. The multimedia credentials also include the ability to stream video over the onboard 802.11n Wi-Fi, HDMI (with audio) and DVI-I ports (with a VGA dongle included), 6-in-1 card reader, optical digital S/PDIF and 7.1 channel LPCM digital audio and DirectX 10.1 support. There’s also two USB 2.0 (one a combo eSATA/USB 2.0 port) and two USB 3.0 ports.
The only difference between the two Zbox Blu-ray series models is the inclusion of 2GB of RAM and a 2.5-inch 250GB HDD with the HD-ID34. Those opting for the HD-133 will have to source their own RAM and 2.5-inch HDD.
There’s no operating system installed on either system but they support Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Linux, and a copy of Cyberlink’s PowerDVD 8 is included with both systems. No word on pricing or release date for the Zbox Blu-ray series as yet, so keep an eye on the Zotac website.
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