Small Wonder: Zotac's HD-ND01 Nettop Review

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The system's front panel is on display here. The only two audio jacks are up here, as are a card reader and single USB port. There's an additional solitary USB port on the top of the system as well (not pictured).



The system's rear-mounted outputs are plentiful. Here, we've a single eSATA port, four more USB ports for a total of six, both video ports (VGA+HDMI) an optical audio out, and the power jack. The notch  below the VGA port isn't a port of any kind, even though it's cut to look like one. Details on the next page.



Finally, our included accessories (such as they are). As we noted on the specification page, Zotac ships the system sans an operating system of any kind; the company doesn't even include a Linux-powered boot disc...but it includes a driver CD. And speaking of discs, this is a good time to discuss one of the system's key omissions—it lacks both an integrated CD/DVD and any internal headers where such a device could be attached. That means you'll either need a bootable flash drive (1GB will do for Windows XP, but you'll need 3-4GB for a Vista / Win 7 image), or an external CD-ROM. External optical drives—at  least the ones offered in a discrete package—appear to universally rely on USB 2.0—it may or may not be possible to roll your own external eSATA enclosure, depending on the characteristics of the bridge chip that's used.

Normally, a USB 2.0 device is more a physical inconvenience than anything else, but Atom doesn't exactly have a lot of processor power to spare. Media playback from a USB-connected optical drive is no issue, but disc-based installations and burning can both lag a bit (neither helped by the underpowered hard-drive, something we'll touch on later.)

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It looks so cool mounted behind an LCD monitor! But it is a bit pricey when you consider it has no OS installed, nor does it have a DVD drive installed (to install the OS)!




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SuperDave,

I think the latter is more of an issue. A barebones system, by definition, doesn't come with an OS--and the Zotac has a lot more functionality baked in than your typical barebone. Given the fact that the system *does* lack both OS and DVD, however, I wish Zotac included a 4GB flash drive. The drive would add very little to the unit's total cost, and it would give the buyer enough storage to load any OS image he pleased.

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I think the Viewsonic version of this thing looks better. Its $500 though with Windows 7 & a 320GB HD, otherwise identical.

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I like both. The Win 7 license is a decidedly better deal than ~$200 for an HDD. My kingdom for an optical drive, though.

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Joel H:

I like both. The Win 7 license is a decidedly better deal than ~$200 for an HDD. My kingdom for an optical drive, though.

Optical drive isn't necessary, all software could be installed via download or USB thumb drives. and if you need Blu-ray USB just doesn't have enough bandwidth to get good frame rates sans skipping.

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DigitalDD,


Who told you that you can't want a Blu-ray over USB2?  You can watch 1080P off an HD-DVD via USB2 whether the video is encoded in VC-1 or H.264. Blu-ray discs are not encoded or processed in any way that would change that. If the Atom 330 can drive HD-DVD playback flawlessly, virtually any other (reasonably-specced) system can as well.

If the Zotac couldn't handle the playback, I wouldn't have bothered testing it. :P

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Good thing it has eSata :-) Just sayin

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That's one thing I'd have really liked to do if I had the appropriate enclosure--see how ION performs if you jam a Raptor inside it. :P

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I think I'd rather have an HTPC and a larger display.

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