Exterior Design & Layout
Like previous versions of the ZBOX, the ID89 Plus model is all about giving the user options. You can lay the system flat on your desk or A/V rack, orient it vertically using the included stand, mount the sucker to a wall, or plop it on the back of your monitor for a makeshift all-in-one system, especially if you pair it with a wireless mouse and keyboard.
While the ZBOX is small enough to tuck out of sight and out of mind, there's a reason why you might want to show it off. These are attractive machines with glossy black finishes and metallic-looking accents (the middle portion that wraps around the ZBOX is made of plastic just like the rest of the external chassis). When turned on, a blue circle lights up on the middle of the top cover.
The downside to this design is that the glossy finish picks up fingerprints and dust. This won't be a huge issue if you're not constantly fondling the chassis, though if you frequently plug in external components like USB keys and digital cameras, you can't help but leave smudges.
Those rabbit ears visible in the back are for the built-in 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 modules. These are entirely optional, depending on whether you plan to use these functions or not.
The bulk of the ports reside on the back of the ZBOX. From left to right, you'll find the Wi-Fi antenna input, optical S/PDIF, dual 10/100/1000 Ethernet LAN ports, two SuperSpeed USB 2.0 ports, DVI port (Single Link), HDMI output (w/ HDCP support), Bluetooth antenna input, and the power connector.
Given the mix of USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports the ID89 brings to the table, we like that the slower ports are placed on the back. For obvious reasons, we recommend plugging in components that don't take advantage of of USB 3.0's added bandwidth, like keyboard and mice.
One of the two included SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports resides on the front I/O panel (the other is on the side hidden behind a rubber cover). Flanked on either side are headphone and microphone jacks, 4-in-1 memory card reader, activity LEDs, IR receiver, and the power button.