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Zotac Zbox AD03BR-PLUS

Nettop Round-Up: Four Tiny PCs, Benchmarked And Reviewed
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We're familiar with Zotac’s family of tiny Zbox HTPCs, but the AD03BR-PLUS model adds AMD’s E-350 APU to the mix. Combining low power usage, minimal thermal output, and an integrated Radeon HD 6310 graphics processor, this should make for a solid nettop media center platform. As tested, armed with 2 GB of DDR3 and a 250 GB hard disk, this is the lowest-priced option in our round-up at $504 from www.zotacusa.com. If you prefer to choose your own memory and storage, a barebones model sells for $399. Just remember that neither model includes an operating system.

The Zbox is long and flat, measuring 11.5” x 7.5” x 1.5”. Its glossy black and brushed metal chassis are attractive, and we dig the large blue illuminated circle (though it might not be the most welcome addition in a dark theater room).

The back side features HDMI and DVI video outputs, a combo eSATA/USB port, a USB 3.0 port, gigabit Ethernet, the power supply input, and an optical S/PDIF audio output. After testing two USB-rich nettops, the single USB port is disappointing; you're forced to use the eSATA combo port for USB if you need a separate keyboard and mouse (and don't want cabled dangling off the front). The most obvious workaround is to use a wireless keyboard and mouse setup that requires one USB port for its receiver.

Zotac's Zbox doesn’t come with a remote, detracting from its allure in a home theater capacity. If you want to add one, you might have to plug its receiver into the front of the unit.

More than half of the Zbox's narrow front is consumed by the optical drive slot. You get two more USB ports up there, though, one of which transfers at USB 2.0 speeds and the other supporting USB 3.0. Audio and microphone jacks are also routed to the front.

Zotac’s entry comes with an external DC power supply, a support (driver) CD, a manual, a quick start guide, a VESA mounting bracket for attaching the Zbox to the back of a monitor, a DVI-to-VGA converter, and a full version of CyberLink’s BD Solution software for Blu-ray playback.

As mentioned, no remove comes bundled with the Zbox. While we accept that some folks have a third-party favorite they'd prefer anyway (or even an app like Mobile Mouse Pro), we still think remote control should be standard on a product so obviously intended for HTPC duty.

Accessing the hard disk and memory is quite easy via a rear access panel. 

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    Anonymous , 28 November 2011 15:43
    I'm sure you mean Core i5-430UM in the Giada i50...