The layout of ports and sockets at the rear has been changed from that of previous versions. The VGA output now sits vertically, with the power socket located directly beneath it. The all-important HDMI slot keeps its place, as do the brace of eSata ports and four USB ports - two of which sit at the front - but there’s a new addition on the form of an optical audio output, making it quick and easy to hook up a set of 5.1 or 7.1 surround-sound speakers.
Living room stylish
If you can stomach paying a premium for Windows and not using it, the Zino HD 410 makes for a nice little Linux box. However, when I fired it up with Ubuntu 10.10, the Dell DW1520 wireless card wasn’t recognised and the rear analogue audio output failed to work, though the one at the front worked fine. I’m sure more experienced Ubuntu users will be able to fix both these issues, but my attempts failed.
Although the precise configuration I tested isn’t listed on the website, Dell assures me it can be ordered over the phone. However, for the same price you can now get a P860-powered version - basically a 100MHz increase over the P840 - along with a 1TB hard drive. The extra processing power will be virtually unnoticeable, but that extra 250GB of storage could well come in handy.
The Zino HD 410 certainly fulfills its role as a home theatre PC, and with the inclusion of a triple-core CPU, Radeon HD 5450 graphics and optical audio output it’s also far better value than its predecessors. However, although more power is always welcome, I’d have preferred Dell to concentrate on improving its media credentials: a built-in dual TV tuner, for example, or perhaps slimmer dimensions. I also think this configuration is overkill for what most people are likely to use it for, with the cheaper versions, starting at £300, representing better value. ®
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Dell Inspiron Zino HD 410
Easy I have much media on external drives. Moving it around on USB 2.0 is starting to take a long time! Media ain't getting any smaller and nor are my disks!
I'm in the market for a small media centre style machine like this...to replace the ageing hunk that is my desktop!
Designed for the telly?
I'm sorry, but I have to disagree. A few month ago I have been able to power up one of those Zinos on my TV-set. It came fresh out of the box, booted, and greeted me with a desktop with a thick black border. It took me half an hour of browsing through various menus to find the setting to turn that off.
It seems like the software on the box assumed I misconfigured my television to zoom in onto the picture and tries to compensate that by scaling down the original picture and adding a black border. That's just sick! Doesn't anybody even try out that design before getting it produced?
Huh? "Windows has NO place in an HTPC
Windows Media Centre is actually very good as a HTPC.
The UI is done well, all of the TV tuners available work with it, it works extremely well, and there is a healthy collection of useful third-party and enthusiast add-ons and utilities. If you'd bother to take a look, you may be pleasantly surprised.
Of course, if you simply take every chance you can get to rubbish Windows and push Linux, even when inappropriate, then I've just wasted a few minutes of my time.
I'm looking into getting one of these to replace my "Frankenstein" machine which I ended up donating the system board out to a good cause.
Price was one of the factors I was considering, along with the ability to hook it up to a TV out of the box.
It's not that I don't have a decent, wide screen flat panel monitor. I do.
It's not that I don't have a decent, regular desktop style computer desk. I've got that as well.
I wanted something readily portable but not a laptop.
As far as the operating system goes, here are my thoughts:
Box is cheaper than Mac Mini (So, no Mac machine for me, sorry Steve.)
Called with Dell, and tried to get them to forgo the windows tax. They wouldn't budge on it.
Would want to put Windows 7 64 bit on it, but if I couldn't get that, maybe experiment with Windows XP Media Center instead.
I could put Linux on it, but this machine will be replacing the only computing gaming machine at home.