ZOTAC is a company well known for its top performing video cards, but the company has also had success in Mini-PCs, known as the ZBOX line. These ultra low impact systems come with everything you need, save for an operating system, for a nice performing HTPC or other similar use case. We met up with ZOTAC at the recent International CES in Las Vegas and talked to ZOTAC about new ZBOX units, some of which will rival the power of mid-range PCs in 2013.
Sean Gibson (GI): Sean Gibson, CES 2013 from Gaming Illustrated. Could you tell me who you are and what you do with Zotac?
Brian Wung (Zotac): I’m Brian Wung, and I help out with the marketing over here at Zotac.
Sean Gibson (GI): You had the announcements of two new ZBOXes, could you first describe what the ZBOX is and the market for who would be your potential consumers here?
Brian Wung (Zotac): Our mini PCs are known as the ZBOX. What we’ve done is pretty much taken the traditional desktop and condensed it, stripped a lot of the excess functions and put it all to the small form factor case. Really what we’ve been able to do is show you how it can perform as HTPC, as well as for general computing. These two ZBOXes over here are actually using dual displays. One’s playing a movie in 1080p blu-ray, with a Windows 8 desktop. Another one’s playing also another 1080p blu-ray on XPMC, the media center software, on a Bluetooth 12.04 version.
Sean Gibson (GI): Yes, there’s two units, the ID83 and the ID42. The ID83 actually comes with an Intel Core i3 processor, so you’re getting some pretty impressive hardware now in these form factors.
Brian Wung (Zotac): Yup, actually with these two new ZBOXes, we have 500 gig hard drive and 4 gig RAM, that’s one of the new features. Before, it was 320 gigs and 2 gigs of RAM. We’ve definitely improved it with the Core i3, it’s right now out on all of these ZBOXes. The ID42 has a Celeron 84/7 with a discrete GPU, GeForce GT 610. Really, what that has been able to do is give a good balance with the CPU and GPU to be able to handle a 1080p Blu-ray. All of these units you can max out at 16 gigs of RAM, which is pretty impressive. All of our mini PCs have two different versions, you have the plus model, and the bare-bone model.
Sean Gibson (GI): Plus model comes with … ?
Brian Wung (Zotac): Like I said, the 500 gig with the 4 gig, but the bare-bone doesn’t have either of that. We give customers the option to have either. We give customers the option to install their own hard drive, if they want a terabyte inside, or maybe an SSD. We also have the wireless keyboard here from Azio, just to show your options as a wireless setup.
Sean Gibson (GI): There’s no operating system, there’s no software loaded, it’s agnostic, so you get to pick and choose. You want something that’s free and open-ended if you want to have Ubuntu, or if you want to go Windows, you can do that as well, you leave it up to the consumer.
Brian Wung (Zotac): Right, exactly, we put that option in the customer’s hands. These two over here, the ID42 and the ID83, they are doing dual display, one DVI port, one HDMI port, and actually, HDMI comes standard with almost all of our ZBOXes. This particular ID42 has a third-generation chassis, and with this chassis, the thickness of the ZBOX has increased by seven millimeters, just a little bit, but the most important thing is that we’ve regulated temperature a lot more. In the back of the unit, you can actually notice that there’s about three times more ventilation space, which is really to help with the regulation of the temperature.
On this ID42, you’ll see that we have two antennas, dual wi-fi as well as dual Ethernet. It has built-in Bluetooth 4.0. This is really just to expand your options. If you want to personalize your ZBOX for yourself, you can add in a wireless keyboard via Bluetooth, or a Bluetooth headset. Not only that, but we actually show you the different ways you can customize the ZBOX as far as using the Bluetooth, using the wi-fi or using the Ethernet port, or if you’d like to use the media remote that comes standard with all of the ZBOXes. It will really help with playing your movies, going around in your playlists or maybe you’re playing just audio.
Part of having a small form factor PC really gives good energy draws, and we went for that by stripping a lot of the unnecessary space. It gives you also the option to VESA mount this, to put on the back of a monitor or TV, most TV’s and monitors come standard with that VESA mount. Really, what that does is clean up the clutter, since you can hide the cables, if you want to.
Sean Gibson (GI): Anything else new here at CES?
Brian Wung (Zotac): Just to give you a quick CES update, we do have a few new arrivals that will be coming out mid of Q1. We have the ID89, ID88 and Nano X Desk 8013.
Sean Gibson (GI): Yes, that ID89 update is going to include a Core i5, and so you’re really talking about a processor worthy of a gaming rig at this point. The ZBox is not just an HTPC or just something that can get by and do a decent job, but something that’s what a power user would pick.
Brian Wung (Zotac): Right, you have the I534/70T, that’s actually a desktop processor we’re trying to put into the new third-generation chassis as well. That, actually, you can turbo boost it up to 3.6 GHz, which is not bad. That will be definitely the fastest one coming out mid of Q1, that’s our ETA.
Sean Gibson (GI): Just to conclude here, Zotac has a lot of loyal customers, anything that you want to give them a heads up on in 2013, a message you want to give to your loyal customers?
Brian Wung (Zotac): We are actually working on a lot of different things right now and definitely in 2013, we wanted to expand the ZBOX, and improve a lot of our relations with customers. We’re trying to open up as far as taking suggestions, knowing what our fans like and want, trying to implement that, making sure that we’re on top of the quality control. We want that to go into the whole production process, and as far as customer service, we’re actually really working on trying to expand and streamline everything, just so we give everyone a pleasant experience.
Sean Gibson (GI): Brian, thanks for joining us at Gaming Illustrated.
Brian Wung (Zotac): Yes, thank you, Sean.
Thanks goes to the Zotac team at CES. For more from Zotac, stay tuned to Gaming Illustrated for the latest!