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Zotac ZBOX-BI320-U  Intel HD Graphics Integrated by CPU Black Mini-PC Barebone System
  • Verified Owner
  • Owned For: 1 day to 1 week

4 out of 5 eggs Let's call it a 4.5 star product 12/04/2014

This review is from: Zotac ZBOX-BI320-U Intel HD Graphics Integrated by CPU Black Mini-PC Barebone System

Pros: * Booted right up, no errors
* BIOS is easy to use and not quirky (but see cons)
* Hardware assembly is easy (but see cons)
* Decent speed, enough to handle 1080p movies with no jerkiness or pauses, and handle reasonable processing demands
* Extremely quiet, almost silent; it is significantly quieter than Lenovo Thinkpad W-5xx series laptops (for comparison)
* Runs Ubuntu 14.04.1 just fine with all hardware detected on install (did not test S/PDIF)
* Thoughtful screw-down bracket to hold the internal drive steady
* Power brick is compact and works fine, has decent-length cabling with a 90-degree barrel connector near the rear of the unit
* Decent-quality audio, no interference or static
* Very lightweight and conveniently compact
* Very low power consumption -- off/sleep: 0.0W; on, idle: 8W; under load: 13W. Tested with a Kill-a-Watt, with a 240GB SSD and 16GB RAM installed.
* The brick is overspecified (a good thing) at 3.4A. The computer uses nowhere near that much under normal loads, though I was not able to measure transient load

Cons: * No eSATA port -- this will keep me from using this device more, because the USB3.0 interface from my drive tower is unreliable (but eSATA works perfectly)
* Memory slots are rough and require an unnecessary amount of insertion force, worse than all laptops I have ever owned
* DVI and HDMI ports are directly adjacent and crowd each other, making the dual-monitor capabilities of this device very difficult to put into service without cable mods or purchase of very slim cables
* Apparently no wi-fi yet there's a wi-fi indicator light (??) -- an odd choice that should be investigated further
* The user manual is very sparse. It doesn't need to be a thick book since this unit is so simple to assemble and use, but it should have better diagrams for the internal components and a clear list of what is included (especially clarifying whether wi-fi is or is not supported, and explaining why the indicator light). The manual does not explain the BIOS options at all, though these should mostly be familiar to seasoned builders and tweakers.
* Does not offer a side-mount option (as in, attaching to a panel), but the shape of the case includes a H bevel all around it that would protect against a strap pressing buttons
* Did not boot off a netbootin-created bootable USB stick that was chosen in the BIOS boot list. Booting the Zotac appears to require either an internally connected drive, or an outboard CD or DVD drive. The instructions say use the outboard DVD drive, but failed to state that USB boot is *not* supported. This isn't a big deal, but should stand as warning if you are hoping to perform a live install of Ubuntu straight from a USB stick. A SATA-to-USB 3.0 interface adapter worked fine for installing Ubuntu using a temporarily re-connected internal DVD drive.
* Not especially vehicle-friendly (think semi-permanent use in a camper). Voltage requirement is 19V DC, so it requires either a 120V inverter (to use its brick) or a DC-DC converter to run off 12V DC in a vehicle.

Other Thoughts: Great little desktop computer. I was hoping it would not require an OS reinstall (Ubuntu 14.04.1) onto the SSD, but it did. The previous install was for an x86-based laptop, so it's not surprising that the Atom hardware was very foreign. The reinstall went quickly with an outboard DVD drive, after I gave up on booting the ISO off a USB stick that I had located in the BIOS and specified as the only boot device. All hardware appears to be detected, and both HDMI and DVI work for video output. The HDMI is highly aliased like HDMI outputs all seem to be, but it works without any complaining. DVI is anti-aliased as one would expect, and looks great. I did set the aperture and max video memory to 512MB in the BIOS.

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Crucial 16GB (2 x 8G) 204-Pin DDR3 SO-DIMM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Laptop Memory Model CT2KIT102464BF160B
  • Verified Owner
  • Owned For: 1 day to 1 week

Pros: * Safely packaged (but see cons)
* No product damage
* Worked immediately, no futzing
* Acceptably fast
* No errors

Cons: * Retail packaging was uncommonly tight and it should be very carefully removed to avoid breaking the modules.

Other Thoughts: Put into service in a Zotac ZBOX-BI320-U, and they work great.

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Colorful Metal TTL Auto Focus AF Macro Extension Tube Ring for Canon EOS EF EF-S 60D 7D 5D II 550D Red
  • Verified Owner
  • Owned For: 1 day to 1 week

Pros: * Aluminum construction (not plastic)
* Decent fit (camera side, lens side)
* Comes with end-caps that fit properly (not cheap ones that unscrew and fall off on their own)
* Does indeed AF and permit the user to select aperture settings that work
* Good looks (got the red set to go with my L lens)
* Release buttons lock the sections together, which is important so the lens doesn't twist off accidentally

Cons: * Slight scraping on the lens mount side, but nothing that inhibits locking or sounds like damage
* Release buttons are slightly fiddly to release (but they do work)
* Does not 100% tighten once the release buttons click (but due to the secure release buttons, this is not an issue)

Other Thoughts: This replaces a 75% cheaper and waste of money fully manual extension tube set that fails to permit user-selected aperture (a crucial failure for macros). That one will be headed to the recycle bin.

I tested this AF tube set with three lenses (50/1.8, 28-70/2.8L and 70-200/2.8) and it works fine with all of them. Note that the range of AF is restricted to the usable range of depth of focus. Thus, don't expect to hold it ten feet from the subject and have it AF -- this is simply not within the capabilities of the entire system because for macros, since your depth of focus is best measured in mm, not feet. To AF, move to within the focal range and then tweak your AF as you see fit.

Acceptable shipping time from HK. It took 12 days to get here -- within the window specified on the product page.

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Leif R.'s Profile

Display Name: Leif R.

Date Joined: 11/03/05

Achievements:

  • Top 1000 Reviewer
  • Reviews: 70
  • Helpfulness: 29
  • First Review: 01/15/06
  • Last Review: 12/04/14
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