Dell Inspiron Zino HD 400

My Zino finally arrived yesterday! It took me about 10 minutes to hook it up to my TV. So far, I am truly impressed at how well this sleek energy saver works 🙂

Configuration

I did not want to spend too much on my HTPC.. Here is my configuration:

  1. Dell Zino HD-400
  2. AMD Athlon X2 3250e (1.5Ghz) Dual Core
  3. 3GB RAM
  4. 250 GB HDD (7200 rpm)
  5. Wired Dell keyboard and mouse
  6. Windows Vista 32bit

As you can see, the only upgrades from the base configuration are the processor and RAM. I chose to avoid the wireless option as I intended to use direct ethernet. I figured in case I needed one later, I would buy a Wireless G adapter from Netgear (WPN111) to go along with my WPN824 wireless G router (When coupled together, they are supposed to deliver a bandwidth of 108 mbps – theoretically, that is).

Another important thing to keep in mind is that the slot to support a dedicated graphics processor itself is present only if you customize your zino WITH the discrete graphics option – So, this cannot be user-upgraded later!. Also, the power brick supplied with the Zino is different if you select the dedicated video card (the base unit ships with a 65W .. But if you select a dedicated graphics card, it ships with a 75W).

Setup

I connected the Zino to my TV (Sony KDL40S4100) using the HDMI port. Sound and video were instantly available through my TV. The wired keyboard and mouse were pretty much useless (you have to be within 3 feet of the Zino in order to use them). I replaced them with a Logitech LX-300 wireless keyboard and mouse combo (Next on my shopping list is a wireless keyboard with an integrated trackball .. maybe the lenovo?)

After Vista started up, I increased the screen resolution to 1920*1080 and then adjusted the DPI to 120. I was surprised at how smoothly the Zino handled the graphics. The system was super responsive and there was no noticeable delay even with 3 IE tabs open. I also changed the cursor pointer  theme to “Windows Aero(Extra Large)”.

The next step was to insure that Vista SP2 got installed.. I believe that this update gets vista almost on par with Windows 7. The other strongly recommended update is IE8. I changed the default zoom level to 200%, This made WebPages perfectly readable.

I also modified the BIOS to allocate the maximum possible memory to the integrated Radeon 3200 graphics processor (from ‘Auto’ to 512 MB)

Next, I installed Microsoft Security Essentials and CCleaner (I love both these tiny programs so much, I install it as a rule on all my computers!)

Thereafter, I uninstalled the factory setup Adobe Flash ActiveX (10.0) and installed version 10.1(Beta). This update is almost a must-have for a better flash video experience.

Vista gave my computer a 2.8 (based on the graphics card).. Note that The Windows Vista scale of the Experience Index (ranging from 1.0 to 5.9) is different from, and usually lower than, the Windows 7 rating (ranging from 1.0 to 7.9).

image

But, trust me – this machine is perfect for the intended job (and, did I mention it has extremely small shelf and energy footprint?). As you can see, the processor, memory and HDD have pretty nice ratings. “Suspend” and “Resume from Suspend” work great – This is a must for an HTPC device that stays on most of the time.

I have no trouble watching You-tube/Hulu/Comedy Central videos – Even the ‘Legend of the Seeker’ hi-res version ran without any problems (there were network buffering delays, but that has nothing to do with Zino’s capabilities).

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