With all this talk about Google TV, Apple TV, and other set-top boxes, it’s easy to forget about the venerable home theater PC. While the interface will be less intuitive than those other, flashier solutions (nobody likes navigating Windows or another desktop OS from the couch), the capabilities are endless and upgrading is straightforward. This new one is also as sleek and compact as a normal DVD player.
The Zotac Zbox combines a slot-loading Blu-ray drive/DVD burner with a new Nvidia Ion chipset in its latest iteration, and tops it off with a garnish of USB 3.0. That’ll be handy for transferring or playing HD content from USB 3.0-compatible external drives. It doesn’t come with a drive or RAM, though; you’ll have to supply your own.
The best part is that it wouldn’t look out of place on your components shelf. I like the design; you won’t have to hide it in a closet and run cables everywhere just so people don’t see your cheap, loud case.