Thursday, 4 February 2010

Dell Zino HD

I hadn't heard about Dell's new Inspiron Zino HD before, but while wandering the aisles of the local PC World to find a new PC for my wife, I ran across one on display and thought "Hey, that's a neat little box.  Could replace the PC that just died in the bedroom".  The PC in the bedroom is actually an HTPC, one of three PCs we run as HTPCs on the network, so that they can all access programs recorded by each other.

So I decided to go ahead and get one, along with the PC the wife had picked out, a wireless multimedia keyboard and a Hauppauge USB Dongle.

It wasn't the top of the line version with all the optional extras (Blu-Ray, larger hard drive, 8GB RAM, WiFi, etc), but it didn't need to be.  The TV in the bedroom is only 720HD, and it hooks up just fine through the HDMI.  It didn't have the TV Tuner card inside it, but a couple of aisles over I picked up the Hauppauge Win-TV USB stick with remote control (not the one shown on the site, we got the one that actually looks like a regular TV remote control).  Mass storage of recorded TV is all done on a central server so that all three HTPCs (as well as any other PCs wired into the network, or wireless laptops & devices) can access it all, so I wasn't too bothered about the fact that the hard drive was a mere 500GB.

I was so excited, I unpacked the base unit out of the box, along with the power adapter and started to plug it all in.  I had my own wireless keyboard and mouse for the bedroom already, so I didn't bother to unpack those.  I'm still using XP or Vista on most of my machines here so this was my first look at Windows 7 too.  As I said, I was quite excited.

I hit the power button and up it comes on the 32" Bravia mounted on the wall; It even detected it as 1360x768 resolution (which is near as good enough to 16:9) and not the 1280x768 16:10 resolution it normally detected (thus squashing TV programs and DVDs slightly) when hooked up to a PC via the VGA cable.  I was suitably impressed.

Shiny new loading screen from Windows 7, still impressed.  Then, all of a sudden, for no reason whatsoever, the system decides to reboot and I see the all too familiar "Windows failed to start correctly" screen (or words to that effect), and options to boot normally or boot into safe mode.  I figure it's just a fluke, and tell it to boot normally.  It gets halfway through the boot sequence again, restarts and no longer detects that there is a hard drive connected to the system.

So, to my dismay I package it all back off and trek back down to PC World, not a happy bunny.  I was even less happy when they told me they had no more in stock, only the display model.  So, now I have to wait until they can get a replacement machine into the store for me to pick up on Monday.

Not quite the post I was hoping to make when I handed over my credit card at PC World, but hopefully on Monday, I my will be faith restored.  This is the first time in about 15 years though that I've seen a Dell die so soon after coming new out of the box.

The wife, on the other hand, is currently installing World of Warcraft on her shiny new PC.  No doubt she'll be having me restore her system from the backup DVDs within a week or two. :)

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