Phoronix: ZaReason MediaBox 4220
This year we have looked at a number of "nettop" and media oriented computers, including the ASRock Vision 3D that was the best nettop we have seen to date but not without a hefty price-tag, there were the MSI Wind Box computers, and even the CompuLab Fit-PC2 that was by far the smallest Atom-based computer we have tested today. None of the nettop computers we have tested though have been specifically designed for Linux usage, except for the one we are reviewing today. The ZaReason MediaBox 4220 is designed for multi-media use, as implied by its name, and of course, coming from this California vendor, it has designed to be used under Linux.
Can you say what Zotac motherboard they're using?
There's a VA-API test system, where's the cpu/power graph comparing that to XV?
Oh and VDPAU of the Nvidia system, too. (fsck the edit limit, amirite).
600 bucks! fsck!
That being said, I have to bring up one issue with Michael's recommendation to get the NVidia graphics card for this box... If you do that, you lose the slot for the PCI-e TV Tuner. This type of machine is very likely to see use as a HTPC, and a TV Tuner card is usually a requirement (or at least it is in almost every HTPC I've seen).
Yes, you can get USB/Networked tuners, but if you're trying for a clean looking setup, that's not always an option.
And if you don't want to attach the tuner to the computer directly, you'll end up with a split front/back-end myth setup and then the powerful front-end hardware isn't really that necessary.
This machine does NOT impress me.
1) The case is HORRIBLE. The power supply should be BESIDE the mainboard, not above it.
2) AMD is a much better solution than intel here... then you don't need a discrete add-on card.
3) About $200 more than it costs to buy the parts and put it together yourself. Back when computers cost $2000, making $200 on it was reasonable. Not for when the thing costs about $400 though.
Most Linux users would disagree with a choice of ATI graphics. I wouldn't touch them, myself. It's probably the wrong choice for a media center because AFAIK there's no hardware acceleration of video decoding on ATI graphics!2) AMD is a much better solution than intel here... then you don't need a discrete add-on card.
Finding a compatible TV tuner card isn't quite so easy, and with ZaReason it's guaranteed not to get broken by the next release of Ubuntu. I'd definitely consider this machine, as long as the fan isn't too loud (I have a similar case for my home server and the fan is freaking loud).3) About $200 more than it costs to buy the parts and put it together yourself. Back when computers cost $2000, making $200 on it was reasonable. Not for when the thing costs about $400 though.