ZaReason MediaBox 4220
As you can see, Intel Core graphics are still a long ways from being comparable to any offerings from NVIDIA, even the GeForce GT 425M found on the ASRock Vision 3D NetTop even though the Intel Core i3 CPU used by this computer is slower. For anything media related we would have much rather seen ZaReason use a NVIDIA GPU by default (though you can customize it to have a GeForce 9 series GPU when ordering from their web-site) rather than Intel graphics since their hardware simply doesn't compete with the higher-end discrete offerings and their open-source Mesa driver also lowers the performance further. However, for just a normal Linux desktop not engaging in much multimedia usage or gaming, the Intel graphics is suffice.
Using a NVIDIA GPU on the ZaReason MediaBox would also lead to a better video playback experience with VDPAU. The Intel Core i5 graphics are capable of accelerating H.264 1080p video playback using VA-API with the very latest software, but this video acceleration API is not yet supported by Adobe Flash and its implementation isn't quite as good as NVIDIA's Video Decode and Presentation API for Unix.
The FFmpeg performance is mixed. It would be nice if ZaReason used the 64-bit versions of Ubuntu by default rather than the 32-bit version, which they likely used for better Adobe Flash support, etc.
For better disk performance, ZaReason does offer hard drive upgrades and Intel SSDs.
Overall, the MediaBox 4220 is a modest offering from ZaReason. Buying from them you know the hardware will work just fine under Linux rather than worrying about the support level or what configuration/setup steps there may be for each component, instead you just plug-in the computer and you're good to go with a Linux installation that already includes MythTV, Wine, and other applications. The hardware selection they offer is vast with the MediaBox 4220 and their other desktops so it's difficult to comment on any particulars with the MediaBox 4220 being anything from an Intel Core i3 530 processor to a Core i5 670 with 8GB of RAM, a 2TB hard drive, and NVIDIA GeForce 9800GT graphics from the ZaReason Internet Store. Our main recommendation though for anyone considering the MediaBox 4220 (or any media center PC for that matter) running Linux would be to get the NVIDIA graphics as you'll find the best entertainment and gaming experience with their proprietary driver providing accelerated graphics, up to OpenGL 4.0 support, and VDPAU video acceleration.
As far as pricing goes, the base offering goes for $599 USD with the Core i3 530, 2GB of system memory, 500GB hard drive, Intel HD graphics, and 802.11n WiFi. This is somewhat expensive especially as this is all off-the-shelf retail hardware. What you are effectively paying for is ZaReason's assembly and support. At least though you are sure to get a working Linux desktop without any hassles.
Latest Articles & Reviews
Latest Linux News
Most Viewed News This Week