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 to date. 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.
ZaReason describes the MediaBox 4220 as "A small form factor Linux desktop with an Intel Core i3/i5 processor. Use it as is for a streaming media server. Add the Nvidia card for a sweet little gaming system. Or select the TV Tuner for a home theater system." The MediaBox 4220 uses an Intel Core i3/i5 CPU rather than one from the Intel Atom series, which provides for better performance but with slightly higher power usage. The graphics choices are using the integrated Intel Core HD graphics or a discrete NVIDIA GPU (either the NVIDIA GeForce 9400GT, 9600GT, or 9800GT). As is standard for ZaReason, the MediaBox 4220 can also be configured in a number of other ways including the system memory, hard drive, optical drive, networking, WiFi, and TV tuner.
All of ZaReason's components are tested for Linux compatibility and the MediaBox 4220 can ship from this vendor with no operating system or your choice of supported Linux distributions: Ubuntu 10.10, Kubuntu 10.10, Mythbuntu 10.10, Ubuntu Studio 10.10, Edubuntu 10.10, Fedora 14, Mint Linux 10.10, Ubuntu 10.04 LTS, Kubuntu 10.04 LTS, Mythbuntu 10.04 LTS, Ubuntu Studio 10.04 LTS, and Edubuntu 10.04 LTS. With this computer being media-focused and is being standard for this hardware vendor, ZaReason's stock Ubuntu install includes MythTV, Wine, and other applications (including the Phoronix Test Suite for being able to benchmark and validate your new hardware).