PCs

Build a living room PC with the ZOTAC ZBOX HD-ID11

Components for our living room PC

Steve Jobs doesn't think most people want a computer on their TVs. But, I'm not most people. I want the a complete PC experience on my TV. I want to be able to watch anything on the Web, play the latest games, and run common PC applications on my big, living room TV.

If you're in this boat, you should take a serious look at the ZOTAC ZBOX HD-ID11, which I reviewed as part of our Geek Gifts 2010 series.

As, the HD-ID11 is a bare-bones box, some assembly is required. And there are some serious visibility issues you'll need to consider when using it on a big TV. I'll walk you through the assembly process and my experience using the HD-ID11 in my living room.

I used the following parts to build our living room PC:

  • ZOTAC ZBOX HD-ID11
  • Seagate 250GB 7200RPM HDD
  • 2GB DDR2 RAM
  • Microsoft Arc wireless keyboard
  • Microsoft Mobile Mouse 6000
  • LG Electronics 42LH50 LCD TV (not shown)


Caption by: Bill Detwiler

Photo credit: Bill Detwiler/TechRepublic

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

16 comments
BeBoo
BeBoo

A full size keyboard would assume there is a numpad which there is not on that wireless keyboard.

rwbyshe
rwbyshe

I like building things also folks but not being a big TV addict I'm truly wondering "what's the point in building this?" I'd have liked to see some definitions of what we would need to meet spec wise to have a real good "Living Room PC". Once I know that, then I can determine from the "specs" whether I want to build something or if I can find a small desktop or a laptop that will fit my bill even better than this. And, yes as previously mentioned, I'd get a copy of Win 7 with the computer. So, my complaint is that Bill Detwiler didn't begin to explain what kind of specs we should meet to have a really good unit.

German680
German680

Just bought this off of eBay, 320 gb hdd & the 2gb or RAM.

adam.ainsworth
adam.ainsworth

Sorry, I may have missed the point of the article here, but the title is 'Build a living room PC with the ZOTAC ZBOX HD-ID11' which one would believe provides a reasonably detailed guide on how to do it. I could summarise this piece with: - Buy a Zbox - Put a HD in it - Put RAM in it - Install Windows - Plug it into your TV You spent as many slides ogling the keyboard as you did on installing Windows, and what about installing software to actually use after the installing the OS? I own an ID10 and I know how cool it is and how convenient it is to have it coming through your TV but if you're going to draw people in with that sort of title, you're going to have to provide more than this. It's not quite the trivial matter you make out it is. You've made no mention of the (extremely useful) internal wireless, the stand that allows you to connect it to the back of VESA monitors or the fact there's a little messing around with the screen resolution if you install Linux.

john3347
john3347

I am using a Hannspree Hannsnote 10" computer as my living room/travel computer. I use my 42" Vizio HDTV as the living room monitor as well as a Logitech Trackman Wheel and Microsoft 6000 wireless keyboard. (I use this particular mouse for other reasons, but it works really well laid on the cushion beside me requiring no additional space that would be required to maneuver a mouse. The keyboard sits on my lap much as a laptop computer could.) The computer itself sits on the lower shelf on the end table table beside the couch. The back rest of the couch is approximately 15' from the TV screen. I use 1024x600 screen resolution and this produces print sizing and graphic details that are large enough to be comfortably read from this distance. This whole combination, including a 25' VGA cable, 25' audio cable, refurbished keyboard, and trackball but not including the TV itself cost less than $360 and does give the added advantage of a portable computer that is ideal to use as a GPS with an appropriate program (DeLorme Street Atlas in my case ($50)) for travel. It can also stream saved music (or recorded audio book) through many automobile radio systems for entertainment on the road.

tcurtispc2
tcurtispc2

Without the capability to connect to the tv signal (enhanced video)...this is a bit of a waste...I can buy a New Windows 7 64 bit pc for less. Cute though ;-)

DawnRPT
DawnRPT

Please explain in more detail about the screen resolution that you chose, including the refresh rate and whether or not you will be adding a tv tuner to the pc.

dpeter
dpeter

One thing that took me a minute to figure out was the hard drive. I wasnt able to find the 250 GB - But I did find a 500 GB. The total price I came up with was $415.80 - Not including the keyboard or mouse.

cbrao
cbrao

Please tell us how much did it cost you in total.

fretlessjv
fretlessjv

Thought I would start a tiny post of how to take pics with a camera (any type), of a monitor or TV screen. Simple, just ALWAYS, if possible, use a tripod, then shoot the pic on an angle, anything NOT straight on. That way the flash will not "bounce back" directly to the lens. This works on ALL reflecting surfaces. Also, there is a good chance that you wouldn't even need a flash. The screen is usually bright enough if you use the "auto" setting.But a flash MUST be shot at a small angel, say 10 deg off 90/180, whatever your camera is stationed at, to avoid any flash bounce back.

German680
German680

Well It's a Duel core, 2 GB DDR3, Cant remember the graphics card. But there are vids on you tube of people playing statecraft and a few other games on these, Not bad pricing either, myn cost 320 all up excluding the OS. Nice and small, looks good, About as loud as a PS3 with the small fan. The only problem i find is finding good free streaming services, Anyone got some links for me...

mcbinder
mcbinder

I build an HTPC for around that price. Has: 3GHz CPU / 4GB ram / network / SD reader Audio builtin: 7.1 over HDMI and SPDIF Video card: 1080P HDMI or 1080P PC video 2x500GB drive: Holds all DVDs and CDs DVD drive: play DVDs (need BluRay!) Windows XP (about to upgrade to W7) I use a BTC 9019URF3 - I call it an "AIR" keyboard, as I don't have to set it down to type, scroll, mouse or click. Has handles on the side and a thumb / joystick mouse. I have added a few hundred $ for: 4 x TV tuners NTSC / TASC Adding HD component record soon TV amp and splitter Remote IR reciever Sage TV to control it all Mine is obviously MUCH bigger! It is just a black box with a few buttons (power, reset and CD open) and a blue light. mcb

TexasJetter
TexasJetter

Zotac - $239 RAM - $33 Hard Disk - $52 Arc Keyboard - $49 Mobile Mouse - $42 (As found in NewEgg.com) Now that's $415 w/ no OS. For $409 you can get a ASUS Eee Box EB1012P-B022E, which is basically the same specs, but includes Windows 7 Home Premium. (the only difference I can see is that the Eee Box does not have a SPDIF out and it comes with a 320Gb 5400RPM hard disk). At this price point we are in the entry Slimline desktops, and laptop range. While I really like the idea of these Atom powered minis I can't get around the premium price they seem to have. When I can get more powerful options at the same price do I really need this small of a box?

walshlg
walshlg

a flash only makes the screen image more washed out, don't use it. Also if you get the scan stripe then just increase the exposure length and it'll wash out. As said above, when photgraphing through glass, never have the camera straight on, have it a few degrees to the side and have the flash even further towards the SAME side, eg both angled the same way and the flash more angled than the camera. (did timelapse study of snail sex this way once, very exciting work :)

Duke E Love
Duke E Love

You can pick up a decent slim line or mini case with all the house for between $200-$300 + $35 delivery from Cedarpc.com. And if you bide your time you can find a media center PC W/tuner card and a decent video card and even a bluray player (if you do not mind a mini tower The only hitch is that you have to do your homework and that they only come with a 30 day warranty. It IS a minor gamble but, so far so good with 2 machines under $260 delivered Don't expect them you have exactly what you want but inventory turns over fast and if you bide your time you can find a great MCPC on the cheap.