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Dell's new Zino HD -- Mac Mini still the best?


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So it looks like Dell's new Zino HD is ready for shipping and I'm a little surprised I didn't find a thread here already talking about it. The basic model kicks off at 229 (same price as an Apple TV and A LOT cheaper than a Mini). For my HTPC needs I'm really swayed to the Zino but I'm wondering from a purely music server stand point is the Mini (or even the Apple TV) a better option.




I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts because I'm hoping to scoop up something (one of the three mentioned) on a good Black Friday deal.


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The advantages of the Mac mini are that it has a built-in optical output, firewire, and Mac OSX which can run amarra and doesn't need Asio/WASAPI. However, if you are using a receiver with HDMI, then the Dell has the advantage of going direct to hdmi and of course, being less expensive.


In terms of Video, the Mini's processors are much more powerful than the 1.6Ghz single processor in the Zino so that may alter Video quality.


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One thing to be wary of is the price of the actual configuration you need.


As was reported in a thread on AA about the Zino - which deteriorated into a Mac vs. Windows debate - by the time you add in the Dell surcharges you're looking at a very similar price to the Mini.


OTOH, you may not need the same configuration as a Mini.


Update: I just logged onto the Dell site out of curiosity, to see what the price would be for the minimum configuration I would expect, and it came out to $529.


For me, it doesn't support Firewire, so if I wanted to try a Windows machine, this model would be a total non-starter for me.







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Yes, no Firewire but it does have eSATA which I believe offers much better performance than firewire (I'm not sure on this one). Also, as a music server do you really need to bump up the CPU/RAM/GPU? Not arguing here, but if I'm only planning on using it as a music server or an HTPC do I really need all that the Mini offers? I would love the digital output but I REALLY like having HDMI for HTPC duty.


As of last night I had pretty much convinced myself that a hacked Apple TV was going to be pretty much exactly what I needed (starting out as an HTPC and then later moving over to a music server if I decided the Mini was more my cup of tea).


I've always been the "buy the best you can afford" guy but I'm starting to find myself having the "best stuff" and not using much of the functionality I've paid for. Maybe I'm spending too much on the "what if I want to do ____ later?"


Mind you, I'm saying all of this having never owned a music server or a HTPC; like everyone else, just trying to get the best bang for my buck.


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"Yes, no Firewire but it does have eSATA"


I require Firewire for connecting to my DAC, as it provides the highest quality sound. USB is more than adequate for streaming music files from external disks. Vice versa is also true, for those who prefer USB connections to their DAC, and want to put their external disk communication on a different bus. Actually Firewire bus alone is more than adequate to handle both.


eSata is useful for faster backups, and for video file manipulation. I use eSata connections for these tasks, but don't see it as of any use on a dedicated music server.






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  • 3 months later...



I had the Mac Mini - PC dilemma and finely went with the Zino for the HDMI


I love it!


It works great connected to a 63" Samsung plasma TV and sound great through the TV sound as I am still waiting for my Processor [Emotiva].


It plays the streaming video great and it is very quite


For the music room I am still uncertain if I should use a PC with a sound card or Mac Mini for bit perfect play back through a DAC




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