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Synopsis | Specifications | Delivery
| Pictures | Performance
With its ubiquitous size, quiet operation, preloaded software, and excellent
performance, this entry level system could quite easily be an htpc for the masses.
Anchored by a fast CPU, the incredible NVIDIA GEForce2 MX video card as well as special
critical video tools, DVD movies achieve that film-like quality with this htpc. Even
those that are inherently bad, get enough help to become watchable. And with dScaler
and the optional capture card, it opens up even greater possibilities on other video
sources without the expense of an external line doubler/scaler. Results naturally
will vary based on the signal quality fed into the card. But for the most part, this
htpc works well with the capture card and dScaler combo in realizing an effective and
inexpensive pulldown and deinterlacing capability.
There are a few things that Hivizone could improve on.
User Manual: If they'd like to target consumers outside of the htpc community,
it would be helpful to have a user's manual. It could cover topics basic system
operation to the advanced discussions including using YXY in concert with WinDVD. But at
the very minimum, it should make mention of dScaler, YXY, and Powerstrip, why and how they
are used, and where to get them. Links to additional online resources would also be
Warning notice to US owners/users: The system comes preset to
230V. A brightly colored sticker or piece of paper should be enclosed with the
package to notify the owner to properly select the correct input voltage. Or
Hivizone could simply set it to whatever voltage the region delivery point is and also
provide the correct power cord.
Black Case: It would be nice to have the case in black so that it
disappears in the darkness of the home theater.
Last PCI Slot Inaccessible: By virtue of having a small case, you have
limited slots for expandability. There is actually an open PCI slot on the motherboard,
but the opening for it is occupied by the Nightingale daughtercard for the toslink and
coax ports. If one were to replace the audio card that takes up only a single slot, then
the open PCI slot would be accessible. Of course, if the optional Zoltrix weren't
installed, this wouldn't be a problem either. =)
Changes to the VZ-HPTC01 line:
Tony Wong, the HTPC division manager at
Hivizone, related that they've already made improvements to the htpc for even better
performance. They now use a PentiumIII 866MHz cpu, WinME, and a better wireless
keyboard/mouse combo for this model hptc. They have also installed a thin fan atop
the CPU for added heat dissipation without any noise penalty.
Hivizone is a Hongkong based
online vendor. This certainly was a concern of mine when I bought the Skyworth dvd
player. I however am one of many who have purchased from them and have had no
problems. Based on my experience thus far with the dvd player and the htpc, I
continue to give them high marks for excellent price, value, and service.
Shipping is FAST (4 days from Hongkong to the East Coast US) with convenient online
tracking. They accept credit cards via their secure online store. Use of credit
cards might help by having the bank leverage some influence in resolving problems should
any arise. Whether possible or not, it certainly helped easing my apprehension about
ordering from a foreign based company.
Hivizone has been very good in responding to emails considering the time
difference. Their response time has always been within 24hrs. That's very
The VZ-HTPC01 is a sweetheart of an htpc. For the price of a cheap starter pc,
you get a feature-rich plug-and-play unit that does custom DVD progressive playback,
scaling, and deinterlacing.
After retiring my htpc for a few months, I have reinserted another, a much better
one. So, once again I have two dvd players in my home theater: the Skyworth 1050P
and the Hivizone htpc. For user-friendliness, my family uses the Skyworth so that
they can get a movie up and running with ease and expediency. For more control and
additional capabilities, the htpc takes center stage. No regrets!