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HiviZone HTPC

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Synopsis | Specifications | Delivery | Pictures | Performance | Verdict


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 good.

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. 

Offshore Etailer

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 reassuring.


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!