Zotac Announces ZBOX Sphere OI520 and OI520 Plus

Subject: General Tech, Systems | May 21, 2014 - 03:33 PM |
Tagged: zotac, zbox

Zotac has announced the ZBOX Sphere OI520 in two forms. The Plus version comes with 4GB of DDR3 RAM and a 500GB hard drive while the standard version leaves the choice (and installation) up to the user. At the very least, that means it is user-serviceable. Its real draw is its "orb form factor" with decent, albeit laptop, performing components.

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The ZBOX OI520, from behind.

Its actual system specifications are:

  • Intel Core i5 4200U
  • Intel HD Graphics 4400 (GT2)
  • HDMI and DisplayPort
  • Wireless AC (802.11ac), Gigabit Ethernet, and Bluetooth 4.0
  • 3x USB 2.0, 4x USB 3.0, SD/SDHC/SDXC/MMC Card Reader
  • Supports up to 16GB of RAM (2xDDR3L)
  • Supports one 2.5-inch HDD/SSD
  • Apparently, no OS pre-installed.

Pricing and availability are not yet announced. Obviously, that will be the biggest factor in someone looking for a barebones PC, like this one. Also, Intel graphics support on Linux is not the most pleasant, kind-of famously. Zotac claims full support for Windows 7 and Windows 8, of course, but you will probably need to factor that price in if that is the direction you want to go.

Source: Zotac
May 21, 2014 | 04:46 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

2 of these setting the left and right of a new Mac Pro, for file servers, other storage serving, streaming, or print serving. Could they be connected usb 3.0 to usb 3.0 between the Mac Pro and Z-balls(ZBoxes), or would they need a convertor?

May 21, 2014 | 05:02 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

You cannot really connect two PCs, directly, by USB. In fact, if you do that, you are technically shorting the 5V rails of each computer to the ground of the other computer.

I doubt you will find many PSUs and motherboards that will die or catch fire as a result of that, but it is a possibility. Either way, dangerous or not, it will not work.

You might be able to find a USB 3.0 bridge cable. This basically comes up as a USB accessory on each PC with a driver (and software) to do stuff to the other computer, such as transfer files. You will probably have a hard time finding a USB 3.0 bridge cable, especially one with both Windows and Mac software/drivers. A better alternative is just using a Gigabit router or switch, or the Wireless AC connector, and just use standard networking protocols.

May 22, 2014 | 06:08 AM - Posted by Gunbuster

Sorry, you would need to get a gigabit ethernet prostate to complete your computing crotch, USB 3.0 does not work host to host.

May 22, 2014 | 06:38 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Well someone should build a device that can crossover two usb 3.0 connected devices, for some around 5 gb of transfer, or network speed between to devices with usb 3.0 ports. Apple should build a device in a shape like this and call it the iNad with a few thunderbolt 2 ports and PCIe slots, for extra SSD storage, along with a hard drive RAID, maybe even include the latest Linear Tape File System (LTFS) drive, and some enterprise/workstation storage management software, for a tiered storage system like the Big Data systems have. A couple of these and the Mac Pro could become a more useful system for those graphics professionals. A Mac Pro with iNads for high end video production, and graphics.

May 23, 2014 | 01:46 PM - Posted by collie (not verified)

but why? Networking is done with ethernet cables, always has {although the port did change once} because it works. What would be the point of creating a new insanely complicated device when 1tb wired connections already exist?

May 23, 2014 | 04:10 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Because 10gb+ Ethernet controllers are expensive, and USB 3.0 is as ubiquitous as it gets for a fast connection on consumer based PCs/laptops, and networking is done over USB, all be it USB to Gb Ethernet convertors, so why not have a crossover device/cable and driver software for simulating a network connection across USB 3.0 and get 5gb(minus overhead less than 5Gb) transfers between computers/laptops/whatever. And more than networking is done over Ethernet, the cloud computing folks regularly tunnel PCI over 40 Gb+ Ethernet, so why can't they tunnel a network protocol over USB 3.0.

I regularly ad hoc network 2 laptops together to get faster backups, as one of my laptops has only USB 2.0 ports, the other has a USB 3.0 port, and both laptops have Gb Ethernet ports, so my system Image backups for the laptop with USB 2.0 only ports, instead goes through the Gb Ethernet to the laptop with the USB 3.0 port and the connected USB 3.0 hard drive, I don't get USB 3.0 speeds but Gb Ethernet network backup is faster than USB 2.0(480Mbit), and the ad hoc Ethernet connection shows the USB 3.0 laptop's connected USB 3.0 drive as connected to the network. Ad hoc networking and work grouping is a royal pain in windows, and if they could just get 5Gb Ethernet controllers for PCs/Laptops. It looks like Thunderbolt is dead in the water for low/moderate cost PCs. I'll bet USB 3.1 gets wider adoption than TB, Just because of the way Intel has screwed with USB 3.0 adoption over the years.

Mostly I am talking about this for home use, so direct transfers for laptops and PC over USB 3.0, and USB 3.1, via crossover device/cable would be great.

May 21, 2014 | 07:40 PM - Posted by K w a z (not verified)

So this is what they're doing with all of the spare Nexus Q shells

May 22, 2014 | 05:39 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Why the non-standard shape? Can't rackmount it, can't VESA mount it, can't keep it with your other AV gear...

May 23, 2014 | 04:35 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

It's cute. Cute sells

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