UK Price (as reviewed):£269.44 (inc VAT) US Price (as reviewed): Currently unavailable
As we tend to prefer taking things into our own hands when it comes to PC assembly, pre-built systems are ones that we rarely cross paths with. The nettop market is an interesting one, however, as it consists of mini-PCs that, while far smaller than even a tiny mini-ITX build, are still marketed as capable and favourable additions to a home theatre setup.
Zotac, a company traditionally known for its motherboards and graphics cards, has found success in the last few years with its Zbox range of barebones and all-in-one HTPCs. We've only came across one before here, the Blu-Ray drive touting HD-ID34. Zotac has recently refreshed its range, however, and with us today is one of its latest Intel Celeron based systems, the £270 ID42 Plus. The regular ID42 is also available for around £50 less for those who'd prefer to supply their own memory and storage.
Click to enlarge - The Zbox ID42 Plus is a very small PC
Laid flat, the ID42 Plus measures just 188mm square and 51mm tall, which would make it an easy fit beneath or beside any TV. A stand is provided in case you want to have it rest vertically, and Zotac also provides a VESA mount such that you can mount it out of sight behind a compatible monitor.
The shiny black casing looks very appealing at first, and makes a suitable match for a lot of home theatre equipment, but it picks up dirt, fingerprints and scratches with astonishing ease. It also emits a soft blue glow in the shape of a ring when powered on, which also looks pretty snazzy, but the plastic chassis itself feels cheap and light. It certainly doesn't have the same appeal as the brushed aluminium of the HD-ID34, but that's understandable at this end of the market.
Click to enlarge - You can stand the ID42 vertically
Along with the monitor mount and vertical stand, you'll find a remote control and USB receiver for media control duties. Also, a pair of screw on antennas ensures you can take full advantage of the system's WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities. Meanwhile, the supplied power brick is relatively lightweight and small, and should be easy to tuck tidily out of the way.
As the ID42 Plus doesn't include an optical drive, you'll be best served installing your operating system from a USB memory stick. We're not big fans of optical drives here, but unless you happen to own an external USB one, the bundled driver CD will serve as little more than a coaster for your desk. Thankfully, all the required drivers are readily available from Zotac's website, but separately rather than in a complete installation package.
Chipset Intel NM70 Express
CPU Integrated Intel Celeron 847 (dual-core), 1.1GHz, 2MB L3 cache
Memory 2 x 204-pin SO-DIMM slots (1 x 4GB DDR3-1333 included)