The HD160 HTPC system case comes with a brief user manual, a remote control and a disc with software.
It was when we first saw the remote control that we got some suspicions.
The characteristic logotype of Microsoft’s software products and the limited number of buttons and the fact that the software pack occupied only 10MB on the enclosed CD all indicate that the Zalman HD160 is a “Windows XP Media Center ready” system. We hadn’t really expected this because this OS is far inferior to the latest versions of specialized software from third-party developers in terms of functionality and media content management. It doesn’t even allow to control the PC with the remote control other than in the media center mode. You can’t even adjust the sound volume when you are working in the OS environment! The future of the HD160 seems obscure considering the imminent release of Windows Vista because it’s not clear if there will be backward compatibility or the owner of a HD160 will have to use the older OS only.
We won’t describe the capabilities of Windows XP Media Center Edition as there are enough such reviews around the Web. Suffice it to say that its functionality is too limited for its proud name. We, on our part, will limit ourselves to the display functionality then. The display can show you the current date and time when the OS is booted up or in the standby mode:
Its brightness is automatically reduced in the standby mode. A welcome message is shown in the main Media Center menu:
When playing a file, the display shows its name and duration and the playback mode information.
Not much, especially if you set this against the capabilities of the display from Thermaltake’s HTPC cases, for example. We even caught ourselves thinking of a simple idea: you can purchase a Media Lab kit separately and install it on your Zalman HD160 (you only have to make a simple adapter to fasten the display panel). And you will get a normal, updatable multimedia shell that doesn’t depend on the OS manufacturer and allows normally controlling the main functions of your PC.
Well, this is just a side note for inventive users. As for the HD160, we wish Zalman revised the positioning of cases of this series. We would very much like to see an exclusive multimedia shell from Zalman rather than the functionally limited OS from Microsoft. This is not too hard to do – Zalman can just order the software that Media Lab supplies to Thermaltake or something like that with a slightly revised interface. PC parts from Zalman are not ordinary PC components after all – they emphasize the status of their owner and they must be up to this purpose.