Review: Niveus Zone Pro One-Ups The ZoneS

The Niveus Zone was good, bringing an HD HTPC to your living room in a compact box, but the Zone Pro is three times the speed of the old one. And it shows.

Here are the specs: 1080p, Blu-ray drive, HDMI 1.3, eSATA, Core 2 Duo, Gigabit Ethernet and a $2000 price tag. It lands in a strange spot between performance and "HTPC-ability", as in the ability to sit nicely on your home entertainment center without standing out too much.

Review: Niveus Zone Pro One-Ups The ZoneS

We tested it ourselves, and found it was a very capable Windows Vista Media Center, doing all the Media Center tasks (streaming network content, Netflix, watching Blu-rays, what have you) as larger machines we've tested. (We haven't tested the previous Zone, so we can't compare it to that.)

Despite its small size, it is capable of supporting one Media Center extender, such as an Xbox 360, so you can watch the same show on your 360 as you can on your Zone. This, provided you add the third-party TV tuners. We're going to test how well that performs in the coming weeks.

There are still some tests other than that to run as well, including actually using it as a Media Center for an extended period of time, plus putting Windows 7 on there, but for the most part this is a quality compact HTPC. It's a little pricey, but Niveus has previously lived in the enthusiast (read: rich man) market, so the Zone and the Zone Pro are their way of bringing their home theater experience down to the slightly well off man's market. [Niveus]