Dell Eyeing Internet TV and Streaming, Roku Wants A Bite Out of Apple

Dell Eyeing Internet TV and Streaming, Roku Wants A Bite Out of Apple

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Dell, along with everyone and their brother it seems, wants in on the streaming video pie chart and they’re preparing to cut themselves off a slice according to the latest reports. Networkworld reports they’re looking into getting some devices in their lineup and looking over Google TV for the software.

Isnt it just like the industry? One company jumps in, makes some waves, another two follow and suddenly the pool is so overcrowded that consumers just want to swim for the edge and get out before another big group gets in. But this is what breeds competition, creates innovation and makes things worth buying (after all the players are in the pool because that’s when the price wars start).

So Dell is looking a their current hardware lineup and Hmm-ing over what they can do to get some streaming Internet content to TVs. They’ve already positioned some of their PCs as media centers, like the Inspiron Zino HD desktop, which can send HD quality video to TVs. It’s got built in HDMI and VGA out so it can use most standard big screen LED TVs as a monitor. It’s Internet-connected, what with being a computer and all, which means it can pull down streams from the Web, has up to 1TB storage space and a Blu-Ray drive. Along with all that is a beefy processor which means it can handle the heavy lifting of HD video processing.

Sure, it’s not quite a set-top box, but it’s Dell’s way of sticking their toe in the water to see if their customer base is interested in this sort of thing. If it goes over well enough I bet they’ll be in the set-top box business within a year.

It’s also pretty damned cheap coming in at $299 right now and set to be released this week (I guess that means today or tomorrow right?).

At $299 it’s still a bit pricey to be considered anything but a low-level computer I suppose. I found this info on a cached Google search as the original page was gone:

Inspiron Zino HD

Introducing the new Inspiron Zino HD mini desktop computer. You’ll be amazed by how many powerful features are inside such a perfectly small 8″ by 8″ square.

  • Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit
  • Its small form factor conveniently fits just about anywhere
  • Connect to your TV with HDMI connection, or add optional Blu-ray Disc for ultimate movie experience
  • Meets Energy Star 5.0 Standards
  • Currently Inspiron Zino HD desktop is only available in Black

There seems to have been some hardening of the specs from what this page had earlier.

Media card reader
Quickly transfer your digital photos and music from your digital camera with the optional 4-in-1 media card reader.

Ports with potential
Connect to your digital devices with the 4 USB ports, 2 of which are located in the front for convenient access. And with an additional 2 eSATA ports, you can connect to even more devices, like an external hard drive.

Impressive Power

The only thing that’s small about the Zino HD is its size. This mean and lean mini desktop has its fair share of powerful features.

Be prepared for today and tomorrow. The AMD Athlon Dual-Core processors provide outstanding performance in an ever-changing world of technology.

Watch your screen come to life with integrated ATI Radeon HD3200 graphics.

See it, love it, save it. Store your favorite music, photos and video with up to a 1TB hard drive.

Networkworld states two configurations either with an AMD Athlon II or quad-core Phenom II processor and mentions the graphics card but didn’t state the model.

More digging pulled up this list of specs from Dell UK which shows some fairly stout specs that are well beyond what you’d need for a regular media center PC and the photo to the right.

Finally, the slogan for the unit is:

PC, Meet TV

Processors and Chipset
AMD Athlon II V140 Processor, 2.3GHz, 512K
AMD Athlon II X2 P340 Dual Core Processor, 2.2GHz, 1MB
AMD Turion II X2 P540 Dual Core Processor, 2.4GHz, 2MB
AMD Phenom II X3 P840 Triple Core Processor, 1.9GHz, 1.5MB
AMD Phenom II X4 P940 Quad Core Processor, 1.7GHz, 2MB
Operating Systems
Genuine Windows® 7 Starter
Genuine Windows® 7 Home Basic
Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium
Genuine Windows® 7 Professional 64-Bit
2GB Dual Channel DDR3 SDRAM at 1066MHz- 2 DIMMs (2X1G)
2GB DDR3 SDRAM at 1066MHz- 1 DIMM
3GB Dual Channel DDR3 SDRAM at 1066MHz- 2 DIMMs (2GB+1GB)
4GB Dual Channel DDR3 SDRAM at 1066MHz- 2 DIMMs (2X2GB)
4GB DDR3 SDRAM at 1066MHz- 1 DIMM
6GB Dual Channel DDR3 SDRAM at 1066MHz- 2 DIMMs (4GB+2GB)
8GB Dual Channel DDR3 SDRAM at 1066MHz- 2 DIMMs (2X4GB)
Hard Disk Capacity
Up to 1 TB (7200 rpm, SATA II)
Optical Disc
Tray load CD/DVD burner (DVD+/-RW) w/double layer write capability
Blu-ray Disc (BD) Combo Drive (BD-ROM, DVD/CD Burner)
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4250 Integrated Graphics Card
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5450 MXM Discrete Graphics Card
Sound Cards
Integrated 2.1 high definition analog audio
Integrated 2.1 high definition audio and up to THX 7.1 Audio
Dell 1520 802.11 b/g/n wireless card
Dell 1501 802.11 n wireless card
Front Ports
Two USB 2.0 connectors
One headphone connector
One 4-in-1 memory card reader
Rear Ports
One microphOne connector
One line-out connector
One VGA connector
One RJ45 connector (10/100/1000)
two USB 2.0-compliant connectors
two eSATA connectors
one HDMI connector
one SPDIF connector
Expansion Slots
Mini PCIe WLAN card (802.11 b/g or 802.11 a/b/g/n)
Chassis & Case
Color Lid Options
One Pack Color Lid, Tomato Red
One Pack Color Lid, Peacock Blue
One Pack Color Lid, Mercury Silver
Dimensions & Weight
Height: 89mm (3.4″)
Width: 197mm (7.8″)
Depth: 197mm (7.8″)
Weight: 1.6kg (3.53lb)
65W for UMA gfx
90W for discrete MXM gfx
Drive Bays
One 3.5″ HDD
One 12.7 mm trayload ODD
Memory DIMM slots: 2 available

The unit certainly looks like it could fit into any home entertainment center (I dig the blue one, it would match my Acer Aspire One) and at only 8-inches square, wouldn’t be a major footprint, but offers major power.

Pricing, on the following (in GBP): 329

  • AMD Athlon II V140 (2.30GHz, 512k)
  • Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium, 64bit, English
  • 2048MB Dual Channel DDR3 1333MHz Memory
  • 250GB (7200rpm) SATA Hard Drive
  • 8X DVD+/- RW Optical Drive (DVD & CD read and write)
  • Integrated ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4250
  • Integrated Audio with THX
  • 4-in-1 Media Card reader

An extra 60 quid gets you:

  • AMD Athlon II X2 P340 (2.20GHz, 512kx2)
  • 3072MB 1333MHz Dual Channel DDR3 SDRAM
  • 320GB (7200rpm) SATA Hard Drive

But it’s still a PC and it’s still Windows (which is OK really I guess).  If they can pack that much power into an 8×8″ shell, I’m curious to see what they’ll pack into a set-top box proper and if they’ll really power it with Google TV. I wonder if they’ll send one over for me to check out and review as a purely media center box.

Roku – The Third Horse In The Set-Top Box Race

We’ve got Apple TV and Google TV, but what about Roku? Their new lineup of 3 boxes wants to rock the socks off Internet-video viewers and put it in contention for the Internet TV Cup (I just made that up, there really isn’t one that I know of). The prices of the three undercut both the Logitech Revue (Google TV) and the new Apple TV.

Comparisons are difficult but I’ll give you the nutshell. The Roku HD is 720p HD capable and rolls in at $59.99 and offers 802.11g wi-fi. The XD is the next step up and gives you a boost in wi-fi speed sporting 802.11 n and set you back $79.99 which you’d probably need if you really want to do consistent 720p streaming and maintain the quality. The XDS offers you two 802.11n channels which I imagine might be enough to do full 1080p and it’s just $99.99

Now these things are tiny. We’re talking one inch high by five wide! Of course, only the XD units are capable of full HD 1080p, instant replay and the XDS has component and optical out as well as a USB port. Talk about topping things off, combine that with the

Roku HDRoku XDRoku XD|S
Works with any TV (standard definition or HD)yesyesyes
Plays high-definition video (720p)yesyesyes
Built-in wireless (Wi-Fi), plus wired (Ethernet) connectoryesyyesyes
HDMI video output (for HDTVs)yesyesyes
Plays 1080p Full HD videoyesyes
Instant Replay buttonyesyes
Extended-range Wireless N (b/g/n compatible)yesyes
Dual-band wireless technology — the latest standardyes
Component video* and optical audio outputsyes
USB port for playing photos, music, and videos**yes

But what can you watch? How about this lineup?

Netflix, Amazon Video On-Demand, Pandora, Newscaster, MP3Tunes, Radiotime,, Vimeo

Yes, NetFlix, Amazon and MLB plus Vimeo. That looks like a decent hookup to us. But wait, there’s more!

Latest movie trailers from Flixter, EZTakes, bigstar, SUNIMI, DreamTV, Kungfu theater, drive-in classics, cowboy classics, moonlight moves, Yupp TV, etc…

Also Flickr, Break, Facebook Photos, NASA TV and some other channels. No you can’t go freewheel-web surfing like Google TV and you’ll probably never be able to hook iTunes to it (but I bet you can find a way to play the content). Sure, there’s no YouTube but you can add on a third-party app for it (like a Widget in disguise!). You can also add another third-party app to play content from a USB drive…iTunes anyone? Currently, only mp4 video, mp3 audio and jpg and png images are supported so you’ll need a video transcoder like Any Video Converter (which I use at GDN).

Huh, I guess I have to go update that Apple TV vs. Google TV and put Roku in there as someone suggested. I’ll get right on that!


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