Zalman HD135 HTPC Case - The Remote, Working Under Vista and More

Article Index
Zalman HD135 HTPC Case
HTPC System Installation
VFD and Software Usage
The Remote, Working Under Vista and More

The Remote: 

The remote was one of the most disappointing features in the package as it controlled functions of the mouse pointer and navigation through the media software poorly.  The round disc in the middle of the remote is used to navigate menus and it didn't seem to matter how I pushed the disc 8 out of 10 times it would move twice.  It became very frustrating after a short time when you want to 'menu down' one item and it flies right by.  When not in WMC or MediaBay I thought the navigation disc would be used to move the mouse pointer around the screen.  Not so much.  The remote / software has a function called 'warp' which cuts the monitor into 9 sections and allows you to press the numbered buttons on the remote to 'warp' to that zone.  Moving the mouse pointer incrementally only works with the warp function on, which is very irritating to see a bunch of lines on your screen when all you want to do is move the mouse a half inch to the next icon.  Once I got the hang of moving the mouse pointer with the remote I found the movement to be erratic and incremental.  There was nothing smooth about it.  The pointer would move about a 1/8th of an inch at a time.  My 5 year old Remote Wonder moved the mouse pointer much smoother than this.  The remote works, but I'd rather use a cordless mouse on the couch for navigation and just use the remote for changing channels or the volume.  It's also worth mentioning that the remote will not power on the PC if it's shut down.

Vista Compatability:

With Vista being newly released I had to try out all the Zalman software and the remote on Vista just to see if it would work.  It does!  All of the Zalman software installed onto Vista without a single hiccup.  The software functions just as well as it did in XP MCE.

Conclusions:

After using this HTPC for a few weeks I did notice that it fingerprints quite easily and also picks up finger oils.  Buttons that are commonly pushed and the areas around them look extra shiney.  The aluminum bezel looks cool but I think this case would look equally nice with a full size door for the DVD where the user doens't have to change bezels.  This would make installation that much easier.  This is a full sized case and has the ability to house an SLI system provided the cards aren't too long.  I did notice this case it quite loud, but keep in mind I have an un-nessisarily high thermal output system installed in this case.  For it's functions the hardware is overkill.  This case is well designed for maximum airflow and it has many slots, fans, and holes for heat *and noise* to get out.  With a system more suited for an HTPC and some good air coolers or perhaps even watercooling this case would quiet down quite a bit.  The case itself reached a maximum temperature of 110°F near the raptor, but in general the case was warm all over which means it's conducting heat through the aluminum very well.  Not once did I have a single problem with overheating.  This is a high quality well built case, but the shortfalls in the software and especially the remote might be too much for some people.

Pros:

  • Well built, thick aluminum, ridgid case
  • Looks just like any other home theater component
  • Customizable VFD
  • MediaBay turns any version of windows into a media center
  • SpeedFan software controls thermal output / noise
  • Can install full size ATX system and power supply
  • Cools well...


Cons:

  • ...but is noisey
  • Remote has limited functionality and issues with navigation
  • Couldn't open any video files or pictures from a share or mapped drive
  • Fingerprints easy
  • Not all holes on top fan are countersunk


Score:

BCCHardware.com Rating
Quality:
8/10
Performance:
9/10
Software Pack:
6/10
Stability/Durability:
8/10
Features:
9/10
Value:
7/10
Total Score 7.8

 

Thanks Zalman USA for sending out the HD135 for us to check out!  If you have any questions or comments regarding this review, please feel free to drop us a line in the forum at the link below.