Zalman HD160XT - Ultimate Home Theater Case - Software Installation and Usage

Article Index
Zalman HD160XT - Ultimate Home Theater Case
Case Specifications and Test Setup
HTPC System Installation and Features
Software Installation and Usage
The Remote - Up Close
Conclusion and Final Thoughts

Software installation:

The software that comes with the HD160XT consists of 3 programs:

M.Play ZiNi - This is the software that runs on the touchscreen, and is also the software that controls the A.F.C (Fan Control) and controls the software for the remote control.

MediaBay - This is some media center software, similar to something like Windows Media Center, it allows you to have all your movies, music, etc in an easy to navigate interface

Digitouch - This is the software that enables the touchscreen to work, without it your screen in your case will not be touch-sensitive. I won't be going into much detail about this, since it's basically just drivers and a simple configuration program that run behind the scenes.

 

MediaBay

In our review of the HD135 earlier on in the year, we also took a look at the MediaBay software that came enclosed with the HD135, and that same software comes with the HD160XT also. This is software that could be compared to Windows Media Center, it's got the same functionality and turns any version of windows system into a media center PC.

I didn't mind the software, its very well laid out and functions much the same as Windows Media Center, one thing I will note is the built-in internet radio section, which works very slick, it was a feature that caught my eye and worked very smoothly.

If you've got Windows XP Media Center installed on your computer already, you probably won't use MediaBay, since it's very similar to Windows Media Center, and the HD160XT case works very well with Windows Media Center, so chances are if you've been using Windows Media Center, you'll probably stick with that.

I won't go too in depth about the MediaBay software, it seems like a good program to me, and if you need a media application, this will easily do the job. It's very intuitive, and you can easily figure it out without having to read the manual.

 

mediabay.jpg
Zalman MediaBay Main Screen

 

M-Play ZiNi and Digitouch

The M-Play Zini software is the software that controls the remote control, as well as the ZiNi program that runs on the touchscreen and gives you a graphical summary of what's going on in your computer. The ZiNi software isn't anything too fancy or complex, but it does the job and looks good. (I have included some pictures of what the program looks like later on in this section)

Configuration of the M-Play ZiNi software was not the easiest task however.......

When you first fire up the case and install the software, the ZiNi program will automatically load on your secondary display (which in most cases is your touchscreen). After the first reboot it loaded up fine, and started to function right away. Great, it makes you think you're almost done the setup, well, not exactly....

Ok, so I see the ZiNi program running on the touchscreen, and go to touch the screen to see what happens, but naturally nothing happens. Obviously the touchscreen is not working, and needs to be configured. That should be simple enough thanks to the enclosed Digitouch software that runs in the background and runs the touchscreen. So I fire up Digitouch to get things configured, except it's not as simple as I was hoping. The Digitouch software for some reason keeps bringing up the calibration software on my primary screen (which would be your TV in most cases), obviously that's not going to work since I'm trying to configure the secondary monitor (the touchscreen). Luckily there is a "Muli-monitor" tab in the Digitouch software which is supposed to tell which monitor is the touchscreen that needs to be calibrated, so I select number 2 and try again only to have the calibration software pop back up on my primary screen again. "Huh?" I think to myself and when I go to exit the calibration software to try again, it freezes! Not only does it freeze the software it locks up the entire computer...reboot time. After a while of trying different options and freezing and rebooting and searching the internet of help on this problem (very little help out there), I decide to try something different. (I also tried the new version of Digitouch with no success; however it didn't freeze up as much).

So I think to myself, "If the stupid configuration software will only come up on the primary screen, why don't I made the touchscreen primary and my other screen secondary?", this is a great idea, so I switch around the monitor connections and magically it works, I'm finally able to configure the touchscreen. Great, so I'm thinking to myself I have to be almost done now....... Well, almost, but not quite.........

 

These issues are possibly linked to Windows XP Media Center that I was using for the review, the way Windows XP Media Center handles the mouse may be the problem with why the touchscreen does not calibrate properly when hooked up as the secondary monitor. I was unable to test with another version of XP before this article was published, but I will most definitely update with my findings down the road.

Now that I have the touchscreen configured, I can FINALLY get the ZiNi program loaded up and working, so I go to fire that up ZiNi and it loads itself up on the secondary screen. Hmmmm, this isn't good since I had to make the touchscreen primary, so I go about trying to move the ZiNi screen over to the touchscreen (primary monitor now)... and soon find out you can't drag and drop the ZiNi software, it basically loads and runs and the only option is to exit out of the software to make it go away.

So now I'm a little bit ticked off, I have to run the touchscreen as the primary monitor because I can't calibrate it when its hooked up as secondary, and I can't run the ZiNi program (the program that is designed for the touchscreen) on the primary because it by default runs on the secondary and won't load up on the primary. Well, I tried and I tried, but to no avail, finally my solution was to download ultramon (mulit-monitor software), and setup a shortcut key that will move windows on your desktop to other monitors with a simple keystroke. This luckily did work and I was finally able to get the ZiNi program working on the touchscreen. Quite obviously this is a stupid solution, since the software by default should work out of the box.

Now, when I was having all these issues I scoured the internet for other users encountering the same issues, which unfortunately there wasn't much information about this issue or this case for that matter. One interesting thing I did find on the Zalman site is a forum moderator saying they are looking into various software issues, but they however outsource the software to other companies so these problems take a bit longer to figure out since it's another company working on the software. I wasn't able to find much information about the exact problems I was having; even on the Zalman site there isn't much information about troubleshooting. I'm not sure if a case like mine is isolated, or if people just work around this problem and don't worry about getting the ZiNi software going, I'm thinking most people once they got the touchscreen working would just forget about the ZiNi software and move on, if I wasn't reviewing the case I would probably have just ditched the software and been happy with the touchscreen working and used other software instead. I am going to continue to look into this issue after this article is published, and I will make sure to update this section if any new information surfaces.

Once I finally got the program configured it ran fairly well, I never had any real issues with it after it was configured, the only time it acted up is when I tried to run my two displays cloned (same picture on both screens), in which case the ZiNi program crashes on startup. I was unable to pinpoint why it was crashing, but it could be due to the Nvidia software that I was using to clone the two displays.

Below are some screenshots from the M-Play software, this is the software that control the fans, as well as you can configure programs like Windows Media Center, Windows Media Player, MediaBay, etc to work with the remote control that is included. Everything is pretty straightforward and worked very well.

 

 
fan.jpg
Fan Control Section
 
main.jpg
Main Control Section

 

app.jpg
Windows Media Player Configuration

 

 

The next few pictures are screenshots of the ZiNi program, this is a program that runs on the touchscreen that allows you to check out various statistics about your system, it's pretty basic, but it also shows of the capabilities of this case, it's pretty cool to be able to touch a couple buttons and see how your CPU usage is, or how much network bandwidth your using. One interesting thing to note is the CPU and Memory usage screen, its reporting 1025 MB's of memory, which isn't correct since I have 2 GB's of memory installed, not sure why its incorrectly reporting.

 

 
clock.jpg
Main Screen (Date and Time)
 
cpu.jpg
CPU and Memory Usage

 
nw.jpg
Network Usage
 
fan2.jpg
Fan Statistics