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Kodlix Z83-F Fanless Mini PC for $150 (or less!)

Discussion in 'Bits & Bytes' started by Susan Addams, Dec 18, 2017.

  1. Susan Addams

    Susan Addams Left Coast Fiscal Conservative

    I hope nobody will mind my recycling this post that got lost in another thread not about products, into a product review for a unique and inexpensive product. I consider the information important enough that I feel it deserves a separate thread to focus on this product review:

    New material

    My point in the review is that this can be more than a HTPC if you want it to. It could be your main PC if your computing needs are modest. Although I haven't tried it I can see no reason why it wouldn't work fine as a word processor, spreadsheet, surfing machine, anything but a gaming machine. You gamers have your gamer PCs so you know right off this isn't for you.

    I work from a laptop and I back it up monthly or more often. Certainly whenever Windows wants to do an update. I've never had a Windows update fork my PC but I'll also never have a first time it did that to me because all my data is safe on my local network.

    I could easily toss my laptop in the trash and go sit down in my living room and within an hour of installing essential apps I could sit on my sofa and use my 75" TV and wireless keyboard/mouse and get back to work, perhaps with a bit slower PC but I don't do anything that requires a fast PC. In IT work it's not the speed of your PC, it's the speed of the server and the bandwidth of your Internet connection. Most home applications are the same.

    It is nice to have a fast network connection but I have the same speed anywhere on my WiFi network and a router selected for the fastest WiFi setup, plus gigabyte hard connections for networked drives and printers. (My den TV is smaller and fills a smaller area of my visual field, and as a consequence it's too far away to use for work.) Just hold up your laptop and peek around it at your TV. Visual comparison of virtual sizes will tell you if your TV is bigger, smaller or same. All of them TV and PC are all 1080x1920. Only the living room TV is "bigger" than the laptop.

    And what is the cost of a monitor? Dirt... They sell a VESA adapter for this mini-PC that allows you to screw the PC into the back of an ordinary monitor and you end up with an Apple style PC. You could throw together this PC + an inexpensive monitor and be under $500 and change enough to go shopping! Woo hoo! :)

    They want us to move to the dumb terminal model and rent online like Windows Live etc. You could do that with this, but you could just as easily stick with the conventional PC setup. I got the maximum SD card memory 128GB ($65) for my LR setup giving total SSD capacity of 160GB, more "HDD" than most people need.

    Anything else you need can be on your network and attached to your router via gigabyte Ethernet, or just get WiFi printers and be done with it. Networked printers work with every PC in your house. Network attached storage works with every PC in your house. You can work on a network file on one computer and then save your file, go to another PC and open the file and continue working. Share printers with all your PCs and then you need only one or two printers. Get RAID drives and you'll never lose your data even if an HDD fails.

    Get good products and TCO (total cost of ownership) is low. I recommend HP printers. I have a laser hard wired to my router and a WiFI inkjet/scanner. A good laser will last 10 years so get the mind set that you aren't buying a $1,000 printer, you're renting a printer at $100/year. Inkjets are more expensive because the cartridges go bad whether you use them or not, and price per page is more, so you do most of your printing on your laser and reserve the inkjet for when you want color, like for photos etc.

    My point: I'm trying to shift your computing paradigm from PC-centric to the model used in offices big and small: network-centric. There is a good reason corporations do this but electronics is so cheap today that the only reason for not doing it is that you never thought of doing it. It works just as well for an individual or a family, better for a family in fact because you can all share the same printer! However many people in your family, divide your home network expenses by that number to get cost per person. It costs out!

    Shopping advice: Woo hoo shopping! :) If you buy anything the best time of the year is either days away or has already began. For this PC I'm reviewing watch online prices at Amazon or your favorite retailer, NewEgg or something. I don't know who has it but I know that Amazon has it. When you see the price drop from about $150 to probably $130 that is your signal to buy. Let's price it:

    $130 (sale price) for mini-PC
    $65 for 128GB SD card (may be unnecessary depending on how much HDD you need)
    $32 for MSFT wireless mouse/keyboard
    $227 + tax where applicable

    IMPORTANT: Get the 4GB internal RAM, not the 2GB. You don't really need it but you can get Windows 10 Pro for another $50. You don't need the SD card if you have NAS network attached storage. I don't need the extra SD card for my den HTPC, probably didn't need it in my LR HTPC either.

    Note that prices may vary depending on TBA sales where prices are not yet known, or just buy it now and pay trivially more. The price may not return to the prices I paid. Shipping is free, Prime takes 2 days, otherwise about a week. Also note that nobody knows what the holidays will do to stock or prices. YMMV

    Then you can use it for a PC if you attach it to a monitor or use it as a HTPC as I described below. The wireless keyboard + mouse is about $32 if you get Microsoft as I did. Hm. Funny. They make better hardware than software. Go figure...

    My final comment is to remember this is Windows 10 so you will have to take an hour or two and not make a MSFT account, uncheck all the MSFT spyware options, remove Cortana and replace Edge with the browser of your choice! This is all described elsewhere in this forum how to do this.

    Unless you are a gamer quit wasting money. Use a laptop or even cheaper use this mini-PC. Switch to the network-centric corporate model for your home network and you will get better utility and more economy too!

    Previous material including product description

    I recently bought two PCs for my two "HT" locations. They are powered by Intel Atom processors. They are intended as PC streamers. They run Windows 10. They are not power computers but they have everything: in miniature.

    Upgraded Z83-F Fanless MINI PC Desktop, 4GB/32GB Intel Atom x5-Z8350 (up to 1.92 GHz) HD Graphics 400/ 4K/ 2.4G+5.8G WiFi/ 1000Mbps LAN/ BT4.0 [VGA&HDMI Dual Output] [Support Windows 10 64-Bit]

    Last edited: Dec 19, 2017
  2. Susan Addams

    Susan Addams Left Coast Fiscal Conservative

    Upon checking today's price at Amazon it appears there will be no pre-Christmas sale. I would say retailers are taking advantage of shopping anxiety by holding the line: $165 for the 4GB mini-PC. Perhaps there will be a sale after Christmas. If so I'll take another. The minimum offering will be $135.
  3. Grail_King

    Grail_King Member

    Paid $149.00
    Took a while for updates, and kept getting error for not enough room for the updates, finally got it completed.
    I removed all the games ( daughter isn't into games ). Put Kodi on for her, but in typical young person fashion never wrote PW down for things, so she has new ones.
  4. Susan Addams

    Susan Addams Left Coast Fiscal Conservative

    I think you made a good deal on it! Amazon's now selling it at $165! (I paid $135.) Evidently they were flying off the shelf and the seller tried a price increase and they still flew off the shelf so now it's higher yet again! — I had intended to buy a third and perhaps I will, but in no rush I'll see if they decline perhaps later in the month. I have a bedroom TV I rarely use that might have use for a PC, or perhaps load it with Linux or something. Or I'll be happy with the two I have.

    A funny thing happened, a friend I hadn't heard from in a while phoned me up, said she saw my review and had been considering buying too! We chatted a while and she said she's going to get one too, presumably did. Benefit of using my real name on a forum, LOL! :)

    Another friend bought one and had much more trouble than I bringing up my two. I have pretty good broadband (100 Mbps) and my friend had 10 Mbps if that, so the Windoze updates took quite a time. He eventually got it up and is happy now. (Mm... did that come out right?) ;)

    Just curious, am I right that Kodi runs as an app under Win10?
  5. Grail_King

    Grail_King Member

    Yes, kodi runs as app. Also this particular unit won't do Linux ( if this was for me it be a downer ).
  6. Susan Addams

    Susan Addams Left Coast Fiscal Conservative

    I wouldn't be too hasty in simply assuming it won't do Linux. People jail break iPhones and iPads all the time. Apple doesn't like that so we just don't ask them. Similarly, there is no need to ask Kodlix for permission to hack their product into Linux.

    I have a friend who is into hacking Roku and have yet to get the full details but it appears to me that you can crack a Roku wide open and get most or all channels, or at least a lot more channels than the Roku people would want you to have.

    I have been considering buying a third Kodlix mini-PC if the prices fall after shopping frenzy subsides. Yes of course meddling with the insides will void your warranty, but I have my girly ways with persuading hardware to do my bidding (after all I do manage my own Linux dedicated web server) and there are plenty of hacker minded people to lead the way.

    Worst comes to worst I can simply murder the patient in a way that appears to the medical examiner that it died a natural death of what the electronics industry calls "infantile failure." I could do it easily without ever opening the unit, although I think I could open it, meddle, and then if the Linux conversion fails I can simply put it back together and return it to factory DOA.

    Let's not start out assuming that it CAN'T be modified for Linux until at least we have figured out its file system and how we can warp it to our own nefarious purposes. Please note the great number of similar designs based upon the Intel Atom x5 Z8350 Chip which I presume most designs also use the same support chip sets. I have already concluded that many of the competing units are more or less similar inside with the main differences being case design and possible differences in some of the support chips. For example one design (at about $100) has no WiFi or HDMI. In fact that one right there might be the better choice of what to hack.

    I think Google should be consulted before simply assuming that we can't convert to Linux. I'd love to have a toy server in my intranet, sort of a smaller version of the bigger server I have on the Internet. I'll research it a bit today. The inevitable New Year's sports games repel me so I might as well spend New Year's Day doing techie.
  7. Susan Addams

    Susan Addams Left Coast Fiscal Conservative

    Hey, look at this: same mini-PC, slightly different case, appears that plugs are in exact same locations, only difference is 2GB RAM instead of 4GB, and Amazon's price is just $120.

    The link didn't work.
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2018
  8. Susan Addams

    Susan Addams Left Coast Fiscal Conservative

    And this from the same seller, comes with Win10H but seller provides instructions for Ubuntu conversion. I'd go Debian but the instructions may be adaptable for me to install my beloved Jessie. :) ... $170

    ... damned link won't post, keeps converting to an invisible MEDIA tag.
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2018
  9. Grail_King

    Grail_King Member

    Actually it's the maker or seller who stated it, the cpu or bios are in Beta, for linux support need the next version up, as this was for my daughter it would be fine, for me I look for a slightly better cpu and HD.
    My LR is a Asus VM-xxx mini, Office a asus laptop and BR a gateway, I removed windows from all of them; I'm thinking of doing the same for my wife's laptop, it drives me bonkers with the way W-10 does things.

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