ZeroDesktop MiiPC review

ZeroDesktop gives you full parental control


Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

The MiiPC is a fantastic idea and, in several key areas, it delivers. ZeroDesktop's Android overlay is well-designed and easy to use, and its parental control apps are the most comprehensive we've seen – and those, too, are extremely well designed.

It's cheap and physically attractive, too, but the lack of power is its undoing. It's just not capable of smoothly handling some key tasks, and that situation will only worsen in the future as games become more demanding. Add in the potential cost of peripherals, too, and this system doesn't look so cheap.

We liked

The MiiPC's parental controls are comprehensive, with slick options that are easy to use. Children can have individual accounts with varying app access and time limits, and parents can monitor their kids' computing behaviour as long as they've got access to their phone.

ZeroDesktop's Android UI works well, too, and its third-party apps are generally good – the browser and file manager, for instance, impress.

The MiiPC is a tiny, attractive machine that's easy to use and store, and it's undeniably cheap as long as you can reuse old peripherals rather than buy new kit.

We disliked

The low price of this machine means it's not exactly got high-spec hardware inside, and the lack of power is felt across the entire system. OS navigation is often sluggish, and even basic games suffer from stuttering framerates.

ZeroDesktop's Cannonball gaming software is poor, too, with a terrible selection of titles that largely ignores Android's biggest hits in favour of lazy rehashes and rip-offs.

And, finally, there's the question of price. The MiiPC's $149 and $129 models don't cost much, but the price of delivery and a full set of peripherals can easily see this system eventually cost £300 or more, depending on the quality of the kit that's bought.

That brings this system into line with a host of rivals. If you're an Android fan and aren't fussed about necessarily having a desktop, the latest Nexus 7 is a stunning tablet that costs around £200 – add a keyboard case and you'll still have money left over.

That £300 could also buy a low-end Windows PC. You won't get the parental control software and peripherals will drive the cost up higher, obviously, but you'll get a more versatile and powerful system with a longer shelf-life.

Final verdict

ZeroDesktop had a great idea with this system and, when it comes to parental controls, easy Android interfaces and a low price, it's nailed it with the MiiPC – it's great in all of these areas. It's just not powerful enough to handle anything more than basic tasks, though, and it's also saddled with an older version of Android without Google's official app store. With major deficiencies in several departments and other options that prove tempting, this is only worth buying if parental controls and low price are particularly important.

Mike has worked as a technology journalist for more than a decade and has written for most of the UK’s big technology titles alongside numerous global outlets. He loves PCs, laptops and any new hardware, and covers everything from the latest business trends to high-end gaming gear.