Patriot's new ARM powered HTPC

Subject: Systems | March 15, 2012 - 01:24 PM |
Tagged: htpc, patriot, patriot PBO Alpine, arm

The new Patriot PBO Alpine is an ARM powered, Android 2.2 device which promises to deliver 1080p video and Dolby Surround sound from a box measuring 4.5" x 4.5" x 1".  It sports HDMI and S/PDIF audio out, an ethernet port as well as two USB ports which is a good thing as you will want to use a mouse and keyboard as opposed to the bundled remote which was [H]ard|OCP's least favourite thing about this media streamer.  Apart from that one disappointment, the PBO Alpine walked away with a Gold Award thanks to great video quality and some extras that Patriot tossed in to make this HTPC stand out in the crowd.

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"On the heels of its Box Office success, Patriot Memory has a brand new HD media player coming to market that is powered by an ARM926 processor and running Android 2.2. Could the PBO Alpine the next edition to your HD home entertainment experience? With a tremendous feature set inside a tiny footprint, we think it is worthy."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Lian Li's PC-Q25 brings nice features to a small HTPC enclosure

Subject: Systems | February 29, 2012 - 01:52 PM |
Tagged: htpc, Lian Li, Lian Li PC-Q25

Lian Li's PC-Q25 has a look to it that mimics other HTPCs but adds a few interesting tweaks to the basic block design other cases sport.  At 199mm x 280mm x 366mm it will only fit mATX or mDTX motherboards but it is long enough to handle graphics cards up to 12.5" in length.  The brushed aluminium exterior is meant to be shown off, not hidden with other components and could be a nice addition to any room devoted to entertainment.  Missing Remote was a little disappointed that even though the case can accomodate two decent sized graphics cards it cannot handle a long PSU.  Apart from that they like what Lian Li is doing.

MR_Lian-Li-PC-Q25.jpg

"The Fractal Design Array R2 chassis instantly recalled for us the decidedly niche, but incredibly functional, cube-style cases popular a few years ago. which were incredibly niche but very functional. The R2 was flexible, silent and sleek in a very limited amount of space. The Lian Li PC-Q25 chassis shares many of the same appealing traits, but goes for a taller design in a similar footprint. This allows it some interesting arrangements inside and allows for even more internal storage options. As a small form factor case there are always trade-offs to be made, and the omission of an optical drive space is just one of them. With some very attractive features in a small form factor cube-like chassis, the Lian Li PC-Q25 has a lot to offer a variety of consumers, which we will examine closer."

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Raspberry Pi Foundation Clears Up Misunderstanding About Their ARM Linux Computers, Still Coming This Month

Subject: Systems | February 10, 2012 - 04:17 PM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, linux, htpc, Education, arm

The folks over at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, the organization behind the upcoming ARM powered Linux computer, are having a field day today as they have been flooded with emails from enthusiasts and press worried about the availability and pricing of the Raspberry Pi computer as it seems someone made inferrences that then got blown out of proportion in a typical "telephone game" spiral out of control fashion.

We here at PC Perspective are among the many people who are waiting eagerly to get our hands on the fairly powerful ARM powered computer, so naturally this post by Liz over at the official Raspberry Pi website helped up to take a deep breath and relax.  The little Raspberry Pi boards are still coming at the end of this month (February 2012), and they will be priced at or below the previously announced prices of $25 for the base model and $35 for the model with more RAM and Ethernet.

Raspberry Pi.jpg

The takeaway from the article is that your plans and/or your desire to get your hands on a Raspberry Pi just because (like me) even if you don't know what to do with it yet are safe.  The point of the ARM computers are to bring a low cost, but capable computing platform to the masses for education.  Yes, the non profit foundation still needs to make a profit; however, they aren't about to jack up the price just because they can.  Liz further stated that the prices of $25 and $35 will not change, unless they can make them cheaper.  "Price is such an important part of what we’re doing in trying to change the way people use computers that we’d be totally, totally mad to move the price point."  The caveat is that the casing (that will accompany a package aimed at education customers and includes educational software and an outer shell) may add a bit to the price; however, they are going to try not to keep the price the same.

While they have not given a specific date, they state in a rather direct way (even going so far as to bold the text to get the point across- heh) that "You will be able to buy a Raspberry Pi from the end of February, from this website."  The misunderstanding, they state, relates to a statement about a different SKU of the Raspberry Pi that is aimed at education and will have a few extra accessories and features including a case to house the board, written support material, and educational software.  This version will come later this year (approximately Q3 2012), and was mixed up with the initial release this month.

Are you ready to get your hands on a Raspberry Pi?

Source: Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi Linux Computer Will Have Fast GPU For The Price

Subject: General Tech, Systems | January 26, 2012 - 11:45 AM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, linux, htpc, hd, gpu, broadcom

As reported earlier, the Raspberry Pi is a small computer intended to run Linux and is made to be portable and able to be powered by USB. The small board is based on the Broadcom BCM2835 chipset, which includes an ARM 11 CPU and a dual core VideoCore IV graphics card co processor. The Raspberry Pi further includes connections for HDMI, component output, and USB ports. The higher tier $35 model will further feature an Ethernet jack and twice the RAM (512 MB).

Raspberry Pi.jpg

The Raspberry Pi will soon be available for sale and if the company behind the device- The Raspberry Pi Foundation- is to be believed, the GPU in the little Linux computer will pack quite a punch for its size (and cost). In a recent Digital Foundry interview with Raspberry Pi Executive Director Eben Upton reported on by Eurogamer, Upton made several claims about the Raspberry Pi’s graphics capabilities. He explained that the Broadcom BCM2835’s VideoCore IV GPU is a tile mode architecture that has been configured with an emphasis on shader performance. Upton said “it does very well on compute-intensive benchmarks, and should double iPhone 4S performance across a range of content."

The comparison to the iPhone 4S relates to his further claims that the Raspberry Pi GPU is the best on the market and can best both the iPhone 4S’s PowerVR (Imagination Technologies) based graphics and even the mighty Tegra 2 in fill rate performance. Rather large claims for sure; however, we do have some independent indication that his claims may not be wholly inflated. The coders behind XBMC, open source media center software that allows users to play a variety of media formats, have demonstrated their XBMC software running on the Raspberry Pi. They showed the Raspberry Pi playing a 1080p blu ray movie at a smooth frame rate thanks to the Broadcom GPU being capable of 1080p 30 FPS H.264 hardware accelerated decoding. You can see the Raspberry Pi in action in the video below.

The little Raspberry Pi is starting to look quite promising for HTPC (and even light gaming) use, especially for the price!  At $25 and $35 respectively, the Raspberry Pi should see quite the following in the modding, enthusiast, and education community.

Source: Eurogamer

SilverStone's tiny HTPC enclosure can hide full sized components

Subject: Systems | January 24, 2012 - 04:03 PM |
Tagged: htpc, Silverstone, SST-GD06B

Some HTPC builders envision their machine handling more than just media streaming; why not play WoW or KOTOR on your TV?  This can lead to some frustration if they chose an HTPC case that aesthetically fits their living room but cannot physically fit the components they need to drive the machine.  SilverStone has met their desire with the SST-GD06B, which resembles a stereo component yet at 17.3" (W) x 5.9" (H) x 13.4" (D) it is big enough to give you a lot more choice in the components you can utilize.  For instance it will take an ATX PSU of up to 5.9" in length, five internal drives and a CPU cooler of up to 120mm if you leave out the optical drive.  You can have up to 5 expansion cards in the case, with four of those slots able to accept a card up to 11" in length.  The only real fault that Benchmark Reviews found was the lack of IR support and a bundled remote control.

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"With these smaller cases, space is always an issue. This is becoming increasingly critical as high definition content becomes ubiquitous. Not only do we want to view our new content in more pixels than our brain can even process, but we want to upscale the old content, or view it in 3D, and do it upside down, right side up and inside out. While you're at it give me dish, cable, recording, streaming, email, gaming and the kitchen sink. Oh...and it needs to fit in a single box on my entertainment system. Well, SilverStone is at least trying to provide the box, the rest is up to you. They've expanded on past models to fit even more powerful toys inside your HTPC. Read on to see how model SST-GD06B crams the performance you demand and puts it on your shelf."

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A passively cooled pre-built HTPC from Arctic

Subject: Systems | January 13, 2012 - 02:40 PM |
Tagged: htpc, passive cooling, arctic, MC001-BD

Arctic (not Cooling) is a company which currently offers five different Atom powered HTPCs, one of which Overclockers Online got their hands on. The MC001-BD has a 1.6Ghz Atom D525, an HD5430 GPU, 4GB DDR3, 500GB HDD and a 4x Blu-Ray drive; what it does not have is a TV Tuner which will cost you an extra $30 to include.  It is also not running Windows MCE, instead you get a full installation of Windows 7 Home Premium.  Although this machine will suffer if you attempt to run general productivity software it is powerful enough for perfect HD media playback and the strictly passive cooling will allow you to unobtrusively place this machine with the rest of your A/V equipment.

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"There haven’t been very many products in the market that has truly fired me up and got me as excited as the MC001-BD. Many companies have tried to make HTPC that are compact and quiet but I usually find that I can do better for less. The MC001-BD is probably the first where I wouldn’t be able to do that. With over ten years experience in system cooling they were able to engineer an Entertainment Center that was both compact and passively cooled."

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Capture any streamed media with the help of Hauppauge

Subject: Systems | January 5, 2012 - 02:23 PM |
Tagged: htpc, Hauppauge, colossus, streaming, capture

Missing Remote have assembled an impressive guide on how to use a Hauppauge Colossus to capture any media you can stream to your HTPC.  Hulu, YouTube, Netflix or anything else, this guide will show you how to capture streaming media so you can watch it again at your leisure.  Apart from the hardware you will need Arcsoft ShowBiz and likely an RDP hack which they provide for you to use.  Read on to see the trick as well as their recommended audio and video capture settings as well as tips on playback.

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"So we've all probably experienced the case where, for some reason, our DVR misses an episode and we have to find it via another mechanism. Sure, you can watch it on Hulu or Amazon VOD, but you want to add it to your collection without the DRM (exactly how the DVR would have done), and it came over the air/cable for free (or you paid your cable bill) - so why should you have to pay for it again?! Maybe you've had one too many nasty-grams from Comcast about your bit-torrent downloads so you don't want to go that route."

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One remote to rule them all

Subject: General Tech | December 19, 2011 - 01:59 PM |
Tagged: smart control, remote control, htpc

It is far too common for your coffee table to have several so called universal remotes on it, to control the variety of electronic equipment which makes up your entertainment center.  Each one will have a device that it works best with, either because of the presence of certain buttons or even simply not having a working control code.  Tech Reviews has a possible solution for you and one that doesn't even cost all that much. The One For All Smart Control is designed to work with TV, STB, DVD, AMP, MP3 and Media devices and the best part about it is that some commands can be given using motions.  Soon screaming and waving your remote at your TV will actually accomplish something.

TRv_smart.jpg

"We’ve all seen universal remote controls for TVs, but the One For All Smart Control takes things to a completely different level. The Smart Control provides the ability to control your devices with just a simple flick, or tap, of the remote control. Retailing at only £17.50, the One For All Smart Control is an absolute bargain considering you’re receiving quite a few features. Let’s take a closer look…"

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Source: Tech Reviews

Hard drive shortage or not, the Christmas PC builds are here

Subject: Systems | December 13, 2011 - 03:20 PM |
Tagged: htpc, econobox, sweet spot

The Tech Report has risen to the challenge of building systems for Christmas in the wake of the HDD shortages.  This tends to either bring up the price of the system or to shrink the available amount of storage space in the systems.  Regardless a refresh of their system build is timely as many of us dream of a new PC or parts awaiting us under a tree.  Their Double Stuff workstation features the same i7-3930k recommended on the Hardware Leaderboard here, but they also have some different styles of system recommendation like their i3-2100T powered Couch Potato build for use as an HTPC.  You can also see a few recommended laptops and other peripherals, all you have to do is click the link.

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"With our latest system guide, we've attempted to weather the surge in hard-drive prices while taking advantage of some of the latest hardware releases. To spice things up, we've also concocted a home-theater PC build."

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The firmware is a little soft but Patriot's Javelin S4 serves up media quite nicely

Subject: Systems | December 7, 2011 - 05:12 PM |
Tagged: squeezebox, Patriot Javelin S4 Media Server, patriot, itunes, htpc, DLNA

Media servers are becoming a hot item on the market, offering nearly all of the flexibility of a full HTPC with nearly none of the required setup.  The Patriot Javelin S4 Media Server is no exception, with the ability to interface with iTunes and Squeezebox as well as being compatible with DNLA and UPnP.  With a possible 12TB of storage possible, the actual product ships empty which does keep the entry price down.  Powered by a PowerPC based AMCC 800MHz 431EXr and with the proprietary OS installed on 128MB of flash memory it can accept up to four HDDs formatted as FAT32, EXT2, EXT3 or NTFS, in a variety of RAID flavours.  Check out X-bit Labs for the full breakdown of this devices capabilities.

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"If you have a lot of digital media, such as music, videos and photos, then Patriot claims they have a perfect solution for you. With room to accommodate four 3.5-inch hard drives and additional external expansion via USB 2.0 and eSATA ports, the Javelin S4 can pack up to 12TB of storage capacity into a small form factor chassis. Integrated DLNA-compatible streaming, Apple iTunes server, Squeezebox Server and UPnP capabilities allow seamless connection to PC, Mac and home electronics devices."

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Source: X-Bit Labs