Zotac has zee box for SFF fans

Subject: Systems | August 11, 2011 - 11:47 AM |
Tagged: htpc, zotac, zbox, SFF

For those looking for a new nettop, the ZBOX HD-AD02 Plus is a new choice on the market. At a mere 7.4" x 7.4" x 1.7", it is easily hidden in any surroundings and with a list of connections including analog and optical audio out, HDMI, DVI, two USB 2.0 ports, ethernet, and most importantly two USB 3.0 and a single eSATA port.  With a 250GB HDD installed, that means you can have access to high speed external storage.  The system uses an AMD E-350 which means that not only will you be able to play HD video without worry you will be able to get some light gaming in as well.  Head on over to ThinkComputers to see the new ZBOX in action.

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"All-in-One PC’s have been getting quite popular over the past few years. When Intel released the Atom processor we really saw All-in-One PC’s become affordable. One of the most popular All-in-One series of PC’s is Zotac’s ZBOX. These really appealed to the SFF (Small Form Factor) and HTPC (Home Theater PC) crowd. Now Zotac is bringing AMD’s Fusion E-350 APU in to the ZBOX’s series. Today we will be taking a look at the ZBOX HD-AD02 Plus that packs the E-350 1.6GHz APU as well as integrated Radeon HD 6310 graphics, 2GB of DDR3, 250GB hard drive and WiFi. Let's take a look and see if it is the perfect SFF system for you!"

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ASRock's small unassuming HTPC hides real power

Subject: Systems | August 2, 2011 - 03:23 PM |
Tagged: asrock, CoreHT-252B, htpc

Inside the 195mm (7.6") x 70mm (2.8") x 186mm (7.2")  ASRock CoreHT-252B HTPC you will find a Core i5 2520m, 8GB DDR3-1333, a Lite-ON Blu-ray combodrive and a 500GB Western Digital Scorpio Black HDD.  Pretty much all that you would need to run a proper HTPC and in a form that will look fine sitting under a TV.  For input and output you have S/PDIF, mic-in, headphone-out, HDMI 4.1a and VGA as well as 2 USB 3.0, 4 USB 2.0 and an eSATA3 port for data transfer if you don't want to use the wired or wireless NICs.  They sell it without an OS, which can be welcome for those wanting to build a MythTV or other non-Windows MCE HTPC and Overclockers Club were also glad of the upgrade options that this HTPC offers.  Head to their full review here.
 

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"If, on the other hand, you want an HTPC that can also act as a desktop replacement, look no further. There's adequate power for rendering of all sorts and the included RAM ought to cover most non-professional needs, but, if more is required, the board does support 8GB. Storage can be upgraded to include another 2.5" storage drive, and the included WD Scorpio Black could easily be replaced with an SSD. If more power is needed, the board will support the Core i7 2720m for more processing power (two more cores and threads!). A Blu-ray drive and wireless 802.11n wireless are included as standard."

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Western Digital offers a great way to store and stream your media

Subject: Systems | July 25, 2011 - 02:28 PM |
Tagged: htpc, western digital

The Western Digital TV Live Hub is a 1TB external HDD with some extra tricks up its plastic sleeve.  It's outputs include ethernet, USB 2.0, HDMI, Composite A/V, Component video and optical out, with support for an even wider variety of audio and video codecs but not for some premium services like iTunes and Amazon.  Think Computers loved the onscreen interface controlled by the remote as well as the fact that it comes with a 1TB HDD so that you don't have to spend more money to get the full functionality of the media device, they would have loved to see some video cables included as well.

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“For most people their TV is the center of entertainment in the living room. You watch cable television on it, you play your video game consoles on it and you watch DVD and Blu-ray movies on it. We all know there are devices for that, but what about all of the media you have on your PC? All the videos you have taken, shows you have downloaded and even the photos you have. No one wants to sit around a small computer screen and watch these. This is where the Western Digital TV Live Hub comes in. It is a HD media player that supports pretty much any file type and has a 1TB hard drive for all of your media. Let’s take a look an see what Western Digital has brought to the table in the HD media player market!"

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Can you go with wireless HDMI over USB 2.0 with VStream?

Subject: Systems | July 13, 2011 - 12:55 PM |
Tagged: wireless, htpc, hdmi

At its heart the VStream WPCTV1080H is comprised of an L-shaped USB 2.0 dongle for your PC and a second dongle which plugs into the base station which also has a  power cord and HDMI plug.  This setup, along with a 2.4GHz dual core processor, is intended to transmit up to a 1080p signal wirelessly from the computer with the dongle to the base station and on to your TV.  The Tech Report gave the $120 VStream a try and found that the bandwidth available over USB 2.0 caused some problems, ranging from dropped frames and colour banding when watching movies to nasty aliasing on 2D application, especially when they tried using it to connect to a 24 " monitor and used it to browse the web.  Lets hope there is a USB 3.0 version in the works, or even a wireless DisplayPort model.

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"This $120 adapter promises to output 1080p video wirelessly via nothing more than a USB dongle. Does it fulfill its promise, and is it worth the money?"

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Step into the HTPC arena to witness the battle for iGPU dominance

Subject: Systems | July 5, 2011 - 05:33 PM |
Tagged: htpc, llano, sandybridge; a3850; i3 2100, amd, Intel, APU

In one corner is the $140 AMD A8-3850 and in the other is the $135 Intel Core i3-2100T, with matching motherboards both about $100.  We have seen how the new Llano chips stack up in computation and gaming but their use in HTPC systems is also important and requires different benchmarks.  Bjorn3D takes a look at the two chips ability to properly render Blu-ray at the proper 23.976 fps naturally as well as taking advantage of Direct X Video Acceleration.  Take a look to see how AMD's new APU can handle a role as an HTPC.

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"In addition to being a capable mainstream APU, the Llano and the new Lynx platform have the potential to be a perfect match for a more capable HTPC system. In this article we are taking a look at the HTPC capabilities of the A3850 and a Gigabyte A75 motherboard, and contrasting it to a comparable Intel system with a Core i3-2100T and an ASRock H67 motherboard."

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Source: Bjorn3D

It's not a fan controller, it's an Antec Veris multimedia controller that sits in your 5.25" bays

Subject: Systems | June 29, 2011 - 03:11 PM |
Tagged: Veris Multimedia Station Premier, htpc, antec

Antec has released a product which can help turn a PC in to an HTPC.  It sits in the same place a fan controller would, taking over two 5.25" bays and looking a bit like a high end car stereo.  The Veris Multimedia Station Premier comes with a remote as well as the main unit which allows you control over the machine while you are sitting on the couch, including being able to turn the machine off.  After eTechnix downloaded the latest version of the software they delved into the many features and settings that are available which they found a little overwhelming initially.  Check out their full review here.

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"Antec Inc was founded 25 years ago. They aimed their high-performance computer components and accessories products at the gaming, PC upgrade and DIY markets. Over the last 25 years Antec has built up a very good reputation and are now best known for their PC cases and power supplies. As they have moved into the HTPC case market it makes sense to expand on that segment to release other products which might give them an advantage in the market over their competitors.

They now produce a range of media component products from hard drive enclosures to multimedia stations. Today we take a look at the Antec Veris Multimedia Station Premier which is designed to be a complete solution for home theatre PC builders or those users looking to enhance the media experience of their PC.

The Antec Veris Multimedia Station Premier fits into two 5.25" drive bays and provides access to your PC using the supplied remote control as well as providing information on its inbuilt LCD display."

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Source: eTechnix

Pick up the Habey EMC-600B HTPC case for under $100

Subject: Systems | June 24, 2011 - 02:08 PM |
Tagged: SFF, mITX, htpc, case

One challenge when building an HTPC is finding an enclosure that won't end up being half of the cost of building the machine.  You could use a cheap SFF case but it will look a little gauche when sitting beside your other home theatre equipment.  Habey now offers a choice with a $70 case and 120W PSU combo that would blend seamlessly into a living room with the new EMC-600B.  There were compromises made in the design to keep the costs low, the most important of which is the lack of anywhere to put an optical drive which is exacerbated by the lack of any extra USB ports on the case.  If that doesn't completely deter you then check out Missing Remote's full review.

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"The Wesena ITX7, HDPlex H10.ODD and Vidabox vCase3 are all great cases with a direct focus on HTPC aesthetics and each has their pros and cons. The one con almost always present when discussing HTPC chassis is PRICE--SFF chassis with home theater A/V focused designs are frequently over the $100 price range, not including the power supply. What Habey is offering in their EMC-600B enclosure is a stylish aluminum SFF chassis for mini-ITX only that occupies a tiny footprint with a nice appearance to fit just as appropriately in your A/V stack as in your bedroom--and it includes a power supply, all for under $70."

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CiragoTV aims for the new platinum standard for HTPCs

Subject: Systems | June 17, 2011 - 05:09 PM |
Tagged: htpc, cirago

The CiragoTV Platinum Network Multimedia device comes in three flavours ranging from a $179 500GB to a $299 2TB version, all of which are identical apart from storage capacity.  It is not really a true HTPC as it does not include a TV Tuner, but it does offer a little more than a plain network multimedia platform since it has a Bittorrent client inside.  Legit Reviews tried it out and found Blu-ray ISO files to play perfectly and the device was capable of passing through DTS and Dolbly 7.1 digital sound to the receiver they used.  As well, as long as you are feeding it signal through a cable box it can record TV, though the ability to download shows makes that feature slightly redundant. 

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"At $279.99, the 2TB CiragoTV CMC3200 has to be close to extraordinary especially when you match it up against the competition that is on the market today. The picture and video quality of the CMC3200 is very good – even excellent. The fact that we can record from a source and use a BitTorrent client makes the unit even more impressive. The sticker price is the biggest issue here..."

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Habley Shows Off Small Atom PC Capable Of Playing Two 1080p HD Streams

Subject: Processors, Systems | June 12, 2011 - 08:57 PM |
Tagged: SFF, Intel, htpc, hd, DIY, atom

Habley has recently shown off a new small, embedded computer dubbed the SOM-6670E6XX. The new computer is the size of a post-it note; however, it sports an Atom E600 processor running at 1.0Gh as well as an integrated GMA600 graphics core. To be more specific, the motherboard in question measures 70mm x 70mm.

The CPU and GPU blend is able to support two displays and pipe two HD video streams to each. Using Media Player Class Home Cinema 1.5, the computer is able to play both a 1080p MPEG4 trailer of the X-Men First Class film and a HD FLV version of SpiderWic simultaneously. While playing both films, the CPU saw around 93% usage and 210 MB of RAM from the Windows Embedded 2009 operating system. Further, while playing an HD FLV film trailer while also watching an HD YouTube clip, the processor was again pegged at 93% usage; however, in this test the RAM usage was much higher, at 422 MB. The test system used, in addition to the SOM-6670, it consisted of a SOMB-073 Carrier board (which provides the various IO including video and audio output, mouse and keyboard input, and SATA ports), 1GB of on-board RAM, and a 5400RPM laptop form factor (2.5”) 120GB hard drive.

Including the two monitors, at 1280x768 (over HDMI) and 1920x1080 (SDVO) respectively, the system drew 18 watts during usage. You can see the test system of the small HD-capable computer in action in the video below. What uses do you have in mind for a micro-sized computer such as this?

Source: MaximumPC

Get your TV on USB

Subject: Systems | June 8, 2011 - 03:33 PM |
Tagged: htpc, elgato eyetv, usb, tv tuner

The Elgato EyeTV Hybrid is a USB 2.0 device that sports an antenna input, (MCX and an F connector), s-video, composite plus stereo audio and even an IR remote control sensor.  You don't need to crack open your case to install it, you can watch TV right away as the drivers are contained within the EyeTV, much like a USB headset.  Missing Remote tried it out and found it worked wonderfully by its self on both PCs and Macs.  They did mention that integration with popular software like SageTV for Mac, Plex and XBMC would make this device even better.

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"When home theater computers first came to market almost 10 years ago, the television tuners that were available were few and far between, all internal, and featured a whopping single tuner. How times have changed. Now, dual tuners are a given and hybrid tuners seek to accomplish the duty of one-size-fits-all for all customers. The Elgato EyeTV Hybrid is one of those that within its tiny dongle of a body contains an NTSC, ATSC and DVB-T tuner for $129, and works with both Windows and Mac computers. With competition so steep in the tuner world however, how does it match up in a real world evaluation?"

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