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.


"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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AMD Countering Ultrabooks With Ultrathin Notebooks

Subject: Systems, Mobile | January 12, 2012 - 06:21 PM |
Tagged: CES, ultrathin, trinity, piledriver, PC, notebook, low power, amd, 17 watt

Intel is the driving force behind the Ultrabook platform, a category of thin and light notebooks that are ideally less than $1,000 USD and deliver solid mobile performance and battery life. AMD is still playing catch up in CPU performance; however, they have been moderately successful with their Llano APU parts due to the better integrated GPU versus Intel's graphics processor. With Trinity, the successor to Llano, AMD is claiming up to 25% faster CPU performance and a 50% increase in graphics processor performance, and all while sipping half the power of current Llano chips.


The 17 watt TDP Trinity die.

It seems that AMD has seen the Ultrabook boom that Intel is experiencing and wants a piece of the action. Thanks to the Trinity performance improvements and power sipping TDPs, AMD is confident that it can design and market thin and light notebooks of their own. They plan to market their notebooks as "Ultrathins." Exact hardware specifications of the Ultrathins are not known. We do know that they will be powered by dual and quad core 17 watt TDP versions of the AMD Trinity APU, which you can read more about here. The company is planning for its Ultrathins to start at $500 USD, a few hundred less than the lowest cost Ultrabooks from Intel. Beyond that, we can only speculate. Fortunately, we may not have to wait long for more information as AMD plans to reveal more information about their Ultrathin strategy next month at their financial analyst meeting, according to Ars.


A Trinity powered laptop at CES

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Ars Technica

Fancy a tiny Cortex A9 and Tegra 2 system? CompuLabs Trim-Slice isn't a bad choice.

Subject: Systems | January 9, 2012 - 04:03 PM |
Tagged: arm, cortex-a9, Tegra 2, compulab, thin-slice, nettop

If you need only moderate processing power and need a small footprint then CompuLab might just have the system for you.  Their Trim-Slice nettop is powered by NVIDIA's Tegra 2 a 1GHZ dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 and 1GB of DDR2 RAM, with a SATA HDD.  It has four USB 2.0 ports, WiFi and a wired NIC, two HDMI ports and a S/PDIF in port, which ought to handle what you need from this system.  It comes with Ubuntu 11.04 for ARMv7, which Phoronix points out is obsolete and recommends updating to a newer version.   The system is comparable to Atom based machines in performance and in price, a basic 1GB system is $213USD while the model Phoronix reviewed would cost you about $100 more.  Read on to see how it did in the benchmarks.


"The Trim-Slice from CompuLab is a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 nettop based on the NVIDIA Tegra 2 platform. In this article are our first Ubuntu benchmarks of this low power, fan-less desktop with comparative figures to Intel's older platforms and the OMAP4660-based dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 PandaBoard ES."

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Source: Phoronix

ZOTAC announces a Trio of New ZBOX mini-PCs

Subject: Systems, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2012 - 12:29 PM |
Tagged: zotac, z-box, zbox id80, zbox id81, zbox ad04


 ZOTAC is pleased to kick off CES with a trio of new ZBOX mini-PCs powered by Intel Celeron 857, Intel Atom D2700 and AMD E-450 processors and APUs in the ZBOX ID81, ID80 and AD04 series.

ZOTAC ZBOX ID81 series


  • Intel Celeron Processor 857 (1.2 GHz, dual-core) (SandyBridge)
  • Intel HD Graphics HDMI & DVI outputs
  • 2 x DDR3-1333 SO-DIMM slots (up to 16GB)
  • Support 1 x 2.5-inch SATA HDD/SSD (SATA 6.0 Gb/s)

ZBOX ID81 Plus

  • 2GB DDR3 320GB
  • 5400RPM HDD

ZOTAC ZBOX ID80 series


  • Intel Atom D2700 (2.13 GHz, dual-core) (CedarTrail)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT 520M HDMI & DVI outputs
  • 2 x DDR3-1066 SO-DIMM slots (up to 4GB)
  • Support 1 x 2.5-inch SATA HDD/SSD (SATA 3.0 Gb/s)

ZBOX ID80 Plus

  • 2GB DDR3 320GB
  • 5400RPM HDD

ZOTAC ZBOX AD04 series

ZBOX AD04_11.jpg

  • AMD E-450 APU platform (1.65 GHz, dual-core)
  • AMD Radeon HD 6320 GPU w/ TurboCore technology
  • HDMI & DisplayPort outputs
  • 2 x DDR3-1333 SO-DIMM slots (up to 8GB)
  • Support 1 x 2.5-inch SATA HDD/SSD (SATA 6.0 Gb/s)

ZBOX AD04 Plus

  • 2GB DDR3 320GB
  • 5400RPM HDD
  • 2 x SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports
  • 4 x High-Speed USB 2.0 ports (2 on back panel, 1 on front, 1 on top)
  • Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n WiFi & Bluetooth 3.0 technologies
  • Bundled MCE-compatible remote w/ USB IR receiver
  • Bundled VESA75/100 mount


PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Zotac

New Lenovo IdeaPad and IdeaCentre Products Hit CES

Subject: Systems, Mobile | January 8, 2012 - 08:59 PM |
Tagged: Lenovo, Ideapad, ideacentre, CES

As reported earlier, Lenovo has announced a number of new ThinkPad products for the upcoming year. But that is only a drop in the bucket compared to the tsunami of IdeaPad and IdeaCenter consumer PCs on the way from the company.

U310_metallic blue_hero_03.jpg

Let’s start with the most premium, the Lenovo U series. It will be updated by the U310 and U410 models with Intel Core processors and optional SSD storage. The larger U410 will include GeForce 610M discrete graphics, as well. The smaller U310 weighs just 3.74 pounds and measures .7 inches thick, while the U410 is a slightly chunkier 4.18 pounds and .83 inches thick. Price start at a surprisingly low $699.


On the opposite side of pricing we have the new S200 and S206, two netbooks – er, I mean, “mini-laptops.”  They feature the now popular 11.6” display size, are only .81 inches thick and weight 2.8 pounds. You’ll have your pick of Intel Atom or AMD Fusion processors, as well as your pick of color options like Cotton-Candy Pink, Crimson Red, and Electric Blue. You’ll have to shell out only $349 to grab a basic model.

Also updated is the vastness of Lenovo’s mainstream laptop offerings. The Z580/480/380 has been re-designed to accommodate newer hardware, such as optional GT640M graphics. The Y480/Y580 also have been updated to include support for new optional GTX 660M graphics and luxury features like a backlit keyboard (on the Y580). Last – and most certainly least – Lenovo is expanding the G series to include the G480/580/780. These are “essential” laptops, which means “budget” in Lenovo’s vocabulary.  The Z series starts at $599, the Y series at $899, and the G series at $399.


If you’re interested in All-in-One computers, Lenovo has plenty that may be of interest you this CES. The company has unveiled updates to its high-performance AIOs in the form of the B540 and B340, which have 23” and 21.5” touchscreens respectively. Both of these have built-in TV tuners and now, unlike with previous models, it’s possible to watch TV through these systems without turning on the PC itself. Both have Intel processors, full HD displays, and the B540 will feature optional GT 650M graphics. These high-end AIOs start at $699.

Lower on the totem pole we have the traditional desktop PCs. Lenovo is offering two new options in this aging market. One is the performance-oriented K430 (starting at $599), which includes Intel processors and can be upgraded with Nvidia SLI or ATI CrossFireX dual-graphics solutions for hardcore gamers. The other is the Lenovo H520s, a simple slim system designed for the average home user that is remarkable only because of its low price of $499.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Lenovo

Vizio Entering Computer Market with Desktop and Laptop PCs

Subject: Systems | January 7, 2012 - 03:46 PM |
Tagged: vizio, CES, computers, laptops, ultra-thin, desktop, all-in-one

Vizio is commonly known for its line of televisions aimed at the value and price/performance markets; however, the company is moving into the computer market with a series of budget all-in-one desktop and laptop computers. Business Insider reports that the aluminum housed PCs include two all-in-one desktops and three laptop computers and will be shown off at CES 2012.


The desktops come in a 24" and 27" model, and include a screen, base, aluminum keyboard, trackpad, and subwoofer (left and right speakers likely integrated in monitor part).


The laptops come in two 15" models and one 14" computer. The 14" and one of the 15" laptops are described at being "ultra-thin." From one of the photos, at least one of the laptops will support USB 3.0.

Unfortunately, there is little word on specifications but they will likely be on hand at CES so stay tuned to PC Perspective for more details. Vizio states that the computers will be able to stream data back and forth between the computer and Vizio Smart TVs, and will be available for purchase around June. More photos of the devices can be found here.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

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.


"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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Via X86 Hardware Will Have Support for Android OS

Subject: Systems | December 15, 2011 - 04:44 PM |
Tagged: x86, VIA, Nano, embedded, Android

Today low power X86 platform manufacturer Via Technologies announced Android operating system support with their embedded x86 motherboards and processors. Currently, the company is supporting Android on their EITX-3002 platform, with more options likely to come in the future. Via believes that running Android on X86 embedded systems presents the opportunity for low cost entertainment systems capable of playing back 1080p video in vehicles, planes, and kiosks.


Including the usually Android SDKs, Via has released a new SMART ETK (Embedded Tool Kit) that allows monitoring and control of peripherals. Applications of this include controlling lights or environmental systems in your home via a touchscreen enabled embedded home control center. In the video below, Via shows off Android running on their EITX-3002 platform and using a touchscreen panel connected to it to control an external light and fan.

The EITX-3002 is a motherboard based on the Em-ITX form factor. The boards is then paired with either a 1.2 GHz VIA Nano X2 E-Series or a 1.0 GHz Eden X2 dual core processor. In addition, a VIA VX900 MSP is located on the underside of the motherboard. This co-processor assists with the decoding HD video thanks to hardware acceleration. The VX900 MSP supports decoding MPEG-2, H.264, VC-1, and WMV9 codecs. The embedded platform itself is able to output to two independent displays and resolutions of 1920 x 1080. Fan-less enclosures can be used with this low power setup, and rear I/O includes HDMI, VGA, two Gigabit Ethernet, two COM ports, four USB 2.0, four USB 3.0, and audio jacks. Via will support the Windows 7, XP, Embedded Standard 2009, WES7, Debian Linux, and Android 2.2 operating systems.

There are already projects like AndroidX86 that allow users to use the Android OS on traditional PCs but not officially. This Via platform would be good for embedded systems and pairing it with Android is a good move. Especially now that many people are familiar with or have at least seen how the Android OS works, having a similar setup in vehicle and in-flight entertainment systems will make the UI all the more intuitive. Not to mention that the Android OS uses less resources than a traditional Windows installation which means power savings for end users. Whether Android will catch on or not for entertainment kiosks and car computers remains to be seen but it’s an interesting option for sure.

Source: Via

VIA Announces Android Support for Embedded x86 Boards

Subject: Systems | December 15, 2011 - 03:16 PM |
Tagged: VIA, EITX, VIA EITX-3002

Taipei, Taiwan, December 15, 2011 - VIA Technologies, Inc, a leading innovator of power efficient x86 processor platforms, today announced Android support for VIA x86 embedded platforms, starting with support for the VIA EITX-3002 Em-ITX board. Running Android on an x86 platform offers increased flexibility, great multimedia support and cost saving advantages for embedded applications such as in-vehicle entertainment and interactive kiosks.

Key advantages for Android on x86 include leverage of Android development resources and existing apps, rich I/O flexibility, greater CPU performance as well as higher display resolutions of up to 1920x1080. In addition VIA has released SMART ETK, an Embedded Tool Kit which allows monitoring and control of peripheral devices through the Android OS, allowing for greater environmental control of kiosk and other installed environments.


"VIA has a long history of offering a wide range of options and customized solutions for our embedded customers," said Epan Wu, Head of the VIA Embedded Platform Division, VIA Technologies, Inc. "The addition of Android OS support to our embedded x86 boards adds increased flexibility and further broadens our ability to meet their needs."

The VIA EITX-3002 is based on the unique Em-ITX form factor, and is powered by a choice of a 1.2GHz VIA Nano X2 E-Series or 1.0GHz VIA Eden X2 dual core processor in combination withthe VIA VX900 MSP. Placed on the reverse side of the board, the available real estate is optimized, facilitating simple fanless chassis designs.The VIA EITX-3002 takes advantage of the VIA VX900H media system processor, a feature packed all-in-one digital media chipset that brings excellent hardware acceleration for the latest HD video formats including MPEG-2, H.264, VC-1 and WMV9. The VIA EITX-3002 can support dual independent display for superior digital signage displays.


Designed for stability at extreme temperatures, fanless devices based on the VIA EITX-3002 can enjoy absolute stability at temperatures ranging from -10oC to 65oC. Dual I/O coastlines include an HDMI port, VGA port, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, dual COM ports, four USB ports, two USB 3.0 ports (optional), audio jacks and power and HDD activity LEDs.The VIA EITX-3002 supports Windows 7, XP, Windows Embedded Standard 2009 and WES7 as well as Debian Linux and Android 2.2 operating systems.

To watch a video demonstration of Android running on a VIA EITX-3002 x86 board please visit: http://youtu.be/lHEsfB-vtbM

For more information about the VIA EITX-3002 Em-ITX board please visit: http://www.via.com.tw/en/products/embedded/ProductDetail.jsp?productLine=1&id=1570&tabs=1

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.


"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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