I have just got the MC001 working. I'm used to Linux, but I'm a bit perplexed by this little thingy. Yes, it installed (eventually ... it didn't like the first USB stick I was using), and yes, it looks quite nifty indeed, but ... no, I cannot get it to do a thing. Not anything (see below). Installing Windows 7 and Ubuntu Precise Pangolin was flawless. Ubuntu took less than one hour, including all updates. Windows was without issues, although it took much longer to get everything going, including updates and security software (no applications were installed).
Before setting it up for use as a HTPC, I did some testing by adding XBMC from the software centre in Ubuntu Precise Pangolin 12.04 L.T.S. (Long Term Support, in case anyone isn't familiar with it, supported until April 2017). I got everything I wanted. Dozens of shows, though in SD only, and pretty small native size at that. Even HGTV and DIY Network have a lot of shows available. Plenty of music stations. Everything worked out of the box. This Arctic Media Centre? Nothing. Absolutely no content seems to be available. I can't get any add-ons. Some forum posts over at the OpenELEC forum mention the context menu, but I can't even find that.
Having installed Ubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu, various versions of Puppy Linux, Mint, SliTaz, Knoppix ... on a dozen different machines, including some quite obscure ones, I have always been able to make progress with very little fuss, with very few exceptions (maybe one ancient DELL laptop from 1999). Recent laptops from 2005 onward have installed anything I wanted with 95% functionality right off the bat. This little thing with it's own version of OpenELEC
, no less, won't do anything for me. Well ... I've only tried streaming, since that's all that I want for now, but it doesn't work.
Otherwise, so far, it's quite a good little unit.Pros:
- Price ($100 for the barebones unit, that has no DVD drive, hard drive or RAM).
- Dedicated ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5430, 512MB GDDR3 graphics.
- Fanless operation means complete silence.
- Sufficient to be used as a compact desktop for normal office applications, Internet browsing, e-mail ...
- No need for a hard drive at all to run OpenELEC, if you don't want one.
- Quite an attractive design, in my opinion: with an aluminum side for cooling, next to the large heat sink; and a shiny plastic finish on the opposite side.
- Small footprint if used upright as intended (for cooling to work properly).
- TV Antenna and tuner seems to be included on most models. No idea how well the antenna works, though.
- Remote control IR sensor on the front panel (compatible with Harmony remotes).
- USB 3.0 x2 on the front panel.
- USB 2.0 x4 on the rear panel.
- SD Card reader on the front panel.
- Bootable from USB 2.0 or SD Card media.
- Optical audio output on the rear panel.
- Six analogue audio outputs on the rear panel (audio and mic jacks on the front panel).
- VGA and HDMI video outputs.
- Boots from a fresh installation of Windows 7 in less than thirty seconds with a Solid State Drive.
- Boots from a fresh installation of Ubuntu (full version) in less than thirty seconds with a Solid State Drive.
- Ubuntu and OpenELEC shut down in three seconds flat.
- Dedicated version of OpenELEC for Arctic means no need to add special video drivers (I added these successfully in Ubuntu, but it took a while to figure out how it had to be done properly).
- Atom D525 CPU is probably the weakest factor, if being used as a regular PC. May also limit options for use as a HTPC if not using lightweight Linux solutions such as OpenELEC.
- huluPLUS doesn't seem to run very well in XBMC desktop environment (added to Ubuntu). Better in Windows that Linux for the moment, but not nearly as smooth as a simple Samsung DVD player with wifi connectivity.
- Setting up wireless is far more complicated than any other Linux distro I've tried, except once, over five years ago, when it frequently had to be done with a command line interface, using mumbo jumbo (for mere mortals, that is)!
- Have not been able to get OpenELEC to actually stream something yet!
- Not intended to be used lying flat, which may limit placement options.
- Passive cooling would mean that it should probably not be hidden in cabinets (restricting air flow and heat dissipation).
- Not many sources of help if you get stuck, unlike Windows, or very popular Linux distros such as Ubuntu or Mint (very active user forums for all of those).
- If you keep pulling your hair out, it might have long term consequences for your coiffure... eventually!
Originally Posted by mfrey0118
... The dual core Atom and 2GB of RAM that comes with the XBMC/DVD unit seems to be more than enough to handle a lightweight platform like OpenElec. These people complaining about the specs must be too accustomed to the resource-hogging of Windows.
Yes, this is most likely true. I have found that any full blown Linux distro will rarely even use swap memory if there is 2GB of RAM available. Most of them hover between 300MB and 900MB during normal usage, running four desktops, a half dozen open browsers, and a couple of Office applications at the same time. Anything above 4GB of RAM is probably a complete waste of time and money for OpenELEC or any lightweight distro. In fact, even for a full installation of Ubuntu, I wouldn't dream of using more than that. It's just not needed for normal desktop usage. Maybe gaming would change this outlook, but that's not my field of personal experience.Windows Experience Index:
- Processor: 3.5
- Memory: 4.8
- Graphics: 4.9
- Gaming Graphics: 6.0
- Primary Hard Disk: 7.6
That was with a Solid State Drive, of course, so the last score is not really relevant, I suppose. Still, the CPU seems fine to me, from a few days of testing. There is no lag at all when using standard Ubuntu desktop applications, and web browsers open within two seconds from a cold start. The graphics scores are almost double the scores from a laptop with an Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500M, if that is any guide.