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Can a $35 PC really run a full blown HD Media Center?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Can a $35 PC really run a full blown HD Media Center?
Author - Mark Anderson, HomeToys

A UK-based project to produce a computer that any student can afford has got the Home Theater PC (HTPC) crowd brimming with excitement. I placed a credit card order with RS Components (across the pond) in May. A few weeks ago, my Raspberry PI had arrived. Did it live up to my expectations?


Where can I get a $35 PC?

From Raspberry PI. The goal of Raspberrypi.org is a noble one: make computing affordable for every student. As long as the student has access to a monitor or TV, a keyboard, mouse and some inexpensive storage, they are able to have a computer capable of running (primarily) Linux and a software development environment.

What is it?

Essentially, it’s fully-fledged computer on a very small PCB (slightly bigger than a credit card). The PCB measures 85.60mm x 53.98mm x 17mm, with a little overlap for connectors. Fractionally too big for an Altoids tin (all it needed was rounded corners): a big marketing error!

Read the complete article in the current issue of HomeToys Home Tech eMagazine
post #2 of 10
I have a Rikomagic MK802 coming for $79 shipped. It has a case and is a computer on a stick.

Allied Electronics in the US is at least 12 weeks away from what I gather on their website on filling orders of the Pi.
post #3 of 10
I think $35.00 isn't what it used to be. Try $179.00 (barebones), or more. You have to get what you really want. If you don't, you will have thrown away the money.
post #4 of 10
This seems like a cool little project. I think I'll give it a go. Thanks for the info.
post #5 of 10
Definitely an interesting idea. Ultra low power HTPC's that not only are cheap, but small. Hopefully as technology progresses this becomes a much more viable option. Not that it already couldn't be.
post #6 of 10
In my opinion, it can only be considered a 'full blown HD media center' if it can in fact play all HD video formats AND HD audio formats. It isn't HD (to me) if you only get HD video. There has to be HD audio in the mix, otherwise you're missing half of the equation
post #7 of 10
Could be a nice little media streamer for cheap if you just want flac playback. Although you can get full CPU CPU boards for not much more. Albeit you need a power source for them. Add a touchscreen USB monitor and you could have a pretty decent little rig
post #8 of 10
I bought a raspberry pi from newark . com and have XBMC running on it. I have streamed multiple SD dvd rips and they play perfectly. I don't have a blu-ray drive in my computer so I have not been able to test streaming HD content at this point.

One caveat is the pi cannot play MPEG-2 files so DVD's need to be re-encoded in H.264 for playback.
post #9 of 10
post #10 of 10
I have the Rikomagik. So far so good. Running Lubuntu on it and it's pretty snappy. Waiting for the graphics drivers to get native. I wonder if there is any TV Tuner support out there. Still won't replace my MS Media Center PC.

Also played around with the Brazos based NANO PC from Foxconn. Really nice system (but it isn't $35 biggrin.gif )
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