Friday, February 10, 2012

Better than a cable box

I mentioned in my last post that I had purchased a HTPC as part of my home theater set up. The device in question is the Acer Revo RL100-U1002.

here is what I'm working with

Processor: AMD Athlon II Neo K325 1.3GHz

Processor: Main Features64 bit Dual Core Processor

Memory4GB DDR3

Hard Drive750GB 5400RPM SATA

Optical Drive: 18X DVD-SuperMulti Double-Layer Drive

Graphics: Integrated NVIDIA ION graphics

AudioSound card: Integrated

Ethernet: Gigabit Ethernet

Wireless Card802.11b/g/n Wireless LAN

KeyboardAcer Wireless Touchpad with Keyboard Function

Operating SystemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bitMotherboard

The thing to keep in mind with this device is that it is not a powerhouse, I'll not be playing games on it, I intend to use it to watch movies, maybe some light web browsing, and maybe a skype box. I set it up and used it stock out of the box last night and it works fairly well for what it is, it seems to bog down if a website has too much information to load, and I think it could have done better when streaming from my server (however part of that could have to do with server issues). YouTube and hulu worked just fine though, and once I got the display set so I could read things on the screen it looked pretty good on my 32 inch TV.  It comes with a little wireless touchpad /keyboard device which is kind of neat and works so long as you are fairly close and there is nothing to interfere with it, and after a bit of a learning curve I kind of like, though I can’t see myself using too much. Over all though I’m fairly optimistic about the little device considering the price point (less than $400)

Now to the annoying; First of all holy bloat ware batman! I mean a Norton trial, a McAfee trial, Skype, and messenger, and Acer ads, and a kitchen sink. The device is full of stuff I’m likely never going to use and could frankly do without. Secondly the dual system seems to bog down when you ask it to do what would not be considered all that much for my little netbook (which for the record has less impressive hardware). And thirdly the range on the little tablet keyboard touch pad thing is not that great, I imagine it will be a bit better when the machine is not hidden behind my TV as it currently is, though not much.

Truth to tell I had never planned to run this machine as it came out of the box, the plan is to select one of the many Linux based media center operating systems out there and integrate it more completely into my home network. I’ve narrowed things down to two choices XBMC and mythbuntu. XBMC is one I’ve heard about from several people and is supposed to be fairly easy to set up and use. Mythbuntu is based on the popular and stable Ubuntu distribution, with a lot of the desktop features stripped out it is supposed to run well on less powerful hardware and still possess a rich feature set for HTPC’s. The plan for the next few days is to download and create a couple live CD’s to try and get a feeling for these and any other OS I can come across that might work for my purposes, as well as testing to make sure they will work with all the components (wireless, the touchpad, ect).

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