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Author Topic: My portable HTPC project  (Read 3145 times)
superboyac
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« on: September 12, 2010, 05:27:51 PM »

I am about to begin my portable HTPC project.  I want a small, portable box that I can easily carry with me in one hand and that will have a big library of media on it already and can connect to any tv or monitor.  The OS will be Windows 7.  The main interface for the media player will be J. River.  For those wondering why J. River?  I need a software to streamline the navigation of all my media.  The regular Windows interface is built for mouse/keyboard use on a monitor right in front of you.  For an HTPC, you need something with bigger fonts and cleaner interfaces, and not mouse or keyboard oriented.  If you think about regular dvd players, you see how you navigate mostly with up/down/left/right and an centered Enter button.  I need the same for an HTPC, along with support for a mouse if necessary.  What I'm going to do for that is get a Wii remote and use it on the PC.  You can wave it around like an air mouse, and it also has a cursor pad and buttons.  Perfect.

I need the htpc form factor as small as possible, but with hardware that can handle full HD.  I'll likely build it myself, but if there's a good one already available, I'm willing to get that also.  Any suggestions are welcome.

Any of you ever wondered why HTPC's have never taken off?  It's not because it's too hard or too geeky.  It's simply because the companies don't want it to be successful.  If HTPC's were common and easy, it would make pirating even more appealing.  Same reason why even after 15 years, dvd players still won't play a disc with regular avi files on it.  It's easy to do, they just don't want to do it.  And we can find the weird boxes that do this, but it's a niche right now.  People don't even know about it right now because it's not marketed.  if people knew you could just watch anything on your tv from the computer, the dvd market would die, and we'd start seeing a lot of really nice HTPC's all over the place.  How could you not want that?  It's basically a box that will play anything you throw at it right on your TV.
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EĆ³in
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« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2010, 05:47:51 PM »

If you want portable hardware that can play full HD you should go for something with an Nvidia Ion chipset. To be honest though I can't see it being possible to put together something so small, yet powerful, yourself.

If you were to settle for half HD you could maybe build something custom around a BeagleBoard, would still be very difficult I'd imagine.

Personally, I'd go go something like the media center PC I have plugged into my HD TV, it's a ViewSonic VOT 132. Very powerful, runs Win7 and full HD movies (with CoreCodec) perfectly. Also it's actually very small, can easily be carried in one hand. Plus I'm sure there are better equivalents out there by now.
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« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2010, 05:49:22 PM »

wouldn't the simple answer be to get a laptop with a large hard drive and hdmi out?
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app103
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« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2010, 08:51:03 PM »

I have a similar project I am working on, but with the intention of it being a HTPC, a spare PC for my daughter to use, and an emergency PC for my own use (in case something happens to my main machine).

What I am using is probably larger than what you want. It's an HP Compaq dc7100 Small Form Factor PC (about the size of an old school VCR). It's a very common model intended for use as a business work station. The higher end version (the one I have) has an 80G hard drive, a 3.2gHz P4 Prescott CPU, 1G RAM, and WinXP (Vista drivers are available, and I assume they will work with Win7). You can pick these up pretty cheap all over the place. I think my dad only paid about $150 for mine, at geeks.com (around xmas last year).

I am not the only one that saw this little PC and thought HTPC. This guy did too, and he has some photos that may give you an idea of the size and layout of the box.

You could probably use a cheap IBM ThinkCenter, too. They are about the same size.

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superboyac
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« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2010, 09:51:39 PM »

wouldn't the simple answer be to get a laptop with a large hard drive and hdmi out?
yes, it is the simple answer.  But i'd like it to be a box I can open up and mess with.  I might want to put more connectors and stuff.  basically, I want a regular pc tower, just in the smallest form factor possible.
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4wd
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« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2010, 12:19:18 AM »

yes, it is the simple answer.  But i'd like it to be a box I can open up and mess with.  I might want to put more connectors and stuff.  basically, I want a regular pc tower, just in the smallest form factor possible.

How about:





AMD Athlon II 235e (45W)
Silverstone SUGO SG05 case
Coolermaster Gemini II heatsink - Legacy product, may be hard too find.
ZOTAC GF8200-C-E

Carry it around in one of these: Silverstone SUGO Pack.

This is my headless Usenet/BitTorrent downloader and PVR.  The front 120mm fan isn't used, the only fan running is the PSU 80mm but the loudest thing is the resonant hum from the HDD and only because I don't have any padding between the PC and "sounding board", (aka, my desk).  System temp is around the 27C mark almost all the time.  The only time a keyboard/mouse or monitor is plugged into it is for BIOS updates, system install or anything I can't do over RDP.

Storage is: WD 3.5" 750GB Caviar Green for downloads and a WD 2.5" 160GB Scorpio for TV captures, ODD is an Optiarc AD-7590S.
The WiFi module isn't installed because it's connected to Gb LAN.
I've only used that particular ZOTAC board because I had a spare AMD AM2+ processor and RAM otherwise I would have chosen the ZOTAC GF9300-K-E or ZOTAC H55ITX-A-E for the PCIe x16 slot and then used it as a LAN gamer also.

If that case is too small, then I'd recommend the Silverstone SUGO SG04-FH, then you can also choose from Micro-ATX motherboards.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2010, 12:29:18 AM by 4wd » Logged

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app103
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« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2010, 07:07:25 PM »

This might be the perfect barebones system for what you want to do.

http://usa.aopen.com/prod...p;Auno=3047&mdstl=354

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superboyac
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« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2010, 07:59:04 PM »

This might be the perfect barebones system for what you want to do.

http://usa.aopen.com/prod...p;Auno=3047&mdstl=354
 (see attachment in previous post)
Wow, that's really great.  Thanks!  I love it.  It has everything.  It's bare bones, it can run Windows, it has plenty of connectors in the back.  very nice.
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app103
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« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2010, 08:37:23 PM »

This might be the perfect barebones system for what you want to do.

http://usa.aopen.com/prod...p;Auno=3047&mdstl=354
 (see attachment in previous post)
Wow, that's really great.  Thanks!  I love it.  It has everything.  It's bare bones, it can run Windows, it has plenty of connectors in the back.  very nice.

I went looking for something about the size of an Artigo but more capable. (yes I know the MP57 is bigger, but not that much bigger that it wouldn't qualify for what you want)

The MP57 seems to have a lot more kick than some of the other things I saw, considering you can put your choice of an i3, i5, or i7 in it and up to 8GB of RAM. (makes that dc7100 of mine look kind of sad)
« Last Edit: September 13, 2010, 08:40:38 PM by app103 » Logged

Deozaan
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« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2010, 05:51:22 PM »

This might be the perfect barebones system for what you want to do.

http://usa.aopen.com/prod...p;Auno=3047&mdstl=354
 (see attachment in previous post)
Wow, that's really great.  Thanks!  I love it.  It has everything.  It's bare bones, it can run Windows, it has plenty of connectors in the back.  very nice.

Yeah but it looks like you can only buy it at a brick & mortar store in California. huh
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wraith808
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« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2010, 07:55:31 PM »

Yeah but it looks like you can only buy it at a brick & mortar store in California. huh

http://www.thebookpc.com/..._info.php/products_id/482

http://lib.store.yahoo.net/lib/myaopen/MP57.html
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