MSI had HTPC users in mind when it launched its R5670-PD512 videocard earlier today. Sporting a low profile design, the new card also comes equipped with dual fans for an added cooling punch.
According to MSI, the two-fan cooling solution provides 50 percent better airflow than a single fan, but that isn't all the R5670-PD512 has going for it. MSI is also touting the heatsink, which covers both the GPU and memory while still maintaining a low profile form factor.
MSI's variant sticks close to reference specs and comes clocked at 775MHz, while the 512MB of GDDR5 memory runs at 4040MHz on a 128-bit bus. Other features include "Military Class Concept" components, such as all solid capacitors and a solid state choke.
Hey, we get it. We understand that the way you watch movies and TV is different than the way we do, and that this probably differs significantly from the way your neighbors enjoy their living room and/or den. But we also understand that some fairly basic carnal desires rule our decision-making. Humongous HD screens. 3D movies. High-fidelity lossless sound. More HD recording options. Playback anywhere in the house.
At its core, the home-theater dream can be distilled as follows: We want our movies to feel as cinematic as possible. And we want to be able to record and watch as many shows as possible on the biggest-possible TV screen.
When we set about constructing this year’s home theater, we used the phrase “cutting-edge” as our guiding light. A funny thing happened on the way to cutting-edge, however. As we started identifying the components and parts and controllers and cards—many of which are being released just as you read these words—we began to realize that we were on the bleeding-edge. We’ll take that.
We’ve come to realize that there is no single ideal build for a home-theater PC. Some folks want an HD tuner, while others want Blu-ray. Some even expect their HTPC to function as a full-tilt boogie gaming rig. Then there are the users who want nothing more than the ability to browse the web on their glorious 60-inch TV set and dive into the vast sea of streaming content.
For these latter folks, Dell’s Inspiron Zino HD seems like a perfect fit. Like a chubby Mac Mini, the Zino HD is quiet, small, and easy to tuck away in the AV rack. It’s outfitted with a dual-core 1.5GHz Athlon X2 3250e, 2GB of DDR2/667, and AMD’s 780G chipset with integrated Radeon HD 3200 graphics. Instead of relying on a diminutive (and performance-sapping) 2.5-inch drive, the Inspiron Zino HD can fit a full-size 3.5-inch desktop drive. Our review model featured a 250GB drive, but options up to 1TB are offered, and we see no reason why a 2TB drive could not be used.
The unit has Gigabit Ethernet, two eSATA ports, VGA, HDMI, analog audio–out, and mic in on its behind. In front, the Zino has two USB ports, a headphone jack, and a multiformat card reader. Unfortunately, there’s no Wi-Fi as standard but 802.11g can be added for $25, and 802.11n for $45.
"Very sad. As an XBMP user from back in the day, and still using XBMC on the original Xbox, thank you XMBC team," an XBMC user wrote in response to the XBMC team's latest announcement.
What he's referring to is the dissolution of the original Xbox branch from the team's subversion repository. What that means is no more releases or updates to the XBMC platform for the original Xbox, and instead 100 percent of the focus will be on other, more modern platforms.
"The last official release for the XBOX by the XBMC team was Atlantis, over 18 months ago," the XBMC team announced in a blog post. "Since then, one brave soul (Arnova) has been merging code from the main codebase into the XBOX branch in our repository. Because there were many users out there that took advantage of these updates, we had no problem with this.
"But times have changed. The XBOX has hard limits for what it can handle. Some users are satisfied with these limits, and we encourage them to use XBMC there if they are happy. But it is a popular misconception that official XBOX development is still taking place by the team, so we have decided to set it free. We have enough on our plates already, and worrying about a deprecated platform just increases our workload."
On a positive note for XBMC for original Xbox users, Arnova does still plan to continue development on the Xbox, just not at XBMC. You can find his new project homepage at SourceForge.
"We're leaving it in his hands to decide how to handle the project's administration. How he manages the forum, bug tracker, scm, developers, etcs. is up to him. In other worlds, don't complain to us," the XBMC team wrote.
With the announcement of Google TV we are sure, now more than ever that the future of media lies in on demand IP TV. With just about every tech company lining up with boxes and software trying to pipe Internet content into the living room, the future promises some pretty fierce competition.
Regardless of what you think about Apple in general, they are currently in the unusual position of being the weakest player in this emerging new media category. The current $229 Apple TV with 160GB of storage is an abomination of overbearing DRM and extremely limited utility. If the rumors are correct however, an ARM based version for $99 running iPhone OS 4 might be just around the corner.
The story was first picked up by Engadget who claims that the source of the leak was "very close to Apple" and the box would even offer full 1080p streaming. It remains to be seen if consumers will ultimately warm up to the idea of an Internet appliance as a separate box, or if they will favor software solutions build into TV sets such as Google TV. If boxes are the future Apple still has its work cut out for it competing with the likes of Microsoft and Sony who sell millions of dual-purpose game consoles into households every year.
Does a revamped Apple TV stand a chance? Let us know what you think.
Lian Li on Tuesday unveiled its TYR PC-X2000F gaming grade chassis, which the company is also billing as an HTPC enclosure. Given the case's size, Lian Li might be going on a bit of limb with that one, though we'll concede the case certainly allows "high performance components to be encompassed into the home theater environment without compromising looks or appeal."
Lian Li's latest enclosure supports E-ATX, ATX, and mATX motherboards and comes with four tool-less optical drive bays placed on either the left or right side. You'll also find seven tool-less hard drive mounting racks, cable storage behind the motherboard tray, a fan control-switch on the back panel, four USB 3.0 I/O ports, and five 140mm LED fans (three at the front and two in the back).
Should you decide to plop the PC-X2000F into your living room, noise apparently won't be an issue, Lian Li claims. The company says the case was designed with silence in mind, and as such, it comes with "specialized sound insulation material combined with the 2mm thick aluminum alloy side panels [to] keep your system whisper quiet."
The case will be available by the end of the month for around $540.
If you trace the roots of the Asus EeeKeyboard all the way back to CES 2009, and the convoluted trail of announcements and redesigns that followed, you probably suspected this would turn out to be little more than Vaporware. We had our doubts as well, but Asus has proved us wrong by actually launching the long awaiting keyboard PC, and the final product actually appears to be somewhat compelling.
The all-in-one EeeKeyboard PC features an Intel Atom N270 processor, an integrated 480x800 capacitive touchscreen, and built in speakers along with Windows XP on a 16 or 32GB SSD. Best of all users can choose to use either the built in display, connect to an external monitor via (HDMI/VGA), or wirelessly stream to a TV using Ultra-Wideband (UWB) that carries both the audio and video. We haven't had a chance to benchmark one or put it through the paces just yet, but it looks like a pretty interesting new form factor for PC users with very basic needs, or for the burgeoning HTPC market.
The UWB is by far the most interesting feature, but the fact that it is limited to 720p with a 5-meter range definitely restricts some of its usefulness. This is either a limitation of the UWB implementation, or the Intel Integrated graphics. Future implementations will hopefully add in an Nvidia ION, and maybe even boost the 4 hours of battery life a touch, but overall this looks like a pretty decent first attempt.
Click the jump to checkout a video of the EeeKeyboard in action, or to let us know what you think of the new form factor.
Asus wants you to feel good about yourself so they went and released the Bravo220 "home entertainment PC card." So what's there to feel good about? For one, the card's 21 percent more power efficient than competing models, so you can look Mother Nature in th eye without that twinge of guilt. And secondly, by investing in the Bravo220 you're making a statement to yourself that you're not going to spend every waking moment playing videogames - that isn't what this card was built for.
As you probably surmised, the Bravo220 is built around Nvidia's GT220 architecture. The GPU comes clocked at 525MHz and there's a 1GB frame buffer chugging along at 400MHz (800MHz effective) on a 128-bit bus. It's HDCP compliant, supports resolutions up to 2560x1600, and has DVI-I, D-Sub, and HDMI ports. So before you ask, no, it's not going to run Crysis, not with the eye candy cranked up anyway, but it will fit right in with your home theater setup.
Towards that end, Asus developed a special Bravo Media Center interface they say is intuitive, and it comes with a remote control to boot. The cooling solution is passive, so there's no fan to distract you from those quiet scenes, and Asus says their Splendid Plus technology will reduce noise and artifacts while improving conversion rates.
What Asus didn't say is when it will ship and for how much.
Gateway computer introduced some new models into three of its desktop computer lines. The upgraded machines feature more power, capacity, and performance while maintaining Gateway’s trademark low price tag.
In the FX line, revamped machines sport Intel Core i7 processors, Radeon HD5850, at least 8GB of DDR3 memory and Blu-ray/DVD or DVD-RW drive and numerous improvements to its chassis design. The highest priced FX unit runs at $1699.99. The DX line runs Intel Core i5 processors and various nVidia graphics and Blu-ray options depending on your configuration maintaining a midline pricing of about $849.99 (Nvidia GT220, 4x Blu-Ray). Lastly, the SX series of small-form-factor desktops gets Core i3 processors, GMA X4500HD graphics, 6GB DDR3 memory retailing at $599.99 and handles HDMI out of the box for HTPC builders.
You can check out Gateway’s latest improvements at the Gateway store.
I’m in the process of piecing together an HTPC that will run Windows 7 Home Premium. I’d like to be able to connect the HTPC to my receiver via a single HDMI cable. Are there any videocards available that will send both video and TrueHD audio via an HDMI cable, or do I have to use the Asus Xonar HDAV 1.3 Slim that was reviewed in the November issue?