I have time off and a shiny HD display to fiddle with, so I've ordered myself a (relatively) cheap box to double-up at media-centre and house-server duties.

Specifically, it's this, an ASRock Atom D525 with ION GPU. Added 4GB of RAM and a 750GB 5400rpm disk.

Will poke around at the Windows 7 media-centre stuff first, as I have spare licenses. And with the XBMC live install. The former appeals from a "can play random DRM cruft" perspective, the latter because simpler and would do a better job at the house-server role, given I could easily jam a copy of Samba on there.

Cost all-up is AU$550, including shipping.

Why is the aTV running XBMC insufficient? Well, because it doesn't do 1080 properly (it runs the screen at 1280x1080) and it can't decode HD content. It can do some 720p stuff, but not all. It's an old slow single-core CPU and XBMC can't make full use of the video hardware. And given the very tight memory constraints and limited expandability it's not really suitable for the house-server role.

But I am otherwise very happy with XBMC. There are plugins for everything I care about (Pandora, local catch-up TV services), some really great skins, and I've even now got my usual couple of radio stations available through it as my ISP started relaying ABC NewsRadio with an MP3 stream rather than the nasty Windows Media+Real combo the ABC provides.

If I wind up deciding that Win7 is the way to go, guess I might stick a VirtualBox instance on there with Linux for the server-y bits. Shall wait and see. Expect it'll probably go XBMC-on-Linux, though.


Aug. 5th, 2011 01:40 pm
Now I have a TV which doesn't suck (I finally replaced my ten-year-old 32" widescreen CRT with a nice 46" LCD) I've felt inclined to poke around a lot more with XBMC on the AppleTV.

Skin-wise, really digging "Ellipsis". Nice clean design, everything's big and easy to see from a distance.

Much to my pleasure it turns out some people have made an unofficial add-on repository for Australian "catch-up" TV. You can find it here. Download the zip file, scp it to the aTV, use the "install from zip file" option in the add-on manager, install the ones you want from there.

They all seem to work just fine. The ABC iView one is the most useful as iView has a decent amount of content. ABC News24 is just a live stream, which I can get from my digital STB with better picture quality. Channel 10 has very little. Plus7 is kind of lacking in anything I care about, but may float your boat. SBS works properly too.

Now, if I could just get the Pandora add-on working properly I'd be over the moon. I've got Pandora working on desktops, and via the browser on the PS3, but the XBMC add-on can't log in. Looking over the forum thread on the subject it seems kind of dodgy. Oh well. Not the end of the world, I've got Radio Paradise…


Abort, Rephrase, Ignore?

October 2011

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