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Hardware Zen and the HFX Mini HTPC case

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Tim S, 16 Aug 2008.

  1. Tim S

    Tim S OG

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  2. Tulatin

    Tulatin The Froggy Poster

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    It's a shame to find so many faults in a product that's likely to fall into the hands of a first time system builder saying "I can do this!". Even on top of that, the forum has produce better results, at a likely lower cost. Need we remember that excellent micro case (who's name escapes me)
     
  3. atanum141

    atanum141 I fapped to your post!

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    Ahhhh so thats Nexxo's name.
     
  4. Flibblebot

    Flibblebot Smile with me

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    Nope, Nexxo is his real name. "Robin Paijmans" is his cabaret name :D

    Tis a shame that the case is so complicated and expensive. There's a real dearth of good, silent cases for HTPCs - and I don't think most people would be prepared to persevere with such poor instructions and design for such a high price.
     
  5. p3n

    p3n New Member

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    Think i'd prefer a Mac Mini if my ps3 ever stopped doing all my media playing goodness
     
  6. Fod

    Fod what is the cheesecake?

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    paijmans --> pijamas. yeah, it's a mis-spelling, but that's what i immediately thought when i saw it :p
     
  7. OleJ

    OleJ Me!

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    Has this been in the forums for several months before it was made into an article? I kept having deja vu's while reading this...
     
  8. Guest-16

    Guest-16 Guest

    Yea it was on the forums a while back and we thought that since only a few people have read it and it's such a complete article it would be a great guide for some so we front paged it :)

    You know we like to include the community in bit-tech content when it's warranted (mod of the month and project logs for example ;))
     
  9. Cupboard

    Cupboard I'm not a modder.

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    Great review. I read the forum-review and loved it, this is even better :D

    What exactly is it about the i945 chipset that means that the lower-wattage PSU can't cope?
     
  10. Nexxo

    Nexxo Queue Jumper

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    You and everyone else who has ever had to reproduce my name... :blah: :p

    I don't know, but it is a known issue. I guess only Intel could make a low-power laptop chipset that does not cope with low-power PSU's. :rolleyes: It seems to have something to do with the power regulation for the RAM, because the problem can be remediated by setting the RAM voltage in BIOS from "auto" to "1.8 Volt". Unfortunately only a few i945 chipset motherboards have that option in BIOS. The aBit iL-90MV does, but the Aopen i945GTm and i945 GMm unfortunately don't.
     
  11. <A88>

    <A88> Trust the Computer

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    Nice article :thumb: I was just wandering how you've found usability and the general experience since setting it up? I've been weighing up building an HTPC against using the 360 as a Media Center extender, my main issues being startup time, power usage and just whether being reliant on a PC for TV coverage causes any practical issues?
     
  12. Darkedge

    Darkedge New Member

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    hmm If the 360 was actually quiet it would be the best solution really in alot of ways. Much cheaper, damn easy to set up and you just leave all the large HD's etc out the way in another room.
    Shame that the 360 makes more racket than my main PC!
     
  13. Nexxo

    Nexxo Queue Jumper

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    I keep mine on S4 or S1 stand-by so startup is pretty much near-instantaneous. Boot from cold is also quite fast as I keep the OS lean --this is just a media player and web browser, nothing else. I built it to be low-power, hence the Pentium Mobile solution and the WD Greenpower HDD. I calculated that it uses somewhat less power than a DVD-Recorder, the TV tuner box and a DVB add-on box, about 50-60 Watts active, 3-4 Watts at S4.

    The TV tuner card is more picky about its signal quality, but there are registry tweaks which can limit its initial channel search & setup to the frequencies covered by your closest DVB broadcasting aerial, so that it will grab the cleanest service signals. A signal amplifier may be useful if you live far from a broadcasting aerial. The HTPC has crashed a few times (mainly to do with the TV tuner getting its knickers in a twist over a signal) but this is infrequent enough not to be a real problem. Restarting it makes it resume pretty much from where it left off. It has on occasion not recorded the full program. All its problems seem related to the tuner not getting a perfect signal.

    In general use however it has been bliss. TV guide on demand, no fussing about with programme times --just highlight your selection and press the red button --you don't even have to interrupt what you are watching at the moment. You can set it to automatically record a whole series. My 1Tb HDD has 700 hours viewing time and recordings are shown by thumbnail+title. Playback is easy: highlight, press play. Because it has a double tuner I can not only watch a channel and record the other, but when I go out I can record two channels simultaneously. I can drop in another tuner and record up to four channels if I want. It also does pause live-TV; I can pause for toilet breaks or tune in while finishing cooking, rewind when I sit down to watch and skip over the commercials as I gradually catch up with the live stream.

    If you want to keep something you can burn it to DVD using Windows DVD maker (included with OS). You can edit out commercials first with Windows Movie Maker (also included with OS).

    You can hook it to the network as a media server or play stuff kept on other computers. Wired networks are best for videos, but Wifi works fine for music.

    MCE add-ons are Weather forecasts (complete with satellite images) and commercial skippers (although I find these work not as conveniently as they're made out to).
     
  14. <A88>

    <A88> Trust the Computer

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    Thanks for the info :) It certainly sounds like a decent enough solution, and from what you've said it'd probably serve as a more powerful solution than the 360. I've always been a big fan of MCE and have been using it for years- DVD Maker and Movie Maker aren't bad either and I've got quite a few jobs done on them without having to download trials for commercial software.

    I've found quite a good few add-ons for MCE which help reduce the amount of time you spend in the Windows UI; there's a browser plugin (using the IE engine) which works fairly well, and a DVD library tool that will organise and download details for any DVDs you have ripped to the PC, which makes watching films just that bit quicker :). Thankfully the next build of Media Center (due out in Sept iirc) adds 'red-button' interactive television which is something I miss loads when watching TV through my laptop.

    Anyways, thanks for the reply and I guess the HTPC will be a lot easier than the WHS + Extender route for now. Out of interest, do you just use the MCE remote to control it or do you have an additional keyboard/controller as well?
     
  15. Nexxo

    Nexxo Queue Jumper

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    I use the MCE remote control (previous version, not the latest Vista one which simply does not lie as comfortably in the hand and has spongier buttons --it also has a narrower IR emitter cone requiring more precise pointing). I have a Logitech diNovo Mini for the occasional keyboard needs (e.g. BIOS setting, downloading, installing and configuring programs).
     
  16. <A88>

    <A88> Trust the Computer

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    Of course, a £100 keyboard for BIOS settings :brrr:
     
  17. Nexxo

    Nexxo Queue Jumper

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    Actually, £67,--. I shop around. But when I use Movie/DVD Maker or download/install programs, tweak settings, browse the internet etc. it is pretty handy.
     
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