Having had MythTV running on a monitor for a little while, complete with it’s scheduling fantasticness, I finally caved to getting a machine to play it out to the big TV. An obvious candidate for this was the, very affordable, Acer Aspire Revo.
The spec of the machine itself is not that impressive when compared to modern desktops, a 1.6GHz single core Intel Atom, a lonely GB of RAM, a 1Gb LAN connection, an atheros 802.11n wireless chipset and no real expansion capabilities. The saving grace of all this is he Nvidia ION chipset inside the box. Using a media player that can utilise libvdpau this means that using the onboard hdmi port it can play HD video quite happily at 1080p \o/
The machine I purchased supposedly came with Linux pre-installed, but when I first switched it on all it did was through a screen full of “99″‘s . This didn’t bother me overmuch as I’d already intended to stick Mythbuntu on it. Sticking Mythbuntu on a bootable USB stick and then installing it took about an hour in total using the fast connection in my office. Once installed, I plugged it into my TV at home, booted it up and …. nothing. It just didn’t appear on the TV. A little reading around the interwebs and it appears that the HDMI connection is not discovered unless the TV is switched on before the machine is booted. So switch on the telle, stick it on the correct channel, reboot and it just works!
After connecting it to the wireless network and letting the mythtv frontend find the already running backend. Turns out the onboard wireless doesn’t play nice with my existing router. While playing back SD stuff was fine, there just wasn’t the bandwidth stable enough to stream HD stuff across the network. A little research and a touch of thought later, I had my hands on 2 Devolo 200Mbps ethernet over powerline adapters. These have allowed me to watch HD content I can get from the BBC iPlayer on the big TV!
How cool is that \o/
A couple of weeks ago now I bought myself a new laptop. My poor Dell had been battered too much and was finally giving in to it’s poor treatment. Dead pixels, missing keys, noisy fans, it just had to be put out of it’s misery. So now I have a shiny new Packard Bell.
I’d actually been in the market for a Thinkpad, based on their reputation of being practically indestructible. I soon chaged my mind after being promised deliveries that never arrived by a few online retailers. I ended up going to PC World, pretty much ignoring the sales staff and wandering around with my Pre checking compatibility and pricing on the interwebs. I’ve been a bit skeptical of the build quality of Packard Bell for a little while, but this seems quite a solid machine. Time will tell whether it remains that way or so I must admit, but one can hope!
Spec wise, the machine is a 2.2GHz Core2Duo (T6600), it comes with 4GB of RAM, a 320GB HDD and an nvidia Geforce G210M card with 512MB of dedicated graphics memory. It’s got a broadcom wireless chipset (b/g/n) and a gigabit ethernet port. All of this works out of the box with Ubuntu bar one. The driver for the NVIDIA card has a nasty bug. It doesn’t seem to detect the EDID information correctly for the monitor, so some hackery is required in the xorg.conf to prevent you getting 6 miniscreens instead of 1, or for getting a horribly fuzzy screen. Nvidia has recognised this bug, so hopefully it’ll get fixed soon. The open source nv driver doesn’t have this bug, but you lose a lot of the shiny 3d effects and so on, which is a bit of a downside.
The webcam in he lid also works out of the box.
All in all, it seems quite an able machine, but time will tell if I made the right decision or not!