Browse Tag: Boxee

New HTPC!

So for Christmas I really only wanted one of two things. Either a used Nook or a new HTPC so I could finally move my desktop back to where it belongs, my desk. I missed the Nook refurbs on Ebay so I took my search to craigslist.org. While I’ve had great luck in the past using craigslist for finding stuff this time was less then stellar. The few people that were selling were wanting too much in my opinion. So after talking to my wife about it, we decided it was time for me to build a proper HTPC.

I’ve had a wish list going on newegg.com since may of this year. I’d update it with newer parts or a better case to suit my needs but never had the money to fit it into our budget at the time. After talking with my wife I got motivated to finish it and buy it. (An hour after I purchased everything, B&N put their refurbed nooks on sale again, oh well.)

Parts List

APEX DM-318 Black Steel Micro ATX Media Center / Slim HTPC Computer Case w/ ATX12V Flex 275W Power Supply

ASUS M4A88T-M LE AM3 AMD 880G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard

AMD Athlon II X2 255 Regor 3.1GHz Socket AM3 65W Dual-Core Desktop Processor ADX255OCGMBOX

A-DATA 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model AD3U1333B2G9-DRH

Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000BEVT 500GB 5400 RPM 2.5″ SATA 3.0Gb/s Internal Notebook Hard Drive -Bare Drive

So I ended up going with a Athlon II X2 because when monitoring performance on my triple core desktop, CPU usage was never very high, even while watching 720p mkv files. I went with the 500gb 2.5″ drive for heat and noise reasons and couldn’t be happier with the performance for the price. I’m not too thrilled with my case selection only because the stock case fan is too noisy. I’m planning on replacing that and the cpu fan with much quieter models before moving it all to the entertainment center in my living room. The case had decent build quality and I didn’t have too many space issues except where the ATX power plug is on the motherboard is directly below the back of the DVD drive.

My total build time was around 4 hours from unpacking to being able to watch live tv in MCE. I’d much rather have a 64gb SSD for OS to speed up the boot and switching between MCE/Boxee/Hulu Desktop/XBMC but I can live with the few seconds during transitions.

I’ve spent time since cleaning up MCE with Media Center Studio by applying a beautiful theme, cleaning up the menus a bit removing stuff we don’t use. Automatic logon for Windows 7 is much needed for any HTPC that uses a password (I use one because I map shares from my WHS).

Overall I’m very happy with my purchase and build. In the next few months I’m hoping to upgrade the DVD drive to a blu-ray drive and replace the case fan and heatsink/fan for the CPU with much quieter alternatives. I did ask my wife how she liked it and she said she didn’t even know I had swapped it out. So I guess I did my job well enough.

Boxee & ESPN3: Heaven on earth?

Well I’ve been waiting for this day for quite some time. The chance to legally get live sports on our HTPC. Windows Media Center can give me scores, i’m sorry but this is like sitting outside the stadium and someone running out giving you updates. PlayOn does offer ESPN3 in it’s list of compatible streams but I really don’t want to dish out more money when my reason for cutting cable is to lower my costs.

Enter Boxee. We’ve been waiting for months for a Boxee developer who promised he was working on an ESPN3.com App and while their is a Justin.tv that does an ok job of delivering live sports, the quality does remind me of using rabbit ears to watch Dukes of Hazard when I kid in Enid. I did do something that most people don’t do. I did contact ESPN and ask them to create their own app for Boxee and was told my request was sent to the appropriate department, thanks guys.

Last week a forum member by the name of phikai posted screenshots of his ESPN3 app that he had developed. Sure it was rough around the edges but finally live sports on Boxee? Sign me up. So after installing his repository, I added his app to My Apps and created the long awaited shortcut to my home screen. So far I’ve watched around 8-10 hours of live events and could not be happier. Only once did the quality get stuck in “crappy” mode but all the other times the quality has been awesome. I really wish they would maybe simulcast more games from their other networks on their ESPN3.com brand but I can’t begin to imagine the contracts that would need to be tweaked for that to happen. Oh well, at least I still have justin.tv. :)

Resources:

ESPN3.com – Formerly known as ESPN360. Not available for all users, your ISP must pay for this access.

Boxee.tv – If you don’t know by know then move on.


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