Fashion HTPC case


HTPC case AVC-S1 produced by Korean company GMC doesn’t look like a PC at all. It supports Micro ATX motherboards. The aluminum front panel of AVC-S1 sports 16 X 2 VFD display, menu navigation jog button and enter button. Detachable internal 3.5″ drive cage allows to install HDD easily. The AVC-S1 has four expansion slots for low profile cards. Additionally it can be equiped with IR receiver and remote control.

The price of the GMC AVC-S1 is about €150 which is very reasonable for such kind of HTPC cases. By some reason GMC products are not available in Europe but I found a lot offers in Russia. It looks a strange a bit for me.

New alpha version of Boxee has beed released


Recently a new alpha version of software for media centers Boxee has been released. Following new features were implemented in the version:

  • manual editing of (un)identified movies/tv shows/albums;
  • manual adding of a source;
  • added mms:// and UPnP support;
  • OSD for pictures;
  • updated source management;
  • bug-fixes.

A full Changelog and system requirements can be found here.

Fashion media center Boxee: first impression


Finally I got invitation to test the first “social” media center Boxee. Installation under Kubuntu 8.04 was pretty simple. I just added Boxee repository and install it using apt-get. After running the Boxee it automatically found media content in the standard Linux directories – Pictures, Videos and Music. It tried to guess the names of movies by their filenames and get information from IMDB. For those video files which weren’t be recognized cover were created using some frame from movies themselves.

The user interface looks pretty nice. It’s intuitive and allows to easily navigate by media files, control playback movies and music. It’s easy to specify new media source. Doesn’t matter where it is – on local PC or on some network share. Moreover, using Boxee it possible to listen Internet radio, which becomes very popular this time.

However the most interesting and original feature of Boxee is its social component. It allows to people find friends and share between them info about what they watch or listen (be careful with adult content ;)). Additionally they can rate or recommend movie or song. The very basic social feature is offered by Facebook add-in for Windows Media Center. But, for sure, Boxee is much better.

I heard an opinion about competition between Boxee and MythTV. Maybe in the future but currently Boxee don’t support PVR functionality at all. Taking into account that XBMC also misses LiveTV I can conjecture that Boxee won’t have it in the future. In any case, Boxee is good media center software integrated with social service. Will see its progress.

P. S. I can send the invitation somebody who’d like to play with Boxee. Just leave a comment here.

Stylish HTPC and NAS cases

HeatSync 7000

American company A-Tech Fabrication offers interesting cases for HTPC and NAS. The stylish aluminium cases include integrated HeatSync cooling system for CPU and video card. That system uses side panels as radiator. So, it doesn’t need coolers with fan. Also, cases are equiped by HDD Isolation System to eliminate noise from vibrations.

The price is not so cheap as we’d like :). For example, the price of the case on the picture is $749 + additional options.

P. S. I was really surprised when I found the suggested dimensions for the expansion cards to use with A-Tech Fabrication’s cases. Usually the proper hardware can be found by testing only.

Boxee is “social” media center software


Recently I found information about new HTPC software – Boxee. The Boxee is a first “social” media center. it plays media from your computer and other devices in your home network, as well as connect you to various Internet sources that allow you to stream or download movies, tv shows, music and photos.
The Boxee was started in 2007 and is based on the XBMC open-source project. Currently two alpha versions of Boxee are available – for Ubuntu Linux and Mac OS X. The Windows version is planning later this year.
There are no sreenshots or details on the project’s site. I sent request for alpha testing but didn’t receive invitation yet. Will share my experience when get and install it on my PC.

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