[mythtv-users] Re: Mini-ITX or standard PC?

Micah Wedemeyer fanmail at micah-wedemeyer.net
Wed Sep 29 11:37:05 EDT 2004

I am currently building an Epia MII-10k based MythTV box, and I must warn you:
it is pretty difficult.

Take all my advice with a grain of salt because I still have not *actually*
used it with MythTV yet.  The closest I have done is to use mplayer to play
back DVDs and mpeg clips.

Here are some things that I have found:
* Getting on-board hardware MPEG decoding to work will be difficult.  There is
a lot of information out there, but you will still have to stumble around...A
LOT!  (I still don't really have it working...I don't think).  I only just
recently was able to get mplayer to run using the "-vo xv" option.  I don't
think it uses hardware decoding, but it plays mpeg-2 clips without frame-
dropping at about 70% CPU utilization.

On this note, unless you are getting a PVR-350, I would strongly advise
against anything under 1Ghz.  That way, if you cannot figure out the Epia on-
board decoder, you can fall back on software decoding without too much
trouble.  I have heard that the lower-speed Epia boards simply cannot play
mpeg files at acceptable speeds.

Similarly, if you are not going to use hardware encoding (PVR-250 or 350) do
not buy an Epia, period.  They are all simply too slow to do both encoding and
decoding in software.

* The PCMCIA slot on the MII is really quirky (read: irritating as hell).
Many do not get assigned memory addresses correctly, and many others (like
mine) refuse to give power to the card in the slot, rendering it useless.
This is a known problem, and people are working on it, but if you want
wireless, you might need to get a USB adapter (I'm going to Best Buy tonight
to get one).

* Some people complain about fan noise of the Epia 10k.  I attached a Zalman
fanmate and dialed it down to 1/2.  I have found that mine is inaudible (to
me) at 1m.  Then again, I'm not super sensitive and there is a lot of ambient
noise (my apt building borders on a busy street).

* The Epia is just plain cool!  I really like mini-ITX form factor and it is
perfect for PVR/set-top-box type applications.  Supposedly, there are mobile
Pentium4 mini-ITX boards on the way, so hopefully, in the near future, there
will be higher CPU horsepower options available.  However, the support under
Linux is still a little shaky.  So, proceed at your own risk and be prepared
for plenty of hiccups if you go with an Epia.

I hope this helps.


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