[mythtv-users] Laptop as a Front-End (HD)

Greg Oliver oliver.greg at gmail.com
Thu Feb 18 21:35:11 UTC 2010

On Thu, Feb 18, 2010 at 2:58 PM, John Welch <jrw3319 at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Thu, Feb 18, 2010 at 3:31 PM, Nick Rout <nick.rout at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Fri, Feb 19, 2010 at 9:17 AM, Dan Wilga
>> <mythtv-users2 at dwilga-linux1.amherst.edu> wrote:
>>> On 2/18/10 1:59 PM, Nick Rout wrote:
>>>> On Fri, Feb 19, 2010 at 5:38 AM, Dan Wilga
>>>> <mythtv-users2 at dwilga-linux1.amherst.edu>  wrote:
>>>>> Personally, I have a late-2006 Macbook Pro that I use for my frontend in
>>>>> the
>>>>> bedroom. Even a machine this old is capable of playing 1080i.
>>>> In what codec?
>>> Good point. This is MPEG2. It probably can't handle h.264 at that size (I
>>> haven't tried.)
>> In answer to the original question, handling HD h.264 will probably be
>> difficult in most laptop hardware. However the new CrystalHD method
>> may work. Of course there is no support in mythtv for that yet, but it
>> should come eventually. XBMC apparently has support and can be used as
>> an approximation of a frontend.
>> The point being that many laptops have a minipci-e slot, originally
>> designed for wireless cards, but capable of being pressed into use for
>> a crystal HD card. Of course unless you have two minipci-e slots (some
>> do, see a recent post by Jarod in the crystalHD thread), or some other
>> wireless solution, you'll be wired only. I don't care too much for
>> wireless frontends in any event, but it would be nice to try a laptop
>> with crystalHD and a 802.11N wireless setup.
>> So I would be trying for a laptop with two minipci-e slots, wireless-n
>> and then hope for CrystalHD support in mythfrontend real soon now.
> Thanks for the responses so far.  I really appreciate the input.  I
> haven't been looking at whether or not the laptops have minipci-e
> slots or not, but I will have to check
> Just want to reiterate, though, that I'm considering the use of the
> laptop as an HD capable front-end as a "nice to have" feature, not a
> necessity.  Further, at least at this time most of my recordings are
> from the HDHR, so not being able to playback h.264 isn't a huge deal.
> This could change for me depending on "The Comcast Digital Transition"
> that is going on in my area now.
> Basically, I'm looking to find out if I need to go to the higher end
> of my budget to get a faster processor and/or NVidia graphics, or if I
> can get away with looking at the lower end, which mostly have a
> Pentium T4300/T4400 processor and the Intel graphics.

I'll just chime in to say stay away from ati cards unless you plan on
running an older distribution.  The newer ones cannot play HD video in
any format without severe tearing unless you have a fast CPU.

I have to set my quad core laptop for vesa mode to play full screen
HD, and it almost pegs the CPU to pull it off.  It gets better and
better every 30-45 days, but no full screen tear-free playback yet
(with a 3670 and 4670 video card currently)..

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