[mythtv-users] Low end hardware/software recommendations

faginbagin mythtv at hbuus.com
Wed Nov 16 00:22:44 UTC 2011

On 2:59 PM, Ben Rudiak-Gould wrote:
> My parents live in the US (California). They have a decent 32"
> standard-def CRT TV with S-video and RCA inputs, and no particular
> interest in getting a new TV. They watch broadcast TV (via a
> government-subsidized decoder box) and record it on a VHS VCR, they
> rent DVDs and play them on a standalone DVD player, and they
> occasionally hook up a laptop to watch online streaming videos and
> locally stored photos and videos. They're thinking about getting
> Netflix streaming as well. The goal is a quiet low-power computer that
> can replace this hodgepodge of devices.
> Currently I'm considering the following:
>   ASUS AT3IONT-I (Atom 330, NVIDIA ION) ($130)
>   2 GB RAM ($15)
>   2.5" hard drive ($0, already have a spare)
>   DVD-ROM drive ($0, have a spare)
>   Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-1250 ($50)
>   Sewell SW-23000 PC-to-TV converter ($35)
>   Mythbuntu and/or MythTV on Windows ($0, I have several spare Windows licenses)
> My questions include:
>   0. Is there a totally different setup at a comparable price that I
> should consider instead?

I think you can get a more functional cpu/mobo combination at the same price or maybe even less than the $130 atom/ion. FWIW, I have a atom/ion front end (acer aspire revo 3610). It plays back 1080i and 720p recordings very well when output to a 720p TV. Others have had trouble trying to output 1080p. Something to consider if you want to future proof. My revo dual boots mythbuntu and windows 7. We boot windows when we want to use netflix streaming. We can't get HD out of netflix on this system, but SD is reasonable on a 42" 720p plasma TV. Again, a future proof issue.

I would plan on getting a nvidia card with s-video out instead of the pc-to-tv converter. It should cost about the same as the converter and give a better picture. Look for either 8400gs or 9500gt gpus, although it's getting hard to find video cards with s-video out.

You didn't mention what computer case you plan to use. If it's a mini tower, then you can use a full size video card. If smaller, that may limit your video card choices.

>   1. How stupid is it to use a standard-def TV through an S-Video
> converter box instead of blowing $350 on a new 32" TV? My parents
> really don't care about video quality, but readability could be an
> issue.

We've got no complaints with a couple of 21" sdtvs, although I'm looking forward to a new hdtv for Christmas. Keep in mind that if their sdtv is 32", you'll need a larger HDTV than 32" to provide the same vertical height as a 32" SDTV.

>   2. Is it worth spending a few extra bucks for two 1GB sticks instead
> of one 2GB stick? Is it worth spending a few more bucks for 4GB
> instead of 2GB?

I would go for a single stick of ram, instead of 2, as dual channel memory doesn't give much of a performance boost. If you get a single stick, you can upgrade more easily, especially if you get a mobo that only has 2 memory slots.

>   3. The Asus motherboard and the Hauppage tuner both come with
> remotes. Is either of those going to work with Mythbuntu?

Don't know.

>   4. I guess Netflix streaming isn't currently supported on Linux. One
> solution I've seen is to run Windows/IE in VMware Player. Would the
> Windows VM be able to use the ION's hardware video decoding or would
> it fall back on doing everything on the CPU? If the latter, is the CPU
> fast enough for that? Would I need 4GB RAM for that setup?

I would plan on a dual boot configuration. It's not hard to do. Install Windows first, then shrink the Windows partition using ntfsresize (part of the ntfsutils package), then install Mythbuntu. My mom has figured out how to switch back & forth using the grub boot menu and I bet your parents can, too. The only problem is, if this is also the master backend, they will have to understand they should not boot windows when they want something recorded.

>   5. What about MythTV (and IE) on Windows? Would it support the
> remote(s)? Would it support the HVR-1250? I gather the answer to the
> second question is no? Should I give up and use Windows Media Center?

Don't know.


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