Dec 28 2013

News - ASUS Q87T Thin-ITX Has Custom Solutions Header (aka HTPC_HEADER)


I've been in a bit of a motherboard funk ever since Intel announced that they were leaving the business. While other OEMs make solid kit, none have embraced the the HTPC niche in the same way that Intel has. It looks like that may be changing though, because it looks like ASUS may have picked up the mantle with their new Q87T Haswell Thin-ITX which includes a Custom Solutions Header (HTPC_HEADER) that will work with Pulse-Eight's internal CEC adapter. Internal CIR is sadly missing, but at least that's easy to fix. Well done ASUS.

Nov 18 2013

News - Media Browser Theater Goes Alpha

Normally I wouldn't get to excited about a new player app, but with the just announced alpha of Media Browser Theater claiming support for madVR, lav Filters and Reclock there is a lot of potential to marry a slick media browsing UI with the consumption chops to back it up.

I haven't had a chance to look at the code, or play with it, but it certainly looks interesting and is work a follow over at Doom9.

For Media Browser Theater, the video player is direct-show based and supports LAV Filters, XyVsFilter, Reclock, Madvr & XySubFilter.

There's a long way to go but so far it's been fairly well received. I'm here in hopes of recruiting any potential developers who might have interest in joining the team and helping out.



Feb 20 2013

News - madVR v0.86.0 Frees HTPC Users from 3:2 Pulldown Judder

Using a HTPC isn't always the easiest way to watch content, but nothing combines the flexibility, capability and potential into a single consumption point like it does. Those that demand the highest quality often rail against the complexity required, and to be fair they have a point, but it's there and few products demonstrate this like the high quality video renderer madVR. As an HTPC advocate, I love it when new features arrive and it's even better when they are exclusive Smile.

For the techincally challenged it can be a little challenging to get madVR installed and configured, so if you fall into this group you may want to wait until the next JMC build to incorportate madVR's newest feature:

Introducing the new "smooth motion" frame rate changer (FRC) with the following main features / benefits:
(1) Can convert any source frame rate to any display refresh rate, while maintaining smooth motion.
(2) Endless playback without frame drops/repeats (if your PC is fast enough) without needing Reclock.


Technically the FRC algorithm simulates a display with infinite refresh rate. Which means that every video frame is displayed exactly when the timestamps ask for it. Consequently the motion smoothness depends on proper timestamps. If the timestamps (or audio clock) contain jitter, the playback will contain jitter, too. So even if Reclock might not be needed to avoid frame drops/repeats, anymore, when using madVR's new FRC algorithm, you might still want to use Reclock, because it provides a stable and reliable audio clock with very low jitter, and it supports WSAPI exclusive mode, too. You can however slave Reclock to the audio hardware clock, if you want. Having Reclock fully enabled with audio resampling is still possible, though, it shouldn't harm madVR's FRC algorithm.

To my best knowledge madVR is now the only way to playback Blu-Ray/DVD movies without 3:2 pulldown judder on displays which don't support 23.976Hz playback properly. I don't think any hardware Blu-Ray player can do that, or even any of the expensive video processors. (Correct me if I'm wrong). 

madVR (@Doom9)

Otherwise grab the latest release and have at it. I know I will (with MPC-HC) later tonight; and for those who are asking (I did) - it should run well on HD4000 GPUs.

Feb 05 2013

News - ARCTIC Bundles OpenELEC with Lower Priced MC001-XBMC

When I'm building a dedicated XBMC box, I often turn to the "embeddded" OpenELEC distro because of its drop-dead simple installation process and just-works feature set. And now with XBMC 12 is out, bringing a modern audio pipeline and Live TV to the platform, it's a great time to upgrade or check out the HTPC software. If you need a box to do this, it would be worth taking a look at ARCTIC's MC001-XMBC which offers an Atom CPU, AMD 5430, DVD drive and OpenELEC 3.0 pre-installed for $229 out the door. Of course if you're interested, you'll need to hurry; this offer is only good until they run out of stock.

Jan 14 2013

News - ArcSoft @ CES 2013

ArcSoftI saw a few new applications and some cool technology demos at ArcSoft's booth the most interesting was naturally TotalMedia Theatre 6 (TMT6) for Windows 8 "Metro" UI. Unlike CyberLink's touch focused player, this player is x86 with ArcSoft waiting to see if RT reaches critical mass before investing in ARM ports of their codec/container technology. There is a version of TMT6 for the desktop planned, but won't be available until much later in the year.


It looks like there will be a TMT6 for the desktop (coming sooner than I noted) and although the "Metro" app was sporting TMT6 branding will not be labeled this way when it arrives - more on the next page.

Click through for some galleries and a video of what ArcSoft was showing at CES 2013.

Jan 14 2013

News - CyberLink @ CES 2013

CyberLink CES 2013It's always interesting to stop by CyberLink's suite at CES, they have good demos and I like to know what they're working on in our space. Unfortunately there isn't a whole lot that we're allowed to talk about publicly (yet) so for now it's just some pictures (on the next page) of their "Metro" version of PowerDVD Mobile for Windows 8. The cool thing about this application is that it brings container/codec support not available out-of-the-box to W8 x86/RT tablets and touch PCs. The UI was responsive and made it easy to play with the entire media library through a single, consistent UI.

Nov 09 2012

News - Intel Next Unit of Computing (NUC) Previewed at Anandtech

Intel NUC

When I first saw reports of Intel's Next Unit of Computing (NUC) it seemed like the perfect little HTPC, although the price (~$400) was a bit off-putting. As it turns out, not only will it be getting Intel HD 4000 (madVR, yum) and an ULV IVB but will only cost $300-320. More importantly it will be easy to get one with retail availability at Amazon and Newegg. Hit Anandtech for the full specs and some pictures of the delicious looking mini-HTPC.

Sep 17 2012

News - ZOTAC ZBOX Nano AD12 Plus Reviewed

I am going to go out on a limb here and admit that I am a sucker for a cute, little PC. There's just something about small form factor PCs that has always caught my attention. There was a time when Shuttle was the belle of the SFF ball, but these days the field is quite a bit more crowded, and one of the companies that consistently turns heads is ZOTAC with their ZBOX lineup of mini-PCs. The ZBOX Nano AD12 was just announced last month to replace the AD11 as ZOTAC's AMD representative for their next to smallest version of the ZBOX. The 2GB of RAM and 320 GB hard drive that set the Plus apart from the standard ZBOX doesn't really do much for me, but the diminutive PC itself seems to have a great deal to offer.


Overall the device feels quite sturdy in its casing, and flipping the unit over reveals an interesting aspect about it’s underside. The four raised legs are actually screws, which you can twist open to remove the bottom plate and expose the memory slot and hard drive if you want to do a quick hardware upgrade. The system bundles with 2GB of RAM and a 320GB 5400RPM HDD, and you can upgrade the RAM up to 8GB.


Jun 25 2012

News - Fractal Design Redesigns Node 605 HTPC Chassis

Fractal Design Node 605

When we met with Fractal Design at CES they didn't have anything new to show us, but it was obvious that they were hungry and responsive to the community. If there was any doubt on this point it should be clear now with the re-launch a sleeker Node 605 just a few weeks after it was originally announced in early June with a very un-HTPCesqe logo on emblazoned on the front. If you're in the market for a full size (ATX) HTPC case, the Node 605 just got a lot more interesting. Kudos Fractal Design!

Design changes:

  • New logo placement moved to the bottom right-hand corner to highlight a minimalistic front panel
  • Logo colour changed from white to grey for a sleek appeal
  • All other features originally outlined will be delivered as promised!
 $ 159€ 149£ 119 1399 kr
Description Art. NumberEANUPC 
Node 605FD-CA-NODE-605-BL7350041080985817301010986 


Will be available in August

Jun 05 2012

News - AnandTech - Llano HTPC Builder's Guide


Trinity is just around the corner, but there's no reason not to take a look at its aging sibling Llano with a builder's guide for HTPC since most of it should carry over to the new platform. All told, it looks like they did a pretty solid job with it except for the cases, where there is a serious lack of anything slim, sleek or CEesqe - which for me is the whole point behind lusting after low-TDP IPG/APU.

AMD's Llano lineup includes a range of processors with TDP ranging from 65 to 100W. Note that simple playback tasks are going to be quite power-efficient, thanks to integrated hardware decoding. The high TDPs shouldn't put one off. There are plenty of FM1 socket motherboards based on the A55 / A75 FCHs (Fusion Controller Hubs). The choice of the Llano APU, motherboard form factor and other components should be made depending on the desired usage scenario. In the next few sections, we will take a look at the choices available.


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