Strangely when I look at Play.com now, they don’t have any of the Linux versions available; they had been putting the price up-and-down by Â£10, but now the option is gone completely. Hopefully they’re not doing what Asus did; use Linux to enter the market, and then ditch it just when the product starts to get traction.
The box arrived on time (before other vendors had stock in their supply chains). I un-boxed it and was pleased to see the included mini-keyboard and mouse, those would have been equally happy to save Â£10 for these off the price. Nice touch having a reference to the GPL on an included page in the packing material, along with the VESA mount.
Interestingly, this option should have had an 8 GB SSD drive, but was (as I had seen elsewhere) a 160 GB SATA disk drive. Not too bad.
The initial “Splashtop” was hideously limited in its abilities. It basically just had Skype, a basic browser, and a link to install “your operating system”, which only offered the option to install Microsoft Windows.
Luckily you can disable the splash screens, boto from USB, and get a real distribution installed. I am running Debian AMD64 port. True 64 bit computing on a bargain basement priced piece of kit that performs well.
I’ve only had SD video files to far, and they play back on my 720p Samsung LCT TV with no problems at all. Likewise, using GLSlideshow for pictures is also smooth. In fact, I think this is the perfect set top box. I’ve experimented with MythTV, Video transcoding, etc, and it just seems happy with all these tasks.
I have now seen that in Germany there is an Atom 330 (dual core) version now available. Yay, even better.But I suppose I could always play with CUDA on this system to access the GPU and do some heavy processing!
My only improvements that I could suggest now would be:
- Drop the keyboard and mouse; drop the price or spend that difference on embedded bluetooth!
- Put a usable distribution no the disk of the Linux version – don’t leave it blank
- Ask NVidia to truly open source their Linux driver! Again!
- Ask Skype to produce a 64 bit Linux version of their client, or open source their client completely
Lastly, the must have accessories I am have or am contemplating:
- USB DVB tuner (freeview TV)
- USB Infrared reciever
- USB Video webcam
- USB RFID reader (I have the Phidgets, but it doesn’t read Oyster serial numbers – different frequencies)
- USB Bluetooth adaptor
- Blueray drive
The SD card reader can read the 16 GB memory cards that I use in my Sony HDD video camera, and the system is good enough to playback the 1080p AVCHD MPEG Transport Stream (MTS) video files it produces. Finally; the video camera was looking a little lame give that the olde-worlde HP NC6120 I had couldn’t read the 16 GB cards (no firmware updates to enable this??), and wasn’t fast enough to playback the video files from the smaller capacity SD cards.
All up, I am pleased with this unit. Cheaper than the Asus Eeeboxes I was looking at, and with HDMI built in! Perfect. Highly recommended, but some fiddling to get it going.