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I'm looking for anyone with experience using any of the numerous Atom-based small form factor pre-built PCs as affordable HTPCs. This would need to stream HD video from a media server as well as use Windows Media Center to view live TV from network tuners. Also, Hulu/Netflix. Some interesting ones are available from Lenovo (Q150) as well as Acer and ASUS.

 

Any insight WHS forum?

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Depending on budget, stick to one of the video-accelerated units, either an Atom w\ ION or onboard AMD video. ZOTAC makes a neat line of HTPC barebones units (no OS) that have a Blu-Ray player built-in. They're a little pricey, but reviews say they're easy to setup, and I personally still like to have optical drives in my HTPC...

 

ZBOX-AD03BR-PLUS-U

 

One thing that you will not be able to do with these units is record multiple HD streams. For that, you will probably want a full-sized unit with a full-sized processor.

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I'm looking for anyone with experience using any of the numerous Atom-based small form factor pre-built PCs as affordable HTPCs. This would need to stream HD video from a media server as well as use Windows Media Center to view live TV from network tuners. Also, Hulu/Netflix. Some interesting ones are available from Lenovo (Q150) as well as Acer and ASUS.

 

Any insight WHS forum?

I have 3 of the Lenovo Q150 units and couldn't be happier with them. I am more than happy to try and answer any questions you might have about the units. Here is what I can summarize based on your inquiry:

I store all of my media (photos, SD & HD videos, music and backed-up DVD/BDs) on my WHS and can access the same via media center. I also use an HD Homerun network tuner for live TV to the Lenovos. I have attached IR dongles to each of them, allowing me to control them via Harmony Remote Controls.

All are connected via CAT6 ethernet running at Gigabit speeds.

 

With regards to streaming HD video, here is my experience:

1)Videos from my HD video Camera (.mt2s) coming from my server play fine

2)HD Netflix - oddly streams fine if movie is in my "Instant Queue" but stutters if I pick it from the general Netflix selection

3)Live HD TV from HD Homerun - flawless

4)Blu-rays from Server - all seem to play fine *EXCEPT* Avatar-which stutters. Mind you, I only have about a 12-18 titles, so YMMV.

5)I'm not a Hulu user so I haven't tried Hulu on the Lenovos

 

A couple of other comments:

In my configuration, my "main" (Media Room) HTPC is a fully-fledged PC and that is the location where I would choose to watch Blu-ray content 99% of the time.

Regarding the lack of an optical drive---I have 2 or 3 blu-ray drives on other PCs on my network. I can access them from the Lenovos to play content. The only time I ever needed to do this was when my server was sick.

I have upgraded all of my units to Win 7 Pro/Ultimate to allow me to easily RDP for maintenance.

 

Let me know if you'd like me to address any other questions about the Lenovo Q150.

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Byronomo,

 

Thanks for taking the time to reply. I'm in the process of building a CAT6 network in my house (getting hispeed internet was another fiasco, rural living...) and plan to (eventually) have a near-identical setup to yours. Have you tried the mini-QWERTY keyboard/trackball remote that is often packaged with the Lenovos? I was worried that the harmony (I have an 880, love it), lacking a keyboard, would not be enough to run the HTPC from across the room and was thinking more of a Logitech DiNovo OR this Lenovo combo thing.

 

 

 

I have 3 of the Lenovo Q150 units and couldn't be happier with them. I am more than happy to try and answer any questions you might have about the units. Here is what I can summarize based on your inquiry:

I store all of my media (photos, SD & HD videos, music and backed-up DVD/BDs) on my WHS and can access the same via media center. I also use an HD Homerun network tuner for live TV to the Lenovos. I have attached IR dongles to each of them, allowing me to control them via Harmony Remote Controls.

All are connected via CAT6 ethernet running at Gigabit speeds.

 

With regards to streaming HD video, here is my experience:

1)Videos from my HD video Camera (.mt2s) coming from my server play fine

2)HD Netflix - oddly streams fine if movie is in my "Instant Queue" but stutters if I pick it from the general Netflix selection

3)Live HD TV from HD Homerun - flawless

4)Blu-rays from Server - all seem to play fine *EXCEPT* Avatar-which stutters. Mind you, I only have about a 12-18 titles, so YMMV.

5)I'm not a Hulu user so I haven't tried Hulu on the Lenovos

 

A couple of other comments:

In my configuration, my "main" (Media Room) HTPC is a fully-fledged PC and that is the location where I would choose to watch Blu-ray content 99% of the time.

Regarding the lack of an optical drive---I have 2 or 3 blu-ray drives on other PCs on my network. I can access them from the Lenovos to play content. The only time I ever needed to do this was when my server was sick.

I have upgraded all of my units to Win 7 Pro/Ultimate to allow me to easily RDP for maintenance.

 

Let me know if you'd like me to address any other questions about the Lenovo Q150.

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I'm looking for anyone with experience using any of the numerous Atom-based small form factor pre-built PCs as affordable HTPCs. This would need to stream HD video from a media server as well as use Windows Media Center to view live TV from network tuners. Also, Hulu/Netflix. Some interesting ones are available from Lenovo (Q150) as well as Acer and ASUS.

 

Any insight WHS forum?

 

I've been using an Acer Revo 3610 for about a year now and have been very happy with it's performance though I admit I probably don't push it very hard with mostly playing video from my EX487 with WMC. I've had good luck with streaming video from Xfinity, Hulu, and ESPN as well as Big-10 Network.

 

I don't use the built in Wifi -- the 3610 is connected to my Cat-6 network.

 

I upgraded to Win7Pro64b and I saw major performance improvements when I doubled my RAM to 4GB. Also, I would recommend being very brutal blowing all the crapware off. I also blew off NIS and replaced with MSE for a nice pop in performance.

 

I've known some people who have done complete fresh Win7Pro installs on the 3610 and they seem very happy with it -- been thinking of doing that myself some day -- just one of those projects I haven't gotten too yet :)

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Byronomo,

 

Thanks for taking the time to reply. I'm in the process of building a CAT6 network in my house (getting hispeed internet was another fiasco, rural living...) and plan to (eventually) have a near-identical setup to yours. Have you tried the mini-QWERTY keyboard/trackball remote that is often packaged with the Lenovos? I was worried that the harmony (I have an 880, love it), lacking a keyboard, would not be enough to run the HTPC from across the room and was thinking more of a Logitech DiNovo OR this Lenovo combo thing.

My general desire/philosophy with HTPCs is that you should RARELY need a keyboard/mouse if configured correctly and using Media Center to access content. This generally holds true in daily use, and I sometimes use the keyboard to tweak settings.

 

I can offer insight on these points as well:

1)The mini Keyboard/Trackball is kinda like using a BlackBerry--take that as you will. It's RF, so it works well with the Q150 tucked away in a cabinet.

2)The Harmony Remote software has 2 Media Center Profiles. One contains the normal "A/V" commands and the other contains nearly every keyboard press imaginable. You setup both as devices and blend the commands to an activity. For example, once in a while when Media Center Starts the Windows Desktop is the "active" application, even though you can see Media Center. I have programmed "Alt-Tab" into my harmony to switch among open applications to fix this easily. Also, in case you weren't aware, you can use the number keys on your Media Center remote like texting on a mobile phone. When browsing MyMovies with the Harmony, you can press "7" to go to the first title starting with "P". I think you can do up to 3 or 4 characters like this. Also you can click into a text field and an on-screen keyboard appears allowing you to use arrow keys to select letters (ex. Netflix search).

3)Logitech DiNovo - I have one of these too. Wonderful little device, which I like a lot. The singular complaint that I have with it is that it's not also a Universal remote (significantly reducing wife acceptance factor). It doesn't turn on/off my components or allow me to do non-Media Center tasks (i.e. SlingCatcher, StandAlone DVD, A/V AMP Volume, PS3, etc.). If you don't mind using a traditional remote control AND the DiNovo together in tandem--the diNovo is the best of all worlds. Ultimately, I prefer not to do this and use the Harmony instead.

4)I also have a MS Wireless Media Center keyboard. This is a full-sized keyboard with dedicated Media Center buttons. I only bring out this thing if I'm doing a LOT of tweaking and need to do some googling or forum-typing! ;-)

5)Logitech MX Air Cordless Air Mouse - I have one of these and like it a lot. As the name implies, you can gesture in the air OR you can put it down on the coffee table to use like a traditional mouse. This unit works well with Media Center and has some dedicated surfing/media buttons.

 

In summary, my preference order (most-preferred to least): Harmony, AirMouse, diNovo, Lenovo Trackball/mini-keyboard, Wireless Media Center Keyboard.

 

Keep the questions comin'!

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My world has completely changed. The Big Ten Network is available streaming.

 

 

My general desire/philosophy with HTPCs is that you should RARELY need a keyboard/mouse if configured correctly and using Media Center to access content. This generally holds true in daily use, and I sometimes use the keyboard to tweak settings.

 

I can offer insight on these points as well:

1)The mini Keyboard/Trackball is kinda like using a BlackBerry--take that as you will. It's RF, so it works well with the Q150 tucked away in a cabinet.

2)The Harmony Remote software has 2 Media Center Profiles. One contains the normal "A/V" commands and the other contains nearly every keyboard press imaginable. You setup both as devices and blend the commands to an activity. For example, once in a while when Media Center Starts the Windows Desktop is the "active" application, even though you can see Media Center. I have programmed "Alt-Tab" into my harmony to switch among open applications to fix this easily. Also, in case you weren't aware, you can use the number keys on your Media Center remote like texting on a mobile phone. When browsing MyMovies with the Harmony, you can press "7" to go to the first title starting with "P". I think you can do up to 3 or 4 characters like this. Also you can click into a text field and an on-screen keyboard appears allowing you to use arrow keys to select letters (ex. Netflix search).

3)Logitech DiNovo - I have one of these too. Wonderful little device, which I like a lot. The singular complaint that I have with it is that it's not also a Universal remote (significantly reducing wife acceptance factor). It doesn't turn on/off my components or allow me to do non-Media Center tasks (i.e. SlingCatcher, StandAlone DVD, A/V AMP Volume, PS3, etc.). If you don't mind using a traditional remote control AND the DiNovo together in tandem--the diNovo is the best of all worlds. Ultimately, I prefer not to do this and use the Harmony instead.

4)I also have a MS Wireless Media Center keyboard. This is a full-sized keyboard with dedicated Media Center buttons. I only bring out this thing if I'm doing a LOT of tweaking and need to do some googling or forum-typing! ;-)

5)Logitech MX Air Cordless Air Mouse - I have one of these and like it a lot. As the name implies, you can gesture in the air OR you can put it down on the coffee table to use like a traditional mouse. This unit works well with Media Center and has some dedicated surfing/media buttons.

 

In summary, my preference order (most-preferred to least): Harmony, AirMouse, diNovo, Lenovo Trackball/mini-keyboard, Wireless Media Center Keyboard.

 

Keep the questions comin'!

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I'm looking for anyone with experience using any of the numerous Atom-based small form factor pre-built PCs as affordable HTPCs. This would need to stream HD video from a media server as well as use Windows Media Center to view live TV from network tuners. Also, Hulu/Netflix. Some interesting ones are available from Lenovo (Q150) as well as Acer and ASUS.

 

Any insight WHS forum?

 

 

A little late to the game. My experience has been simalr to bryronomo in terms of standard playback. I find them a bit weak for BD playback but the real deal breaker is the HD audio pass through to the receiver. I would say if you own them they should last for quite some time and not worth upgrading however if you are buying, I would spend the extra $100 and get a core I3 which will be a better investment in the long run. Just my two cents.

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My world has completely changed. The Big Ten Network is available streaming.

 

Being able to stream Big Ten games that weren't available on cable is what changed my wife's opinion that my "HTPC" was no longer "my toy" but an essential appliance in the family room :) She's a very serious Purdue fan :)

Edited by Joe_Miner
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Being able to stream Big Ten games that weren't available on cable is what changed my wife's opinion that my "HTPC" was no longer "my toy" but an essential appliance in the family room

She's a very serious Purdue fan

 

 

I never knew the big 10 was worth watching. Interesting. ;)

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