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Zotac Atom HTPC 'Build'


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I recently got a great deal on a Zotac HTPC.  I'm trying to shrink down my PC footprint since I'll almost certainly be living in a tiny place in Seattle.

 

So, it arrived yesterday and I've put Windows 8 and upgraded it to Media Center edition which runs beautifully.  The thing plays Netflix, Hulu, Blu-ray, HD OTA TV, and most everything else with ease.  More or less, it's the HTPC I've always wanted.

As you might have heard on the BYOB show last week, I am using Vudu a lot and love watching HDX files. I mostly watch these on my XBox.  Of course, this is the ONLY thing I have found that the Atom/Ion in this thing isn't handling well. I am guessing that the Vudu web and desktop app aren't able to utilize the Ion hardware acceleration. Maybe this will change if Vudu comes out with an official Windows 8 app.

In the mean time, I have read that some people have used the Broadcom BCM70015 Crystal HD PCI Express Mini Card to improve video performance on some file types. Vudu HDX is encoded as mpeg-4 which appears to be supported by this board.

Anyone have experience with a chip like this? Do they work? If not, I guess I'll watch Vudu on my Xbox for now.

Thanks in advance.            

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schoondoggy

Wow!

I know I had a computer that had the Broadcom Crystal chip in it, but I could not remember which one,,,,, EXO PC tablet!

For regular PC use I don't think the Crystal does anything. I upgraded the EXO to Windows 8, but I did not notice that no driver loaded for the Crystal. I connected the EXO to a TV with HDMI, the output was OK. Later I was cleaning up the EXO and got a driver to load for the crystal. Then connected to a TV the output looked great.

I did not do much comparing, but I think it would be worth a try.

You may want to send an email to the support team at Broadcom to ask if the Crystal would improve Vudu playback.

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schoondoggy

Comparison

http://on.aol.com/video/dell-mini-10-with-broadcom-crystal-hd-517344002

 

HDX are H.264 encoded, but it sounds like there is other encoding as well.

 

The HB-VD904 mini-PCIe full HD video hardware decoder is based on Broadcom's BCM70010/BCM70012 Crystal HD chipset. It supports real-time decoding of a single stream HD AVC/VC-1/MPEG-2/H.264 video. This add-on decoder enables most Intel Atom based PCs, netbooks and digital signage players to playback high definition video files and streaming media up to 1080p resolution. With less than 2W of power usage, this high performance and low power consumption solution reduces CPU utilization and enhances mobile and industrial platform designs. The HB-VD904 supports formats like VC-1, WMV9, WMV-HD, H.264, MPEG-2 format in any compliant resolution from QVGA up to 1920 × 1088.

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Thanks for the response! Sorry it took me so long to see you had posted.

 

Sounds like it may be a worth a shot.  Any idea how you got the drivers to finally install or was it just luck?

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jmwills - Yeah, those are really cool.  I looked at them, but by the time you add up the box, hard drive, and memory, it starts to climb in price a bit.

 

Schoondoggy - I'll have to give this a go... thanks!

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jmwills

Lux, I have the RAM and SSD so the only drawback for me was no wired connection.

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Double check, but I think an SSD is too big.  You need a smaller PCI-E hard drive.



Oh, I looked too fast, this isn't a NUC, it's a small Zotac box.  Interesting...

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