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Lindows Media Computer: Power to Strike Microsoft? 227

Augustus writes "LinuxHardware.org has just published the first review of the Lindows Media Computer from iDOTpc.com. The review covers the hardware behind the machine but also goes through all of the machine's claimed functionality: "After looking over all the media hype, I went searching for one of these little machines. Could the Lindows Media Computer really pull off meeting the new Windows machine in a pitched battle? It did boast "Instant on" DVD, CD, MP3, and VCD playback as one of the prime features. And, it was only a fraction of the price for a Windows Media Center system. At the time, only one vendor had them available, iDOTpc.com. After some communication, the folks at iDOTpc.com were kind enough to loan me one of the units to take for a spin." You can find the full review over at LinuxHardware.org."
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Lindows Media Computer: Power to Strike Microsoft?

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  • DVD? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by chrisseaton ( 573490 )
    How did it do DVD? Did it have a propeitary software or hardware decoder?
  • Gah! (Score:5, Funny)

    by CoolVibe ( 11466 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @04:19PM (#5632937) Journal
    iDotpc... I could've sworn I read idiot-pc there... I need more coffee...
    • It has an I in it, like a Mac. And it has a dot in it, like anything on the net.

      I gots to get me one of these!
  • What spiffy DRM features it brought over to Linux.
    Take THAT you old microsoft monopoly!!!
  • instant on? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Lxy ( 80823 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @04:19PM (#5632941) Journal
    It did boast "Instant on" DVD, CD, MP3, and VCD playback as one of the prime features

    I have one of those, it's called a DVD player. RCA made them awhile ago.
    • The problem was, even though RCA copied the "feature" of running everything as root by default, you couldn't even get to a console, let alone get X running. All in all, I was displeased with the computing experience on my RCA DVD player.

      At least I didn't have to pay the windows tax on it though!

  • i clicked the link to linuxhardware.org when there were still zero comments on the story and it was already dead! Crazy!
  • Damn, record slash dot, 5 posts on the page, and it is gone!

    Mirrors? Copy of the article? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

    • I can sum it up for you in two words: NOT GOOD. It doesn't play DVDs properly, and they need to add new hardware to it to fix that problem. So much for a media PC.
    • by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @04:45PM (#5633167) Journal
      Here is the Reader's Digest Condensed Version(R)

      Tried the box for days. Sucked bad at DVDs because this version uses software decoder. Couldn't read tags on MP3s or list the directories correctly. Lindows couldn't make up their mind if they supported software that was on their own site. Only available at one place. Guys at that place were nice and knowlegable. System was marginal at best. Wouldn't recommend it to a friend. Not a viable contender to Windows Media Center because it simply lacks power. Costs under $400 sans monitor, kb, mouse. Nice try, but don't buy. The End.
      • Sucked bad at DVDs because this version uses software decoder.

        The fact that it uses a software decoder shouldn't make a big difference. Among the HTPC world, software decoders are generally preferred, for some reason. I have no problems playing DVDs using PowerDVD and a software decoder on a 1GHz Athlon.

    • Here's a mirror [mchsi.com]
  • hrm (Score:1, Interesting)

    by jesperht ( 650842 )
    Sounds interesting...hopefully it will stand a better chance than that old lindows laptop they tried selling...
  • Please isn't that illegal ?
    I dont care if DMCA or DCMA or whatever is unethical or not, it it a law , which makes watching DVDs on linux illegal (the encrypted ones only).
    And 99$ for one year of subscription, man at that price m$ looks like a cheap option. Don't tell me with 99$ you get a lot more than a bare bone OS.Coz a typical lindows user wont need MySQl, PGSQL, Apache, etc etc.
    Is it just me, who feels that this whole concept of dumbed-down linux, rediculous ? The average joe doesn't care about GNU
    • by molarmass192 ( 608071 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @05:32PM (#5633565) Homepage Journal
      They use a DVD decoder embedded into the BIOS, the MPAA gets their cut for the decoder. It's not watching DVDs on Linux that's illegal, it's using an unlicensed DVD *decoder* that's illegal.

      As for Lindows, I fully agree. I like what Lindows is trying to do for Linux but I wouldn't pay $99 a year to be able to download otherwise free software. There may be a few exceptions (StarOffice) that are non-free and available with their service but in general you're right. I think a "pay-as-you-go to download certified software" option might have wider acceptance than a subscription but if MS moves towards a subscription model for the home (and based on what they're doing for businesses this is a possibility) then it's no longer such a bad idea. Personally, I buy a distro DVD twice a year for $50, stage it on my webserver, and use it to update a dozen boxes I watch over. So my way runs $8/year/PC which is right where I want it.

      As for the "average Joe", I like to use my dad as a point of reference. He is from the "pen and paper" crowd. I installed Linux on his PC and he doesn't even know that the OS has been replaced. What he DOES know is he wants a word processor, a spreadsheet program, email, and a browser. Well, he has those and he's perfectly happy. Would he have switched on his own? I can safely say never, because he just wants to get work done ... period. If what is already on the PC is sufficient to accomplish what he wants to do, then that's what he'll use.

      Lindows is smart in this respect because they understand this "joe user" inertia. If somebody walks into BestBuy and walks out with a Lindows PC, in 99% of the cases it will be left with exactly what came preinstalled pretty much until the PC needs to be replaced. I don't think they seriously expect "savvy" Linux users to start switching to Lindows in droves. Personally, I think they're helping bring additional OEM support for Linux and that's a good thing. However, I doubt they'll sell many boxed copies of their distro because savvy folks would rather use RedHat/Mandrake/SuSE/etc and "joe users" wouldn't know how to begin comtemplating an OS switch.
      • I like the idea of a subscription based service for maintaining software because it supports the companies which develop the software. However, Microsoft's version, where the computer will cease to function and the files contained therein become inaccessable is not acceptable to me. One of the experiences I have had working at a Laboratory where some mission critical equiptment runs on propriatary software with expiring licenses is that the corporations are basically able to extort money from you. When t
  • by Lendrick ( 314723 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @04:25PM (#5632994) Homepage Journal
    Bored with my musical endeavors, I thought it was time to watch some movies. I put in an older DVD movie, Spaceballs. It was all down hill from there. Anyone familiar with the movie will remember the opening sequence where the large spacecraft moves across the screen. The video playback was quite stuttered, though the audio did not seem to suffer. As the movie went on, the stutter wasn't as obvious but was still there. ...

    First they release an AOL Computer that can't access AOL, and now they're making a Media Computer that can't play media.

    Just because they're pissing off Microsoft doesn't make them a good company.
    • Lindows is starting to remind me of LinuxOne [slashdot.org].

      Granted, that's a bit unfair - at least Lindows has produced something. And it has some value added features (to what degree one assigns that value is something of another subject). But I'm beginning to click on the Lindows articles expecting to read about something else they've screwed up. And so, like LinuxOne, Lindows is beginning to seem more like a
    • I would highly suspect the reason for the jerkiness is that DMA on the dvd drive is turned off.

      Ogle 0.8.5 is a truly brilliant DVD player (0.9.1 is better, but we'll take what we can get), and plays smooth as glass on most >500MHz systems with UDMA dvd drives.

  • Ugh, Lindows (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ransom2003 ( 652619 )
    Lindows would be great if it WASN'T AS BAD AS WINDOWS! If only they would open up the source on that killer version of WINE they have to other distro's.
  • Text (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 31, 2003 @04:26PM (#5633005)
    Not too far back, battle waged. A battle between the big man and the little man. Massive Microsoft against little Lindows. After a lengthy court battle, the little man finally prevailed. Microsoft was not able to stop them from using the Windows-like name. That was in Spring of last year. This year, Lindows decided to give Microsoft another swift kick in the pants.

    Perhaps still a little haughty over their win, Lindows decided to take on another of Microsoft's products. In late 2002, Microsoft put into market the Media Center Edition of its popular Windows XP operating system, complete with system requirements dictated to OEM system builders. On January 28, 2003, Lindows released its own Lindows Media Computer as a direct competitor.

    After looking over all the media hype, I went searching for one of these little machines. Could the Lindows Media Computer really pull off meeting the new Windows machine in a pitched battle? It did boast ?Instant on? DVD, CD, MP3, and VCD playback as one of the prime features. And, it was only a fraction of the price for a Windows Media Center system. At the time, only one vendor had them available, iDOTpc.com. After some communication, the folks at iDOTpc.com were kind enough to loan me one of the units to take for a spin.

    This is it, right out of the box. One word came to my mind after seeing it next to my PogoLinux machine - tiny. I hoped there was some serious power packed in that little box or someone was going to be unhappy. With that in mind, on to the system specifications.

    ? VIA C3 E-Series 933MHz Processor
    ? VIA PLE133 + VT8235 Chipset Motherboard
    ? 128MB RAM PC133 and up to 1GB of PC100/PC133 SDRAM capacity
    ? 20GB ATA 100 5400RPM hard drive attached to one of 2 Dual-channel enhanced IDE Ports supporting UDMA 66/100/133
    ? 16X DVD Drive in the single full height 5.25" drive bay
    ? 4 USB 1.1 Ports (two in front, two in back), 1 Serial Port, 1 Parallel Port , and 1 PCI Slot
    ? Integrated Trident 2X AGP with 2D/3D Graphics Acceleration
    ? Integrated VIA AC97 Audio, 3 Audio Jacks: Line-in, Line-out, and Mic-in
    ? Onboard VIA 10/100 Base-T Fast Ethernet Controller
    ? Mini-ITX Tower Case with 150W Power Supply
    ? Dimension: 10.24"(D) x 5.31"(W) x 11.75"(H)
    ? LindowsOS 3.0 MP3.com Edition with dedicated tech support
    ? One Year Parts and Labor Warranty

    Some of you who are avid readers may recognize this box. It is none other than the FIC Falcon CR51 small form factor PC that was announced last October. However, it has been updated with the ?etDVD? software from Elegent Technologies. The etDVD software is a boot time embedded software set that does all the magic of audio and video playback at boot time.

    Brains! I need Brains!

    Of course, I couldn't resist cracking the case. While there were some instructions included, I thought it would be more interesting to see how intuitive it would be to go without. Three thumb screws on the back side released the side panel which slid away. Inside, there isn't a whole lot to see. Yes. On the left you can just get a glimpse of the hard drive which is mounted to the floor of the chassis. Dead center is the DVD drive, and to the upper right is the teeny tiny power supply. Again, not too interesting. But, I discovered that one of the thumb screws actually held onto the DVD drive sled. After popping off the front face plate, I found the mate to the thumb screw. Removing this, I was able to get the DVD drive out of the way and have a better look at the rest of the insides.

    As expected, I wasn't a good photographer. But let me assure you, everything was clean and small. You can make out the twin SDRAM sockets there at the top, the CPU and fan assembly just below that. Under the green heatsink resides the chipset, and over there on the right you can see the single PCI slot. Not a whole lot of room in there for anything else.

    Fire It up!

    Once I had it back together, I connected it to my spare monitor, keyboard, and mouse. (At $3
    • Indeed the M series of via epia mobos have DVD (eg, mpeg) hardware decoder but it is not supported in Linux.

      Ofcourse, as etDVD is not actually "linux", they *might* have changes to get it work but alas, in lindows its just not yet possible..

    • Heh. If Lindows were to find a way to drop the price by $100, move the other USB ports to the front, seal up the box and ship it with a controller, they'd have their own console. Microsoft did it, why can't Lindows?

      Better yet, make an XBOX clone. :)
    • Re:Text (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ilctoh ( 620875 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @06:29PM (#5634010)
      Sounds like they're trading necessary power for low cost. For example, does 128MB of SDRAM sound like enough for a multi-media computer? A 20GB 5400 RPM hard drive won't win any awards, especially if folks are seriously into MP3 storage. A CD Burner wouldn't hurt. At least a motherboard with a 4x AGP slot and USB2 support. IMHO, this computer would better be suited for a web browsing/email/word processing computer, not a "Media Computer".
  • by t0qer ( 230538 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @04:27PM (#5633020) Homepage Journal
    And going off just what I saw in the slash post, there's no mention of it. Since I can't read the article (slashdotted) I can only go on what is availiable to me.

    So since time shifting wasn't mentioned about windows media center or linux, I can only assume since the author is trying to compare lindows to media center that it must have time shifting capabilities.

    So how is the time shifting on linux? Could someone from linuxhardware.com please either provide another mirror to the article, or just answer my reply? I'm just really curious to know if it's working well in lindows.

    Yours Truly
  • Come on. Has anyone here ever *used* Lindows?

    God. Pitiful... just fucking awful. It's like the worst features of Windows meet the worst features of Linux, and a retard put it all together so other retards could half-use it but no one could fully use it. How anyone could consider it even a serious contender on the desktop, let alone a "MS striker", is beyond the comprehension of an intelligent human.

    Lindows will die and Bill Gates won't even giggle. That's how little of a threat they are.
    • I want Roberts (Robertson?) to stand up and explain what happened to the Wine intergration he promised. It just seems to have disappeared without trace. I don't think Wine is even installed by default now.
    • I probably shouldn't admit this in a forum of people who obviously despise Lindows, but I have tried it and I did like it. I think I have a pretty good handle on OSs having used NetWare, Windows, UNIX, Linux, VMS, etc and I found Lindows very easy to install, very easy to navigate and -- more importantly -- very easy to get working on my Windows network.

      Lindows isn't necessarily here for the hard core Linux user. It's for the masses. For similar reasons that hard core Linux/Unix folks hate Windows, the
    • It's like the worst features of Windows meet the worst features of Linux, and a retard put it all together so other retards could half-use it but no one could fully use it.

      Maybe its just the "dows" suffix that makes products blow monkey chunks. Its pronounced just like "Doh!", only its pluralized to indicate a whole mess of 'em.

      It may not be likely, but it sure would explain a couple few things...

  • by asv108 ( 141455 ) <.asv. .at. .ivoss.com.> on Monday March 31, 2003 @04:33PM (#5633067) Homepage Journal
    While media computers are interesting, I don't see them becoming a mainstream phenomenon anytime soon. Joe Sixpack does not want to deal with the hassle of sticking a computer next to his TV. Media Computing seems to the newest thing to hype this year, last year it was tablets, this year its media computers. The PC manufactures and hardware companies are dying to find new segments since nobody needs to upgrade to a 3GHZ PC.

    Lindows so far has been all hype and no delivery. I wouldn't touch anything backed by Robertson, and I love how Lindows is on its 3rd version in less than a year.

    • Avatar says:

      Actually, given the lack of upgrade options, I would be hard pressed to recommend this system to anyone. It does look good, fits into small spaces, and doesn't take up a whole lot of space. But I don't know anyone who has these items on the absolute top of their priority list.

      He does not know my wife, her mom, my mom and what must be greater than 50% of the US market. They want small, out of the way stuff like this like you would not belive. They are buying those dinky Bose bookcase syste

      • My HTPC runs on Linux, uses Ogle for DVD playback, xine for music playback (with JESS for visualization), tvtime for analog video (I wrote an effect for the sound blaster live OSS drivers that delays the sound to compensate for the video delay introduced by tvtime), has an OpenGL user interface I wrote, controls my projector via RS-232, and is all navigatable with the remote control that came with my HDTV tuner card. I'm still writing the driver [sourceforge.net] for the HDTV card, but the remote works great with lirc. Fro
    • They don't. But replacing my VCR, CD player, PC as mp3 player et al with a single smart multifunctional box? I think Joe Sixpack could very well go for it if it came with a simple, user-friendly interface in a nice black/silver box the size of my VCR (not PVR - yet). The problem is the user interface - whatever links you have for freshmeat is *not* what I had in mind. You're right he doesn't want a computer - but nothing beats the flexibility of having a computer *behind* the scenes. Oh and about that "not
  • Hey, it sounds like they've at least kept up with Media Center Edition though. That is a piece of crap for a program. The interface is slow, the mp3 player is aparently not compatible with WMP9 (which conveniently comes in a patch of course) so new media cant be loaded into the MCE library, and the remote handler doesnt detect anything but the very commercial remotes (I've got an Ira and it has no idea what to do with it). Bleh. I went back to just programming functions into Girder and using winamp.
  • This thing sounds like crap. All they keep doing is harping on the port blockers for the kiddies. The Xbox media player does all this and more.

    Oh, and someone HAS figured out how to run Linux on an UNMODDED XBOX! [xboxhacker.net] I submitted the story yesterday, but...
    • Oh, and someone HAS figured out how to run Linux on an UNMODDED XBOX! [xboxhacker.net] I submitted the story yesterday, but...

      Just be patient. I am sure that if you will just wait 2 weeks, it will get posted 3 days in a row by different editors that will claim they have a scoop on it.

      Whats the purpose of having Karma if you can't burn it once in a while ;)
  • by DeadSea ( 69598 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @04:35PM (#5633093) Homepage Journal
    They picked a name that is obviously supposed to resemble Windows. While they may legally be able to do this, it seems pretty slimeball to me. Especially since announcements like this make it clear that they are trying to compete head to head with Windows.

    When I was working for a .com that was trying to choose a name, the marketing folks made some very strong points for why you don't have to choose something that people are familiar with. Given that we were promoting widgets, they recommended we not name ourselves widgets.com, ourwidgets.com, or ewidgets.com. Their argument was that if you have a good product you can create your own name. Does Yahoo! need the word "directory" in their name? Does Ebay need the word "Auctions" in its name? Using something wacky wasn't going to hurt you, and it would allow you to later branch out into other markets.

    Software developers really need to look at this lesson. Repeat after me, "The name of your program doesn't have to start with 'Win', 'g', 'k', 'Java', or 'X'".

    Somebody replied to a similar rant of mine here on slashdot. They said that if you wrote a program that browsed Ebay auctions, you should be allowed to put ebay in the name. Maybe you should be allowed to, but that might prevent you from also supporting Yahoo or some other auction site in the future. Its not a good idea.

    In the case of Lindows, the fact that they are using the name of their competitor cheapens them. I have to wonder why they don't think they can't create their own hype. Is their product not good enough?

    • "Their argument was that if you have a good product you can create your own name."

      In an ideal world, IMHO. Good product does not equal success. Good product with Shotgun Method advertising usually leads to success--assuming you aren't ripping off someone else's IP. Yahoo does well despite its name because no search engine-based Web property has an intuitive name, that I know of. Google? Hotbot? Inktomi? Alta Vista? They aren't competing for vocabulary mindshare.

      PC Magazine circulates about 6 million is

    • Curious, is your .com company still in business? :-)
  • by YetAnotherName ( 168064 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @04:37PM (#5633105) Homepage
    Call me spoiled. I watch Alias, The Practice, and even Fraser in HDTV every week. HDNet's sports are outstanding. And the recent Olympic games awe-inspiring. Guests to my home are blown away when I fire up PBS's continually-playing demo loop.

    Despite the many many nay-sayers, HDTV is here, now.

    Yet I keep seeing product announcements (Lindows Media, Mystro, Dish's 721 etc.) boasting competition to the Tivo, yet not a one is capable of handling HTDV. Tivo can't yet either.

    I'm having to build my own digital recorder on an PC running (shudder) Windows XP with a MyHD [digitalconnection.com] card. The data rate of HDTV is high, but not unmanageable. MyHD records and displays a live program using less than 10% of the processor (1.8GHz P4, I'll grant).

    I'm frankly tired of viewing programs with non-square pixels, incomplete color gamuts, and a mere 480 lines of (interlaced) resolution. Wake me when one of these companies does HDTV.
    • Despite the many many nay-sayers, HDTV is here, now.

      There are so many nay-sayers because you have either a different definition of 'here', or a different definition of 'now' than manufacturers that want to make money and the majority of consumers that put price before quality (probably because they have a puny paycheck compared to you). When you can get a 20" or larger HDTV with HD tuner for $170, HDTV will be here. Until then it's a high end toy for technology junkies, no matter how good it looks.
    • Yeah.. HDTV is here and now and my xbox does a better job of HDTV support and media playback then this "pc" ever will :)

      No stuttering DVD, instant on, WMA support, SPDIF/Digital audio out.. all for 199 brand new or 100 bucks ebay :)

      THPS 4 @ 720 is simply amazing on a 96" screen!
  • by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @04:38PM (#5633110) Journal
    A few months back when I was looking into building media-centric PC's for the kids. The DVD software, afaik, is proprietary (licenced CSS codes), and embedded within the bootprom.

    All in all, it looked like a completely gutless solution, incapable of doing nearly everything I wanted it to do.

    It's hardly something to compete with the tivo-like feature set and processing power that the P4/windows based media PC's from big vendors provides.

    It's more like a really really expensive, but really really crappy, DVD player. That runs linux.

  • ...can i get native version of AOE2 or Civilization 3 or Unreal or ...? No? Rats...looks like lilo will be in sittin for a while still on my mbr...
  • Sweet! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Linux has found a +3/+3 Media Center of Monopoly Smiting!

    Now, we only need to find a +2 Shield of Flame Resitence vs. Trolls and we'll save the princess!

    (Jet lag is a horrible thing)

    • Now, we only need to find a +2 Shield of Flame Resitence vs. Trolls and we'll save the princess!
      Congratulations.... but the princess is in another castle!
  • by Howard Beale ( 92386 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @04:39PM (#5633120)
    idiotpc.com??? Not a good name, but I know a few people that qualify buying a PC from them.

  • iDOTpc? (Score:2, Funny)

    by CNERD ( 121095 )
    Sounds like some deformed offspring of the marketing departments of Apple and Microsoft.

    Are they going to have a server version called iDOTnet?
  • Is it just me, or wouldn't you expect a media computer to be a computer that you can hook up your television and view its content (video files, sound files, pictures) on your television using a remote control? Why all this talk about DVD playing? What is so special about a computer playing a DVD?
  • Quite possible (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ramzak2k ( 596734 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @04:49PM (#5633205)
    If Lindows Media computer is able to create an interface where the user finds absolutely
    nothing lacking in comparison to Windows media Computer & is cheaper - why not ?

    The only reason linux is losing out on the desktop is because of the inability to execute applications (without struggling with wine).
    With all-in-a-box system like a media computer that wouldnt require specific applications to perform tasks there is a good chance that windows will lose out.
    • Re:Quite possible (Score:4, Insightful)

      by geomon ( 78680 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @04:59PM (#5633302) Homepage Journal
      With all-in-a-box system like a media computer that wouldnt require specific applications to perform tasks there is a good chance that windows will lose out.

      True, but it has to work first.

      The article was quite clear on the inability of this particular product to perform as advertised. The author was also more than a little disappointed at the customer service from Lindow's.
    • Absolutely true. Of course, this product is an absolute train-wreck; the sellers must know that they have a dog on their hands, but they are trying to sell it anyways. It sounds completely useless to a non-techie, and completely senseless to a linux user.

      If someone doesn't knock Lindows out of the consumer-linux-desktop-of-choice perch that they currently enjoy in the media, they just might set back Linux 5 years.

      The whole premise of Lindows seems to be overselling the product. Does anyone regularly use L
      • I would bet most end up with a pirate copy of XP.

        They've tried the 'most user friendly' version of Linux and it was terrible, so the other distro's must surely be worse.. and obviously they'll never recommend Linux to their friends either.

        Not that I actually care but if you really wanted to kill Linux from ever becoming a popular desktop OS, what Lindows is doing might well be the most successful way of going about it.
      • Actually, for applications like a "media PC", I'd rather see BeOS (well, we have to wait for OpenBEos now) on them.
  • Usage... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rf0 ( 159958 ) <rghf@fsck.me.uk> on Monday March 31, 2003 @04:51PM (#5633227) Homepage
    As far as I understand from the review. It doesn't do what its meant to do (DVD etc) very well and it can't display on a TV. No pardon me if I wrong but I would want something like this to show stuff on my TV. So basically I can spend £250 on this or £99 on a DVD player than can do the same thing? I know where I'm putting my money

  • Flawed approach (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Bungi ( 221687 ) <thebungi@gmail.com> on Monday March 31, 2003 @05:03PM (#5633329) Homepage
    Lindows seems to think that somehow the fact that the OS that they use is free automatically gives them the higher ground when going head to head with Microsoft on any given field. Saving yourself $40 (or whatever the bulk OEM cost for an XP license is) is hardly the proverbial silver bullet.

    And who buys these "media PCs" anyway? Does anyone have any info on the size of this market?

    • Re:Flawed approach (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @06:10PM (#5633854) Journal
      Lindows seems to think that somehow the fact that the OS that they use is free automatically gives them the higher ground when going head to head with Microsoft on any given field. Saving yourself $40 (or whatever the bulk OEM cost for an XP license is) is hardly the proverbial silver bullet.

      MS Media Center OS is not the same as XP. Similar base, but not the same. I couldn't even find prices for the OS, since you have to buy a box with it preinstalled. Bestbuy.com isnt taking orders anymore, gateway starts at $1700, compusa at 1400, bestbuy was 1700.....these are medium priced, not cheap.

      As to the size of the market: I am betting it IS the next market. The current versions are just glorified computers, but the general idea of the product is what will replace your home stereo,dvd player, etc. A single box. Even my mom would like this, to surf on the tv (once tvs are all high definition) instead of the Dell I bought her.

      Its still a young market, but it is the direction it is going. One box to act as internet router, surfer, music getter and player, dvd player, porno downloader, etc.....

      All you need is a wireless keyboard and mouse, (and maybe wireless video for a seperate monitor to use in other rooms), and yea, I could see every home needing one of these instead of the current methods of a buttload of seperate parts. that may or maynot work well together. Then we could have it all in one convenient box that doesn't work very well :)
  • The 933 they are listing isnt anywhere up to the task of DVD playback.
    They should of gone with the 933mhz M9000 [mini-itx.com] or the 1Ghz M10000 [mini-itx.com].

    Not only do they use faster PC2100 ram, they also have USB2.0.

    They really should of either A. Waited a month or two before releasing this or B. Used something other then the Mini-ITX formfactor.

    Tom's has an article comparing these diffrent boards right here [tomshardware.com].
  • So this crappy company who has nothing better to do than try and make mediocre products that use similar Microsoft names to boost their media HYPE makes another piece of crap.

    From the article:
    "...over time I found it lacking in several areas that were crucial...The poor VIA C3 933MHz CPU isn't even in the same league as those found in the Windows machine...the sound quality was ok but certainly wasn't something to brag about...DVD playback is spotty, VCD is as well. The 3D side of the machine falls woeful
  • I really want to know why some people are fixated on watching DVD's on their home computer. 29" TV's can be had for less than the price of a decent new video card, and basic DVD players are dirt cheap.

    I don't understand it. Why sit in front of your computer for 2 hours when you can stretch out on the couch?

    Oooo - movies in 1024x768 - crystal clear! Of course you have to be within 3 feet of the screen to really enjoy it...
    • some of us drive large TVs with our computers. Still others live in dorms and need a computer but don't have room for a TV. still others don't watch TV but enjoy movies. different strokes for different folks.
    • There is no requirement to watch your PC output on a monitor. Among HTPC experts at avsforum, there are a lot of people who assert that DVD output from the computer is better than from any standalone DVD player, even those costing thousands of dollars. One of the reasons is the easy availability of line doublers and the use of custom resolutions.

      I agree that watching DVDs on your 17" moinitor sucks, but you can also hook up an LCD projector to your computer (most have VGA and/or DVI inputs), and look at a 1

    • I don't want to watch a DVD on my current computer. BUT... As soon as I can get a computer that _also_ can do what my DVD player can (including displaying its output on my TV), I'm switching. Why? Because the computer that could do that could also serve as an audio center, PVR (like TiVo), and a number of other things.

  • Built from parts:

    G4 450
    Desktop-style G3 case painted black w/ silver trim
    768 MB RAM
    120 + 80 GB drives
    32 MB Radeon Dual-Head Graphics (drives a 27" TV and a 14" VGA 800x600 mirrored or separate display at the 'control center' of the couch)
    External CD-RW
    Mac OS X (incl. all the goodness of a full install of X)
    VLC (for VideoCDs, DivX, etc)
    Remote Control via Keyspan
    Wacom Tablet

    Best freakin' PVR etc in the world. Has 2 stereo audio inputs, 2 S-video out, 2 Composite Video out, 1 VGA, 1 DVI, one Mac
  • "I know a genuine Panaphonics when I see one. And there's Magnetbox, and Sorny."

  • The article attributes poor DVD playback to the lack of hardware decoding, but adds that the vendor promised:

    The new "M series" would be coming out soon that did include the decoder and took care of the poor playback.

    "M Series" refers to the naming convention of the motherboards. The tested model is a VIA EPIA. The "M Series" are the lastest EPIA motherboards, which add several improvements, including DDR RAM and hardware MPEG-2 decoding.

    I've been looking at an EPIA M6000, which, with it's low-pow
  • by Gyorg_Lavode ( 520114 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @06:21PM (#5633934)
    I actually have a computer alot like this. I have a via 733 w/ 512pc133 ram in the original shuttle case. (I have 200gb of hdd space so slightly more than thiers.) The one thing I have that they don't is the hardware decoder card. Honestly, you need one if your going to be decoding dvd's. A via isn't going to handle dvd decoding by it's self. That's just silly.

    Comparing these to a windows media computer isn't even fair. They are 2 different beasts. A windows media computer is built around high end hardware capable of doing PVR duties. This little box is a dvd player w/ a hard drive, (as is mine). It was silly of them to sell this without a hardware decoder.

    But with a hardware decoder it should do fine. (I run mine under windows because I haven't been able to get the drivers for the hardware video decoder working under linux. Also, I want a dvd player that works with my remote control and that I can pop the dvd in and have the menu come up, not something I have to work at the keyboard for. I know these features are available, but I haven't seen a simple package that combines these 3 things without me having to hack things up.) I get almost no cpu utilization under windows. When I do get jumps in the video/audio, it's caused by the isa bus (and I have bus mastering, it just sucks), not by the hardware. The box works well for what I wanted when I bought it: A dvd player that is small and trendy looking, but is updatable with standard pc parts and can take a LOT of storage for my music, (I have ALOT of music. I have ripped my hundred's of CD's to the computer to make them all portable at once).

    But a media center? That it is not. The system reviewed should be compared to a set-top box that has a dvd player and can access mp3's, ogg's, and such. I'm thinking about building a new box to work as a media center, but I'll use a bigger case, MUCH stronger hardware so I can use PVR capabilities, and probably a package like the PVR ones that have been discussed here before. Either that or a windows media center computer.

    • Not to dis your machine, but the fact that it has a hardware decoder is the exact reason that this machine is *lindows* and not windows. Lindows doesn't have drivers for hardware decoders which is why the used the software decoder built into the ROM of the Via device. I'm sure if they could get MPAA approved drivers for a real decoder and charge $50 more, they would.
    • Decoding doesn't really seem to be a problem on my slower systems (400MHz and 500MHz). The thing that really helps performance is when the video hardware and the driver supports scaling, for example, using the ATI chips with the GATOS drivers.
  • If only there was some company [apple.com] that offered a UNIX based operating system [apple.com] running on powerful and elegant hardware [apple.com] that offered powerful built-in audio [apple.com] and video [apple.com] with every system sold, and also offered a drive that can read and write DVDs as well as CD-R/W [apple.com]. Alas, if only this glorious, mythical, magic computer company existed in real life... [apple.com]
  • by Delirium Tremens ( 214596 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @06:26PM (#5633983) Journal
    The important questions when it comes to modern DVD playback are:
    Can this box upscale DVD resolution to 720p? And if so, through what kind of output? DVI? Components?
  • I thought the whole point of a "Media PC" was that it acted like a PVR and recorded video content. If I want to play DVD's/MP3's/VCD's, I'll just buy a $150 DVD player!
  • by L0J46K ( 610782 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @08:55PM (#5634889)
    I think we all want someone to beat Microsoft at their own game. My only hope is that more companies start porting their apps towards UNIX based environments. Linux is great at work, but at home I am locked into a microsoft PC because of gaming / multimedia. At least Lindows is making progress on bridgeing the gap. 2 thumbs up for effort to those guys.
  • The answer is: No.

    Next question?

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