TV Computer Update

by havoc

Still looking for my perfect TV computer. Thanks to everyone for
suggestions so far, I really appreciate it. Several people expressed
interest in hearing any answers, so I’ll keep posting what I learn.

Ideas suggested so far:

None of these are quite there for me yet. I do want an actual
computer, not an appliance/”thin-client”; I don’t have another
computer free to be the server, and none of the appliances support all
the video sites and formats we use. I’d also like some future
safety. I don’t even own any Blu-Ray DVDs right now, but this thing
should last a few years, and who knows what new video services will
come out over the next 5 years. (We canceled cable in
favor of “a la carte” purchases online or in DVD form, so we don’t need
cable cards, tuners, or DVR functionality.)

Right now we’re attaching my laptop to the TV and using
the clever diNovo
Mini
as a remote. But I want to free up the laptop. (That’s the
bottom line objective here, get my laptop back.)

Any type of fan is probably a showstopper. I was almost willing to
live with the Mac Mini fan since it is somewhat quiet, but the Mac
Mini has a slow GPU in it. While a very quiet fan might be OK, my
experience with supposedly quiet fans is that they aren’t quiet
enough, especially under CPU load, and especially after a year or two
of wearing out. For my developer workstation I bought all the special
quiet parts, and it’s indeed very quiet while I type this, but the fan
spins up if the CPU is under load… for example while watching video.

In short, fans are risky.

One thing I haven’t investigated: just get a laptop. But I bet that’s
expensive-ish.

There are many good options if cost is not a factor; such as Hush, A-Tech
Fabrication
, mCubed,
or Niveus.
These are all great except they are very expensive. I’m
willing to pay extra for something good, but a thousand dollars extra
is too much.

I believe there’s probably a solution involving the Intel DG45FC or a
similar board, a slow/cheap/low-power CPU (perhaps a
single-core Celeron – that could be slower than necessary even),
a fanless case, a fanless CPU heatsink of some kind, and a
quiet/low-power 2.5-inch notebook drive.

But, there’s no way to know whether a given pile of parts will snap together
and not catch on fire.

  • Fanless CPU heatsinks are huge, and cases that hold
    mini-ITX boards don’t look big enough to fit them inside.
  • Even if they fit, fanless CPU heatsinks are probably intended to
    go in roomy cases with fans, not fanless mini-ITX
    cases.

No doubt if I wait long enough there will be something prebuilt
available. I am tempted to try the Intel board though. Maybe I can cut
a hole in the case for the heatsink 😉

(This post was originally found at http://log.ometer.com/2008-07.html#25)

My Twitter account is @havocp.
Interested in becoming a better software developer? Sign up for my email list and I'll let you know when I write something new.
Name
Email *