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HTPC Building Series: Choosing the MSI 7411 motherboard

MSI 7411

Check out our HTPC on a Budget series and join us in building a great HTPC for under $1,000.

In this installment of the Home Theater PC building log, we wanted to focus on the core of our system. Previously, we took a look at the process of selecting hardware along with a look at the overall mission to build the best HTPC we can, on a budget. To understand what we are aiming to do, though, I thought it would be best if we were able to take a look at what’s going to be at the center of everything: the MSI MS-7411 Media Live DIVA 7.1 motherboard.

That’s a mouthful, we know - but it’s also an amazing centerpiece for our system. The foundation is MSI’s MS-7411 micro-ATX motherboard featuring AMD’s 780M chipset with UVD support and side-port memory for smooth 1080p playback. This motherboard can be ordered with either pre-amp or amp audio card solutions (one purchase package) directly from your distributor of choice. Note that this motherboard uses the mobile variant of the 780 for additional power savings features that are useful in a home theater environment. It pulls less power, and it doesn’t get as hot, which means much less fan noise. Nothing kills a movie experience like fan noise, seriously.

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HTPC Building Series: Selecting our hardware

Check out out series and join us in building a great HTPC for under $1,000.

In our quest to build a great HTPC on a budget, one thing we need to think about is the hardware and software we are going to use to build and run everything. We are going to be really ambitious here, scouring deal and coupon sites to find great hardware and software at even greater prices. If you come across anything, feel free to leave a comment and let us know.

The first piece of hardware we are focusing on is a motherboard from MSI that integrates the “Maui” platform - the MSI K912GM-FIH. This is one of the biggest leaps forward in HTPC technology, and as such, we are going to build this machine around this board. In case we need to prove our case further, check out this video we did on the motherboard before its release:

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HTPC Series: Let’s build a budget HTPC

Check out out series and join us in building a great HTPC for under $1,000.

Over the next few weeks, we are gonna be working on a special project that we hope you guys will get a kick out of. You see, as gadget enthusiasts, we know that we all love when technology can make our lives easier, or when it is just downright cool. However, recent developments in the economy are going to lead to a tightening of the budget (if it hasn’t already), and we thought we’d try and see if we can build something awesome at a reasonable price. The task? We want to build a great home theater PC (HTPC), made with great parts, for under $1000 USD. You can follow our progress at our page. Or, if you’re too lazy to hit that link, here’s a list of topics:

So, what are the goals of our HTPC project? Well, besides the aforementioned $1,000 limit, we have a few other things we want out of it. First, we want it to remain fairly quiet. After all, this thing is going to be use to watch movies and television. We don’t need any extra fan noise coming from it. Secondly, we want it to put out a high definition signal, with connections that use today’s technology. Ideally, that means it will have an HDMI out port, so we can get both high definition and surround sound out of this thing.

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Toshiba to integrate Media Center Extender technology into HDTVs

REGZA media center toshibaHey, it’s time, and that means we are getting slammed with news from all ends. Toshiba, happy to get in on that party, has just announced that they’ll be integrating Media Center Extender technology directly into their REGZA line of HDTVs, and that they are even working on a standalone device that you can integrate into your home theater setup as well to get the same functionality. I guess this is the most we can expect from the company whose HD DVD technology lost out to in a major way. We’ve got the full release for you after the break.

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Allio HDTV and Built-in Media Center PC

Allio HDTV

If you have been saving up for a perfect all-in-one system, take a look at at Allio’s HDTV and Built-in Media Center PC. The deluxe 42-inch 1080p LCD TV doubles as a desktop. It features a 16:9 aspect ratio with a 2000:1 contrast, a 176º viewing angle, 7.1 surround sound with Dolby Home Theater and built-in 12W speakers. Computerwise, it has MS Vista Home Premium 32-bit and both a Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse. It comes with an A/V cable and remote beginning at a price of $1,999.99. Allios are also available in 32-inch models, but if you are moving up, you might as well do it in a big way.

 

Read More | Visionman

Nikon Media Port UP 300 and 300X

Media Port UPNikon’s Media Port UP 300 and 300X are media centers that are hard to resist. The headset gives you up to 120 minutes of video or 270 music, both uninterrupted, through an 4 GB or 8GB internal hard drive. You can also view WMP files with it or download Internet content with WiFi access. The device has embedded motion sensors for head control operation. Run by rechargeable battery, the UP is available for prices starting at ¥69,800 (~$680.00) in Japan.

Read More | Nikon

Sotec E7 Media Center Computer with iPod Dock

Sotek E7

Onkyo’s subsidiary Sotec has come up with an E7 series media center computer that we are surprised Apple didn’t come up with first. The PC has an iPod dock built-in. In addition, it has an Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 processor at 2.53 Ghz, a 21.6-inch LCD (1680 × 1050p,) up to 500GB hard drive, and a 1.3 megapixel webcam. Also included is a DVD multi-drive and SD card reader. The E7 package comes with wireless keyboard and mouse, speakers, and remote. Expect it next month in Japan for ¥144,800 (~$1,450.00.)

 

Read More | Newlaunches

Mvix Ultra-Portable Media Center

MvixThe Mvix (MV-2500U) HDD-based, Ultra-Portable Media Center allows you to share videos, music, movies, and endless family photos on your TV. The Mvix can also be put in cars, RVs, or boats and has a built-in setup menu for simplicity with firmware upgrades to keep it timely. Connect it to your PC and it functions like an external USB 2.0 hard drive. It is a basic drag-and-drop operation and comes with a ergonomic remote. The mini-drive can handle MPEG1/2/4, DVD (VOB, IFO), DivX, XviD, BivX or VCD (DAT) as well as support for AC3, MP2, MP3, WMA, OGG and M3U music files at a price of $149.00 without the drive. That will set you back another $99.00.

Read More | Mvix Store

CES 2008 Video: Logitech Harmony ONE Remote, diNovo Bluetooth keyboard

At , showed us some cool gadgets to enhance your home entertainment system. First was the diNovo Mini Palm-Size Keyboard, a little larger than an eyeglass case, which controls either your media-center PC or a computer hooked-up to a TV, depending on your setup. For example, you can use the diNovo to scan through the photos on your laptop—and display them on your TV. Plus, it’s Bluetooth-enabled ...in case you’d like to type and send a text to your bud’s phone without reaching for your cell.

We also loved Logitech’s newest Harmony One remote control with touch screen. Just hook it up to your computer via USB, and the accompanying software helps you program all your devices (and more) to the remote. This one will be available at the end of January for $250 USD.


Bleeding Edge TV 126: Neuros OSD Interview

We stopped by the Neuros room at CES and spoke with Joe Born about the Neuros OSD. This is the open source, Linux-based media center device that is starting to pick up and is generating a strong community of developers looking to use it to create the best media center device out there. It will be hitting the market soon, and based on what we saw, we think this one will be a viable alternative to some of the more stagnant media receivers out there. Check the video to find out why.


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