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Shuttle's Tiny PC Reviewed 302

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the curiously-small-pcs dept.
PhantomHarlock writes "VIAHardware posted a review of a great miniature PC desktop system from Shuttle, the motherboard manufacturer. It's a tiny aluminum case with a floppy bay and one 5 1/4 bay. It uses Shuttle's FV24 mobo, one of the smallest on the market. The motherboard has built in video (with S-Video out), audio, 10/100 Ethernet, USB and dual firewire ports. " Might be a nifty device to use as a stereo component with that S-Video out.
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Shuttle's Tiny PC Reviewed

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  • Interesting Specs (Score:4, Informative)

    by XBL (305578) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @10:43AM (#2446611)
    These are from the MWave site (notice the FireWire!):

    VIA VT8604 North Bridge
    Host interface
    Integrated Savage4 2D/3D Graphics Engine
    PC 133 SDRAM/VCM interface
    PCI interface
    ACPI Compliant

    VIA VT82C686B South Bridge
    UDMA 33/66/100 IDE interface
    USB interface
    AC97 Controller
    Integrated Super I/O controller
    Integrated hardware monitoring controller
    Power management meet ACPI requirement
    RTC

    CPU: Socket 370 type CPU
    Intel Celeron with 66MHz FSB (100MHz FSB for future CPU)
    Intel Pentium III with 100 / 133MHz FSB

    FSB
    66 / 100 / 133MHz

    Form Factor
    Flex ATX: 7" X 7.5"

    Memory
    DIMM x 2, Up to 512MB of 168-pin PC100 /PC133 SDRAM

    Graphics
    Built in Savage 4 graphics engine

    Audio
    VIA audio with AC'97 CODEC

    On board 1394 chipset
    Lucent FW323
    1394a OHCI link and PHY in single package
    Complies with 1394 OHCI specification revision 1.0
    Provides three fully compliant cable ports
    Support 400Mb/s, 200Mb/s, 100Mb/s data transfer rate

    Ethernet
    On board Realtek 8139C
    IEEE 802.3u 100Base-T specifications compliant
    10 Mb/s and 100 Mb/s operation
    Supports Wake-On-LAN function

    Modem (optional)
    Proprietary Modem riser Module
    V.90 compliant

    Expansion Bus
    1 x PCI
    PCI 2.2 specification compliant

    I/O
    Built in VIA 686B
    Support 1 UART for Complete Serial Ports
    Support 1 Multi-mode parallel port
    Support 1 Floppy Disk Controller
    Support PS2 keyboard and mouse

    H/W Monitor
    Built in VIA686B
    Voltage, Temperature, Fan Speed Monitor

    IDE
    Ultra DMA 33/66/100 mode
    PIO mode 4
    2 IDE ports

    Power Management
    APM 1.2
    ACPI 1.0

    BIOS
    Award PnP BIOS
    DMI 2.3
    2Mb flash memory

    Back Panel Ports and Connectors
    1 x PS/2 Keyboard
    1 x PS/2 Mouse
    1 x VGA port
    1 x Serial Port
    1 x Parallel port, supports SPP, ECP, and EPP mode
    2 x 1394 ports
    1 x S connector
    1 x Composite connector
    2 x USB ports
    1 x RJ45 port
    1 x line-in connector
    1 x line-out connector

    Other connectors and jumpers
    2 x fan connectors
    2 x Front Panel USB Connector Header
    Front side line-out and mic-In Header
    CD Audio in connector
    Clear CMOS
    1 x ATX power connector

    Others Feature
    CPU Voltage Auto Detecting (CPU PnP)
    Support Suspend to Ram
    Power on by Ring
    Wake-On-LAN
    • Re:Interesting Specs (Score:5, Informative)

      by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Thursday October 18, 2001 @12:59PM (#2447324) Homepage Journal
      On board Realtek 8139C

      Man, why is it when companies build in NICs on motherboards they always choose the crappiest one they can find? Bill Paul [mailto] has some choice words to say about this card (taken from if_rl.c in the FreeBSD source tree).

      /*
      * The RealTek 8139 PCI NIC redefines the meaning of 'low end.' This is
      * probably the worst PCI ethernet controller ever made, with the possible
      * exception of the FEAST chip made by SMC. The 8139 supports bus-master
      * DMA, but it has a terrible interface that nullifies any performance
      * gains that bus-master DMA usually offers.
      *
      * For transmission, the chip offers a series of four TX descriptor
      * registers. Each transmit frame must be in a contiguous buffer, aligned
      * on a longword (32-bit) boundary. This means we almost always have to
      * do mbuf copies in order to transmit a frame, except in the unlikely
      * case where a) the packet fits into a single mbuf, and b) the packet
      * is 32-bit aligned within the mbuf's data area. The presence of only
      * four descriptor registers means that we can never have more than four
      * packets queued for transmission at any one time.
      *
      * Reception is not much better. The driver has to allocate a single large
      * buffer area (up to 64K in size) into which the chip will DMA received
      * frames. Because we don't know where within this region received packets
      * will begin or end, we have no choice but to copy data from the buffer
      * area into mbufs in order to pass the packets up to the higher protocol
      * levels.
      *
      * It's impossible given this rotten design to really achieve decent
      * performance at 100Mbps, unless you happen to have a 400Mhz PII or
      * some equally overmuscled CPU to drive it.
      *
      * On the bright side, the 8139 does have a built-in PHY, although
      * rather than using an MDIO serial interface like most other NICs, the
      * PHY registers are directly accessible through the 8139's register
      * space. The 8139 supports autonegotiation, as well as a 64-bit multicast
      * filter.
      *
      * The 8129 chip is an older version of the 8139 that uses an external PHY
      * chip. The 8129 has a serial MDIO interface for accessing the MII where
      * the 8139 lets you directly access the on-board PHY registers. We need
      * to select which interface to use depending on the chip type.
      */

      The worst part is, it's not that expensive to build decent 10/100 chips these days. NetGear and LinkSys sell decent cards for as little as $5 a pop. There's really no reason to go with the RealTeks anymore.
      • The RealTek 8139 PCI NIC redefines the meaning of 'low end.'

        This can only be because he hasn't had much experience with the Davicom chipsets. I had a problem with the Davicom chips dropping off at layer 2 under load. Posts to freebsd-hackers seem to suggest that the answer is "yeah, they do don't they" - so bizarrely this is an area where realtek's have an advantage.

        I'm no fan of 3com either. I have a 3c905b in a FreeBSD box that (for one reason or another) I just don't want to have to dig out and change. Recently we have been having difficulties running the chip at 100MBit/sec, both on hubs and switches. Changed the cable, even shielded it to no avail.

        Where does this leave us? Intel 82559 or death! Although these also have a disclaimer about not wanting to be connected via loopback cables. Gnnnn!

        Dave
        • re: 3Com 905b

          Recently we have been having difficulties running the chip at 100MBit/sec


          I had the same trouble in Linux. Rather than mess with it, I replaced it with an 8139. It's not fast by any stretch of the imagination, but it's better than being stuck on 10Mb.

          For cheap-o cards, I've had good success with the Tulip and Rhine cards... Well, better than RealTek, anyway.

          My favourite PCI cards by far are Intel's EtherExpress Pros. I've consistently been able to get much higher bandwidth out of them. Their switches are fast, too. Speed testing is part of my job, can you tell? :-)

          That said, I still like 3Com's PCMCIA cards, but they are totally different beasts.
  • Might be a nifty device to use as a stereo component with that S-Video out.

    Well, it's a nice piece of machinery hardware-wise, but I wouldn't want it in my living room looking like that. Otherwise putting a DVD in that one 5 1/4 slot would be very interesting...
    • "...I wouldn't want it in my living room looking like that."

      No kidding. Unless of course you live in one of those converted factories or warehouses and all your furniture comes out of the Sears Craftsman Tool catalog. Otherwise, it has just the right look to be rack mounted in a back room and forgotten 'til it breaks down.

  • Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by connorbd (151811) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @10:46AM (#2446631) Homepage
    It does the job of being a small and workable system, and that's about it. It'd be a good cluster box, IMHO, but man... mofo is *ugly*.

    Would I buy one? I don't know -- probably if they put it in a nicer case, but not like that. But I speak as someone who still lives at home and doesn't necessarily have space concerns that this box would address. (And I mean, really -- if space was truly an issue, why not just buy a Cappucino box and be done with it?)

    What I want to see -- and I'm serious about this -- are a consumer-electronics-type case for a PC with an IR reciever and a graphical LED front panel (for media control) and a wooden case meant to match those "executive" mini-stereos from The Sharper Image...

    /Brian
    • Is is just me? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by dwk123 (529337)
      Okay, these things aren't beautiful, but I don't find them as ugly as most. Not compared to the average case, anyway. Paint the front black and stick it behind a smoked glass door, and you're in business. There are three things that this has above the Cappucino - pci slot - firewire - cost This is the best candidate so far for my dedicated audio box. Might not be ideal, but better than anything I've seen so far. If it's as quiet as it looks like it should be, we may have a winner.
    • Re:Well... (Score:3, Redundant)

      by tswinzig (210999)
      But I speak as someone who still lives at home...

      I think it's safe to say that everyone lives at home.
    • You could pop the system into this nice cheap baby black cube [directron.com]... Just be sure to investigate a heftier power supply for long term usage. Of course this "baby" case is probably a bit bigger than the one this system comes in but at least it looks cool!
  • Use ideas (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MentlFlos (7345)
    With my usage patterns this thing wouldn't be too good as a my main box, but with that kind of footprint it would make a great little rackable box or as the main post said, some sort of AV component. Heh, I have drive enclosures that are bigger than this thing, I love it.

    We also could use something like that here at work in the labs. Our existing dell boxes take up a huge amount of space. We could cram these things under the o-scopes or something.

    If I had the money I would get one just so I could play around with it :)

    • Re:Use ideas (Score:2, Interesting)

      by MentlFlos (7345)
      Yeah, replying to my own post.... blablabla

      I originally didn't see the little PCI riser card in there. Throw a video in card in there (or tv tuner) and have an IR reciever plopped off the serial port and this thing could be a tivo wanna-be. Oh now I'm really thinking of how cool this box could be. As others mentioned it can also have a DVD drive in there to play disks.

      Unlike the tivo too, you could upgrade the HD just by chaining one (or more) off the firewire port. Hmm, are there any good USB or firewire video capture devices? Of course they would need to be linux compatable so that makes it even harder.

      Of course you can substitute "tivo" with your favorite digital recording preference

      • No need for an additional video card. It has an integrated video chip(Savage) that has TV-Out(S-Video) built into the mobo. Add HDD, processor, memory and it could be a nice MP3 server hooked to your TV, especially if you "have an IR reciever plopped off the serial port" as you said. Tivo-like system should be just as doable. I would like to see an LCD slapped on the front of it though. For the $250 MWave is charging, and say $250 more for the aforementioned components, this would make a nifty addition to an entertainment system. With the built-in NIC, it could also double as a MP3 playing, web-surfing, e-mail, instant messaging kiosk that you could access right from the couch.
        • Re:Use ideas (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Foochar (129133)
          To be "Tivo-like" you don't need just TV-Out you need TV-In. And half of what makes the tivo so cool is the service. I can tell it to record a show and I don't have to worry about them changing the night it is on, or running a long episode. Yeah, things like Bush deciding to give a press conference will still cause a problem but no more then it would a VCR.
          • Yeah, thats why I said tivo like... it does lack the services.


            Perhaps calling it a digial video recorder would be a more accurate term.

          • Re:Use ideas (Score:3, Interesting)

            by unitron (5733)
            How good is the Tivo service? If a last minute change (news bulletin, late-running football game, etc) causes a network to time shift its evening schedule from 8:00-11:00 to 8:17:30-11:17:30, does it catch the change? If it was supposed to tape the 8:00-9:00 show and then change channels to catch a movie starting at 9:00, are you screwed, and in which direction?
        • yes, but for tivo like functionality you would also need video in... thus the use of the PCI slot :)
  • by Mwongozi (176765) <slashthree&davidglover,org> on Thursday October 18, 2001 @10:47AM (#2446641) Homepage
    At the risk of being modded down for supporting Microsoft...

    Windows XP has a thing called "remote desktop connection", which is a lot like remote X connections on Linux, except that things like sound and hardware ports are also brought across to the remote machine.

    My home LAN has a fairly beefy PC on it running Windows XP Pro, and it would be really useful to have a few cheap and small PCs thrown about the house, which could connect back to the main PC in my bedroom and bring the desktop to wherever you are.

    Right now I use a laptop with an 802.11b card in it to do that, but that's a seriously expensive solution.

    • except the version of rdc on xp pro limits you to one connection at a time and blanks out the screen of the host pc whilst you're doing it.
      • except the version of rdc on xp pro limits you to one connection at a time and blanks out the screen of the host pc whilst you're doing it.

        That's okay, there's only one of me. :)

        I believe it allows one connection per user, I can't imagine ever wanting to have two desktops on the go at the same time.

    • So you mean like VNC, except slower and more expensive? :)

      • So you mean like VNC, except slower and more expensive? :)

        RDC is much faster than VNC on Windows, because:

        • VNC isn't very good at working out which bits of the desktop have been redrawn (Or Windows isn't very good at telling it...)
        • RDC gets the remote machine to draw widgets, with the host machine saying things like "Draw this widget here", rather than sending bitmaps for everything.

        It also resizes your desktop to whatever resolution the remote machine is using, which is quite nice. VNC doesn't do sound or ports either.

        • I stand corrected on the faster part then. I've had very limited experence with RDC due to my lack of a copy of terminal server :)

          Sound wise this sounds backwards. Personally I would remote control the little box and have it play sounds and whatnot to my stereo. If it xfered its sound output to the box I was controling from then what good would it be sitting in my AV cabnet?

          Or perhaps its just my lack of food speaking... I'm hungry.

        • VNC isn't very good at working out which bits of the desktop have been redrawn (Or Windows isn't very good at telling it...)

          Definately the latter. I spent some time trying to figure out how to get Windows to pass my program graphical updates to various windows rather than just updating the screen, it really isn't possible. The best you can do is constantly take snapshots of the windows, possibly keyed off of keyboard and mouse messages. But that only works in an interactive app, and it's no way to deal with something like a movie player. The only efficient solution I could come up with was to replace the gdi dlls with wrappers so I could intercept the information as it went through, but that's just stupid.

          Of course, there must be a way to do all this efficiently because Microsoft is doing it. It's crap like this that is causing me to move towards free software, Microsoft has made it clear that their operating system will never be an equal playing field.

    • And on the realistic side -- what would this cost in licensing fees to Bill?? Sure it may be a tad snappier than VNC, but does not price figure in there somewhere. I try not to bash Microsoft to much....But I hate it when I see people try to compare things based on the licensing and upgrade fees not factoring in.
      • And on the realistic side -- what would this cost in licensing fees to Bill??

        Umm...One license.

        I don't know anyone who buys a seperate copy of an app for each home machine.
        The legality of this is questionable, but
        this is not a corporate LAN he's talking about...
        The thought of a home user buying multiple licenses for his own machines, all under his immediate control, is absurd.

        Yes, I am condoning this practice. No, I don't care about your opinion.

        C-X C-S
        • Yes it is absurd...Hence, one of the main reasons I do not use Windows or Microsoft products.....However, no matter how absurd -- it is still the law and the rules. You can't justify walking into a car dealership and stealing a couple cars just because you actually purchased a car there before - but you have a 3 car garage that was feeling kind of empty.
          • Er, that analogy doesn't make much sense. That would be like running back to the store and stealing a couple extra copies of WinXP, then installing them on seperate partitions on your HD, which really doesn't make sense. The license is more like allowing your wife to drive the car you bought from MS, even though when you bought the car the dealer told you (in the fine print) that if she wanted to drive she'd have to come back and buy another car for her instead. But then these car analogies are dumb because when you buy a car you actually own the thing, as opposed to software were you mearly buy the permission from the company to use it in some limited fashion. Now the analogy is more like you rent the car from the dealer and he tells you that you must not let anyone else drive it becaue that will cut into his rental business.
          • _sigh_

            You can't compare software to physical objects. You take a physical object, and someone else doesn't have it. You copy 1s and 0s and the original ones are still there.

            How's this for a better way to look at it: It's absurd for a company to tell you that you can only play the CD you bought in one of your cars, even though you have 3. (Don't tell the RIAA, they may try to enforce that) Using software on multiple personal computers is the EXACT SAME as that. And just because the EULA says something, doesn't mean it's so. You paid to use the software, changing which machine you use it on is not the same as stealing cars.

            Hell, even if doing it is illegal, it's still not _wrong_.

          • You can't justify walking into a car dealership and stealing a couple cars just because you actually purchased a car there before - but you have a 3 car garage that was feeling kind of empty.

            Oh no. Car theft. Deja Vu all over again, and still as bogus as ever.

            Just for that, I'm going to counter with an equally absurd and bogus analogy:

            You can't justify Rosa Parks' actions on the bus,
            just because she was human and thought she had a right to sit where she chose...
            After all, it was against the law and the rules...

            C-X C-S
            Next analogy: Nazis!
    • Windows XP has a thing called "remote desktop connection", which is a lot like remote X connections on Linux, except that things like sound and hardware ports are also brought across to the remote machine.


      Ever hear of a 'sound daemon'?

      It's not a new concept. There are dedicated X-terminals out there that support sound. KDE 2.x uses Artsd and GNOME uses Esd. They work quite well, AFAIK.

      As for the 'hardware ports', what exactly do you mean? How else *could* it work? If I'm running an X session and I print in an application under it, it will use whatever system is on the box I'm running the program on.
  • It's a nice peice of equipment, but not competition for my iPaq... I hate to have this in my pocket all day...

    (sorry this is meant as a serious remark) would be nice as a cluster node don't you think??
  • If this was put in an attractive case and the crap hidden it could give the apple cube a run for its money

    unfortunatly it looks like ass
    did someone say "design" ?
  • That hd bay could also be used for a Matrix Orbital PC Bay Insert [matrixorbital.com] LCD display if you think this would make a great component for a linux stereo or video system. MO inludes a page of customer hacks [matrixorbital.com] whose content should further inspire your digital muse.
  • LAN Party?
    • Well it would be cool, but the video chipset is a Savage4. As you know not the most competitive 3D chipset. Now if this was with the integrated nVidia chipset I would defnitely say "LAN Party".

      JOhn
      • So stick a GeForce in the PCI slot, and you're good to go. Of course, you won't be able to both the LAN Party thing and this thing [slashdot.org] at the same time, but you could always keep switching PCI cards according to your needs. I agree it's too bad they didn't make all the integrated components top-notch, but I suspect that would've made the price a bit prohibitive...
    • no because you would get crappy FPS and 3d from the Hardware so wI will still be lugging my full tower and perifs to my buddies house.
  • Taking a quick look at the pictures from the review, it looks like that would make a great "Glove Box PC" for true mobile MP3 playing, etc.

    Intergrate a 15" LCD into your center console and remove the factory glove box and mount that thing in the space left over! Now your passeneger can run pedestrians over in Carmageddon while you drive!

    Just a thought...
  • Damn.. if it only had a 5.1 audio output i could build myself a nice DIY dvd player. Easy to upgrade (software). Of course it would have to run Linux because i don't want bsod's on my screen...
    • Easy.. just stick a soundblaster in there.
    • If it had 2 5 1/4 ports, you could buy the SoundBlaster 5.1 Platinum that comes with the IR controller. It has a 5 1/4 panel that connects on the front for more audio inputs/outputs, and the IR receiver. Then, you could add the DVD player in the 2nd port. I suppose you could get an external DVD player, but then it loses it's portability some.

      One good possibility I see: Get the SoundBlaster 5.1 w/ the remote. Run CAT5 into your living room (or wireless LAN), and network it to your other computer. Hook up this system to your TV and Stereo. Now, you can play MP3's over then network through your stereo, and play downloaded movies. Doesn't help DVD ability unless you could find a way to play a DVD over your LAN from another system... interesting possibility...? It would get annoying running to another room to switch DVD's, but how often do you watch more than 1 at a time?
    • Question... Why would you spend 5x the cost of a store bought DVD player to build on yourself that s largr, uses more power, looks worse, and (without the 5.1 audio) sounds worse ?
  • Lan Party anyone? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by fohat (168135)
    On the down side the board has no AGP slot. The review suggests that this is livable, but I disagree. I wonder if you could retrofit the machine with a better graphics card using the PCI slot and disable the onboard graphics? I've done this with older HP vectra's when their onboard video chips go out... I do like the idea of being able to have a fairly high speed system which can be easily concealed and the design seems fairly well thought out...
    • Its not really designed for upgradeability.
      Its also not really designed as a game machine, but that hve to toss that in there to appease there core readership.
      There are many great applications for this box.
      I might get one, just to have cheap connectivity from my garage.
  • S-video has nothing to do with stereo. It's a video connector. Thing might make a nice pvr, if the case was painted. Or hidden in a closet. Ye Gods it's ugly.
  • at first I thought..."WOW this would be the coolest Mobo to design a case for and use at home, but then I saw the performance and is sucked....they have the fire wire which is cool since Mobo makers need to integrae Firewire, but how are you going to use it productivly with such a low mem bandwidth? if they went DDR (as the article suggests) it would be much better.
    Do you think Linux would have any issues with this eq?..I mean it is very exotic.
  • Noise level? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by larien (5608) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @11:04AM (#2446720) Homepage Journal
    Anyone know how noisy (or quiet) these are? With only one fan, I'd expect it to be pretty good.

    Reason I ask is that I'm looking to get ADSL soon (on order, actually) and I'd like to run a linux box as gateway/router/firewall on the ADSL and this looks ideal provided it's quiet enough.

    • Re:Noise level? (Score:2, Informative)

      by XBL (305578)
      I built myself a FlexATX system a while back. I did this for a little server/firewall.

      Usually small power supplies like this are quiet, get a low RPM fan for maybe a Celeron CPU, and a quiet hard drive like an IBM, it should be good enough.
  • I wonder if it is just me, but I *want* expansion, I *want* a big, bad, beige case.

    I suppose if this unit could be attached to another of its ilk, it would be what(?) 6U's?
    Rack mountable, maybe? Would be interesting.

    The most expandable case I'd ever seen could hold 13 (or maybe 15) drives in a mid tower.
    This box looks like you could fit 5 in there max...not bad for such a tiny case. Admittadly it would take some very creative engineering and the heat generated in such a small area would require removing the front plate and 3 fans from a drive cooler.

    It has potential, I'll give it that, but the lack of PCI slots...ugh, my aptiva has only 2 pci slots ...arugh! 3, IMO, is the bare min, but the niche for this box is the limited space catagory.

    I like it, personally. It's cute, it functions and it'll do whatever I need/want it to do, I'm sure. But, save one thing: Expandability (ok, internally).

    Could I put a GF3 in it? Nope.
    Could I put an IDE Raid card in it...Yeah, but where the hell would the drives go?

    I dunno...its the "cube" arguments all over again.

    It has form, it has function, but face it (this is /. after all) the "chubby/kickass" factor ain't there, IMO.

    Moose
    • What I want to do with a device like this is use it as a game console. Load MAME and a bunch of other emulators on it, download 34 gigs of roms, and sit it next to my GameCube and Dreamcast.

      The S-Video output makes it absolutely perfect for this sort of usage (although I agree it is pretty ugly...).
    • Not for you, and thats fine.
      But there are a great many people who could get a PC, take up little space, inexpensive, and doesn't need a bunch of cards.
      This would be a great machine for 'grand-ma'.
      easy for you to maintain, small foot prin for her, and most importantly, not as intemidating. Yes a great many people find large metal boxes, doing stuff they don't understand itemidating.almost as intemidating a my spelling.
  • I have to say this is a feature I can actually dig. With the S-Video out I might actually be able to take my computer with me on the road. Yeah laptops are available, but when going to Anime Cons... nothing beats being able to snag Bandai's latest release on DVD and throw it up at your room party that night. "Cowboy Bebop: Knockin on Heaven's Door anyone? Come to my room party!".

    Honestly I think this is a good middle ground for portability. When you want a computer you can haul about anywhere but don't require the ability to actually use it when you're in transit it beats the heck out of a laptop.

    It might also be a good platform for some presentations. I know when I'm doing premier demos, I'm working with a computer + projector on either RGB or S-Video... this would be an easy box to throw on a desktop at home and bring to any site for a demo. (At least for the Poor College Student doing demos to college clubs and user groups!)

    :q!

  • by aegilops (307943) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @11:19AM (#2446805) Homepage
    Consider its use as a home device management "brain". A gadget doesn't have to look smart or pretty, or have particular high throughput - it just needs to have the right I/O and never go wrong.

    Consider this: you arrive at work, and ask yourself "Did I lock the front door?" Well, by using simple devices like this, wired in to your home security system (which, of course, we all have) you could find out. How about - the 'fridge door hasn't shut properly, and now your Jolt Colas (or whatever) are getting too warm. Better send an alarm (SNMP...) to you - while you're at work. Someone rings the front door bell at your house, and your webcam above the door switches on, streams video to your PC at work (naturally, as blessed by your local Firewall obergruppenfuhrer) for you to either remotely unlock the front door, or for you to choose to ignore it, and finally, schedule a random light activation pattern for when you go on holiday.

    OK, this device isn't really all about these developments, but simple, I/O enabled boxes, which are ready to go through a web interface, can SNMP on to your domestic home appliances, and are secure enough would represent a good market. They don't have to look all that sexy, but just be cheap and functional, and WORK.

    Two parenthetical comments in closing, however:

    1) I don't expect for a second that all those white goods manufacturers will agree to an open standard, and we'll end up with a plethora of separate boxes controlling different sub-systems at home (a bit like any control panel near the computer room), and
    2) Am I really that forgetful when I leave the house? Hey - now did I lock the car door...

    Aegilops
    • OK, this device isn't really all about these developments, but simple, I/O enabled boxes, which are ready to go through a web interface, can SNMP on to your domestic home appliances, and are secure enough would represent a good market. /

      SNMP to appliances? You're kidding, right? While I have to agree that the notion of centralizing management of home-based gadgets with computers is appealing, I think it's important to realize that this box means very little towards reaching that goal. It's only benefit is being small. It doesn't give you the ability to talk to your toaster, and no computer, no matter HOW radically cool, can. The problem is that the home isn't ready to talk to the computer yet. And in all truth, the thought of an SNMP-enabled home truly scares the hell out of me...do you know how unsafe SNMP really is from a security standpoint? :)

      All other things aside, I'd use one of these as others have said...an MP3 server by the stereo, a simple centralized file server of some sort, or an email terminal in the kitchen. But it's just a small computer, really...nothing more special than that.

  • This is basically just a shrunken desktop computer.
    The EZGo is the size of four CD cases stacked on top of each other. I didn't compare the specs, but the EZGo has enough.

    Check out the Taiwanese manufacturer [atoz-ezgo.com.tw], a product page at directron [directron.com] or a review at Ars Technica [arstechnica.com].

    Best of all. It supposedly runs Linux!

    (I probably should mention that I have nothing to do with this product. I just saw it a while ago and thought I should mention it.)
    • This is basically just a shrunken desktop computer.

      That's what makes it so cool. It's pretty small, yet you still have an open PCI slot and it uses a standard 3 1/2" hard drive. The drive is the biggest selling point for me. The box you mentioned is cool, but it will only accept a 2 1/2" hard drive. Those drives are too expensive and don't have nearly the storage capacity as a standard ATA100 drive.

      I'm looking for a box to carry along with me to client sites. While there, I can plug into their LAN and have my samba box with everything I need on it, or even for making backups of machines on their network. Get this baby, stick in a 100Gig drive and you're set.
  • by Uggy (99326) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @11:23AM (#2446830) Homepage

    I like THIS case. It'll fit a normal micro ATX MB and you're not confined to special low profile cards, or limited expansion slots. And it looks a helluva lot better than that shit above.

    The Smallest [yeongyang.com]

  • When will a manufacturer release a fully integrated, but tiny, motherboard that supports Athlons and Durons eh? I.e., a performance micro-motherboard.

    Using the nForce, but like the motherboard in this box only having 1 PCI and no AGP, I am sure you could make an even more compact design, or have room for 2 PCI slots (one for a low profile card perhaps). All you need to replicate the functionality of this box is an on-board Firewire connector. The audio will be 5.1 channel dolby, the video will be GeForce 2 MX, and the network will be high performance as well (compared with Realtek).

    Yes, I know that this solution will be requiring a slightly beefier power supply - until the 0.13u Athlons come out, of course...

  • by krafter (10695) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @11:26AM (#2446839) Homepage
    I bought the FV24 motherboard a few months ago. It is truly an amazing little board with tons of features packed into it.

    I planned on using the motherboard to create a mp3 player I could put in my stereo rack. I put a 60gig ATA100 drive in the machine, a 466 Celeron and 256mb of memory. I didn't add any cards to the machine because everything I needed was on the motherboard.

    I also had a USB audio device from Onkyo [onkyomm.com], the SE-U55, which I was going to use so that I could connect the output to the optical input on my receiver.

    I installed Win2k on the machine, I know because of that I won't get much sympathy here on slashdot.

    The first problem I had was that the sound coming out of the onboard audio device was garbage. Mp3s played fine but sounded distorted. I tried many other sources of audio and everything was coming out distorted.

    I figured it was just bad on board audio so I switched to the USB audio device and it also sounded distorted.

    I then tested everything using my Compaq E500 laptop and it sounded great so I knew it was the hardware.

    I did some research and found that the southbridge on the motherboard was in the family of VIA chipsets that seemed to be causing problems for other people. I tried new drivers and every hint I could find online but nothing seemed to work.

    I bought a different motherboard with a non-via chipset and everything has been great since. I miss the small size of the FV24 but I don't miss the unusable audio.

    Chris (krafter@zilla.net)
    • I have one on order for a similar purpose. I figure no motherboard has really high fidelity audio on-board anyway, so if it gives me any trouble I'll stick something in the PCI slot.
    • From the Onkyo SE-U55 FAQ [onkyomm.com]:

      Q: The sound skips in PCs that have a lot of memory.
      A: The sound may skip on PCs that have a lot of memory installed, due to the limitations of the memory management function of Windows 98. There is no problem with up to 128MB of memory. With more memory, some PCs may experience this problem. Reduce the memory to 128MB or less and check whether the problem persists.
  • I've been waiting for a while for a decent case/mobo that will fit reasonably well under the seat of my car. With an inverter plugged into the cigarette lighter, a tape adapter into my car's stereo unit, and a microphone mounted in the roof fabric, a little IBM ViaVoice and some scripting magic my car word-recognition-activated car mp3 player will once again live!

    I did this once before with just a computer that sat in the foot well and used festival and a word recognition engine (which interpreted words incorrectly most of the time) called ears. Sitting the box in the footwell was unacceptable, but I think the concept works well. Certainly voice activation is the way to go.

    Onboard sound, ethernet, and video... you don't need anything besides some media and some ram!

  • by tdye (308813) <.ei.eerteulb. .ta. .ynot+llunved.> on Thursday October 18, 2001 @11:34AM (#2446885) Homepage Journal
    Is it just me, or has VIAHardware fired all the editors and disabled grammar/spell checking on their word processors?

    "...opening up the case for maintenance is much simpler and don't require the use of tools."

    "Let's take a peak inside..."

    And my favorite on page one (I didn't bother with page two):

    "Due to the small size of the case, everything inside is cramped in, thus making it impossible to install better cooling, this isn't exactly a negative point, since it is an OEM barebones system, and the lesser the cooling components, the quieter the system runs. "

    It's hard to take a review seriously when the writer sounds suspiciously like he's failing 9th grade English.
  • As mentioned in the Via Hardware article, there is this review [viahardware.com] of just the motherboard. $320 isn't a bad entry point for a fully functional computer.

    I'm wondering about its usefulness as a video machine / server of some sort (from the hardware side... not going to touch the software side HERE).

    Internal space, at least in this particular case, would limit you to a single drive. The larger disk bay you'd probably want to use with a cd-r writer/dvd reader. For my single card slot, I'd choose an ATI All-In-Wonder because it does capture/tuner functions, and svideo out. But unfortunately, I think the PCI bus speed (+/- 33mhz) may cramp things. I haven't done the math yet.

    The built-in ethernet is a major plus. Too bad the built in sound doesn't have RCA output.

    Anyhow, at this point, I don't think anyone cares. But I'm looking to build a box with capture, playback, dvd rip, cdromwrite, net capabilities. Don't care if it'll cost more than a TiVo. I want to get the software written.
  • by HuangBaoLin (13109) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @12:28PM (#2447175)
    I have a friend who works for the company (AMS Electronics) who makes this aluminum chassis. They sell the same barebones product (called GBOX) direct off their website.

    http://www.amselectronics.com/Products/PC_Servers/ CF-7989.html [amselectronics.com]

    They've changed the front slightly to accept a variety of clear or colored pexiglass shields. This is a great product! Damn sexy and a perfect PC to lug around (just add handle :P )
  • The way it's currently set up you'd best not put too much processor in there if you have a PCI card or have a drive in the back bay (if you do without a floppy, you could put a DVD & HD in the front bays). As they say, a drive back there would interfere with airflow for the processor; they don't mention cards but a card would be below the drive.

    What they don't mention is that this case could probably have been configured differently to allow a PCI card to be put in vertically with the back bay also vertical. That would leave plenty of clear space above the processor; the back fan could be moved over. With an air gap above the PCI card and the HD hot air could get up to that back fan for exhaust, though I don't think you'd want to put in a card that required its own fan.

  • I have been using an Amptron iCue BKi810 with Linux for awhile. It is cute, small, cheap, but has a nasty loud power supply fan. It has _most_ of the features of the Shuttle, no firewire tho. Performance is ho-hum, but form-factor is great. Amptron Intl. [amptron.com]
  • On a different platform, but still completely valid is the BriQ [terrasoftsolutions.com]. PPC (low heat, low power consumption) in the space of a 5 1/4" drive bay.
  • Damn this thing is small!

    And tons cheaper than PC-104! Think of using this for robotics!

    For el-cheapo systems, the parallel and serial ports are right there. Hopefully there is a way to disable video, so it doesn't suck precious battery juice. For better systems, hook up a USB interface, or firewire, or build a PCI card interface (ok, not the easiest thing, but it can be done).

    More than enough robotic fun can come out of the parallel and serial ports - drop a USB quickcam (or two!) and experiment with vision.

    Now - just have to dig out specs on the ATX power connector to get the thing fired up from a homebrew robotic power supply...
  • Apple's Cube (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Migelikor1 (308578) on Thursday October 18, 2001 @05:39PM (#2449142) Homepage
    The last really big effort to sell a teensy weensy computer was the G3 cube, and they discovered that there's just not enough of a market to support it. People aren't worried enough about desktop space to make the compromises inherent in a smaller case. Now, I think that the little machines are cute, but it's a little ridiculous to think that pure cute can sell...you need some muscle or a good hook (iMac's integration, G4's power), not just a little tissue box.
  • I just got mine in the mail - mostly because of this story! It's really a delight for surfing, and the setup of the machine took maybe 20 minutes. The only issues I ran into were:

    Well, it's the first time I've had to do a cpu heatsink since the socket 3 days. Everyone had me worried about flipchips... Too easy, but I did take a couple of minutes orient everything before snapping the heatsink in place.

    Things are tight in there, but not annoyingly so. The biggest problem with the machine overall was that the 5.25" bay is short. I wanted to move my old HP 8200i internal cd-rw in. I couldn't. It bumped against the back panel AC jack with another 1/2" to go. I ended up having to put a crummy (sounds like a vacuum) Acer 24x cd-rom in. It barely fit. It temporary though. I have my eyes on a DVD-R CD-RW combo... :) Just have to pay for the rest of this machine first...

    The audio is very quiet out the back panel jacks, and somewhat quiet out the front. I need to look into that.

    Overall, A+ machine, much better than the last build I did (and if you caught the Socket 3 reference, you know it's been a while).
    With the 128MB of ram (temporary measure only) Windows XP Pro screams.

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