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Media Operating Systems Software Windows Hardware Entertainment

Fanless Media Center Box 280

An anonymous reader writes "I didn't know that Hush Technologies made Media Center PCs, but they do. Here's a review of one of those beautiful fanless machines running media center 2005. Could this be the perfect media center box?" It's certainly perfectly expensive.
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Fanless Media Center Box

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 29, 2004 @08:27PM (#10948437)
    Huckster: I didn't know that Hush Technologies made Media Center PCs, but they do.

    Country Rube: Then why is your picture on the case?

    Cue getaway music...
    • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Monday November 29, 2004 @08:39PM (#10948541)
      > Huckster: I didn't know that Hush Technologies made Media Center PCs, but they do.
      >Country Rube: Then why is your picture on the case?
      >Cue getaway music...

      Well, it could be worse.

      Huckster #2: "I didn't know that Hush Technologies had a webserver."

      200,000 Slashdotting Rubes: "What webserver?"

      Cue halon extinguisher activation in the server room.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      They didn't start chasing us until you turned on that getaway music!
  • physical location (Score:4, Insightful)

    by iclod ( 831412 ) on Monday November 29, 2004 @08:28PM (#10948446) Homepage
    There are two critical requirements for a Media PC that's going to reside in your living room, it has to look great and be quiet as a mouse

    is it a must to have your media PC in the same room? couldn't you tuck it in the cupboard somewhere and transmit signals wirelessly?
    • Re:physical location (Score:4, Informative)

      by IanBevan ( 213109 ) * on Monday November 29, 2004 @08:40PM (#10948549) Homepage
      Current wireless tech does not have the bandwidth to play DVDs (unless you DivX them first or something).
      • by ERJ ( 600451 )
        Sure it does. Most dvds are around 8 mbit/s. 802.11b is 10 mbit/s but with the issues it is more realistically 5 mbit/s. However, 802.11g has the bandwidth to carry a dvd no problem.
    • by Chuck Chunder ( 21021 ) on Monday November 29, 2004 @08:44PM (#10948584) Homepage Journal
      For the same reason it isn't convenient to have my DVD/CD player tucked away in a cupboard in another room. It's handy to be able to put things into it with minimal fuss.
      • Re:physical location (Score:4, Interesting)

        by mythosaz ( 572040 ) on Monday November 29, 2004 @09:02PM (#10948699)
        I think the parent meant something along the lines of, "Why can't I put the thing in a cabinet, use a remote with an IR/FM repeater, and run a couple of cables out to my Hi-Fi and TV?"

        I've used the OneForAll line of remotes, and I do enjoy their IR-repeater. Similarly, on the PC end, I've used the ATI All In Wonder Remote, and the RF range on mine (interference, perhaps) was less than exciting.

        Lack of good HARD buttons keeps me in a remote nightmare right now, but I've got a mid-level URC (OneForAll) that I like right now. Doesn't have the annoying PVR "Thumb" buttons, but does have enough extras that I can map my Exploer 8000 to it.

        Media Center Edition is nice, but it's still not QUITE the killer set-top machine. I still haven't seen GOOD two-tuner support in 2005, something that Cox already gives (well, sells) people on it's PVR units. As lon as NBC is going to start ER at 8:59pm, I'm gonna need two tuners.
        • I've used the ATI All In Wonder Remote, and the RF range on mine (interference, perhaps) was less than exciting.

          Nope, it's the same for everyone. If you're more than, say, 10 feet away from the USB dongle, it's not going to work well.

          It's amazing how popular they have gotten, considering that it's quite an overly large, bulky, poorly designed remote.
        • by cosmol ( 143886 )
          I still haven't seen GOOD two-tuner support in 2005

          Ironic that your name contains "myth" as we've had that capability in mythtv land for quite some time. You can actually have as many tuners as you want spread out over as many machines as you want. The M$ solution will never be a killer set-top machine, unless by "killer" you mean "microsoft drm-encumbered proprietary evilness"

          • "microsoft drm-encumbered proprietary evilness"

            The files recorded by MCE2005 are not DRM protected. Using a simple app you can convert them to standard MPEG-2.

            "Ironic that your name contains "myth" as we've had that capability in mythtv land for quite some time. "

            Yeah, but in so many other ways, MythTV "blows". Unless you want to dedicate a PC to being a Myth box, you're pretty much screwed.

            Not to mention the killer interface, ease of setup, and overall featureset of MCE.

            Oh, and, yeah, MCE2005 supports
      • by mordors9 ( 665662 ) on Monday November 29, 2004 @09:08PM (#10948749)
        C'mon, why do you think we have children. It's to load the DVD/CD players for us.... You didn't really think we didn't know how to set the clock did you? HAHAHA
        • by rainman_bc ( 735332 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @02:58AM (#10950553)
          Okay, that was pretty funny dude...

          In my childhood, I WAS the remote control. We had a budget dial TV.

          Later, that TV was enhanced with an act of knob-wiggling. Apparantly I was the only one that could get the knob centered to get a signal.

          lol I think my parents really knew how to make it work, but they were enjoying having a remote control - granted sometimes it wasn't responsive as others, so it needed a kick in the pants or two lol!

    • There are two critical requirements for a Media PC that's going to reside in your living room, it has to look great and be quiet as a mouse

      Call me crazy, but I would have thought being able to 'play media' would have been right up there as well......go figure
    • is it a must to have your media PC in the same room? couldn't you tuck it in the cupboard somewhere and transmit signals wirelessly?

      You still need something on the recieving end to decode the wireless signal and translate it into a video signal. It might be easier to make a silent reciever/translator, but that still ends up being a PC for most folks.

  • by Suburbanpride ( 755823 ) on Monday November 29, 2004 @08:29PM (#10948453)
    but you can save yourslef some money and do what I do. Turn up the volume on my reciever loud enoguh so you can't hear the fans, or the wife complaining.
    • by mhesseltine ( 541806 ) on Monday November 29, 2004 @08:56PM (#10948663) Homepage Journal

      Of course, I'm joking. It does seem that everyone gets irritated at potential noise levels. Are you really watching Kill Bill with the volume at "1" and complaining that you can't hear the dialogue over the fan noise? Also, what's wrong with a glass door in front of the PC?

      • Also, what's wrong with a glass door in front of the PC?
        How about heat buildup due to lack of air circulation?
      • by Suburbanpride ( 755823 ) on Monday November 29, 2004 @09:23PM (#10948855)
        what's wrong with a glass door in front of the PC

        Heat is the problem, the reason why there are fans is that heat needs to escape and glass is an insulator, not a conductor.

        My 500 watt reciever has a heat sink thats about 4x10x4, and has a fan that turns on a very high tempertures, which it usaul only reaches when it is cranked up for an extended period of time.
        What I'd really like to see is a volume controled fan controler. When the movie gets quiet, the fans slow down and then crank back up when it gets loud again.

    • Turn up the volume on my reciever loud enoguh so you can't hear the fans, or the wife complaining.

      You obviously don't have a wife. No loud speaker on earth could stand against wife's complaining. Common tactics by her including, and not limited to:

      1) Hitting your foot with full-powered vacuum cleaner (no, not even 1000W speaker could beat a 1000W vacuum cleaner)
      2) Unplugging the speaker wire on the wrong end, and when it still doesn't work
      3) Yelling directly into one side of your ear
    • It is? Says who? Only thing I love is the article description: "Here's a review of one of those beautiful fanless machines running media center 2005." So much for un-biased reporting...

      I think it's ugly and overpriced. Doesn't match anything else in the living room, might as well put a beige box in there since it'd match just as well. With the vents on top you couldn't even put anything on top of it for risk of over-heating.

      Want to see what a beautiful media PC case looks like? Try the Overture [compusa.com]

  • 1,791.38 GBP (Score:5, Informative)

    by AltGrendel ( 175092 ) <ag-slashdot@@@exit0...us> on Monday November 29, 2004 @08:30PM (#10948459) Homepage
    = 3,389.61 USD
    • Re:1,791.38 GBP (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cliveholloway ( 132299 ) on Monday November 29, 2004 @09:15PM (#10948797) Homepage Journal

      = 3,389.61 USD

      Note that's the price today. Considering the way the dollar's going, here's a handy chart to help you through the next 6 months:

      Jan 2005 => 3,689.35 USD
      Feb 2005 => 3,745.22 USD
      Mar 2005 => 3,823.43 USD
      Apr 2005 => 3,897.01 USD
      May 2005 => 3,925.23 USD
      Jun 2005 => 3,990.45 USD

      Oh, small caveat. The above assumes that Russia doesn't start selling its oil in Euros [globalpolicy.org]. If that happens, all bets are off :)

      cLive ;-)

      • Re:1,791.38 GBP (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Coryoth ( 254751 ) on Monday November 29, 2004 @10:45PM (#10949319) Homepage Journal
        There's plenty to worry about. See my sig for an attempt a non-partisan, level headed approach to looking into the economic issues the US may in fact be facing.

      • Re:1,791.38 GBP (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Zeinfeld ( 263942 )
        The price is probably not that bad since the machine is probably actually manufactured in the faqr east in a currency that is dollar pegged. Otherwise you are probably right about the decline in the dollar's value. The Dufus deficit is huge, structural and growing. Wars cost money, lots of it. This is the first war in US history that was accompanied by tax cuts. Expect a major currency meltdown in the next 18 months or so. On the subject of the hush PC, I think it looks pretty cute. it is a real pity that
      • Economics is a complicated (seemingly random) thing.

        Among other things, cheap dollars help (US) exporters improve their bottom line (stocks go up) while subtly stroking inflation, which, in turn, makes the freaking huge deficit "not so bad".

        A John Maynard Keynes [economist] quote is good here; "In the long run, we're all dead."

        • Wow in that case countries like Mexico and Turkey should be economic powerhouses.
    • You forgot the URL: xe.com currency calculator [xe.com]

    • ...here's one place [logicsupply.com] you can buy these, as well as other low-noise/small form-factor stuff. No, I have no association with them except as a satisfied customer. (I didn't buy a Hush PC, but I got a couple of mini-ITX boxes from them that are also reasonably quiet.)
  • Ahh, now this is what those of us who have home recording studios need...it's so hard to get good vocal/acoustic guitar takes with that damn Athlon fan blasting away in the background.

    One day...
    • Apple has made tons of silent machines in its history, take a look at... well, most iMac models (I don't know about the current one) and the eMac, as well as the G4 Cubes, if you don't mind a used computer.
      • You use the word silent like I use the word starving.

        I tend to record with my powerbook... the noise is low enough that it is not a big issue.

        Also, I am just doing little recordings for little old me so if some imperfection creeps in there, it's not like it's my job or anything.
        • I am on the currently returning my 3rd ATI radeon 9800 pro card in 1 year due to overheated fans one after another. Noise as with most desktop users is not the problem. Effective heating is.

          I am convinced there is just not enough real cooling solutions for PCs. When I hear media-center PC, I am immediately horrified with the thoughts of returns and RMAs.

    • So put the computer outside the room, with a hole in the wall (stuffed with foam rubber) to pass the cables through. If you need a CD/DVD drive there too (ie for a web radio station) get a USB one.
    • While you may have a valid point... computers have cables and extension cords for a reason.
  • by xplosiv ( 129880 ) on Monday November 29, 2004 @08:33PM (#10948493)
    PCworld just did a review on 9 MCE machines, they might help you find a cheaper MCE machine if you are in the market for one.

    PCworld.com review [pcworld.com]

    I have 2 MCE machines, 1 in the bedroom (Antec Overture case), and one in the living room (the CyberPower model listed in the PCworld review), and while they aren't really that quiet, it doesn't bother anyone once the TV has been turned on.
  • by scdeimos ( 632778 ) on Monday November 29, 2004 @08:34PM (#10948499)

    Trusted Reviews has been /.'d already, so try this:

    Google cache [google.com.au]
  • Looks nice... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bennomatic ( 691188 )
    ...but I still think the cube [apple.com] was nicer, for a fanless beauty. Too bad it was just waaaay too expensive.
  • Hmm. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Anyone ever notice that the product advertisments being passed off as stories contain more positive comments by the editors on average if that same product is being sold by Thinkgeek?

    Just an interesting point to ponder.
    • Anyone ever notice that the product advertisments being passed off as stories contain more positive comments by the editors on average if that same product is being sold by Thinkgeek?

      Yes, it's called promotion, and any good advertiser does it. I think this article is a case of negative promotion though. Or demotion maybe.

    • Anyone ever notice that the product advertisments being passed off as stories contain more positive comments by the editors on average if that same product is being sold by Thinkgeek?

      Um, no, but I'm new here.
  • Sponsored by Fanless Media Celebrities!!! Have they booked Vanilla Ice for endorsement deals yet?

    Are media centers really taking hold? I mean PVR + media player + home entertainment center sounds like a logical thing to be brought together, but it all seems too pricey for normal human consumption. While I'm at it, does this then bring the concept of "computer as an appliance" closer to reality?

    If we're all going in that direction, shouldn't we just get it over with and have a "server closet" in every h
  • MythTV? (Score:3, Informative)

    by jarich ( 733129 ) on Monday November 29, 2004 @08:40PM (#10948552) Homepage Journal
    Slashdotted already? Can't see the specs...

    The question for me is

    1) Can it be a MythTV backend (doing the capturing)

    2) More importantly, can it be MythTV frontend?

    Myth is client server out of the box... put the backend (with the many hard disks, tuner cards, etc) in a closet somewhere. Then buy a nice cheap box to just serve video to the TV. Sometime silent. :)

    • Re:MythTV? (Score:5, Informative)

      by lakeland ( 218447 ) <lakeland@acm.org> on Monday November 29, 2004 @09:03PM (#10948705) Homepage
      *sigh* don't you know the hush already? I almost ran out of drool when I saw it the first time ;-)

      Yes, it can do both backend and frontend. The highest spec machine is the 1.2GHz nermeiah core. Put a reiser and a PVR 350 in it, 256MB RAM (more is a waste of time according to the myth website), a DVD writer, and one of them 400GB disks and you're set. Oh, and it looks gorgeous, you would not want to hide it away in a cupboard. They'll even sell it to you set up like that, for about $2500 :-(

      As you note, you can set up mythbackend on another machine somewhere and run mythfrontend by the TV (perhaps on your xbox). But... this thing is silent and low power consuming, it makes a lot of sense for it to be the machine you're leaving on 24/7. Especially since it is fast enough to handle your mail and web server, etc.

      • Yeah, but... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by famebait ( 450028 )
        -TV sucks, and will make you stupid. Go make something with your hands in stead.
  • Not that I want a helocopter in my PC... but what is the big deal? I don't put my ear to the computer, I leave it on the floor, next to the desk... and don't hear a thing with everyday ambient noise.

    I think it's more about techical ability than actual noise.
    • by vhold ( 175219 )
      Adjust your level of ambient noise and suddenly it'll seem important.

      I used to live near a really busy street and never noticed the fan noise. When I moved out into a quieter neighborhood it became rather noticable. Once it becomes something you can actually control, you think of it differently.
  • pocket players? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Monday November 29, 2004 @08:43PM (#10948574) Homepage Journal
    PocketPCs are "fanless", and cheap. Even iPaq 36xx models are fast enough to play fat LAN streams. CF ethernet+adapter only costs $100, and the devices themselves are only about $100. Where is the Linux installer that makes them dedicated network players?
  • by sPaKr ( 116314 ) on Monday November 29, 2004 @08:45PM (#10948592)
    Half the price is the current weak dollar. So I guess we have to 'buy american' to save. Hey all you lazy midwesterns that are crying about manufactures not having any buisness, start making fanless computer cases. Damn slackers.
  • I don't know about you, but in my world a box is perfect if it is also affordable. I reserve the term 'ultimate' for the best at any cost. Maybe this is being pedantic, but IMO the Hush boxes are as beautiful as they are unobtainable. Try configuring them online -- the charge for ram is double what it is at newegg.

    Personally I went for a pegasos (http://www.pegasos.org/) because the CPU is fast enough that you don't need hardware MPEG. Of course I would have liked the hushpc better, but I have better u
  • Would it not be possible to construct a case from materials which absorb sound on the inside? This would definitely not be silent, and may increase the size of the media PC though.

    Shuttle form-factor PCs fit the media centre niche quite well, and at a fair price and the newer cases are gorgeous.

  • used XBOX game console, $120.
    used game with software exploit, $5.
    recent build of XMBC, free.

    flawlessly playing every codec you've ever heard of and most ones you haven't?


    some people have a lot of money to burn... ...for the rest of us, there are inexpensive gaming consoles which are actually just PC's with component video and 5.1 digital audio waiting to run some powerful open source software. :)
  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Monday November 29, 2004 @09:15PM (#10948802) Homepage Journal
    Because that's about the only practical use I can think of for a midrange performance PC that costs about $3000.00. Can I get it in platinum with spinner rims, neon tubes and a waterfall?
  • by Atmchicago ( 555403 ) on Monday November 29, 2004 @09:24PM (#10948865)

    They mention it passively cools a 2.8ghz pentium 4. Would an AMD or a Centrino processor not be a better option? (granted of course the centrino-desktop mobos just came out, it wouldn't have been possible, but the AMD certainly would). Even an AMD64 laptop processor would do fine.

    • If I had mod points, I would mod you up.

      Of all the processors they picked, they picked the worst one. My opinion.

      What stopped them from using a Pentium M or an XP-M chip? I believe there was an earlier slashdot story on using the Pentium-M chip in desktops and it's performance was very good at encoding and even better in games than the P4 alternative.

      There are people who have volted down their XP chips to 1.1 volts and are running a very respectable 2200+ rating.

      It's a shame that they wasted 5cm of al
      • From my experience, AMD chips are much much hotter than the P4. Of course, it is possible the newest AMD chips have improved in this department.

        In terms of pentium-m, I'm not 100% certain, but I doubt it was out when this box was designed. This has been around for a while now, despite slashdot claiming it's new.
    • One reason to stay with a faster processor is the ability to grow beyond the codecs supported by your dedicated decoder. HighDef Window Media 9 springs to mind. I'd generally rather spend the money on generic CPU silicon than a dedicated MPEG decoder.
  • I'm a FAN! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 29, 2004 @09:27PM (#10948886)
    I'm a fan of the Fanless Media Center Box. Does that still make it fanless? --oh get over it, someone had to type it!
  • I have used a VIA epia-m as a media center for a while now, has more than enough processing power to handle video decoding, has on board tv-out and sound and doesn't have any fans. Do you really need to use a processor that doubles as a heater to decode video or is that just to run windows. =o)
  • These boxen may be as fanless as they want, but that's not the only source of noise.

    What about the hard drive? Anybody who has turned off a computer a couple of times knows that the main change in sound is not the fans going silent, but the hard drive spinning down.

    Saying "no noise from fans" about a computer is as useful to me as saying "no noise from cockpit" in an aircraft when I'm sitting next to the engine.

    Does anybody have these machines so we can get some subjective feedback?

  • Why not run this [silentpcreview.com]
    with mythtv [mythtv.org] or freevo? [sourceforge.net]

    Not that I've done it myself yet.

  • Pfft, the whole low-noise thing is over rated if you ask me.

    I have an Xbox with the 12V fan mod done (I put in a larger, faster, hotter HD and was worried about airflow). It sounds noticably loader then the stock xbox fan, particularly when starting up .. but once the movie is on, nobody can hear it.

    Mind you, the xbox is right by the (HD)TV .. those cables don't have very good range. The whole setup is a good 6-8 ft away from the couch, depending on where you are.
  • SECOND Slashvert (tm) [slashdot.org] in as many days!
  • These have been around for a few years now in Europe. You can find a ton of stuff here [mini-itx.com] that specializes in low power, low noise computers.

    While I have not been using one of these for MultiMedia applications, I have been using them for mail and web servers. They are excellent machines, but I can't afford the Hush computers.

    But I think that they are on the right track of making silent computers. We don't really need that much horsepower to check email and do 99% of our jobs

    Horsepower is over rated.

  • extrusion (Score:4, Informative)

    by wwwillem ( 253720 ) on Monday November 29, 2004 @10:17PM (#10949165) Homepage
    From the article: Hush must have started with solid billets of aluminium of almost five and a half centimetres thick to create the side panels. Oh dear, seems like people know more and more about digital and software, but when it comes to old fashioned manufacturing, it becomes lah-lah-land.

    These "side panels", cooling ribs would be a better term, are not created by cutting it out of a solid piece of aluminum. That would be horribly expensive, no, this is created by extruding the aluminum. In layman's terms, it's like that thing (in dutch it is called a "slagroomspuit" but my online dictionary doesn't know the translation) you use to put nice shaped whipped cream on a birthday cake. But in this case, you keep the nozzle steady, make the opening a kind of comb shape and of you go. Meters and meters of a profile that just needs cutting to get these cooling ribs.
  • "Fanless Media Center Box..."

    It must hurt to be such and unpopular media center...

    Waaaaaaait for it....
  • Athlon Mobile-XP 2200+
    Zalman CPU Heatsink and Fan (1600RPM - QUIET)
    NVidia GeForce4 MX
    Hauppauge PVR-250
    Streamzap Remote
    Actisys IR Blaster
    Windows XP
    Beyond TV 3 - PVR Software

    The GeForce4 MX GPU is passively cooled with just a heatsink. The only fans in the system are the power supply fans and the CPU fan. The CPU fan has been "underclocked" down to 1600 RPM.

    The CPU I use is Barton core at 1.6 GHz (I think). Being a mobile part, it has a much lower stock voltage, and can't change clock multiplier
  • CalmPC? (original link is dead, here's a review [gerla.nl].

    I bought one of their chassis which is entirely fan-less (and a _LOT_ cheaper than this thing, I think less than $200.-). The case is butt-ugly, but you can move the cooling system to a purtier case if you want.

    Very weird to turn on your PC and hear absolutely nothing. I used CompactFlash for the OS (although you could also network boot).

    I actually would buy more of these if I could.

    It always seemed that they did very poorly in the marketing department, I
  • ... for about 2 minutes, before I wanted to also upgrade to the smokeless media center =(

  • Somewhat off-topic tip: http://mediaportal.sf.net/ [sf.net] is a new, slick open source media center package.

    Its not linux, but getting drivers to work in Windows is much easier.

    Take a look, I've been using it for awhile and its quite nice.

  • I love the look and design of the hush machines, but they alwyas use laptop CD drives.. I wish they would use a desktop drive in one of their designs.
  • by yorkpaddy ( 830859 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @12:36AM (#10949952)
    They went through all the effort of making the whole case into a heatsink. Cool. Why then paint the heatsink? painting reduces the thermal efficency compared to bare metal.
  • nice (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mixmasterjake ( 745969 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @01:40AM (#10950242)
    I just built a PVR, so I can appreciate the challenge of making it quiet. You don't really realize how loud your PC is until you actually put it in your living room full-time.

    I have to say that making the thing quiet turned out to be the most expensive part of the project. You have to get special versions of everything - special power supply, special cpu fan, special hard drive (laptop drive w/ adapapter in my case).

    I finally have it pretty quiet, but the DVD drive is the final kicker for me. I can't seem to find a quiet *black* dvd drive and these things are noisy as hell! luckily, it only makes noise while its playing a movie, so the volume is usually up.
  • TiVo Versus PC (Score:2, Insightful)

    Certainly a beautiful looking PC. No doubt I'd like one myself. But I'm wondering why would I bother paying upwards of $3000 (depending on the exchange rate) on something that can act as a PVR(DVR) when TiVo can do the same thing for very much less? I spent the thanksgiving weekend contemplating supplementing a PC I had so it could be used as a MythTV for my other television. After figuring up the cost of a Hauppauge PCI card and suffiicient HD space I decided against it. As a hobbyist I'd love to do it
  • "Fanless?"

    But surely someone likes them!?

    Badoom tish!

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