Reader [Jani] always wanted to throw a PC into an old school cell phone. He based this around the extremely small Commell LS-371 motherboard which measures just 146×101 mm (~5.9×4 in). He found room behind an existing access door for a DVI connector and audio in/out. He even incorporated an OLED screen, secondary sound card for “speakerphone”, and a WiFi connector into the handset. Things start to get interesting when he decided the SSD was too large and needed to be removed from its case. The one thing that seems to be missing here is an IR receiver for a remote but since he plans on running XBMC, he may already be setup to use another option such as an iPhone to act as a remote interface.
Reminiscent of [Ben Heck]’s portable and laptop console mods, [Bandit5317] over at Xbox-Scene managed to fit the guts of an original Xbox into a custom-built slim case that measures just 2.5 centimeters thick. In his post, he describes some of the difficulties of cutting down a behemoth Xbox to a third of its original size, such as rewiring a custom IDE cable to avoid the extra 1/16-inch it would take to fold a standard one. The case is hand-crafted, (no laser cutter!) no-frills box made of painted polycarbonate, and man is it sexy. It is built off of a v1.4 motherboard running a third-party BIOS and with a 320GB laptop hard drive. Load up XBMC Media Center and you’ve got the slimmest home theater PC on the block.
Boxee, the free media center management and streaming application, is now available for Windows platforms. We’ve been following the developments of Boxee since we first announced its alpha this time last year. At that time, it was only available for OSX with promised Ubuntu support. We were a bit skeptical about the interface noting, “Unfortunately all the dynamic resizing, animated, sliding, floating info boxes make it behave like the zooming user interface’s retarded cousin”. Our interest in Boxee was almost entirely based on it being a fork of XBMC, the media center project developed for initially for hacked Xboxes. It was interesting to see Boxee become the interface of choice for hacked Apple TVs and then go mainstream with a big push at CES.
Have you been using Boxee as your media center? What do you love/hate? What about alternatives like XBMC, Plex, or MythTV?
We’ve been following Boxee (not Boxxy) since its public alpha debut last Summer. We were captivated by it. Who expected a project built off of code originally intended for hacked Xboxes would be shown on NBC’s Today Show? We’ve been promised internet connected set top boxes for years, but it seems like Boxee is here to stay for two solid reasons: 1. It’s free. 2. Major content providers have finally figured out how to publish online and Boxee supports them. You can replace your network television with on demand content from Hulu, ABC, and the like.
One of the most affordable platforms currently supported by Boxee is the Apple TV. Lifehacker has a guide for installing Boxee on an Apple TV. You prepare a USB flash drive that is then used to patch the stock firmware. Once installed you can take advantage fun features like downloading torrents directly to the box.
We heard some fear mongering that Apple had released Apple TV firmware 2.3 to break Boxee and XBMC. It certainly was a side effect of the upgrade, but that doesn’t matter now since a new version of ATV USB Creator has been released to work with the new firmware. So, everything is essentially back to normal for the two media center programs.
Boxee, the social XBMC, is now easy to install on your Apple TV. We first covered Boxee in June when the alpha was released. It’s great to see how much the project has advanced to this point. To install on the Apple TV, you first download a USB “patchstick” creator. The program puts a mac partition on the drive and copies over the necessary files. You reboot the Apple TV with the stick installed and it patches in both Boxee and XBMC. When you restart the the device it will have two new menu items and the rest of the system will be intact. [Dave Mathews] shows the entire process in the video above. He notes that they’re currently not taking advantage of the GPU, so 1080p is a little too much for the system.
It’s been a big week for the XBMC team. They announced the release of their first cross platform beta in preparation for a full release in October. XBMC started as a media center project for the original Xbox, but has expanded a lot since then. The new beta works on Linux, OSX (Leopard and Tiger), Windows, and Xbox. They’ve created XBMC Live, so you can get XBMC up and running quickly either by booting from the CD, from a flash drive, or using it to install to a disk. People have been writing add on apps too, like the XBMC Remote for iPhones.
This summer we covered both Boxee, a social version of XBMC, and Plex, the original XBMC OSX fork.