Short but Sweet: MSI Mega PC

I was enamored with a small Shuttle-type device I saw the other day in Fry’s that actually had a handle so you could carry it around. Ingenious! However as I looked I thought that what we really need for the new apartment is just a small box to sit by the TV/etc. and hold all my and Josh’s MP3s, movies, games, and such. Originally I wanted it also to be a gateway, router, proxy, and firewall but for that I wouldn’t use anything other than Linux (Clark Connect is a nice distro for that) and the entertainment box would probably be best served (for now) with Windows, for the most compatibility with emulators, games, and other multimedia functions. (MythTV is coming along but not there yet.)

So while doing my daily browsing of Slick Deals, PriceWatch, and Tech Bargains—three excellent sites you should always consult before buying anything for your computer—I noticed that a MSI MegaPC could be had for as low as $265, a price that when split with Josh is a lot more palatable than the $350 Shuttle I was looking at in Fry’s. The components wouldn’t be too big an issue, as there are plenty of spare parts lying around here, but even if it wound of being a couple of hundred more to get it setup, it is a low price when you consider (if done right) the machine could function as a DVD player, PVR (TiVo), CD/MP3 player, radio tuner, and gaming console.

The more I read about it the more I’m not sure if it’s exactly what I want. The Intel chip requirement is a bit of a downer, and pushes the final cost up quite a bit. It looks like the remote may not be able to interact with the computer itself, just with the multimedia functions when the computer is turned off. Anyway, here are some of the resources I’ve run across so far:

  • Viperlair Review — Laughably bad. Written from the point of view of someone who has a system that could run an entire home theatre and decides to play Quake and Unreal Tournament. Lots of pictures though.
  • Pricing — From TechBargains, shop around.
  • SFF Tech review — Better than Viper’s Liar?
  • Tom’s Hardware review — As with all Tom articles, say hello to excruciating detail that I’m sure interests someone. Compares it to other similar products, which is good.
  • My HTPC — My Home Theatre PC, some slick looking software to put on whatever I eventually get. Runs on Windows. Nice looking forums.

I’ll add to this list as I find more, just for personal reference, and if you know anything about this yourself or have set anything similar up I’d love to hear about it.

5 replies on “Short but Sweet: MSI Mega PC”

I’m debating putting linux on it or XP with that media software I linked. The gateway machine is going to be linux and run everything I’ll need there so there doesn’t need to be another linux box.

While it’s not a bad box at all for the price, be sure to check out the mini-itx systems out there. Directron.com (on Harwin/bwy 8) has boards, axiontech.com (sw of the bwy) has cases, some with external fanless power supplies.

I use an EPIA-800 for my console game emulation, and it’s been fantastic. It netboots, the CPU is fanless, and the PS is fanless. No noise whatsoever.

I know that this probably isn’t what you’re looking for, but I hate the idea of having my tv on just to listen to music. I have one centralised mp3 server (linux) which I mount using NFS as the “Music” sub-directory on my Mac OS X box, plus I run the http://www.slimdevices.com SliMP3 player. Perfect for the living room: gorgous display and complete access to all your music. It even allows transcoding of Ogg, and other formats.

Good Luck

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