I’ve written before about the home theater PC (HTPC) I setup a few months ago. I spent a ton of time getting it setup initially, running software called XBMC (www.xbmc.org). It was great for the initial time, but it only ran movies I streamed from my server. That’s all fine and good, but it was limited in its application.
There’s a ton of great other software out there which can do a heck of a lot more, though.
Initially, the Acer Aspire Revo’s setup doesn’t have the best specs when it comes to computing power. It’s compounded by the fact that Acer installs so much bloatware that performance is bogged down even more. That’s what initially led me to install XBMC-Live.
After doing some reading around on the ‘net (I recommend www.pauljroberts.com for some extra reading), I decided to make some changes. The Revo comes with a 160gb, 5400 RPM hard drive and 2gb of memory. I picked up some extra memory (not a cheap proposition) and took the 120gb 7200 RPM drive out of my dead laptop. Talk about a performance upgrade! Using some of the suggestions on Paul’s site, I decided to reinstall Windows 7. Believe it or not, you can grab any sort of Windows 7 Home Premium disk (available via torrent) and use the key printed on the side of the Revo to install it. (Granted, you have to make a bootable USB key from it, but no big.)
Anyways, running Windows 7 now is much better (still not on par with a newer desktop or laptop). Unfortunately, at first, Windows Media Center (even with every codec installed) doesn’t seem to run my videos all that hotly. I’ve tried VLC (which usually can play everything) and other players. No dice. Finally, I’ve tried running a Windows-based version of XBMC. Success!
But the real reason I’ve switched back to Windows was so that I could run Hulu. There’s some good content if you’re willing to suffer through the advertisements. And Hulu desktop is pretty good. As I write this, I’ve been streaming Season 1 of Lost all day. Don’t know what will happen once I get to Season 6 (it’s not on Hulu or ABC.com).
Would this setup have worked with the original hard drive? More than likely. The memory, I think, is non-negotiable, but the hard drive isn’t a necessity. I still wonder if the Revo’s little brother (the 1600) would have sufficed for this, especially since the WiFi isn’t really good for streaming the movies. But the dual-core nature of the R3610 is definitely a boon. As Tim Taylor used to say “more power!”