Lenovo Beacon $199 home media server has XBMC pre-loaded (and up to 6TB of storage)

The Lenovo Beacon is a device designed to act as both a media center and a network-attached storage device. It features an Intel Atom processor, a Linux-based operating system, and XBMC software comes pre-loaded.

Lenovo’s unusual box includes two 3.5 inch drive bays and supports up to 6TB of storage. The Lenovo Beacon should launch in a few months for $199, but that price doesn’t include storage. You’re expected to supply your own hard drives.

Lenovo Beacon

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, since it means you can use any drives you’ve already got lying around or wait until you find a good deal on a high-capacity drive.

There’s a bit of built-in flash storage, and that’s where Lenovo stashes the operating system.

Lenovo equips the device with 2 USB ports, an Ethernet jack and HDMI port. You can hook it up to your home network and your TV, plug in a keyboard, mouse, remote control, or other device and use the included XBMC software to watch videos on your TV.

You can also remote control XBMC using an app on your phone — and this is a fully functional XBMC machine, so you’re not just stuck with playing local media files. You can also install add-ons to access online music, video, or photo sites, among other things.

Lenovo is positioning Beacon as a personal cloud solution, letting users backup files from their PCs, phones, and other devices to a network-connected storage device that they control themselves. But with $199 price tag, easily accessible storage bays, and a Linux-based OS, it could appeal to hardware hackers and home theater enthusiasts as well.

  • Steve Busg

    I dunno. Can you install own OS though? That’s why I don’t like buying pre-built NAS devices – they come with 2 year old linux and never get’s updated (and you usually cannot install normal linux packages). I’d rather recommend buying an mini-itx case + mobo -> and just installing ubuntu LTS on it.

    • Michael Thompson

      It seems like your solution might be a tiny bit more pricey but the benefits outweigh that.

  • http://g33ky.de/ Dr. Azrael Tod

    well no specs really and all we get to see is that (imo ugly) case?

    i mean: i’m currently actively looking for a mini-itx motherboard to swap out the existing one in my Shuttle X27D. I would build a pretty much compareble device (swapping out my old atom330-system for one of the new Bay Trail-D-SoCs)

    But i would prefer more then one ethernet-port, eSATA-Port(s) (my current external harddrives all have that connector, so that would be a nice bonus) and probably i will even swap out my currently third internal harddrive for an optical drive.

    Lenovos solution gives me none of these but costs a tad less. And if they come with one of the older atoms then this is of no use at all. :-/

    • wastubbs

      Not going to try to convince you that you actually want a Beacon, but I’m curious. Why would you need more than one ethernet port on this particular appliance? And why wouldn’t you pull your external HDD out of it’s enclosure and install it inside the Beacon?

      • http://g33ky.de/ Dr. Azrael Tod

        network: well ok, that might not be a problem for most people, but i’d like to keep 2 seperate networks at home to split between secure (wired) and insecure (wlan, powerlan). With 2 ports on my NAS i could connect it to both and give different credentials.

        HDD: because both slots would be occupied by the 2 HDDs from inside of my current Mediacenter-Foo. Well i could buy 2x3TB instead of the curent ~4 TB but that would mean additional money to spend.
        Even further: 2x1TB HDDs at home are pure Backup-Drives that i only connect for doing(/restoring) backups. Those are without connection to anything >99% of the time for a reason.

  • GregMo

    So tell me again what it is about this that makes it worth $200 bucks? Other than a case, pre-installed software and a CPU that’s overkill for the task at hand, what does this offer that a $35 dollar Raspberry Pi doesn’t?

    • QuanahHarjo

      Decent I/O? Raspberry Pi’s USB bus is tied to it’s Ethernet bus, meaning your network and disk are competing with each other for bandwidth. Also, Pis don’t support SATA disks, so you have to connect your storage via USB 2. Also also, the Pi only has 10/100 Ethernet, no 1000 and no WiFi. So as a file server, which the Beacon primarily is, the Pi is awful.

      • http://g33ky.de/ Dr. Azrael Tod

        the Pi is awful as everything else too.
        There are some Codecs for Pi that are supported in HW (you can buy yourself the ability to play mpeg2 and vc-1, but with things a bit more unusual you are out of luck). Everything not done in Hardware has to be done on the CPU and the Pi has not enough Ressources to do that.

        So if you want to use it as mediacenter, you have to recode all your data, stream it from USB or SD-Card, you can’t serve it to other devices because your USB/Network-Combo is to slow on both sides and when you want to do ANYTHING else it stops either because you only have 512M RAM (try to use a browser with that!) and a CPU to slow to do anything usefull.

    • http://www.eastpole.ca/ eastpole

      If the task at hand was XBMC server, not much at all!
      If the task at hand was NAS, Quanah is correct. This is why dual-purpose devices are hard to market.

    • orlean

      As Pi owner I can say what it will offer.
      Ethernet not beeing on USB speed.
      A good storage capacity.
      Also don`t start with 35$, throw in case , power supply, wifi adapter good SD card and you are getting closer to 100$.

      I like my Pi but honestly don`t compare it, also Pi renders UI of XBMC awfully slow, I got around it using Yatze android XBMC remote but this thing will good CPU will be snapy.

      It should also run 10bit mkvs like a champ.

      • BusterNaeslund

        So you don’t run Xbian then?

      • orlean

        I do but no matter its is debian/arch or open elec pi is slow in UI department. It lacks hardware for 10bit mkvs too. PI is fine, happy with my little HTPC behind TV but some people do over glorify it and compare more advanced/featured products to it.

      • Lalala

        Could you tell me some better ones?

      • orlean

        Cubieboard/Cubieboard2/Cubietruck/BeagleBone black.. few to name. As for 10b there is no good arm board for it atm. But those listed above have better ram/cpu/sata conector/full speed ethernet.

  • http://www.eastpole.ca/ eastpole

    Thanks for the peek, Brad!

    We’ll need to know more about RAM, Flash, video hardware, BIOS/bootloader… The
    problem with Linux “appliances” is you get an OS frozen when development started and it stays frozen forever, so you are stuck with old bugs and security issues. (^^^ Steve Busg is right.) So there is a huge advantage to devices that can run a real, maintained linux distribution such as Debian. This will be especially important for devices like that one that (rather than only serving files or only routing packets) actually go out and exchange packets with Internet servers, making them targets for all kinds of
    attacks. Some diversity in the OSes available for the hardware (as happened with Dlink’s DNS-323 and Linksys’ WRT54GL) is insurance against a single unified massive hack affecting all device owners. So
    Lenovo, open it up! JMO.

  • QuanahHarjo

    On another site, this is outed as an Evansville CE5315 Atom dual-core with 1GB of RAM. Adequate for a NAS and media player, but might be disappointing if you wanted to do anything beyond that like emulation or any transcoding. Was hoping for a more modern processor myself.

  • gfdsa

    soooo … Lenovo is going to pay royalties for the codecs included in XBMC? Or will they ship a stripped version as OUYA did? Or are they going to get in court?

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  • aniym

    Good price if it included at least a hard drive. I’m using an Android-based Minix X7 with a 500GB USB HDD as my XBMC machine. Got it for $140 on sale, but Android XBMC has a ways to go in terms of user friendliness before it can compete with the speed and fluidity of Windows/Linux XBMC.


    Ughh… no optical out/SPDIF :(

  • DeadPenguin

    I think I would rather see a media server with plex media server baked in and a intel i3 or > chip for a reasonable price.

  • http://www.smeeagain.de/ smeeagain

    Does anybody know if the Beacon has a fan?

    • Frank

      yes, noise is acceptable.