The Broadcom Crystal HD video accelerator is a media coprocessor that you can throw into many netbooks with low power Intel Atom processors to enable support for 1080p HD video playback. It’s not a full fledged video card. It just does one thing: offers hardware acceleration for HD video so that low power CPUs don’t have to burn themselves out trying to decode a high definition video.
A handful of netbooks including the Dell Inspiron Mini and HP Mini 210 are available for purchase with the Broadcom hardware pre-installed. But for the past few months, you’ve also been able to pick up the mini PCI-E card on eBay for around $25. If your computer had an open slot for a mini PCI-E card, odds were you could install the video accelerator yourself without spending a lot of time or money on the project.,
But it looks like whoever it was that was supplying eBay sellers with a dirt cheap supply of the Broadcom media accelerators must be running low on stock. Because right now there are only a handful of the chips available, and they’re running close to $100 each.
Perhaps we’ll see prices fall again once Broadcom’s updated version of the video accelerator becomes more common. But since there’s still no company offering NVIDIA’s next-generation ION video card as a mini PCI-E solution, the Broadcom accelerator still provides the best opportunity for adding support HD video playback to an existing 10 inch netbook.