There was a time when Home Theater PCs, or HTPCs had to be big, pwoerful systems with fast processors, enormous hard drives, and room for a couple of TV tuners to record live TV broadcasts. And while there’s still definitely room for those systems, a few developments have led to a surge in low power nettops that are about hte size of a Nintendo Wii and which look an awful lot better sitting next to your TV than a gargantuan box with a PC stuffed inside.
First, a growing amount of digital media people expect to consume can be either streamed or downloaded from the web, so a TV tuner is increasingly optional. And second, NVIDIA has shown that you don’t necessarily need a powerful processor if all you want to do is watch (or even transcode) high definition video. You can pair an NVIDIA ION chip with a low power Atom processor and build a low power HTPC that costs less money to run and takes up less space.
Personally, I still have a larger PC with a Core 2 Duo processor dedicated to recording live TV shows and compressing the recordings to DiVX to save space on the hard drive — something that’s difficult to automate on an ION-based system. But I also use Hulu Desktop, Boxee and other online video services to catch up on programming that’s not available over the air, and I could totally see picking up a media center like the Tranquil T7-MP2.
Tranquil PC is a UK-based PC maker, and the T7-MP2 is a new system with an Intel Atom D510 dual core processor and NVIDIA ION graphics. It has HDMI, DVI, and VGA video outputs, and SPDIF and analog audio outputs. The system is also nearly silent, thanks to the passive cooling system — there’s no fan.
There are 6 USB ports and an eSATA port for additional storae space, and the nettop supports 802.11b/g/n WiFi. There’s no optical disc drive built in, but you an attach one via one of those USB ports.
The T7-MP2 runs Windows 7 Home Premium with Windows Media Center functionality, and it’s compatible with an array of US internet television services including the BBC iPlayer, SKY Player, and ITV Player.
The base model runs £479 and comes with a media center remote control, 2GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive, but you can up the specs if you’re willing to pay a little more. The Tranquil PC T7-MP2 will ship starting on May 30th, but it’s available for pre-order today.
via Netbook News.de