inspiron 537s-2

I picked up a refurbished Dell Inspiron 537s desktop computer the other day. While it’s not quite as small or low power as your typical Intel Atom powered nettop, it was certainly priced competitively at just about $350 including shipping thanks to a Dell Outlet coupon. Keep in mind, this is a refurbished model, but it has a 2.93GHz Core 2 Duo CPU, 640GB hard drive, 4GB of RAM.

The Inspiron 537s is a relatively new desktop model from Dell that measures just 4.2 inches thick. It’s 14.9 inches high and about 17 inches deep, so it’s not exactly going to compete with a Nintendo Wii or Asus Eee Top in the space-saving department. But as you can see from the image above, it fits snugly onto a shelf on our TV stand and actually looks a bit like a TiVo — which is exactly the sort of device I plan to turn it into.

The model I picked up came with Windows Vista Home Premium, but I’ll be upgrading it to Windows 7 as soon as Dell lets me into the upgrade program (It can take up to 10 days to register for the free upgrade). At that point I plan to slap an AverTV Duet dual tuner ATSC TV tuner in there. I’m also thinking about upgrading the video card, but the integrated graphics might be good enough. It can already play HD video smoothly as well as high quality Flash video from web sites such as Hulu. I have an RF remote that I purchased to use with BeyondTV several years ago and it also controls Windows Media Center and Hulu Desktop nicely.

Overall I’m pretty impressed with the little unit so far. I’ve been using a larger tower-style desktop PC as a home theater PC for the last few years. But it has a noisy fan, rather loud hard drive and an AMD Athlon X2 dual core processor that consumes more energy than the Core 2 Duo CPU in the Inspiron 537s. The new computer is cheaper, smaller, and quieter.

I had been thinking about building my own HTPC from scratch, but while the extra control you get when you do that is nice, it’s almost never cheaper than buying a preconfigured unit. The case, operating system, and CPU could easily have run almost as much as this entire computer (assuming you want to stick with Windows instead of building a Linux MythTV box).

I’ll probably post an update after I’ve installed Windows 7 and set the computer up in the living room, but for now here’s an unboxing video:

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5 replies on “Unboxing the Dell Inspiron 537s – Video”

  1. That so funny, I have the same tv stand (target) and bought the same 537s last week. Got mine with 3.0 core 2 duo, blu ray, 4gb, 320gb, ati 4350. I was going to put mine in the same spot as yours there but thats where my ps3 lives. Just unboxed it last night. I was very happy with how quiet the machine is, will make a great htpc. I also bought a scratch and dent but was unable to find any flaw at all.

    1. Nice. I stayed away from the scratched and dented options because I was worried about how they would look… but they were generally a bit cheaper than the other refurbished items.

      Sounds like you got a pretty awesome rig. I toyed with getting one with Blue Ray, but figured I have a 720p TV and DVDs will probably be fine for now. I can always add one later.

      1. Little disappointed it maxes out at 4gb of ram. Saw someone selling barebones 546 dell boxes on ebay, case, mobo etc ~$90. I assume I could probably swap for that board which takes 8gb of ram. Will be going to 7 as well, unfortunately mine came with vista basic so I’ll be shelling out some cash for the upgrade.

  2. Use Linux MCE (Linux Media Center Edition) as it is much better and you can use a 3 button Gyro Mouse/controller . Google it and see the videos of how easy it is to setup and run.

    1. I’ve been using BeyondTV for the past 4 years and so my wife and I are used to it. It’s one of the few apps that right out of the box makes it incredibly easy to mark commercial breaks and automatically convert all recordings to divx or h.264 to save space on the hard drive (and makes it easier to transfer them to a portable media player).

      I know you *can* do both of those things with other apps, but it takes much more configuring.

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