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"The Clock"
By Jukka Talvio - Posted on March 25, 2003

The LCD screen in front of the case uses the printer port. IR receiver uses the serial port. Then there are naturally the network cable and the S-Video to the TV. Those of you who think that my poor TV image is because of the self assembled S-Video cable in this picture, I must regrettably tell that this is not the case. I did try a good quality S-Video cable from EPIA to the TV directly. No improvement.

The hard drive is of the quiet type. You see it above the DVD drive. Although you may not see it clearly in the picture, it is suspended with rubber bands. It makes practically no sound.


As you see in this picture, all the wires inside are just short ones and lead to the clock case connectors. The monitor connector is not connected to the motherboard. At least not yet...

Below the non-functional monitor connector you see the network connector. Then from left to right: TV antenna, audio out, S-Video in, audio out, and S-Video in.

As you see, I did not want to take risks with bad ventilation inside the case. AMD did teach me at least that. The two smaller holes are for air in and the larger 8cm hole with the Papst fan for the air out. Heat is not an issue. Finger guards are on my table awaiting installation.

Most or all of the noise comes from the processor fan on the mother board. This is not very loud, but still enough that my wife prefers to shutdown the machine when we are not using it. When you press the power switch, the machine goes into hibernation.


I think the "clock" appearance is acceptable. It works reasonably well, though reading other project reports I did expect better DVD and DivX playback. Also, the TV output leaves something to be desired. Especially the Hauppauge TV card through the EPIA TV output does not work well enough. This could also be a processor performance problem.

I hope to solve all or at least most of these problems by upgrading to a later EPIA motherboard. I am tempted to invest in an EPIA M, but then I could just as well wait for an even better performance Nehemiah core.


The Clock is best suited for MP3 playback and DivX movies. Unexpectedly some DivX movies play better than most DVDs. DVDs drop frames even in fairly slow scenes. Some people tell me that using another DVD software player could help. I have not yet tried that.


The best feature of the system is the remote control. I used the previous media computer with the keyboard and mouse. The remote has made this almost unnecessary. I can choose a WinAmp "channel" that is actually a playlist. There are several playlists: all the music, my favorites, my wife's favorites, classical, and naturally one for the kids. The remote works perfectly with the DVDs, but unfortunately DVD playback is so bad I don't use it at all. There aren't menus in DivX medias, but at least the play and pause buttons work as they should.

Software

Conclusion

This kind of project should certainly be worth some nerd points. I have managed to make the system almost usable by non nerds as well. The remote is vital for this.

I enjoyed the project and I enjoy the result. My only wish is now that I had an EPIA M with Nehemiah core from the start... But then, the case is a standard Mini-ITX case and fitting a new motherboard in it should go smoothly.

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