I've got an old Toshiba Satellite Pro A120-160 that I'm thinking of trying out an XMBCbuntu install on but I've no experience at all of HTPC builds so thought I'd see what advice you experts might have for me.
My aim would be to have the laptop set up in a media cabinet underneath our telly and play HD content (xvid, mkv etc.) on it via a cheap remote control (have an old one lying around somewhere). Would be nice to be able to configure a shared drive on it that I could see from my home network in order to allow uTorrent to save files directly onto it (or drives connected to it) rather than transferring media to an external HD and plugging that into the machine each time I update the media library. No need for PVR or running my UPC television through it or anything fancy like that.
I'm wondering if the laptop up to the job? I'd have to buy a new power lead for it as it's old one is shot but don't want to drop the cash if the video capabilities of the laptop aren't up to the job.
The hardware specs of the laptop are:
Intel® Core™2 Duo Processor T7200 and Intel® 945GM Express chipset
clock speed : 2.0 GHz
front side bus : 667 MHz
2nd level cache : 4 MB
4,096 MB DDR2 RAM (533 MHz)
Internal video modes
The following internal video modes are supported:
resolution : 1,280 x 800
maximum number of colours : 16.7 Million Max
External Video Modes
Max Resolution : 2,048 x 1,536
Max Colours : 16.7 Million
Max Refresh Rate : 100 Hz
Non-interlaced resolution with max refresh rate : 1,600 x 1,200
Yes your laptop should work. You will need to use software decoding, which will run your CPU pretty hard - for 1080p stuff and it might be cutting it close, it depends how efficient the current software decoders are. Certainly there should be no issue with 720p stuff.
What outputs does your laptop have? Presumeably all you have are VGA and a headphone jack, will that work with your TV?
I would not use a laptop 'inside' a cabinet, you will need something open with plenty of ventilation. It also may be a lot noisier than you expect, the human brain is very good at tuning out sounds but when you sit down to watch a movie you may be surprised just how loud and annoying a laptop fan can be.
Think it'd just be VGA and headphone jack alright. Presumably there are conversion leads to turn these into SCART / HDMI or similar?
I know the laptop can handle 720p stuff because I used to watch plenty of it on the laptop when I used it. Would running Youtube at 1080 HD give me a good indication of how it can handle 1080p?
If that's poor, what are my options? Live with it? Or can I upgrade the video card in the laptop (sounds unlikely!).
If your TV doesnt have VGA PC input then I would forget about the whole thing. Its not going to be worth the hassle of converter boxes or trying to get an RGB SCART signal out of your laptop from the VGA port (it would be PAL 50i SD anyway).
So if you don't have a VGA input on your TV then I would just shelve the idea. And even if you do, you will still need to handle the audio - some TVs have stereo a/v input which can be linked to the VGA input...but most don't. Do you have a separate receiver?
Is it a smart TV? You could use the Laptop as a NAS if it was.
But if no DVi/HMDI out I wouldn't use that laptop. Easier to get cheap media box.
Not a Smart TV, an old 42" Plasma I'm getting through work. It has VGA input
The Plasma probably isn't HD or even 720p some of them were odd resolutions. If its VGA its simple to try it. So why not.
A good 480 or 720 looks excellent, so I wouldn't worry about 1080p for now.
What remote were you thinking off? Might to something similar with a old laptop here.
I have an old USB IR one in my Mam's somewhere that I'm going to see if I can get working. If not, I'll get a cheap job off ebay!
Found the specs of the Plasma online:
Screen Area: 36.22 * 20.39" (738.67sq. inches) 92.00 * 51.80cm (4,765.60sq. cm)
Brightness: Not Quoted
Pixel Pitch: 0.90*0.675mm
Colours: 3620 million
Video Modes: PAL, SECAM, NTSC
Resolution Compatibility: VGA, SVGA, XGA, SXGA, UXGA
Horizontal Frequency: 15-110
Vertical Frequency: 48-120
HDTV: 480i/p, 525i/p, 525i/p, 720p, 1125i
Computer inputs: 15 pin d-sub
Video Inputs: See accessories
Control Terminals: Remote + RS-2323C
Audio Inputs: M3 stereo
Amplifier: 8w * 2
Unit Dimensions: 102.00 * 61.00 * 8.90cm
Power Supply: 220-240V AC 50/60Hz
If it has VGA it'll be fine in terms of getting a picture on there.
But you still have to get audio, VGA doesnt carry it.
So you either need a TV with stereo inputs that can be linked to the same channel as the VGA (ie so it starts playing whatever is coming over the stereo inputs at the same time as displaying the VGA signal) or you need an external device that'll take your stereo signal. ie a receiver or powered speakers etc.
Will have to check it for speakers alright, we just used it as a monitor here in the offiice.
The laptop would have a headphones out socket so feeding the audio channels shouldn't be a problem once it actually has ok speakers.
Should be fine judging by the spec above I actually have a netbook running 1G of ram and it runs fine over VGA. I also have an 80211N Dongle for better streaming & transfer speeds to the rest of the house. External HD is also plugged into the laptop with an SMB share
Also the app for your phone as a remote control is very handy
The laptop has wireless built in but it'll be sitting 3 feet below the router so will probably connect it via cable.
I have openelec running off a usb stick on an old laptop in the kids playroom - works perfectly, remote i use is xbmc on my iphone - only thing not working yet is wake on lan and if i get that then i can leave it closed and forget about it and be able to switch it on / off with iphone.
just set up raspberry pi with xbmc for tv in main room, so far streaming hd content looks good.
What did you use for the Pi?