Full Version: TV set top boxes and computers on a stick
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
I recently bought a $35 computer called the Raspberry Pi. I thought that I might use it as a media center for one of my TVs, but it is a little slow for that purpose and there are too many video and audio formats that it does not support. While I was researching peripherals for the Raspberry Pi board, I came across many devices best described as "computers on a stick." I am now considering ordering one, which would basically allow my TV to work like an Android tablet.

The devices come loaded with software that allows them to stream video from Netflix, Amazon, etc., but they will also run any app from the Google Play Store, including browsers like Chrome. If you are already using one of these sticks, how do you like it? I have used a Roku box before, but the Android devices seem much more versatile and the new ones should be pretty speedy.

This is the one that I am leaning toward. It is called a Neo G4 and costs under $70. I plan to use a wireless Logitech keyboard/trackpad with it. The actual size is about the same as a standard sized USB flash drive. It provides up to HD 1080p output, wi-fi, bluetooth support, and a USB port. By adding a powered USB hub, it would be easy to add a large external hard drive to the device.

[Image: 31SH6TBgRKL.jpg]
I decided to take the plunge and bought a Minix G4 Android device ($68) a couple of weeks ago. The power supply that came with it is a piece of junk that caused problems with the device after it warmed up, so I replaced it with a better one from Samsung ($11). The new power supply eliminated the problems that I had. For $79 (delivered thanks to my Amazon Prime account), I have a big screen tablet that runs faster than any tablet that I have seen. It runs most of the software that my tablets run, but there are a few apps that I have not yet managed to get working (most importantly, Tunein Radio and Amazon video streaming).

If you have an Android phone or tablet, then you already know how to use the G4 stick. I added a Logitech wireless keyboard with a trackpad and a 7-port powered USB hub, but even with those costs added in, I have a very cheap computer that can stream HD video. Youtube videos stream at 720p with no problems. The device is supposed to be capable of streaming 1080p videos from a network but I have not tested one yet. I have a USB DVD/CD recorder that should work with it and you can also store data on a microSD card, USB flash drive, hard drive, or solid state drive.

This would work great as a cheap computer for young kids.
Would you think this would be a suitable media center?

Or would you just recommend using it like a tablet computer?
zaga_fan Wrote:Would you think this would be a suitable media center?

Or would you just recommend using it like a tablet computer?
I think that it will eventually make a good, low cost media center, for streaming video and music from multiple sources - but it's not there yet. I understand that I can "sideload" Flash and then stream my Amazon videos, but that's not exactly plug and play. There is a media application called XBMC that is available but it still has some bugs that need to be worked out.

With all that said, I love mine after I replaced the adapter. Roku and AppleTV are better as media centers right now, but the Android devices are great for web surfing too.

There is a distro of Linux that is still in alpha or beta called Picuntu that is very promising. I think that XBMC runs well on Linux and some of the Android sticks can run Picuntu instead. As that operating system matures, Linux enthusiasts will be scooping the devices up. (The device that I bought does not run Picuntu yet.)

I spent under $140 (the stick is now $63 from Amazon) and I have a system that I can connect to hard drives, DVD/CD players, web cams, wireless keyboards and trackpads, "air mice," flash drives, SSD drives, wi-fi, etc. - and the thing is surprisingly fast.
I've set up a home theater right now and the Blu-ray player that goes with my surround sound runs apps and it is kind of limited in what it can do.

It doesn't have an app for Amazon Instant Video (I'm a prime subscriber so that's a must have), I can only search on Netflix because there is no instant queue, and it has a bunch of random stuff that I have to pay for.

It would be nice to have an all-in-one media center that I wouldn't have to plug up my laptop or drag a gaming system down to the basement.
I have a Roku and am satisfied with it. I bought that PlayOn and PlayLater thing and DESPISE IT! Unless you have a REALLY fast connection it is junk. PLUS you must have a computer using the same wi-fi connection as the Roku. Ugh!

I have a 12 mbps or whatever internet connection and it still runs slow here. (With Windstream the options were 3, 6, or 12 so we have 12 in the house.)
There are many other media center devices on Amazon that handle both SD & USB sticks. They play movies, music and show pictures. You also can get ones with VGA, HDMI and RCA ports. All for about $35. Just a thought.