I was looking at setting up a Plex Media Server on the cloud for a couple of reasons. It allows me to have my Plex server permanently on, and not having to leave my computer on all the time at home. The other reason was to access US-based content as Plex would be running on a foreign IP, and could access to Plex channels. I was looking at a few of the more common cloud options, AWS, Azure, DigitalOcean and a few others came to mind but I settled for DigitalOcean thanks to the free $100 credit for education-linked sign up through Github. The below steps would largely apply to other VPS / cloud providers but I decided to go with DigitalOcean because of the free credit. At $5 a month, I could operate the server for close to two years! I initially thought I could configure the on/off time for the server to reduce my monthly bill even further. Powering off the server will see you still consume computer resources and be charged accordingly. I guess you could create a snapshot and destroy the server when not needed.
How about bringing your work home in your pocket instead of lugging a laptop home? Intel takes a leaf from the China gizmo manufacturers with their latest Intel Compute Stick, their take on the mini TV stick. The Intel Compute Stick sports a familiar looking design, with the HDMI port, and micro USB connection for power. It can run either Linux or Windows, and will be powered by a capable Intel Atom quad core Baytrail Z3735F processor, with up to 2GB of RAM, and up to 32GB of eMMC storage. WiFi is built in and memory can be further expanded via micro SD.
Back in 2012, I was impressed by the MK808, and thought that it could be fun to use as a PC stick equivalent. “The MK808 also offers other computing advantages such as internet browsing, word processing, etc, and its very scalable. The previous version MK802 was able to fully run Linux (Ubuntu, Puppy Linux). I thought it might be interesting to SMEs with technology cost constraints. This could easily replace a laptop (SG$1000). I owned one of those TV sticks and in truth, it was a little under utilised. Despite the convenient form factor, you still need to find a USB hub for your other essential computing devices like a mouse and keyboard, and the Android OS just wasn’t mature enough at that point in time for full computing. Well, the Intel Compute stick might have arrived at the right time. With Microsoft offering Windows 8.1 at a song for tablet-esque devices, this have made the Windows version of the Intel Compute stick affordable at $149. You should definitely opt for the Windows version as the additional 1GB and 24gb of storage is definitely worth paying the $50 more.
I bought the Logitech K400R keyboard from Amazon – a bit of an impulse buy really, in order to make up the Free Shipping requirements for US$125. Here’s my quick thoughts on the keyboard. The Logitech K400R keyboard combines both the keyboard and mouse functions into one here, and is primarily designed for use as a home theatre PC, multimedia box or smart tv companion.
- Easy and comfortable typing on quiet keys
- Integrated multi-touch trackpad
- Irritating function key setup
- Well suited for Home theater environment
- Works with Windows, Linux, ChromeOS and Android
The Android Mini PC is a pretty handy device, but there’s a problem of it frequently overheating especially on the T428, MK908 and newer model Android sticks which run on the faster chip RK3188. I started off 2014 with a little spring cleaning and found an old CPU Heatsink that I thought I could hook it up with the Android Mini PC (MK908) for improved cooling performance.
There are quite a number of cooling mods out there, so this is nothing really new. This installation on a Measy U4K is quite slick, with concealed wires and all: http://www.freaktab.com/showthread.php?6687-Measy-U4K-cooling-mod
The RK3188 Rockchip Quad-Core Processor is set to replace 2012’s model, the RK3066 dual-core processor which was used in many popular low cost China tablets and Mini PC sticks like the MK808. It is now available in a few tablet models and is expected to make its appearance in mini PC computers soon. Read More
If you are considering the ultimate home theatre experience, the biggest attraction and main draw would be the screen. For the screen, size and image quality is always a key factor. LG Electronics recently showcased the 84LM9600, at the LG Live Store at Marina Bay Sands, The Shoppes. The TV offered a whole new level of picture quality, breaking new ground in the entertainment arena, and offered a solution to blend the size and image quality criteria together.
Miracast is Google’s answer to Airplay, promising a simple and common platform to share your Nexus 4 device screen with TVs and projectors. There weren’t any Miracast device for the Nexus 4 at launch but an answer has appeared on the market.