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Raspberry Pi

Posted by EricBall, 24 February 2012 · 638 views


The Raspberry Pi is a credit card sized US$35 Single Board Computer with the following features:
700 MHz ARM11, 1080p OpenGL ES 2.0 GPU with hardware H2.64 decode, 256MB RAM, SDHC slot, HMDI out, 2.0 USB jacks & RJ45 Ethernet port.

From my perspective the biggest attractions are the low price and the HDMI output. I was seriously considering getting one and setting it up to play MAME, but now I have an even better idea: a DVD library.

I jumped on the DVD bandwagon very early - IIRC I paid C$700 for my Panasonic A110 (which is still working) and I've put together a collection of a couple hundred DVDs. (Now I buy Blu-Rays.) It occurred to me a TB HD can store over a hundred DVDs. But how to play them back on my HDTV?

I considered using my Wii, and there's even a port of MPlayer. However, the instructions a less than clear and seem to imply I'd need to install a custom IOS (system software), which is a bit beyond my comfort zone.

I started looking at Media Devices to see what they offered, but then I remembered the Raspberry Pi had both an HDMI output and a USB port - and since it runs Linux, I bet there's software which will do what I want already (maybe even out of the box).

Unfortunately the initial run of 10K boards sold out before I remembered to check the website. I've registered my interest with the two distributors, so hopefully I'll be able to get one eventually.

One problem with my DVD library idea is while the RPi has an H.264 decoder, it doesn't have an MPEG2 decoder. So it's not 100% guaranteed it can handle DVD content. (Yes, I could rip & transcode, but I'd prefer to just use the DVD image to keep the menus and other special features.)

The one good thing is I'm sure some of the fortunate 10K users will try the same things and will pave the way for me and make the process much more plug & play.
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Farnell /Newark / element 14 is now taking preorders for the Raspberry Pi and I'm . . . not getting one . . . yet at least.

Sure it's only C$40 (probably plus tax and shipping), but I'd need a power adapter (why did they go with micro USB instead of mini USB? I know EU cellphones are micro, but I've got mini) for ?$10+.

But the big reason is I'm a user, not a developer. So I'd rather someone else find out whether what I want to do is possible and go through all of the gotta-be-first headaches. I'm sure that others are going to try MAME/MESS and play DVDs. I'll wait and see how things go and then buy one with my birthday money.
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