Monday, January 12, 2009

Netbooks and video playback


So my brother got an Acer Aspire One A110L over the holidays $250. It has the usual Intel Atom N270 1.6ghz cpu and and Intel GMA950 integrated graphics. He did rip it apart and upgraded the memory to 1.5gb and swapped the 8gb flash memory with an ipod hard drive and then installed windows xp on it. So I decided to run a bunch of video playback tests to see what it could handle. This information might be handy for those of you who are wondering how well an atom based netbook would be as a portable media player.

1) VLC, dvd iso: perfectly smooth, looked great, cpu at around 25%.
2) MPC HC, divx, typical cd sized movie encode: perfect, cpu around 15%.
3) MPC HC, mpeg2 TS recorded from broadcast HDTV using hdhomerun. plays fine, cpu around 75%
4) MPC HC, h.264 TS recorded from hd pvr, 720p, default settings, latest coreavc, unwatchable, too jerky, cpu 100%
5) MPC HC, x.264, 720p, dvd5, MKV, 720p, coreavc: out of 6 files tested only 3 played smoothly but cpu was always around 95-100% so it just barely plays.
6) MPC HC, x.264, 1080p, dvd9, MKV, 1080p, coreavc: not watchable, very jerky, cpu 100%

So there you have it. Basically standard definition stuff runs fine. You can pull off 720p barely if you encode it right. I was really waiting on a dual core atom netbook but if you believe this it might never happen. If we had dual core I bet it would chew through most media. I still kind of want one. Samsung NC10 and the HP Mini 2140 or the newly announced dell mini 10 all sound interesting. If you think about it the lower end netbooks like the acer aspire one isn't that much more expensive than the 10" portable dvd players, and a netbook does a heck of a lot more than just play dvd's (either from ripped iso's or maybe a slim usb powered dvd drive).

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