Joined on 10/29/08
Best idea since sliced bread..
Pros: A) Super simple setup. B) Works EXACTLY as they claim. C) HD over the air!! Woohoo! D) Made the wife really happy. E) Got me to finally get off my seat and run network cabling through my house (been meaning to for months now). I love this thing. In fact, I'm pretty tempted to get a second one so I have enough tuners to go around (living room, bed room, computer room, etc).
Cons: No brushed aluminum case option :( But really, there was a lot of talk about the poor quality of the software with this tuner. I believe the point of this tuner is to work well with 3rd party apps ([Vista] MCE, MythTV, etc), software you're already used to using. Honestly I didn't even know it came with any media apps. I didn't put the CD in that came with it. I downloaded the latest drivers from the site right away. The driver package does install a configuration UI, but if that's what folks are using to play the TV streams then the complaints make sense. I believe it is just meant as a preview mechanism to make sure things are set up and working right. And don't try to use it over G wireless. Doesn't handle the digital HD streams very happily. It's a little like watching a TV with a loose antenna bouncing on a trampoline.
Overall Review: But really, I checked out tons of tuners before settling on this one. I was pretty close to grabbing one of the newer Hauppauge dual tuner cards before I really found out about this wonderful piece of equipment. Firstly, setup is a breeze. Plug it in, hook up your antenna (roof mounted digital in my case [$34]), install driver app (a couple minutes in Windows or Linux). From here, you're ready to go. In Windows you can preview TV streams in WMP or VLC (if you have it installed). On Linux it also works flawlessly in VLC. No problems whatsoever. I use it with Vista MCE and it works like a champ (I did have to install the TV pack to get the guide listings to work correctly, not a tuner issue though). I also tried it with MythBuntu and it worked very well (drivers included). Setup is a little different on [pick your distro] Linux (mine was OpenSUSE 11.1). Drivers install easily though and VLC plays streams just fine.
Pros: It's got some decent speed and it can run DD-WRT.
Cons: It freezes up and becomes completely unresponsive every hour or so requiring the power to be disconnected to recover.
Overall Review: I don't know if it's a common issue, or just because it was a refurb that never got fully checked out before going back out to the users... but mine will run fine for about an hour, then completely freeze up. The wireless signal drops out and the router becomes unresponsive. It has to be unplugged to recover, and then it does the same thing again. During the couple months I ran it, I updated the firmware with the latest on the Asus website in hopes that would help; it didn't. I also installed DD-WRT to rule out the possibility that it was software related; it wasn't. The best part of this story is Asus support. I contacted them (on Oct 23, 2013) and based on the serial number, their first-line support folks said it was out of warranty. It's a refurb, so that's believable. They had me send a copy of my Newegg invoice for proof of purchase date (refurbs have a 3 month warranty from date of purchase). I did that and responded to the first guy about it. He said to create an RMA, so I did that as well. Then the RMA guys mention the same thing about the warranty and that I'm going to have to pay for service. After about 6 days, I get a response from the warranty folks saying that my warranty is indeed good (until Nov 7, 2013). I forwarded a copy of this confirmation to the RMA department who said that I'd have to go back through the warranty team and they'd have to create an RMA or I'd still have to pay for the service. Hmm... So I get back to the first-line support guy and he says something similar and directs me to another department. So this type of thing goes on for a couple weeks, and wouldn't you know it, it's past my real warranty date now.. and I haven't heard word one from anyone at Asus support since then. This router is going in the garbage and I'll never buy another Asus product for me or any of my clients.
Roku2 + This Cable = Awesome!
Pros: Cheap Good length (for my purpose) Fits Roku 2 XS Black
Cons: Not free
Overall Review: I bought this as an experiment. I hung a TV on the wall in one of the kids' rooms and wanted to see if I could find a cable that would power the Roku 2 XS I had hooked up to it. I searched around and found the specific inside & outside diameters for the barrel connector on the Roku power adapter, then found this cable. This cable came the other day and I hooked it right up. It powers the Roku just fine from the USB port on the back of the TV. And when the TV is powered off, the Roku turns off as well. It's pretty nifty. I realize that this setup may or may not work depending on certain televisions as the amperage on the USB ports may vary, but it certainly works fine with my Samsung 24" LCD. Anyway, it was cheap and it works great! Thanks StarTech! (and you too Newegg)
So far, so good...
Pros: Cheap Gig ethernet SATA + PATA
Cons: Only 4gb RAM
Overall Review: I got this to replace an old Acer system running Vista Media Center for out HTPC. Found a cool cube shaped case with windows on both sides so the blue light shines through. This one is running Windows 7 Home Premium and doing all the HTPC stuff associated with that. It's a big improvement over the old system and has been running solid for 8 months or so now. The reason I mention PATA as a plus is that for a while I was running MythTV on this setup off a 4gb DOM and had 4 SATA drives hooked up for recordings and whatnot. It's a pretty slick setup like that. But the wife kept having trouble with it so it ended up getting changed to Windows. A little detail for those interested: E5400 OC'd to 3.7Ghz 2x2gb Crucial Ballistix (4-4-4-12 @ 2.0v) 1x64gb SSD (OS) 3x600gb WD Raptors (Software RAID 0 - Pause Buffer/Recorded TV/Etc) All in a Bgears b-Envi case. I'll probably spring for a better case sometime soon. But for now it all does a pretty great job as a HTPC.
Pros: It's fast when it's working.
Cons: Seems to fail more often than it should.
Overall Review: I'm on my second set. One stick in the first set failed after 6 or 8 months. This set has lasted longer than the first, but last week I started seeing random errors showing up in the log file and applications would randomly crash. I thought it was some KDE base system files that I'd made changes to, but after running memtest86 tonight I've confirmed that at least one stick in this second set is indeed showing errors. Overall it's great memory if you don't have an issue with sending it in for replacement every so often. I keep a couple backup sticks of cheaper (read: lower quality/slower speed/lower price) DDR2 memory around so I can still use my system while the Ballistix sticks are in transit. But to me it's not enough of a hassle to give it a lower rating. I still like it.
Great NAS server base
Pros: Great starting platform for a home NAS. Been using an old Dell server (Pentium III) until now. Figured it was time to upgrade. Anyway, this being the base hardware only, you'll need to either configure a serial console view or get ahold of a PCIe x1 video card and a PCIe x1 extender. I did the latter. In the BIOS you can configure the power light blink/non-blink status BTW. And if you're booting FreeNAS from a USB stick like I am, you'll need to change the boot order. Pretty straight-forward stuff. But if you're looking for a complete solution out-of-the-box, look elsewhere. Another plus is that it support the 2tb Hitachi enterprise drives!! Using FreeNAS and ZFS (Raid 5), I get 5.36tb of useable space.
Cons: No power cord.. Ha ha, just kidding.. I have dozens of spare power cords.. And even if I didn't, I'd go buy one.. They're like $3. Whiners.
Overall Review: I'd like to see these with an internal USB slot to stick the USB drive into. Just seems a little less likely to get bumped/jarred/unplugged if it's on the inside. And a spare floppy style power connector off the power supply would be cool in case I wanted to use a CF to IDE adapter (1 IDE port on the mobo) instead of the USB stick. All in all, I'm super stoked with the unit.
Scary packaging, but the computers are great.
I order quite a few refurbished PCs for the office, and the foam-filled plastic bag type of packing is pretty common. This time however, there wasn't quite enough foam in the plastic to hold the PCs firmly in their boxes. By the time they got to me, the computers were pretty much free-floating, with a mess of torn up foam flakes and plastic bag shreds. I booted up both computers ASAP to make sure neither had been damaged because of this, and they were fine. I'm still finding bits of foam all over my office two weeks later though :(