Another Asking Computer Savvy People for Their Opinions Thread

Once upon a time, computer stuff was not all that difficult for me to wrap my head around. That seemed to end as soon as anything faster than my current computer was made. I now find all the options and specs mind-numbing and impossible for me to follow.

This came about because I’m upgrading to 10mbps cable internet, and I thought it would be nice to get a computer that can utilize the speed and give me streaming HD since my current computer can’t do it.

I found this on newegg, and am thinking it will fit my needs just fine. Netflix, Hulu, other HD stuff on YouTube, that’s pretty much it.

All I really want/need is:
small form factor to go under the TV
6 usb ports
HDMI output for my 37" TV
whatever I’m not thinking of that you all think I need!

There seem to be less expensive ones out there with even smaller form factors, but those are too compact, I think, and don’t have the connectivity or the hdmi port.

Your opinions, please! And don’t laugh, here it is, this is what I’m using now - found on TigerDirect.

Are you saying that you just want it to be a media server and not use it as a full-fledged PC? There is nothing wrong with those system specs but there are other ways to make or buy a media server as well if that is what you want probably for less money. If you do get buy that system, the first step should be to strip out the crapware and bloatware off of it before you install anything else. Acer iis one of those manufacturers that gives away a free pile of garbage with every new computer purchase and will be better off if you just get rid of it right off the bat.

Well, I mostly use it for online video streaming. I do use Open Office for some work document editing and saving, email of course, social websites and surfing - it’s my primary and only computer, so whatever stuff may come up I’ll need to use it for. Napster and iTunes accounts with iPhone, music, and digital camera/photo management. Plenty of online shopping. That’s about it, I think. No gaming.

Hate to tell you this, but regardless of your personal bandwidth, you will still be limited by the site’s bandwidth. I upgraded from Clearwire to Roadrunner, and I was rather shocked that no sites utilized my 6.5 GB bandwidth, ever. The fastest ones hit about .5 GB.

Isn’t .5GB equal to 5Mbps? I figured I would never utilize all the bandwidth unless I streamed a crapload of videos at once, but .5GB is more than my current computer is capable of, nor is my 3mbps DSL. The cable internet provider doesn’t have a middle ground, really. Their cheapest offer is a 1.5mbps speed, but do I have my math wrong? ( I used to understand this stuff, I thought) 1.5mbps is 1500kbps, no? And my current DSL is 3000kbps, so I need to upgrade and the 10mbps is the next level. Isn’t 6.5gb crazy fast, like a T3?

My brain doesn’t like to cooperate with math.

1 Gbps == 1024 Mbps. So .5 Gbps == 512 Mbps.

Are you sure you’re not off by a factor of 1,000?

6.5GB / sec is around 4 OC-256’s - the fastest optical backbones in existence, or 1,000 times the maximum download speed I’ve ever measured on my cable modem (50 Mbps).

SeaDragon, have you considered the Dell Zinio machines? They’re very small form factor and they’re designed to be media players. They’re about the same price as the Acer but I like Dell machines better. They have better warranties & customer service.

The $499 deal there would suit well, I think. It’s got slightly smaller hard drive but includes a wireless card for the streaming you mentioned. It has 4 vs 6 usb ports but you could always get a usb hub if you needed it. Also, it’s cute.

OK. So, if Hulu is saying they recommend 3,500Kbps downstream bandwidth, that’s 3.5Mbps, and I definitely need cable speeds, not DSL. I didn’t think my math was that bad!

That is a cute machine. I will have to ponder the extra $100 plus the need for more USB ports. I really need 6, and I don’t have any use for a wireless card, so I would be paying extra for something I’ll never use and more for an add-on extra. Though if you say Dell’s customer service is better, and I’ve had truly dismal experience with them, that might be a consideration over Acer if theirs is even worse!

I’m getting 5.7 megabits per second down, 600 kilobits per second up on DSL in this little town in Ontario, which is quite comparable to the slower speeds of cable. If I was 10 minutes’ walk away, I could get fibre with 15 Mb/s. In Toronto, you can get fibre at 25 Mb/s or cable at 50 Mb/s, and some condo developments have fibre at 100 Mb/s. So cable and DSL are quite competitive between 1 and 10 Mb/s, but eventually fibre takes the lead.

Nitpick: in telecommunications, it’s factors of even thousands: 1 Gbit/s = 1000 Mbit/s, 1 Mbit/s = 1000 kbit/s. Data rates do not follow the binary-multiple convention of factors of 1024. Cite from Wikipedia.

Close enough. The only problem with cable is that you might be sharing it with the neighbors. My DSL does have a 5Mbps plan. (Although, since I only stream at 720p, I only have 3Mbps.) But I assume you’ve checked all that.

That’s what I get for trusting Google. Try my link above.

I do worry about sharing with the neighbors a little, but for $30 a month with no land line, I think it’s the best deal. I tend to be a bit of a night owl and work 2nd shifts, so my usage will be mostly off-peak.

My feelings on customer service is that they’re all pretty bad but Dell is less bad than most. Ideally of course you should never have to talk to them.

Newegg is a top-notch retailer. Buying through Newegg, they have a 30 day time limit where you can exchange for a replacement if your first machine is defective for any reason. You can also buy 1 year onsite repair for $45. I wouldn’t bother buying longer than a year but ymmv. Newegg’s customer service is excellent, btw. I’d recommend them over Tiger Direct any day. Additionally, Acer is offering 1 year limited parts & labor on that machine. I’m not sure what all that includes. So you’d have options if you needed CS.

All of that to say, there’s nothing wrong with your first choice. I just mentioned the Zinio by way of comparison.

One last thing - you don’t mention what you’re doing for sound. The default configuration for sound on the Zinio is 2.1. The default on the Acer is 5.1. So if you wanted the Zinio and needed more sound options, that would cost a little more too.

oops sorry, that should be Mbps.

MB= megabyte, mb = megabit per second.

Doublechecked just now on, i get 13.77 Mbps.

Thanks for that! Sound shouldn’t be a problem, with the hdmi hooked up, I route all sound through my 37" monitor and then out to my big home stereo system, which I sometimes use the 5.1 and usually just use the 2 towers. Sometimes the surround is too … separated for my taste. When a train or a bus sounds like it’s crashing through my living room, it just freaks me out!

Thanks for the great information, I’ve got a couple more weeks to mull it over, the cable company is coming on the 28th for hook-up. I guess they can’t take my word that I bought the right modem and don’t need to rent theirs.

I’m helping someone who’s got an Acer Aspire on another board and I suggest you avoid them. They’re just sufficiently upgradeable for you to get into trouble.

You might be interested by something like this.

That’s another one that would look great under the TV. I’m not finding it for sale anywhere though? I found a barebones one on newegg, but it’s only 1.66GHz and only 512MB memory - isn’t that significantly slower than what I have now, at 2.6GHz and 2.0GB memory?

The Acer looks like something I wouldn’t have to mess with. The most I’m ever comfortable doing as far as upgrading is adding a memory card, so if the person you’re helping on the other board got into trouble trying to change things around with hardware under the hood, you don’t have to worry about that with me! I’m hoping the Acer would be something I could be happy with for the next 2-4 years. What I tend to do with my machines is just use them as-is until it’s less expensive to just buy new rather than bother with upgrading - which I’m not really comfortable with, anyway. The one I’m using now, I just added an external HD to save music and photos on, once I exceeded the internal HD capacity. Aside from adding extra memory, I’ll never “open the hood”.

Thank you for the link, though, I’m glad to get any extra information possible so I can find the best thing for my usage.