My Mini (HTPC) Media Center Setup Featuring Lenovo, LG and Bose

When I get a thought in my head to do something, I usually follow through; no matter how crazy or indifferent it is.

In this case I was looking to complete a mini media center (HTPC) setup in my living room that would provide full computer access with wireless connectivity to the internet, my main PC and my netbook. In essence my goal was to lay back in the recliner and be able to browse the internet, stream media (and movies) from the internet, play my music and movie collection, play a game or two, check my email, check the blog, etc…  You get the idea.

You are probably wondering why I would want a “mini” media setup instead of a full blown super large screen media setup? Well, here is the problem and the word spelled out is “w-i-f-e”.  See, we have an oak TV cabinet (that is like the foundation of our relationship) that will only accomodate a TV the size of approximately 26” to 30” and no way was anything going to replace the cabinet. Also, I wanted to keep cost to a minimum.

So here is what I did (step-by-step) to create my “lay back in the recliner media center” using the confines of the oak TV cabinet.

The current TV had to go. I replaced it with a LG M2762D-PM Glossy Black 27″ 5ms 1080p HDMI Widescreen LCD Monitor with TV Tuner 300 cd/m2 DC 50000:1 [ SEE HERE ] . In short this Monitor/TV has hi-def capability, very good ratings, numerous connections and a nice remote to toggle between TV and computer. This monitor/tv fit nicely into the oak cabinet and connected to an existing DVD/VHS player, that was already in the cabinet.

LG Monitor/TV

I then purchased the Lenovo Ideacentre Q150 Series Nettop [ SEE HERE ] . If you are not familiar with nettops; they are mini computers that are on the same line as a netbook, but smaller.

A nettop is a very small form factor, inexpensive, low-wattage desktop computer designed for basic tasks such as surfing the Internet, accessing web-based applications, document processing, and audio/video playback. – Wikipedia

The Lenovo Ideacentre Q150 sports an Intel ® Atom Dual Core processor D510 (1.66GHz, 1MB L2 Cache), 2 GB DDR2 667 (2GB max), 250 GB, 5400 RPM, HDMI NVIDIA ION Graphics Processor with 512MB graphics, Full HD (1080p) support, Wireless network ready, Handheld wireless multimedia remote with trackball mouse and keyboard Windows 7 Home Premium 32 Bit.

Lenovo Ideacentre Q150

Now comes cool part #1. The Lenovo Ideacentre Q150 shown above can be removed from its’ stand and mounted directly to the rear of the monitor using a bracket included in the package. That is exactly what I did. In essence, I now have an “all-in-one” PC. I then connected the Lenovo Nettop to the HDMI port on the TV for hi-def. Again, everything still fitting nicely in the oak TV cabinet.

Now comes cool part #2. The multimedia remote that you see above is slightly larger than the palm of my hand; yet it is a keyboard and trackball mouse all wrapped up in one.  Took some getting used to, but I love this little bugger.  What a great idea from Lenovo.

Now comes cool part #3. The only thing I did not like about the monitor was the built in speakers. I would rate them as average, but I needed better. No way could I ask “w-i-f-e” for any more money. Then it hit me. We have a Bose Wave Music System that we purchased years ago and the sound from this thing is absolutely awesome (for such a small package). I started exploring this option and found that I could patch the sound from the TV and the Nettop into the Bose. To make it work in the oak TV cabinet, the LG monitor/tv with the attached Lenovo Nettop sat perfectly on top of the Bose; and the black color scheme of the monitor and Bose matched nicely to make it appear as an “all-in-one” system.

image

Now comes cool part #4. I attached an external Western Digital My Passport 250 GB drive to the Lenovo nettop (that I already had) for more storage capacity and setup the nettop to be remotely (and wirelessly) managed from my main desktop computer (using UltraVNC). If you have a network in your home, wireless or hardwired, I highly recommend setting up remote access from a main PC. You can then easily manage your networked PC’s from one location.

Now comes cool part #5. When using a setup such as this from a distance across the room, seeing the text on the screen when browsing the internet or performing other Windows functions can be a chore; especially when your eyes are going south like mine. The solution here was the Windows 7 maginifier tool that can be found under “Ease of Access” on the Windows 7 menu.  The magnifier tool provides the option to magnify the entire screen or just portions of it.

In the end, I am very satisfied with this setup and that it met the specifications, as set forth by “w-i-f-e”. The “w-i-f-e” is quite happy and I think impressed (even though she will not break down and tell me that).

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21 thoughts on “My Mini (HTPC) Media Center Setup Featuring Lenovo, LG and Bose

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  1. cool part #6
    I got to read about it. Thanks for sharing your ‘adventure’ in creating the perfect recliner!
    (um.. I meant “home entertainment center”.)

    Neat that the Lenovo has an HDMI out.

    A question for you on the trackball/keyboard controller unit. How big are those keys about? (I mean, type-with-your-thumbnails small? Or quite usable? [I ask because I never learned to ‘text’ on phones with my thumbs..])

    Like

    1. TechPaul,

      Re: trackball/keyboard unit

      The unit is made to actually hold with both hands and you type with your thumbs (like texting on a cell phone). The keys are actually hard to see and Lenovo could have done a better job with the print on the keys; the size of the keys are approx. 1/4″ x 1/4″. Really designed to type in a web address or short line of text. I wouldn’t want to write a letter with it. I use the trackball alot and getting pretty good with it.

      Yes, there is HDMI out on the Lenovo. Seems to be a very solid, well built unit.

      Rick

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      1. Yes, an intriguing little package (and it looks nice too) and not at all unreasonably priced.
        HDMI out and a SATA II port, several USB’s…

        I did appreciate your use of the Bose, too. Great units.

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  2. Nice setup! 🙂

    I have similar rig as my desktop – 27″ Asus monitor/TV (I don’t use TV part) and self-assembled mini-ITX PC (not as small as nettop, but packs full-featured Core2 system).

    btw there are couple of software projects around that aim to provide convenient interface for using computer from distance. XBMC is good for media and there is also some Firefox-based browser (forgot name).

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    1. Rarst,

      I also have a media center setup at my main PC on a smaller scale with TV, etc… all managed within the confines of a rolltop desk. I’ve seen those mini-ITX packages that you can assemble and even had thought of going that route, until I saw the Lenovo. I liked the idea of the mount on the rear of the TV/Monitor.

      I will definitely check out XMBC and the Firefox option for viewing. Thank you for those suggestions.

      Rick

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      1. Rarst,

        Thank you for this… Just downloaded it. Will give it a test run. Appears to be Mozilla based and is “specifically” designed for TV viewing.

        Thank you so much for this contribution. If this pans out, will do a review on it.

        Rick

        Like

  3. I’m impressed! Especially under “wife” constraints. 🙂 I’m the “wife” that needs “husband” constraints! LOL I have purchased the same monitor and can’t wait for it to get here tomorrow! I was wondering if you have any suggestions for a television hook up for my set-up.

    It comes with a TV Tuner. ?? I have had external TV Tuners before, but am unsure how this one will stream TV. My cable-television is in another room as are all my gaming components. I use a wireless router to run the game systems.

    Does the TV Tuner pick up television cable remotely so I can run television through the computer in the bedroom?

    Thank You in advance,

    Kelly

    Like

    1. Kelly,

      Yes that monitor is actually a TV and monitor combo. There is a remote that will let you toggle between TV and Monitor. I have a nettop computer connected to it. I stream video to this monitor to the nettop computer via a wireless connection to the internet. The built in TV Tuner is just like any TV. Your cable TV connects directly to it. I think you are confused that you can stream tv from monitor. This you cannot.

      Rick

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  4. If you have a tutorial about setting up a home computer network, I suggest you attach it to this one.
    I think this is prerequisite to setting up a mini media center.

    Like

    1. Pochp,

      I readily don’t have a tutorial on-hand that I drafted; however, there are numerous resources out there on setting a wireless network. In the case of Mini Media Center I setup, I am wirelessly connecting to my router. So far, it is working great.

      Rick

      Like

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