Posts Tagged ‘Music’

Product Review – SoftXpand Duo 2011: Cheap HTPC with SoftXpand

February 21, 2013

As previously mentioned on my ‘Cheap guide to Home Theather PC (HTPC)‘ post – Here is my unbiased honest product review of the key product which makes this all possible…

The SoftXpand 2011 Duo by Miniframe.

SoftXpand 2011 Duo

– The cheapest Home Theather PC (HTPC) –

If you already have a powerful desktop, there is no need to buy another. Especially if you plan to buy a dedicated HTPC which support the latest games with high end graphics – these things are small, but are very much expensive and will require quite an amount of time to setup.

So how about a $0 cost to get yourself a HTPC? I am talking about the hardware that you requires. Reusing your home / gaming desktop computer hardware will cost you nothing! And in turn, the more powerful hardware you have, the more powerful your HTPC going to be! Now I am going to be honest and more specific here when I say $0 cost for hardware – this is just the HTPC itself – not including the monitor / TV, the speakers, the keyboard. mouse, and other peripherals. Got it? Ok, now that it is clear (so you don’t feel cheated) – I am going to tell you the key item which will save you big bucks in getting all this done (plus realizing the $0 hardware cost) – let me present you the SoftXpand Duo 2011.

– What is SoftXpand Duo 2011? –

As quoted from their website “SoftXpand 2011 Dou is a software product that enables two (2) users to work on a single (1) computer simultaneously.

I guess that’s the best and simplest answer to it. However, here is my long winded detailed answer below :

I see SoftXpand Duo 2011 as a powerful visualization software (for those familiar with virtual machines it is like VirtualPC, VMWare, etc). But what sets it apart is that it really turn your PC into 2. All you have to do is plug in another monitor, plug in another keyboard and mouse – and there you have it, another PC that you can use. The best part is that (based on my personal experience) there are no slow downs in performance at all when both PC is at use – and what REALLY sets it aside from the rest is that I can play games in full resolution running simultaneously on both PC without any noticeable loss in performance! Now that’s the real deal.

Here in this post, I will not only review the product, but will also guide you how to setup (don’t worry it’s easy!), show some real life applications using SoftXpand Duo 2011, and how we can use it for our cheap HTPC project 🙂

SoftXpand Duo will turn 1 PC into 2 – so it does not necessarily be a HTPC setup. You just need an extra set of peripherals (monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers) to make this possible. But because I will be using my 40″ LED TV – that is why my setup is tailored more to HTPC.

So come on in and read on (there is also a Youtube review!). The best is to share, not to keep!

(more…)

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Cheap guide to Home Theater PC (HTPC)

November 12, 2012

I am moving out to a new apartment soon and have been looking forward to set up a budget home theater system. Preferably using the stuffs that I already have to minimize the cost.

Before I start, here are my ‘modern & most demanding‘ requirements :

  • Watch local live TV channels & listen to local live radio stations without antenna
  • Able to play DVD and Blu-ray discs
  • Play both SD and HD videos from my portable hard disk
  • Play high definition audio formats (MP3, etc)
  • Watch Youtube and other online streaming contents
  • Surf the Internet in full fledged desktop format
  • Play advanced PC games via a wireless controller
  • Run Android games and apps
  • must be FAST FAST and FAST!

As this will probably be quite a long article, I will probably segregate it into segments. Hey, at least I don’t burn myself out and you guys got something new to read everyday as well (well, that is IF I manage to update it daily – which is not that frequent anymore.. hahaha :mrgreen: )

It looks like I need a Home Theater PC based on the requirements. While those high ends Android TV’s are cheap and can do most of the stuffs listed above with some limitations. I have actually thought of buying one for myself. However – being a power user, why limit when I don’t have to? 8)

Don’t underestimate the Android MK802, other than running on Android 4.0, with some custom tweaks, it can even run Ubuntu!

Buying a HTPC off the shelf seems to be the most easiest and less headache solution available. Not only it looks great on your TV cabinet, it is also damn expensive as well.. hehehe :mrgreen:

So how do we resort to a (possibly) better and cheaper solution?

Simple, use your existing desktop PC! But wait, will that huge ugly chunk and noisy desktop be placed on top or beside your TV cabinet? It does seems out of place doesn’t it? And placing it there will lose you the ability to use your desktop PC as a standalone device (in the case of connecting display straight to your LCD / LED / Plasma (not recommended) TV). And in some cases, your desktop’s worth more than a dedicated HTPC 🙄

Would you like to know a way which you can keep your original desktop setup (like the picture below)?

… and still able to run a dedicated HTPC on your big TV?

I am not talking about the standard hooking the CPU display to both your computer monitor and your big screen TV. That will just result in 2 screen / monitor settings. Although this is OK for some, but what happens.. let’s say you want to use the desktop for some web browsing, and the kids want to watch youtube on the big screen TV. Everytime the clip ends, you need to stop whatever that you are doing and click on youtube next video. Plus, you can’t do anything when video is in fullscreen, else it will jump back to windowed mode.. then you hear your kids screaming and before you know it, you’re screaming and pulling out your hair as well 😛

So, would you really like to know the way to get around this?

I’ll explain it to you in my next post tomorr… just kidding! I’ll explain it here right now so there is something new that you can learn today and possibly teach others how to do it as well. Unfortunately this is not a free approach (I wish it was free, if by any chance you guys know how to do this for free, share the word!) but it was cheap enough compared to an additional PC / HTPC that fits this requirements.

There are several paid applications (or visualization) softwares available on the internet for this. I’ve come across several but the ‘cheapest’ (review coming soon once I purchased it) is SoftXpand which supports Windows 7 (both 32 and 64bit). It is currently priced at USD49 for its Windows 7 version.

How does it work?

Simple. In term of hardware – Leave your standard desktop as it is – just connect another pair of keyboard and mouse (wireless preferably), and connect your TV from PC HDMI port (or VGA out if you do not have HDMI). You need to have 2 display cards for this. But the norm are 1 built in and another PCI-E graphic card on most PC – that will suite the requirement well. If you want another dedicated audio out, you may want to purchase a cheap USB soundcard too.

Pictured above is my planned setup for ‘the cheap guide to HTPC’. That little keyboard like thing is the Cideko Air Keyboard. It is a wireless keyboard and also an air mouse. You basically wave the device and your mouse pointer will move accordingly (uses a gyro to track movements). This little thing retails around RM199 currently found @ Digital Mall (possibly cheaper @ Lowyat plaza). Considering a full fledged wireless keyboard and mouse costs around the same and not suited for HTPC, this one here is the chosen one 🙂

It is wise to use an USB hub and place it near your TV. This way you can attach Cideko’s wireless dongle facing towards you. Also allows easier access to USB so when your friends brought movies stored in their external HDD or thumbdrives, just plug it in and leave that on your TV cabinet. Your friends will wonder on WHAT are you running these on and will start to follow the cable trails… 😛

Now back to the software side.

SoftXpand cleverly splits your PC into 2! So whatever you do on your current desktop system does not effect what you do on your HTPC. You can even play multiplayer games between these two if your hardware is capable.

So there you go – for around RM350 / USD110 you can get yourself a HTPC that is capable to play HD videos, surf the internet, play advanced PC games (with multiplayer options), probably hook up a webcam for living room Skype video call, do all sorts of things that you can do on your desktop PC…

And also run Android apps and games.. which I will cover in my future blog (seriously!). Not to mention about the other requirements (watch local live TV and radio channels on your PC / HTPC). So stay tuned and subscribe by filling up your email on the form that’s located at the right side of this blog. Basically (it looks like below and around) here ->

Not subscribing? That’s okay.. I put this up for myself really (because I’m a bit forgetful) 😀

Horyzon HD Popwing Aerial Video

November 6, 2012

I know I know.. I’m supposed to run away from RC stuffs but I can’t hold myself from sharing my best aerial video (so far) taken using my Popwing.

Remember to turn up your speaker volume before hitting play, and enjoy the flight!

The guide to Halal song lyrics

October 14, 2012

As a responsible Muslim, I am sometimes concerned at the amount of local and international entertainments being music and video’s that we are exposed of. Especially those that is foreign to our tongue. Therefore I think it is about time for me to start blogging about ‘Halal song lyrics‘  that focuses whether it is appropriate or not in the way of Islam. (I would be honored if IKIM.fm were to announce this on air for the benefit of all muslims)

For this I have setup a special page which will soon be available on the right bar. And is also accessible by clicking > HERE <

Michael Jackson died at 50

June 26, 2009

First of all, thank Allah that he died AFTER he joined Islam.

“Remember the time…” – And yes I still remember when I was small, mu mom bought me a Michael Jackson album on cassette. I would then play it out loud and dance to it inside my room. When I was still a kid that is…

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Heard from the radio today whilst driving to work that Michael Jackson is dead. Reports on the internet said he was healthy and was actually preparing for his next concert, and all of a sudden had a heart attack. But then who would expect or knows (except for God / Allah the Mighthy) that his time is up.

inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raajiunfrom Him we come and to Him we shall return“.

Goodbye Mikaeel.

Read more here : Sky News / ABC / or Google up! It seems that a lot of websites was down due to excessive search for MJ news all over the Internet. In fact, Tweeter disabled their search engine as the loads were just too huge for their puny server to handle…


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