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Review of XBMC Bundle for Raspberry Pi

Scoring

Product Performed to Expectations: 10
Specifications were sufficient to design with: 10
Demo Software was of good quality: 8
Product was easy to use: 9
Support materials were available: 7
The price to performance ratio was good: 8
TotalScore: 52 / 60
  • RoadTest: XBMC Bundle for Raspberry Pi
  • Buy Now
  • Evaluation Type: Independent Products
  • Was everything in the box required?: No - The answer is actually YES if you do not plan to use the product with a Raspberry Pi, but if you are using it with the Rpi you will need the Rpi and a power cable. everything else is included.
  • Comparable Products/Other parts you considered: Some comparable products are Bluetooth mice and keyboards.
  • What were the biggest problems encountered?: The biggest problem I faced was when the product went into sleep mode. Because of the less-than-stellar info-packet, I didn't know what was happening at first... but pretty easy to figure out.

  • Detailed Review:

    The XBMC Bundle may be one of the most useful bundles that E14/Newark offers. The functionality of the product extends far beyond what is listed or suggested. With that we'll get started!

     

    First thing is first, what do we have here?

     

    Well, if you can read the produc list you are getting most of the info.

    • There is an SD card with RaspBMC pre-loaded
    • There is an HDMI cable
    • An Ethernet cable
    • There is a mini-USB cable for charging
    • And of course the keyboard
    • A small USB dongle for the connection
    • A small user manual for the device

     

    This is a list you can find most anywhere, so let's look at it with a little more detail.

    • SD Card w/ RaspBMC
      • I have personally had bad experiences with RaspBMC, and I have heard of other problems as well.
      • My personal preference is OpenELEC's XBMC for the Rpi.
      • It is a 4GB card that appears at first glance to be a class 4 card.
      • The card is manufactured in Korea
    • HDMI Cable
      • 3ft/1m in length
      • Has an MCM sticker on the outside
      • Made in China
    • Ethernet Cable
      • 12ft/4m in length, I could be off a little on this because it's currently being used by my roomate
      • 100Mbs speed (I believe it was a cat6 cable, but again I'm unsure)
    • Mini USB cable
      • 2.5ft/80cm in length
    • Keyboard/Mouse
      • Very comfortable in hand.
      • About 1" thick
      • Tons of hot-keys (Brief list below)
        • Pause/Play
        • Vol. Up/Down
        • Previous/Next Song
        • Video Player
      • BRITISH LAYOUT
        • This caught me offguard, but I was able to get over pretty quick b/c I use British layout when using my Rpi anyways.

    Here are some picture of the mousepad...

     

    combo.jpg

    • USB Dongle
      • 2.4 GHz frequency
        • If this sounds familiar it probably is. This is Bluetooth frequency.
        • NOWHERE does it say that it is Bluetooth
          • NOTE*** it only opperates on bluetooth's spectrum... it doesn't connect to a bluetooth device without the dongle
      • Stored in the back of keyboard
        • This took me so long to find, documentation could have been better
    • Directions
      • Subpar
        • Aren't all directions? The nice part is that it is so self-contained you generally don't need them.

     

    This sums up all of what is in the kit, and what I feel about some of it. I'll be more specific below.

    • SD card with RaspBMC
      • Fine card
      • Fair speed
      • Personally not a fan of RaspBMC
    • HDMI cable
      • They're really almost the same.... all of them
    • Ethernet cable
      • Also almost identical accross brands
      • Meets the max speed for the Rpis Ethernet jack
    • Mini-USB cable
      • Short-ish
      • Quality is fine
    • Keyboard
      • Easy to handle
      • Light
      • Versatile
      • Responsive
      • Self-explainitory
      • Britishy (if that's a word)
    • USB dongle for the connection
      • Bluetooth frequency
      • Good connectivity
      • Automatically instals drivers.
    • User manual for the device
      • Little light on detail
      • Not neccesary for most purposes

     

    USES:

     

    Earlier I said that this product might have the widest variety of uses of any bundle that I have looked at on E14/Newark. This is a real challenge because there are some pretty good kits, but hear me out.

     

    I have used this w/ the media center, and it works great... I have not doubt that the other Roadtesters will pick up on that, so I'll leave that to them. What I'm more concerned with is how that keyboard/mouse combo can be used.

     

    I'm currently a Freshman at the University of Houston, and so naturally I showed off the bundle, but what really caught people's attention was the keyboard. One of the great things about this keyboard combo is that it works cross-platform. Below is a video (as poor quality as it may be) of the keyboard combo working on my Windows 8 ultrabook. After a quick loading of drivers it worked flawlessly.

     

    This brings up some very interesting questions of some of the applications that this could be used for.

     

    Top on my list is connecting the dongle to the back of a friends computer while they are away, and then 'helping' them write their essay from accross the way. But I doubt that a few laughs are worth the nearly $70 you will shell out for this bundle.

     

    In my free time I have grown into a (debateably horrible) habit of playing League of Legends. Now, you need a real mouse and keyboard to play - at least if you want to win - but my computer lacks Fn hotkeys for changing songs... lucky for me this bundle has that ability, so I just need to plug it in and turn it on, and one click later I'm on my next song. This means fewer Alt+Tab situations. But is this worth $70? No.

     

    Just as a passing thought I have realized that this would be an ideal match for building a commercial media center off of. As someone who has set up one an XBMC media center for a commercial setting I can atest to the difficulty of making changes, especially when the people maintaing the setup are not computer/Rpi litterate. This would really help in the maintainence and up-keep of the unit.

     

    Here is the big use for outside of the mediacenter. When I was showing off for friends I left the room for a minute, and when I came back my friend (we'll call him Jaime) told me that "he could really use this". Jaime suffers from dwarfism. I asked him why this would be beneficial to him. Getting on my chair (remember I'm 6'2") he explained that b/c his legs can't touch the ground in most chairs, it is very uncomfortable for him to lean forward to take notes, or in this case... type. He went on to explain that leaning back in a chair removes alot of pressure that would normally be on his legs. He explained that having this keyboard would make his life more comfortable, and more productive. It would keep him from sacrificing note-taking for comfort and vice-versa.

     

    Needless to say this is a device that isn't only great for watching movies, but also for using a more practicle and daily application.

     

    If you have any questions ask away!

     

    John Moosemiller

    Co-Founder and Member of the Board at Project LEAD (Learn Everything Applying DIY)


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