Habey's Mini HTPC Can Handle 1080p and Blu-ray

During our recent time with Asus' Eee PC 1000HE, we tried playing back a 1080p movie trailer just for kicks. To our surprise, it did manage to stutter along and get through it, but it was far from "watchable." And that was with an Atom N280 within. Now, we're seeing a diminutive new media PC with Intel's aging 1.6GHz Atom N270 that can reportedly handle 1,920 x 1,080 high definition material -- which just has to be a joke, right?

Not quite. Habey's unique BIS-6550HD, which has undoubtedly put the company on the consumer electronics map, possesses something than most netbooks and nettops simply do not: a hardware-based HD decoder. The ultra low power HD AVC/VC-1/MPEG-2 hardware decoder is supposedly capable of handling full HD real-time decoding of H.264 / VC-1 at up to 40Mbps and MPEG-2 at up to 125Mbps. And since we know you're wondering, yes, it can also manage Blu-ray Disc playback, believe it or not.

Habey asserts that playing back 1080p H.264 content with its machine utilizes under 15 percent of the N270 CPU, while 1080p WMV material uses even less. We guess that hardware decoder is sweating bullets all the while, but hey, at least your CPU is still free to handle things like e-mail and IM in the background, right? Also of note is the power consumption here; the fully loaded system (with HDD, not SSD) consumes under 13 watts, and we're guessing that's while in use and not idle.

Other specifications include a single DDR2 SO-DIMM memory slot for up to 2GB of RAM, two SATA II ports, a flash card reader, four USB 2.0 ports, VGA / HDMI 1.3 / Composite / S-Video outputs, a single gigabit Ethernet jack and Intel's 945GSE chipset. We're trying to locate a price and release date as we speak; needless to say, we're anxious to get one of these on the test bench and figure out just how close to advertised this thing works.

Tags:  Nettop, Atom, HTPC, Habey