Uvem HTPC

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duracell

Guest
Hi.

Saw a recent demo of the Uvem HTPC running Theatertek and I have to say I was stunned by the results. It was running 1:1 pixel mapped into a 50" plasma and the picture was that good (running HiDef) you could have stepped into the picture and taken part in the acting!! :smashin:

I have to say that having seen the demo, and having been thinking about going down this road for a while, I am sold!

However.................. When I enquired as to the price the answer was .............£3K!!!!! :eek:

Now with the best will in the world, and with a fair knowledge of computers and having built many, where does this price come from??? :lease:

I mean.... Win XP costs £65, Theatertek costs £55, a large quiet hard drive £80, 1 GB of fast memory £90, a top end graphics card £200, a top end MoBo £150, a powerfull intel £150, a good DVD Rewriter £40, a good PSU £50, a fancy case £150. Apart from the manufacturers profit of course, am I missing something here?? :confused:

Are they using exotic components or software??

Does anyone have the answer, because as good as it was I'm not paying £3K for it. I would have gone to £1.5K but for £3K i'll build it myself first!!

Cheers, Dura. :)
 
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Deleted member 27989

Guest
I must admit duracell....You are very low with your prices, especially for the case, psu (especially as you say good), processor (when you say powerful), memory (when you say fast), graphics card (when you say top-end)....You can easily double the money that you are calculating to get quality silent components...And you haven't taken into consideration, multiple hard drives, TV-cards, a quality sound card or multiple, silent fans, insulation material, coolers...Configuration (the pain of ensuring all the right driver versions and that it hangs together), Support, Time to build it, Overheads etc....

Fair enough £3k seems a lot, but you haven't given us any specs have you ;-)
 
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Deleted member 39241

Guest
However... you could build yourself a top of the range HTPC for half that... £1500 will get you a VERY nice spec.
 
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Deleted member 27989

Guest
Oh yes £1500 gets a great spec, I hope so as I spend near that I think...But than I was even skimping on components and parts...Definitely not the top spec you can get...And that was my point...without knowing what you get for £3k it sounds a lot, but if you know it will still be a lot (for some) but at least you can make a call whether it's worth it....
 
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duracell

Guest
Yes dejongj.

But that is just my point and the way my thread ended. It had the question:-

"unless I am missing something"? :confused:

The whole point of my thread is, whats in the box, and I have to say that you have not answered the question!!! :nono:

You have speculated that they are using top end exotic componenets, but are they?

Personally I seriously doubt it. In addition, you say my prices are low but I disagree. Take the powerfull CPU for example, would you not consider a 3.2Ghz P4 powerfull? I certainly would and I can get them for less than £150! I can get the memory also for the price I quote. A solid sound card is not that expensive either.

The only kit that would qualify for your prices are esoteric devices like the dual core CPU's, Super quick fancy memory, SLI type top end Video cards, etc, etc. I have used these devices on builds and found them to make little difference unless one is running some very, very specific applications.

I am convinced (imho) that these are not the devices required or used in the Uvems. In fact I will go further: with the exception of high end gaming machines, some of the quickest machines that I have built have run on some of the simplest hardware. I would hazard a guess in fact that the secret is not the power of the hardware used but the combination. :smashin:

Check out the specs on the Uvem site:-

Powerful AMD® Athlon™ CPU to XP3000 or Intel® Pentium® 4 to 3.2 Ghz
PC3200 DDR RAM (expandable to 4GB)
Quiet Hard Disk in sizes to 300GB. SATA option available.
ATI® Radion™ Graphics Video
3 PCI slots, AGP 8X slot
10/100 Mbs Ethernet LAN
350W Power Supply with fan speed control for quiet operation

End Quote"

This is pretty standard hardware and not rocket science material.
I understand we have to cough for all the hard work and research done by the guy but £3K?

My question was a simple one and still stands, does anybody have any info on what makes these units so expensive (for computer base stations that is)?

Thanks, Dura.
 
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duracell

Guest
Oh, I forgot.

Multiple Quiet fans = £20, Insulation material =£20, Extra hard drive £80.

Yup, I can see how it all adds up to £3K, which was quoted to me for the BASE unit. :rotfl: :rotfl:

Cheers, Dura :devil:
 
S

Skunkpipe

Guest
duracell said:
Hi.

Saw a recent demo of the Uvem HTPC running Theatertek and I have to say I was stunned by the results. It was running 1:1 pixel mapped into a 50" plasma and the picture was that good (running HiDef) you could have stepped into the picture and taken part in the acting!! :smashin:

I have to say that having seen the demo, and having been thinking about going down this road for a while, I am sold!

However.................. When I enquired as to the price the answer was .............£3K!!!!! :eek:

Now with the best will in the world, and with a fair knowledge of computers and having built many, where does this price come from??? :lease:

I mean.... Win XP costs £65, Theatertek costs £55, a large quiet hard drive £80, 1 GB of fast memory £90, a top end graphics card £200, a top end MoBo £150, a powerfull intel £150, a good DVD Rewriter £40, a good PSU £50, a fancy case £150. Apart from the manufacturers profit of course, am I missing something here?? :confused:

Are they using exotic components or software??

Does anyone have the answer, because as good as it was I'm not paying £3K for it. I would have gone to £1.5K but for £3K i'll build it myself first!!

Cheers, Dura. :)

having once gone down the audiophile route with my music system, manufacturers really take the pi55 when pricing thier stuff up for the seriously beardy enthusiast. I've paid over £200 for interconnects before and £30/metre for speaker cable (and this is considered 'mid-range'), but hey it's expensive so must be good. You'll get some sandle wearing freakoid justifying their new £300 Kimber power lead, because it adds extra depth to Barbers adagio for strings....essentially it's all bo11ox aimed at people with more money than sense. UVem make very nice kit, but it uses the same HDD/CPU/Mobo/gfx card as the next guy.
The art really is making it silent and setting it up right. And that really aint rocket science if you know where to look.
£1500 will get you something that will outclass and aoutperform uvem kit IMHO
 
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Deleted member 27989

Guest
duracell said:
Yes dejongj.

But that is just my point and the way my thread ended. It had the question:-

"unless I am missing something"? :confused:

The whole point of my thread is, whats in the box, and I have to say that you have not answered the question!!! :nono:
Fair enough! :D I made the assumption that you knew what's inside, I didn't read it correctly...

duracell said:
You have speculated that they are using top end exotic componenets, but are they?
That we don't know. I've looked at their website and can't see anything that would warrant more than £1k to be honest...So unless you tell us what model it was and the content, we wouldn't know...But then you can't state that you can build it cheaper...

[QOUTE=duracell]Personally I seriously doubt it. In addition, you say my prices are low but I disagree. Take the powerfull CPU for example, would you not consider a 3.2Ghz P4 powerfull? I certainly would and I can get them for less than £150![/QUOTE]
Nope, I wouldn't class that as powerfull! Sorry...I would class that processor as a standard run of mill one...

duracell said:
I can get the memory also for the price I quote.
You are talking about fast memory and a £3k machine. In order to justify and get some truly fast memory (like for my Abit AW8-MAX motherboard) you are talking about DDR2-PC8000 at £320 per Gb from a reputable supplier in a matched pair (otherwise forget the DDR2 working)...Even if you go for DDR2-PC5300 you are talking about £130 for a matched pair of 512Mb but forget overclocking as that would be the standard speed for an S775 motherboard.

duracell said:
A solid sound card is not that expensive either.
A soundblaster X-FI is about £200...But if you drive proper hi-fi you could get into RME territory or better, prices starting at £350 upwards...

duracell said:
The only kit that would qualify for your prices are esoteric devices like the dual core CPU's, Super quick fancy memory, SLI type top end Video cards, etc, etc. I have used these devices on builds and found them to make little difference unless one is running some very, very specific applications.
You were the one starting to talk about fast, powerfull etc...Appearantly we have very different interpretation of what is fast and powerfull....Specific applications...Hmmm 1080p display is pretty specific and relevant...Especially when you have two recordings going to hard-disk, burning a CD, watching live telly at the same time....Fair enough hardly anybody does that all at once all the time...But the software doesn't actually prevent you from doing those things...So if your machine can't keep up, it gets quite annoying when your children or spouse don't appreciate that you have to be gentle....And think when you use it...

duracell said:
I am convinced (imho) that these are not the devices required or used in the Uvems. In fact I will go further: with the exception of high end gaming machines, some of the quickest machines that I have built have run on some of the simplest hardware. I would hazard a guess in fact that the secret is not the power of the hardware used but the combination. :smashin:
Fully agreed, however when you make the right combination with the power combined you have got the ultimate combination.... :D

duracell said:
Check out the specs on the Uvem site:-

Powerful AMD® Athlon™ CPU to XP3000 or Intel® Pentium® 4 to 3.2 Ghz
PC3200 DDR RAM (expandable to 4GB)
Quiet Hard Disk in sizes to 300GB. SATA option available.
ATI® Radion™ Graphics Video
3 PCI slots, AGP 8X slot
10/100 Mbs Ethernet LAN
350W Power Supply with fan speed control for quiet operation

End Quote"

This is pretty standard hardware and not rocket science material.
I understand we have to cough for all the hard work and research done by the guy but £3K?
Fully agreed, not worth even a thousand pounds...

duracell said:
My question was a simple one and still stands, does anybody have any info on what makes these units so expensive (for computer base stations that is)?

Thanks, Dura.
I think only UVEM can explain that, but my guess now we know the spec would be pure and simple greed mixed together with the unaware shopper syndrome...

:)
 
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Deleted member 39241

Guest
Hi, got your pm...

So to start off with you need a nice case, spend whatever you want but obviosuly get one that looks nice, can accomodate all your kit, maybe room for expansion, a VFD maybe, quiet cooling and a nice powerful enough quiet / silent psu.

Then a 3ghz+ CPU
1GB RAM
Lots of quiet fast hard drives
A DVD Rom/writer (multi region hackable?)
Sound could be onboard or separate, if using spdif out to amp don't need as powerful a card,
I recommend Win XP MCE a Nvidia 6600/6600gt and the nvidia purevideo codec,
And one or two compatible tv cards...

Well, that is for starters.
 
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duracell

Guest
Cheers Lisa. :)

Not sure about the TV cards. Have no interest in Digital as already got sky box. No requirement to record either. Only want top class DVD playback and possible scaling if I feed Sky through the HTPC. Other main use will be streaming HDef material from HHDisk to plasma. Also surfing the internet.Ta. have seen the Nvidea codecs advertised. Are ATI any good, It's just that Uvem seem to be using them??

Dejongj:-

Where to start.... Yes we do have different ideas about what is fast. There is nothing run of the mill about a 3.2 Ghz P4 in anyones money. Yes there are faster processors out there but at what price and with what performance increase for the hellish increase in cost. I stopped spending stupid money on PC Components years ago when I realised there was absolutely no point in spending megabucks today, on something that would cost half as much in a few months. The memory is no different. The stuff you mention is esoteric and costs crazy money. I use crucial memory every time and am currently running 1GB DDR400 at cost £92!! Certainly fast memory. Not the crazy stuff that you mention, but fast none the less. Some more quick research during the last 30 mins (time spent researching facts not speculating) shows that they use M Audio soundcards. Excellent cards but not crazy money. :smashin:

I could go on but theres no point. The bottom line is that I suggested that my level of Kit was used inside the Uvems and not the esoteric stuff that you mention. It appears I was right. It is also then obviously correct that asking £3K for it is off the clock and cannot be justified. Even going overboard I could build that level of machine for £1500 max. :lesson:

My only query now remains, what MIX of components are being used? There is nothing special so far about the Processor, Memory, Graphics card, sound card (M audio
 

ChrisOH

Novice Member
"I mean.... Win XP costs £65, Theatertek costs £55, a large quiet hard drive £80, 1 GB of fast memory £90, a top end graphics card £200, a top end MoBo £150, a powerfull intel £150, a good DVD Rewriter £40, a good PSU £50, a fancy case £150. Apart from the manufacturers profit of course, am I missing something here?? "

Nothiing I can see except for £3k I would expect lots of disks, an RME, a very nice case, Nebula, lots of other software installed and a sh*t load of support if needed.

It seems to me you hit the nail on the head with your original post, the debate is DIY v pay someone to do it for you. How do you value the cost of someone else's experience v learning the hard way and your time? Messing about with AV is fun but it is not a career for everyone.

Chris
 
D

duracell

Guest
Hi ChrisOH

A very valid post generally, except for one thing, that was not quite what was being offered. :rolleyes:

Yes you got backup, but you did not get a sh*t load of discs OR software.
The unit that was offered to me was a base unit and all of that stuff was extra!!! :eek:

Also one is not learning the hard way necesarily. For example, there are lots of experienced people here willing to share thier knowledge making the whole operation a lot less painless. Also bear in mind that I saw a 30 min demo of the Uvem. I do not believe for one minute (computers being computers) that it is without it's fair share of crashes etc. In fact during the demo one particular piece of material (Ice Age Hi Def) refused to open to the correct aspect much to the bemusement of the operator and the amusement of myself. Just remember the definition of an expert :- a has-been drip!! They don't always get it right. :rolleyes:

Thanks, Gerald.
 
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Deleted member 27989

Guest
So if you knew what kit was inside, than why didn't you share it before? Instead of asking the question how it is possible to spend £3k on a computer like that?

Are you sure they quoted you £3k? Or perhaps it was done in a joke, because it sounds like either a clever plot to make UVEM look bad, or some sales bloke trying it on to get rid of someone at the stand! A trick I've come across many a time...
 
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duracell

Guest
Dejongj

The answer to your question is quite simple. When I asked the question I had no idea what was inside the Uvem. Having just arrived home from the demo that's why I asked. :confused:

In the absence of any sensible answers, I decided to do some spadework and try and find out for myself. By using a search engine and following up some internet leads (publicity material etc), piece by piece the information became available over the period of the thread developing. As I said earlier, not exactly rocket science but my apologies for wasting everybodies time with what I thought was a fairly interesting topic. :oops:

And no, the guy was not trying to get rid of me, quite the opposite was the case in fact. They were wanting all of my business including the complete install (lighting, installation, electrical, etc) running to tens of thousands of pounds! There was one unfortunate flaw in thier plan, I don't pay others thousands of pounds, to do what i can do myself for half the cost. It is a principle that has served me well for years. I know when to call in the experts, and when they quote me funny money :rotfl: :rotfl: I continue the comedy untill they start talking sense. If they fail to start talking sense (50% of the time) I take my business elsewhere.

I don't mind paying reasonable money, but I don't specialise in throwing it away either. :nono:

Cheers, Dura. :)
 
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Deleted member 27989

Guest
Appreciate the edited version! Thanks! Welcome to the forum...
 

ChrisOH

Novice Member
Hi Duracell,

Time to come out of the closet, I have a UVEM PC, bought for the reasons I suggested they offered value for money. Unless their proposition has changed, I got everything I mentioned (4 hard drives), oh and a Sweetspot card. The machine was delivered and set up during the course of an entertaining day by the guy who built it.

"Out of the box" it played DVD via whichever player I wanted to use, captured and scaled SKY allowed me to record it using WinTV, offered Freeview, the RME was configured, a number of music players installed, it was connected to broadband (which allowed me to learn a lot here as you point out). The front end was XLobby and was set up to run the whole show. I appreciate that some of this is free but the fact that it was set up is what I was paying for.

The only time the machine has crashed is when I have been surfing and left DScaler running in the background (no idea why so I have stopped doing it)

Chris

PS: I notice you are willing to pay up to £2.5k for a scaller, whats in one of them ;-) ?
 

rhinoman

Well-known Member
I got your PM....

The Uvem at £3000 is no doubt based around a healthy profit that is related to the time it takes to set up a system to run smotthly, without conflicts, with remote control and then offer support. Working in a industry that needs to offer support I dont think £1000/£1200 is completly unreasonable in this respect.

The machine I built for a friend last week came to around £1400 in compenents and that didn't include a high end sound card as he doesn't yet have a quality amp and only really plays dvd's so the motherboard spdif is probably good enough for now.

This machine used an amd 64 3500 venice, nf4 mobo, ATI X800, nice case and quiet components (but not the evry quietest), xlobby as a front end, dscaler with a cheap philips chipset capture card with dscaler for sky+, theatretek with ffdshow for dvd, girder and a usbuirt ir receiver for remote control via a pronto.

Most of the hard work invloved in setting the system up and learning how to configure it I have already done in my own system. I already had a working pronto etc. I still spent in the region of 25/30 hours on this build and config.

If that time is your own and you've never done this before but do know how to construct a pc, I'm sure you could easily spend 200/300 hours learning how to configure xlobby/dscaler/tt/ffdshow/girder/pronto, probably much more. I've been in toi this stuff fro years now.

I agree that £3000 for the Uvem on the face of it for the price of the components seems expensive but you haven't allowed for configuration. Thats the hard bit, it can be fun if you want it to be, it can be terribly frustrating too.
 
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Skunkpipe

Guest
What do uvem offer above all the other manufacturers (major and minor) who supply equivalent kit for less?
 
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Deleted member 27989

Guest
@JohnS: I think you are spot on....People constantly just calculate the kit cost and totally forget the time to get it to work....That's the reason why I've been staying away for now from products like Xlobby, I would love to but its finding the time...So for those who have the money, it seems well worth it to me....
 

Mr.D

Distinguished Member
ChrisOH said:
The only time the machine has crashed is when I have been surfing and left DScaler running in the background (no idea why so I have stopped doing it)

Chris

I'd expect better than that for £3k. My first HTPC was based around a P3 1.13gHz with a radeon VE and 512K and handled , Dscaler , websurfing and nebula recording in the background just fine and you could likely build one these days including OS for £300.

Regardless if someone has built it for you and tweaked it out , a HTPC ( like any PC) has a tendancy to get unstable over time and require a bit of preventative medicine. Especially if its an all singing all dancing box.

At some point you will likely have to do some serious tweakery on it and this is before you even consider the impact driver upgrades and software patches can make to a previously stable system ,so I question the value in having somone do the initial build as it will just put off the inevitable time when it will be necessary for you yourself to get familiar with the box , in order to keep it up to date and or running smoothly.

Otherwise you miss out on one of the best aspects of having an htpc and thats upgradeability.

Things like driveimage , ghost and trueimage allow you to have a stable configuration you can easily return to if an update makes things pear shaped but even their use requires some knowledge of your machine.

The other plus point with HTPCs is value for money . If you are going to shell out £3k for a box thats worth £1k in components and software in the hope of never having to tweak it , then buy a standalone deinterlacer/scaler and if you want some web browsing get an ibook.

Its not very difficult to build and configure your own HTPC these days , its well trodden ground now so you will be able to get plenty of advice and support from the HTPC community at large.

You come out of it with a nice machine , that gives excellent performance for the money and the new knowledge and skills needed to keep it running it top condition.

An you'll be able to build and maintain any future PCs you require.
 

edward

Active Member
Gents,
We’re of like minds but a few people are kidding themselves here. I have given up eating strawberries because I have trouble passing the seeds but I bought a Uvem.

The Uvem guys have a reputation for building the best PCs in the country and probably Europe. It’s a hard-earned company asset, which they want to protect – and using parts that are not going to satisfy customers would erode that reputation. Having said that, they let me have a big say in what bits to use and they told me where I could save money because I’d get no performance gain for the investment. The parts in my Uvem still came to over £2K – and that was using sites like Dabs and Scan for pricing. Let’s look at how I got there:

I wanted disks that were quieter and cooler so I spent about £100 for a single 300 GB Seagate SATA – and with 1080i movies gobbling up over 20GB a shot, it doesn’t take long before you need more.

Mobo cost £128 and 2GB of good fast memory added another £160. £380 for a CPU. Big, silent CPU cooler ran up another £26. A reputable, cool and quiet power supply added another £163. A half decent graphics card: £105 – a very decent one would be twice that.

Now I don’t know what else you’re using in your systems but if you’ve spent a few grand on it, it makes no sense to choke the sound quality by using a crap sound card - the sound is only going to be as good as the weakest link in the chain allows – an RME HDSP card will cost you at least £350 and more like £390. DVD writer runs up another £33. A good TV card adds £150 and if you want to be able to record output from your SKY STB you can add another £115. Gyration Keyboard and mouse (contains a couple of solid state gyroscopes – great fun once you master it – should be for £100). Add in IR receiver and transmitter and software and you’re well over your £1500 budget before you’ve even selected a case. The result is a source that cost less than my DVD transport cost just a few years ago – and yet it does a lot more and is a hell of a lot more fun (but I still love my TAG).

Then there is the service itself. I’ve built another system, mainly for storing all the extra movies and music and I built up a set of the same software as I’ve got in the Uvem, so I can fiddle with less risk. Pi55ing about with driver and BIOS updates and software conflicts that either made the thing inexplicably hang or blue-screen has meant having to rebuilt the damn thing twice. Talk to someone who has owned a Uvem-built box for a few years as I did, and they’ll tell you they’ve never experienced these problems. What is your time worth? The man delivered and installed it and took me for a test drive that showed me in a couple of hours what it would have taken months to find out by myself. And, they’re on the end of a telephone if you need them – not a call centre, but the man who built my Uvem! What is that worth to you? Uvem made about £700 for building and installing my system. When you deduct the VAT from this, it means they made less than £600. Frankly, it was a bargain.
 
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Deleted member 39241

Guest
Sounds way too expensive for the CPU, PSU, tv cards and sound card.

What happens about updates to drivers, software, windows etc.. do they come over, install them and test them all out for you?
 
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edward

Active Member
Don't I know it, deleted member. Pentium 3.6G are still not much less than that and the price probably won't drop to sensible for another 12 months. I wanted a SilentMaxx 450W PSU that was very quiet, acoustically and electrically, and there is always this problem of keeping heat down if you want a case that is small enough to pass for a piece of AV kit when it is racked with the rest in your lounge. That is what Quiet PC was charging.

Come to think of it, Uvem advised me to go for a 3.4 or 3.2 as a way of saving bucks (I took the prices of the spec sheet I sent them). The sound card was a crazy price but you won't readily get a new one of these for less than that money - I spent ages looking.

As stated previously, I think its a serious mistake to use a cheap component that is going to bugger up the investement I've made elsewhere in the sound path. If you're using something more modest then that card would be overkill and a cheaper sound card makes a lot more sense. I was seeking a mutz nutz source for movies and music. If you're going to be happy with less, then you should built it yourself - makes a lot more sense.

As for the driver updates, software etc... it doesn't need them - it works fine so it doesn't need fixing. OK, having said that, I've upgraded the version of TheaterTek software, for no other reason tha that it was latest and greatest, but I did it myself. If you can't afford someone else to come around and do it for you and you aren't up to basic self-help on a PC, lisa, I think you might be better off staying away from HTPCs for a while.

I've thought of something else... the prices I quoted were the prices I could these components for (excluding P&P). Uvem probably make a margin by buying wholesale but I'm told by others that the margin on commodity IT components isn't that high. Compared to what it cost me to build my other machine, it was still pretty reasonable.
 

ChrisOH

Novice Member
I'm dropping my PC off at the end of the week (all being well) as I was told it was about time it had a rebuild when I called UVEM for some advice about wireless networking and Squeezebox. All part of the service.

I have run into some trouble over the last few years but have always been able to call on UVEM's help if needed. In the early days this was quite a lot but has become increasingly infrequent as I have learned.

I accept that I could be learning how to provide my own support, to a degree I suppose I am, but then I could also take up electronics and build my own stereo equpment, car maintainance a bit of building, eleectrical and plumming training.

I have updated drivers and installed many updates for applications, learned to develop XLobby as the front end, usually with help from the various communities. However, buying the machine and the suport that comes with it gave me a huge head start.

I'm with Edward, it has been money well spent.

Chris

PS: How much do you suppose the components in my $1,200 cartridge cost?
 

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