Just in case you missed it, this Bank Holiday weekend was a pretty big one for a certain fruity company that’s not Apple. The Raspberry Pi Foundation’s delicious little number gained support for MPEG-2 and VC-1 decoding, H.264 encoding, and CEC (Consumer Electronics Control, which allows you to inter-operate devices connected through HDMI).
Read the full Raspberry Pi review here
When we reviewed the Raspberry Pi, we discussed its media player potential using XMBC. Basically, for the money there was little that could beat it, but the one thing that prevented the tiny PC board from morphing into the ultimate media machine was its lack of MPEG-2/VC-1 decoding, which is still common in many people’s video libraries. Now that last niggle has been resolved, leaving us and many other enthusiasts as pretty happy campers.
There is a small catch: you need to pay a few cents/pence extra for this functionality ($1.58, to be exact), giving you a unique MPEG-2 decode licence that’s matched to your Raspberry Pi’s serial number. The serial/key will be in your inbox within 72hrs, making your fruity number even tastier.
Still, even with this extra fee, the Raspberry Pi is still the most affordable media centre we can think of. Add in all the clever hacks, additions, extras, cases, mods and other bits, and it’s pretty much the most versatile one too – though bobs like a remote may require extra outlay if you don’t own a smartphone you can use as one, or have a CEC-enabled device (most likely a TV, in this case) to hook the Pi up to.
Of course, the H.264 encoding and CEC are free additions, so every user gets those by merely updating to the latest firmware.
So what do you think – do you use your Raspberry Pi as an entertainment device, as a ‘lite’ computer, or is it a jack of all trades? If you don’t own one yet, does this improved functionality convince you to splurge or is the extra cash required for MPEG-2 licensing a deterrent?