Five things to do with a mini PC

mk808netflixMini PCs are often seen as toy computers but they generally have as much computing power as a smartphone, tablet – and even a network-attached storage (NAS) device.

With 700,000 apps now available courtesy of Android, your Mini PC might be capable of lot of more than you think.

Here are just five things we’ve thought of that a mini PC can handle:

1. Home server

Grab hold of two free apps from Google Play and turn your mini PC into a compact low-power home server box. All you need is Samba Filesharing and ES File Explorer.

Samba Filesharing opens access not only to your device’s internal storage, but it’s external storage too – grab an external hard drive and you’ll be able to share it across your home network. It supports password protection so you can choose you gets access and who doesn’t. ES File Explorer is just an excellent file manager that also has network access and can peer around your Windows computer over your home network.

2. Network Media Player

You can make this one as simple of as complex as you like. The simplest option is just to grab ES File Explorer and combine it with MX Player with the MX ARMv7 Codec Pack. You use ES File Explorer to search out video files on your network and play them with MX Player. If you use MPEG-4/H.264 video files, you’ll be able to play them without having to wait for them to download to your device. The more complex option but better for a home theatre setup is XBMC. It’s not available on Google Play but you can still install it for free from this link. Originally designed to work on hacked first-generation Xbox gaming consoles, XBMC has grown to become the premium media centre app for Windows and now Android.

3. Netflix streaming video

If you don’t like your own video collection, don’t fret – just play someone else’s. Netflix is now available on Android and for just $7.99 a month, you can watch whatever you can from Netflix’s library of movies and TV shows. If you live outside Netflix’s supported country setup, DNS bypass services like unblock-us.com reportedly work. Note: some mini PCs like the MK802IV can have trouble playing Netflix video streams however, there are new ROMs available that reportedly fix this issue.

4. UPnP music player

If you’re more into music and don’t want something as big as XBMC, try BubbleUPnP. It’ll pick up your shared music on Windows Media Player 11 or 12 through the UPnP (universal plug’n’play) protocol commonly known as DLNA. You can play music over your network with this app without having to have the music local on your mini PC. It’s a little rough around the edges but it does the job and works well.

 

5. Go BOINC

Want to make a difference, help solve medical conditions, discover new medicines? Get BOINC for Android – it’ll allow universities and other organisations to borrow your mini PC’s processing power to help solve some of humanity’s riddles. The app is called NativeBOINC. Look for a project you want to support, install NativeBOINC, sign up and let your mini PC get to work. It’s free and you’ll be using your computing power for a good cause you get to choose.

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