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Is it possible to use a DVD player hardware / peripherals and convert it into a small "net book" style computer?

I have a "older" (maybe 2 years tops) DVD player made by Haier with a 7" screen. (Total width is about 8 inches.) My questions are numerous but can be sumeerized with this: Can I use the case, psu(battery), and LCD and rip the rest of the guts ot to make a small computer. Now granted, I know it won't be any kind of speed demon. I have built many desktop systems before. But insofar as laptop hardware is concerned I might as well call myself a complete beginner. My plan is thus (and if you would like pictures of the existing hardware and connectors I would be able to supply them): I would take out the mobo and the drive which is broken (my daughter burned the motor out when she was younger by manually moving it) and try to replace it with a smaller form factor motherboard. I would need this mobo to be able to boot from a usb drive so that I could use a bootable linux, possibly ubuntu, and maybe another usb drive for an input device. (Mouse most likely, use an on screen keyboard.) Another question would be are the connectors for the i/o in small devices standard or are they mostly proprietary? Would I be able to use the existing cables with a motherboard? If not are there converters? And the next thing would be that I would need a network card to work with it.... In the end, I would like it to be able to use a tiny linux, have some sort of i86 architechture (becuase flash 9 or 10 wont work with a powerpc arch.), and be able to use firefox to view youtube. It's kind of a gift for my daughter. Is it possible?

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frollard7 years ago
Without going into too much detail - the screens on portable dvd players suck. Often only 480 lines with interlaced only inputs...crap for running any remotely modern operating system. *addendum to other posts
orksecurity7 years ago
Possible? Well, A DVD player *is* a small computer, though one with just enough processor power, RAM, video, and I/O capability to read data off the DVD, decompress it, and pump it out to the screen and speakers -- plus a few spare cycles to check the state of the control buttons ever now and then. But the odds of it having enough resources to run anything much more than the dedicated firmware burned into its ROMs are fairly low. That's how they keep costs down: build something that just barely meets the requirements.

As far as replacing the processor and interfacing to the rest of the hardware: Beats me, boss. Depends on just how far they cost-reduced the beast. In some ways it would make sense to put all the electronics on one board, in which case there wouldn't be a standard interface to the screen (or at least not a simple one); in others it would make sense to use a commodity screen module (in which case there's a "standard" interface, but it may not be like anything you'd ever see when working with the PC components you're used to). And of course nonstandard devices would mean nonstandard device drivers.

There's also the challenge of finding something else small enough, and that runs cool enough, to retrofit into that case.

Interesting project. Not straightforward. Probably "possible", but the question is how hard you'll have to work to get there... and whether, by the time you're done, it wouildn't have been cheaper to buy a netbook.
No, not that much a small computer, the ones I've had to bits had no discernible big iron in them - not even an Arm ! There WAS an 8052 and some big silicon, but they turned out to be hardware DVD reader chips.
Difficult. The most straight-forward method is to choose a portable DVD that has a video input, then use a very tiny motherboard that happens to have video out. Some digital picture frames also have video inputst. Or a car video monitor; I've picked up a couple of those cheap from bargain tables at car stereo shops. Resolution probably won't be very good... 230 lines (vertical) is typical on these sorts of displays. That's like 8-bit era resolution, less than 1/2 VGA (vertically). Connecting up a salvaged LCD screen to a little computer directly won't be easy. A lot of small embedded motherboards (like PC/104, "biscuit" PC, etc.) have LCD interfaces built in, but they only support a limited ranged of displays. I suspect the best bet would be to open up junked laptops from the '90s until you find a supported display. Or just buy a semi-obsolete compact laptop, like a Toshiba Portege, upgrade the hard drive and buy a new battery.
seandogue7 years ago
Possible, yes. Not what I'd call a beginner's project, btu some beginners are more than beginners in reality...idk As for connections, the only proprietary connection in portable computing devices are (generally speaking) the power connectors, which seems to be different for each device... PC/104 or a credit card form factor mobo seems the likely choice cost may (or not) be an issue. for linux, I am 99% sure you can use a stick drive as a boot device, although small form factor spin drives are available that might fit the case.\ hardware kybd might be an issue..not sure, but if you're going to use an onscreen kybd I suppose that's not a big issue. Finally, idk about communicating with the screen. that could be a deal breaker. My comments are, of course only speculative/conceptual, as I've never attempted this...my embedded goes more to screenless design and offboard screen/kyb/etc. (data logger.controller) So yeah, it's doable...but I doubt it will be a dumpster diving project.