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Raspberry Pi based media player offers 1TB hard drive

Aug 12, 2014 — by Eric Brown 7,162 views

FiveNinjas has launched a “Slice” media player on Kickstarter based on the Raspberry Pi Compute Module, with a 1TB HDD and a customized version of XBMC.

UK-based startup FiveNinjas developed the Slice because the developers found it annoying when their media players became useless when carried beyond an Internet connection. Unlike most media players, the Slice ships with a 1TB hard disk drive for storing plenty of video for offine playback.

Other standout features include an LED lighting band with 25 programmable LEDs and a skinned version of the open source XBMC media stack. You can remove this UI layer if you want and load regular XBMC or any other Linux software that is compatible with the Raspberry Pi. The device is built on the RPi-compatible Raspberry Pi Compute Module.

(click image to enlarge)

The Slice is available through Sept. 25 on Kickstarter starting with a 109-Pound ($183) preview version that lacks a pre-installed HDD, or 164 Pounds ($276) for the 1TB version. That seems a bit high for an ARM11-based media player, but the price includes a ready-to-go kit with cables, power supply, remote, and a carrying case.

Slice internals (left) and the Raspberry Pi Compute Module
(click images to enlarge)

The Slice integrates the Raspberry Pi Compute Module’s 700MHz Broadcom SoC with HD-ready GPU, combined with the usual 512MB of RAM and 4GB of soldered eMMC flash. Media storage is available via the 2.5-inch SATA bay and three USB 2.0 ports. These include two standard host ports and one micro-USB port that can also be used to reprogram the flash memory, says Five Ninjas.

Four Slices and an LED light show
(click image to enlarge)

The Slice includes a full-sized HDMI port and a 3.5mm audio jack that supports optical output for 5.1 surround pass-through. There’s no built-in WiFi or Bluetooth, but an Ethernet port is provided.


You have three options for remote control. The Slice ships with an RF-based remote (no line of sight required) that connects via a USB RF dongle. There’s also an IR sensor that supports third-party remotes, and an XBMC smartphone app is available on Android or iOS. iPhone and iPad users can also stream video to the device via a built-in Airplay-compatible receiver.

Slice, front (left) and back
(click images to enlarge)

The Slice is circumscribed by an LED lighting ring made up of 25 LEDs. Out of the box, it’s synchronized to media player actions such as fast forward and rewind, but the LEDs can also be programmed by the user. The fanless Slice runs on under 15W when active, says FiveNinjas.

Slice kit (left) and customized XBMC screenshots
(click images to enlarge)

FiveNinjas has no plans to release its schematics, but says it will release the device drivers, including for all LED and audio functions. Presumably the company’s customized version of XBMC will also be open. The XBMC skin is said to be simpler and easier to use than the original, and offers multiple schemes with different colors and backgrounds (see images above).

Summary of Slice media player specs

Specifications listed for the Slice media player include:

  • Processor (via RPi Compute Module) — Broadcom BCM2835 (1x ARM11 core @ 700MHz) with VideoCore IV GPU
  • Memory (via RPi Compute Module) — 512MB RAM; 4GB soldered eMMC flash (for the OS)
  • Storage — 2.5 inch SATA bay with 1TB disk (except preview version)
  • Networking — 10/100 Ethernet port
  • Other I/O:
    • HDMI port (full size) with 5.1 audio pass-through and CEC support
    • 2x USB 2.0 ports
    • Micro-USB port
    • 3.5mm jack for stereo analog audio (up to 192KHz, 24-bit) or optical output for 5.1 surround pass-through
  • Other features:
    • IR sensor supporting third-party remotes
    • Radio-based remote control with USB RF dongle
    • XBMC Remote app for Android and iOS
    • Airplay receiver mode for streaming media from iOS device
    • RTC with battery backup
    • 25x programmable RGB LEDs on case
    • Anodized solid aluminum case
    • HDMI and USB cables
    • Carrying bag
  • Power — 5V 3A via barrel input jack with power supply; under 15W consumption active, or less than 1W on standby
  • Operating system — Linux with skinned XBMC

Further information

The Slice is available through Sept. 25 on Kickstarter starting with a 109-Pound ($183) preview version that lacks a pre-installed HDD, or 164 Pounds ($276) for the 1TB version. More information may be found at the Slice Kickstarter page, as well as the FiveNinjas website.

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