Hauppauge Media-MVPHD – A Platform Introduction

Sub $80 embedded Linux Development Box

So you want a sub $80 embedded Linux system capable of playing back 1080p60 video, has wired ethernet, SATA controller onboard, USB2 ports, with a full cross compiler toolchain? Perhaps you’ve got an urge to get involved with digital media playback and Linux development? If so, read on.

The Hauppauge Media-MVPHD is a consumer friendly digital media player designed to play back movies and music from a USB thumb drive. In simple terms, plug in a USB drive full of your favorite movies, plug the MVPHD into your TV using the provided A/V cable, power up. Use the HDPVR remote control to navigate the on-screen menus. Select a USB file to playback. Bingo! Instant video on your TV. Simple.

In a world of full of media players from companies such as Popcorn Hour, Roku and Western Digital, the MediaMVP-HD is not exactly a ground breaking product – but it pretty solid, it’s great hardware, I like it a lot, it’s Linux based and ‘out of the box’ it happens to playback MythTV Backend recordings via UPNP pretty well.


Hauppauge first began showing their Media-MVPHD behind closed doors at Cebit 2009, see the YouTube video.

It’s a perfect box to hack on, so Kernel Labs did. [Ed. We built a HDMI/Component HD/SD Video Generator and we’re writing about that in our next article]

On the front of the device you have a USB2.0 port, power switch and power LED.
On the back of the device you have various outputs:
Component, Stereo Audio, composite, svideo, HDMI, Ethernet and Optical SPDIF.

During our time at Hauppauge, Devin and I worked on various parts of the MVPHD project and became intimately familiar with the internals. I won’t bore you with the product/software design decisions but I do want to point out a few major features that are under the hood of the product, and as such are the basis for this entire article.

As a piece of hardware, what makes the MVPHD special?

  1. It’s a Linux System-On-a-Chip (SOC) with 1080p60 capable playback, fairly low power.
  2. It runs Busybox, and Hauppauge made sure a lot of tools were ‘built right in’.
  3. Lots of RAM, it supports CIFS (windows shares), NFS and a boat-load of filesystems.
  4. It has a freely available compiler toolchain.
  5. Hauppauge themselves have a Linux friendly attitude and their own document describes how to extend the platform and compile applications for it. ()
  6. A decent Python interpreter right in the box. Does this get any better?
  7. Telnet running by default, root password is hauppaugetw.
  8. PCB TTL UARTS pins for the Linux console. Hauppauge even sell the serial console cable if you don’t have something handy to repurpose.

Here’s the toolchain for the device:

Extract the tarball, put /bin in your path, then build binaries with:

mips-linux-gnu-gcc --static -muclibc -EL -Wall -o helloworld helloworld.c

Here’s Hauppauge’s GPL modified downloads, so they are complying with the terms of the GPL:

Hauppauge do a reasonable job of describing the platform from a developers perspective in their FAQ. You should certainly read this:


For example, here’s the command to play your media through their player application:

/usr/local/bin/test_rmfp myvideo.mpg

It’s too much of an awesome mini Linux platform not to be used for other projects.

A handfull of companies are using this hardware in their commercial environments for video playout, integrating it with their bespoke software infrastructure.

You might want to give the MVPHD a second look, it’s a lot of hardware for very little money.

Closing Thoughts…

When Hauppauge decided to make the Media MVPHD open and extensible, by embracing Linux and trying to engage with the community, they did something that nobody else in the retail digital media playback market did. They made a clear statement that open access to their platform was important to both the commercial and home enthusiast markets.

I only wish they made their statement a little louder.

Given a $80 off-the-shelf, video and network capable Linux box, with an open toolchain, what kind of ideas and projects would you like to build?

You’ll hear more from us on the MVPHD in a future article.