Beagleboard Decision

My goal is to create a tiny desktop that I can connect to my living room TV. With a wireless keyboard, and wifi dongle, I plan
to do email, internet browsing, and maybe stream some tv shows from my netflix account and I love the small
footprint and peripheral options for the Beagle Board and want to build the desktop with it. If all goes well I might attach a
solar panel to it to charge it during the day, for my night time use when I get home afterwork.

1) I have not programmed (aside from database programing, though I have installed Linux images to my desktop) nor have
I soldered anything since high school (10 years ago). Is my project appropriate for the BB, and am I in over my head?

You shouldn't need to solder for any of your project goals, but there
are a few areas that could give you some challenges. I believe you
might have some licensing and specification hurdles around proprietary
systems like Netflix and Hulu. Getting a web browser and e-mail
client running are pretty straight-forward. Adding WiFi requires
finding a dongle with Linux drivers. Wireless keyboard is pretty
transparent, but if you use Bluetooth might require a bit of
persistence to get it configured.

2) From your presentation, I see that I would need a regular HDMI cable for video, 3.5mm adapter/cable for audio, 5V power
supply, and powered USB hub for peripherals (bluetooth keyboard, usb wifi dongle). Is this all the hardware I would need to
build this desktop?

Sounds right.

3) Am I right in assuming that I can put an Angstrom, or Ubuntu, or Android, or even Windows CE image onto a bootable
MMC, and that would serve as my OS? And that I would only need the serial cable only if I wished to put the OS image
onto the BB's 256 Flash memory? And the OS being on the MMC is because of the size limitation of the 256 flash
memory resident on BB?

You are exactly right regarding putting the image on MMC/SD--you can
put whatever distribution you'd like on the card. The serial cable is
useful to see kernel console messages, not just for flashing the
board. I recommend you get it as a lot of the how-to documents depend
on using it and it helps catch debugging messages. The flash size
limitation 256MB and the performance difference makes it typical to
use a high-speed SD card for distribution storage.

4) The above project would be my first project, upon success, I would like to maybe add a touchscreen LCD to the BB
and maybe make a small internet device. I see that HY Research did something like this, I'm hoping I can use the S-video
or HDMI out to a small LCD screen, and use USB for touch screen input. Or maybe attached a touchscreen LCD directly
to the BB, would it be as simple as buying a raw TFT LCD? Any other hardware?

HY Research worked with Special Computing to make an LCD interface for
sale. It is a bit expensive, but I think the 7" HDMI screen with USB
touch support from Xenarc is the way I'd like to go for my own
projects. (example of someone using it:
I haven't moved to a touchscreen yet. I think the price on it has
even gone up. :frowning:

I just want to be sure I can do this before I pull the trigger on buying the BB. I look forward to hearing back from you. And
thank you for taking the time out to put the BeagleBoard 101 presentation and answer my questions. It has got me motivated
to build something for myself.

Glad you are looking at giving it a try. I recommend you try to
collaborate a bit more with the folks on this mailing list if you are
serious about Netflix and Hulu support. I know there has been some
success in working with YouTube within Firefox, but I haven't hear
that about Hulu yet.