the htpc revisted

Back in the day, a long long time ago, I really got my original Xbox to hack it. Not to play “back up games” but to share and stream media. That’s right, I really wanted to use XBox Media Center to take the content on the Internet out of the computer room, and into my living space.

… and it was good.

I helped others get an original Xbox for streaming media. Most notably, I helped my German brother-in-law get his set up, so his kids could watch German TV and Movies off of the PC.  He subscribed to a German TV service that would allow him to download German TV to his PC. His Xbox and XMBC would allow his family to watch the shows in the living room.

… and he was happy.

Later, I got a Roku M500, and if you had given me a chance to talk about it, I would have told you that it was the coolest thing I had ever bought in my life. I loved this thing.

… and it was great.

But my Roku 500 rolled off the entertainment center and broke. My Xbox got long it the tooth, and our DVD player gave up the ghost and all of a sudden were faced with an opportunity to upgrade to a Blu-Ray.  My wife didn’t want another gaming console, (to which I am referring to the PS3 before you suggest it), and I really couldn’t argue against it. We had heard good things about Samsung Blu-Ray players, but we ultimately had a bad experience with a Samsung BD-P1590. But I had a taste. Streaming Netflix, Pandora, Blu-ray…  If a Blu-Ray player didn’t have Streaming Netflix, I’m not interested.

… and so it began.

So, most everyone will tell you the PS3 is the way to go, and for the most part I would agree.  However, I had a taste of something else.

Since we are down a DVD player, I’ve been hooking my laptop up to the TV via S-Video and RCA jacks into the audio. My laptop is nothing special. It’s running Windows 7. But what is special, is the choice apps I have been running on it:

Boxee

And not to mention, Windows Media Center, (which is also VERY cool!).

After playing with Boxee, XMBC, and Hulu Desktop, Windows Media Center, (part of Win7), on this laptop, I was thinking I wanted more than what the PS3 has to offer for an HTPC. I was floored! They make PC cases that look like audio equipment, so this merits further investigation.

I figure my shopping list would consist of the following, and would consider my current situation and future growth:

  • HTPC Case
  • Multi-core CPU + motherboard
  • Digital audio out, (either on-board or PCI card)
  • Component (w/ HDMI) video output
  • Descent OS: Currently thinking about Win7 but open to other options
  • Wireless keyboard
  • Multimedia PC remote

This set up would totally get me started and be ready for future upgrades, (We still have a really nice rear CRT projection TV with only component-in).  I’d love to hear any other tips or suggestions anyone has. Please let me know your thoughts!

2 thoughts on “the htpc revisted

  1. Do you record live TV? Do you do over the air, cable or satellite? Depending on the answers you might want one or more tuner cards.

    • Thanks for the suggestion, Greg. We have DirecTV now and honestly, I don’t think I would need or want a tuner card at this point in time. However, I would reserve the right to upgrade in the future, but pretty much anything I want to watch nowadays, is already being offered by the networks or HBO. I will continue to mull it over. Thanks!

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