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What good are HTPCs?

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September 23, 2009 2:19:46 AM

as the title says

why choose an HTPC over a home theater system?

and what is the difference between a nice gaming system and an HTPC?

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September 23, 2009 2:47:53 AM

i am using my HTPC for tv capture (like a dvr), so i would need a dvr on top of a home theater system
also, you are able to customize the HTPC to your needs, mine is going to have about 5TB in HDD space

between gaming system and htpc, a htpc can be configured to use quite a bit less power since you don't have very much GPU demand or CPU demand, a decent IGp will be able to decode blu-ray and let you get a lower end cpu saving you money and electricity, though it won't play games well
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September 23, 2009 5:12:48 AM

Indeed. HTPCs can be very useful and very inexpensive. Not to mention with the right parts they can be dead silent.
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a c 122 B Homebuilt system
September 23, 2009 6:17:59 AM

FallenSniper said:
... with the right parts they can be dead silent.

That's the key. No one really cares if a gaming computer setting on a desk is a little noisy.
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a b B Homebuilt system
September 23, 2009 6:34:56 AM

ATM, HTPCs are not much good.

TV recording: unless you record OTA or have a rare remaining cable company that doesn't (yet) require a set top box for HD TV and other premiums, you can only record the channel that box is watching. And only if your box has an RF output. And then only in SD. This won't change until cablecards become available in a sensible way. DirecTV users need not apply. Get your provider's DVR or a TIVO lol.

DVDs: You have two choices - pop a DVD in your PC and struggle to hook it up to your HDTV. Or rip the DVD (technically illegal if that matters to you) to disk and struggle to hook your PC up to your TV. Seems only marginally better than popping a DVD into your Home Theater DVD player.

Difference between Gaming PC and HTPC: About 450W of cost and heat, 20-30db of noise, and 4392 cu in of case (HAF 932) vs 2142 cu in (ZalmanHD160XT), both large cases. All to calculate and display game elements and avatars, some under user control, some under computer control. Much more cpu and gpu intensive than a simple BluRay movie.
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a b 4 Gaming
September 23, 2009 2:37:24 PM

Hulu, Netflix Instant Watch, YouTube, Pretty much any TV Station that posts content online. More and more family room appropriate content is being placed online; a trend I believe will only continue to grow. Unless the Home Theater System is capable of displaying this content, it's unavailable (unless you download it first, burn it to DVD and then transfer to the HTS).

-Wolf sends
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a b B Homebuilt system
September 23, 2009 7:17:05 PM

^ It should be interesting to see who wins the war over TV content via broadband: the owners of the ISP pipes who also sell TV content and want to throttle/charge for other sources . . . or the providers of that content.
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September 23, 2009 8:45:27 PM

So why is it called an HTPC specifically? any good desktop over 1000 from best buy can play vids and such
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a b B Homebuilt system
a b 4 Gaming
September 23, 2009 10:38:38 PM

Because it's a Home Theater System, built into a PC. An HTPC can be nothing more than a generic, off-the-shelf PC with a TV Tuner Card installed. DIY'ers (like myself) build using components specifically for the purpose of being an HTPC (HD capable graphics, digital audio out, aesthetic case, etc).

It's one box that can do all that a home theater system can do as well as all that a PC can do.

-Wolf sends

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September 23, 2009 10:40:30 PM

except cheaper^ right? a lot cheaper

what if you are looking for like bose sound and high end stuff like that?
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a c 214 4 Gaming
September 24, 2009 1:09:46 AM

I think it's the ergonomics holding it back. Until I see attractive server like cases with a small touch screen for basic navigation and where I can pop say four 2 TB HD's in and out from the front panel, I ain't gonna be doin an HTPC.
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September 24, 2009 3:12:59 AM

@ Upendra09 - Some people are happy with or can only afford on-board sound. Some people simply do not have the room that requires big sound. Me, I have my sound card hooked up (via TOSlink) to my soon to be replaced receiver (bringing my Onkyo HT-S3200 home tomorrow). So long as the output from the HTPC is compatible with the receiver it's plugged into, you should good to go.

And I wouldn't necessarily say it's cheaper as I've dropped a good $2100 into my setup so far and when funds allow, probably another $2000 to go full 1080p (but only about $300 of that into the HTPC)

@JackNaylorPE - Just speaking for me, the last thing I want in my home entertainment rack is something that looks like it should be under a desk somewhere. My NMediaPC 200BA case looks more at home in my entertainment rack than the Digital cable box I received from Comcast. While my system doesn't have the disk capabilities you'd like, I could easily resolve that with wired network to a home server (which I already have for backup purposes) or use an e-SATA NAS and just tuck it away somewhere. Also, while touchscreens are currently available, I think the premium cost well outweighs their usefulness.

-Wolf sends
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September 24, 2009 12:30:37 PM

Comes down to personal preference. I personally like a minimalistic look. I don't want a huge rack full of home entertainment gear sitting in my loungeroom. I want a small, inconspicuous box that does so much more than a DVD player. Particularly in a small appartment you want a box that is able to not only play DVDs, but also handle your music, record TV, give you weather updates, present an EPG, etc.

For me, that's the greatest thing about a HTPC: a DVD player is a one trick box, all it does is play DVDs. A HTPC has much greater upgradability and functionality. As such, it also has greater longevity.
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