Potential for PC-on-TV / Media Center System


I've been wondering about buying some sort of media center for a while now but I'm not sure what to do for the best. I want something with a limited cost (under £500) and which, ideally, I can use for low-end computing tasks as well as media playback.

My initial idea was to get a netbook. But research would seem to indicate that most, if not all, netbook systems are going to struggle with video playback, especially HD video, and if I want blu-ray or DVD playback (which I do), it'll almost certainly mean buying an external drive. Plus I'll have to disconnect it from the TV and audio every time I want to use it for computing.

So now I'm left wondering about the possibility of having an ordinary desktop system to do it, fitted with reasonable graphics and sound cards. But I'm fairly ignorant about potential methods of actually harnessing a desktop attached to the TV for computing tasks.

For example, I assume there are likely to be potential problems with resolution and such if I try and hook up a PC into an ordinary, non-HD, CRT TV (assuming you can get non HDMI TV-out on PC's nowadays)? I'll have to get a wireless keyboard and mouse, I suppose. And will I need some sort of remote control to make best use of its media center function? Am I best off installing a dual-boot with an ordinary OS and some sort of media center software, or am I best off using the native media players in the OS? And so on ..

In short, is this possible? Desirable? And if so, what are the best options?
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  1. It's not clear what kind of TV you are hooking this up to. You say you want HD video but then you go on to say you want to hook it up to a non-HD CRT TV. Let's start there.
  2. OK, sorry.

    I currently own a CRT-TV. But if I'm going to drop £500 on something, I want to make sure it can hook up to an HD set and use it to play HD-video when I eventually get one.
  3. http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/pcs/2010/10/07/asrock-vision-3d-mini-pc-135b-review/4 this is an easy way out. They sell cheaper models I think but I could be wrong.

    Otherwise you might want to look at silverstone cases(maybe HTPC cases with remotes, screens and software if you really want to make it a HTPC)
  4. http://www.amazon.de/SilverStone-ML02B-MXR-Schwarz-Geh%C3%A4use-Desktop/dp/B000RWLR9Y/ref=pd_cp_computers_2 this is pretty neat but with this you're looking at a very specific HTPC.

    I'd get that with

    something like this http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813500055&cm_re=intel_atom-_-13-500-055-_-Product

    and then http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820167025&cm_re=40gb_ssd-_-20-167-025-_-Product



    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820145098&cm_re=2gb_ddr2-_-20-145-098-_-Product or 4gb whichever floats your boat.

    And I think you've got yourself a system(I could be wrong as I'm tired and prone to forgetting components :p)

    ohh and if you add in a slim sound card you can even make this a pretty good audio playback machine. This is kind of what I had in mind but obviously if you don't have an audio system to match forget it. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829156010&cm_re=auzentech-_-29-156-010-_-Product

    if you want internal storage just opt for a samsung spinpoint f3.
  5. Here's an idea:
    Antec Micro Fusion Remote VERIS Media Center Case - With 350W PSU
    Gigabyte GA-880GMA-UD2H
    AMD Athlon II X2 240e 2.8GHz
    Corsair 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 1333MHz
    LG GH22NS50 22x DVD±RW DL & RAM SATA
    Samsung HD103SJ Spinpoint F3 1TB

  6. Thanks for the suggestions guys, I'll look into it.
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