So I've been considering what to do for a bluray/web-player in my new house. A ps3 is only $300, but doesn't have nearly the features of a htpc. But do you think it would be enough? Also, what is the price range for a HTPC? I've been wondering if there are any fusion possibilities, or if I should go Ion, or just a small AMD dual-core build with a 5450 or something similar. How much would a full-featured micro-ATX HTPC minus the mobo and cpu (I would use the ones from my current comp and then upgrade) cost?
I think you should make a list of all the things you expect your setup to do. That should help.
The biggest advantages of an HTPC over a PS3 would include:
- TV recording/watching
- Ripping movies to HDD
- Media storage and serving to other boxes
- Upgradable and fixable
- Unlimited file and codec support
- Customizable software (front end, media management, operating system, etc.)
- Customizable hardware (build it for what you need, leave out what what you don't need)
The biggest advantages of a PS3 over an HTPC are:
- Easy setup
- Better blu-ray quality out of the box, no playback software needed
- Netflix streaming picture quality is higher
- Less homework, less gremlins
- Cheaper... especially if you need a Windows license and don't have any donor parts
I would love to use it as a DVR for satellite; can I do that with Dish network (most probable provider)? > would get like 4tb prolly if its possible =D
And what can the ps3 store? I have no knowledge in this area... can it function as a dvr? And it takes regular 2.5" sata, right?
Watching youtube, hulu, netflix, etc web-based video.
Viewing general web content (to show to groups of people and such).
Blu-ray playing (maybe 3d, ps3 can do 3d right?). And why does ps3 have better quality?
Possible gaming, but definitely not a priority. I probably wouldn't game on the ps3 b/c dont have any games or controllers, but a bunch of 360 games.
It would also be nice to have another PC desktop w/ a decent graphics card. Right now I only have this rig w/ a 5750, a moderately fast imac, an awful fedora craptop, a dying dell laptop, and an aging mac mini.
Recording from satellite is possible, but tricky. You would have to set up an IR blaster and get a special capture card like the Hauppauge Colossus to capture at 1080i. Over-the-air or digital cable are more straight forward.
For the blu-ray, the PS3 is better out of the box but the HTPC needs tinkering. For example, to automatically adjust media refresh rate you need to use something like reclock. Also, there may be some color level adjustments depending on your TV because there's 0-255 vs 16-235 color palettes and if you use the wrong one your blacks get crushed. A properly setup HTPC will have very good blu-ray picture quality. BTW, Arcsofts Total Media Theatre 5 has a beta out (5.1) that is apparently adding automatic refresh rate change... a first for HTPC software. A lot in the HTPC community are excited about that.
I suggest you take one of your existing PC's and hook it up to your TV and set it up as an HTPC just to see what to expect and how functional it is. You can even do it with your macs. Try out Plex with your mac mini. No blu-ray disc support, but it is an XBMC clone and is very excellent. I use Plex on my wife's macbook when we use that to watch movies.
Anyway, if you find it too much to mess around with after trying things out, maybe the PS3 is the better option.