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HTPC Newbie Needs Advice

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March 7, 2013 6:30:12 AM

:hello: 

I am looking to either build up a HTPC or get something like the raspberry PI android-based solution for playing movies (all possible formats), listen to my music collection, maybe play a game or two when I want.

I would like multiple USB ports, hdmi, wifi, lan, bluetooth, etc. It would be also convenient if I can integrate my Samsung S3 android phone as a remote and possibly an wifi audio jack, if that's possible that would be awesome. I would like something that will last me a couple of years and somewhat upgradeable. Anyone have any ideas?

Is XBMC a good start to begin with what hardware I should look to get? I downloaded Milkmans pdf on openelec and XBMC but I don't know if those other android solutions are something I rather go with or not? I really have not been spun up with the tech and methods since I last used XBMC on my XBOX (original XBOX, BTW!).

I am also looking for a LED monitor and/or tv that's no bigger than 24" and at least 1080P true res with good specs, relatively thin, light, and something I could hang on the wall and move to a desk with little work when I want and use with my HTPC setup.

I work a lot so I don't have much time to do the research I would normally do for this sort of thing, so I thought someone at Toms Hardware would be a good resource to spin me up real quick.

Toms Hardware rocks BTW, I've been reading the reviews for years and it helped me with my gaming rig.


~John

Looking forward to all the advice ahead!

More about : htpc newbie advice

March 7, 2013 6:53:28 AM

I would go for the Raspberry Pi with XBMC. You can use a powered USB external hard drive for all your movies. Raspberry Pi is cheap, easy to use and plays HD video. For the monitor go with Samsung (for budget), BenQ, Dell (expensive) or Viewsonic. All great brands.
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March 7, 2013 7:44:55 AM

for just playing movies and listening to music the raspberry pi would be fine but if you wanna play games your gonna need something a little more powerful like this
PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/I6zu
Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/I6zu/by_merchant/
Benchmarks: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/I6zu/benchmarks/

CPU: AMD A6-5400K 3.6GHz Dual-Core Processor ($73.24 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: ASRock FM2A75 Pro4-M Micro ATX FM2 Motherboard ($64.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill Sniper Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-2133 Memory ($58.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($49.99 @ Newegg)
Wireless Network Adapter: Rosewill RNX-N300X 802.11b/g/n PCI Wi-Fi Adapter ($19.99 @ Amazon)
Case: Silverstone ML03B HTPC Case ($59.99 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 430W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($24.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Samsung SH-224BB DVD/CD Writer ($15.99 @ Newegg)
Monitor: Asus VE248H 24.0" Monitor ($167.18 @ Newegg)
Other: SABRENT BT-USBT Micro Wireless Bluetooth USB 2.0 ($9.99)
Total: $545.34
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-03-07 04:41 EST-0500)

i run a similar system with ubuntu and xbmc . i used openelec first and didn't like it but maybe it was just me . i could never get the hdmi to pass audio for some reason . so i went with ubuntu and haven't looked back .
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March 7, 2013 4:46:49 PM

My sense from reading around is that R-Pi would be OK for playback of local files, but it will not work for streaming. If you want to watch Hulu, Netflix, or Youtube, you will want a more powerful system, at least AMD E350 or Intel Atom, preferably AMD A4-3400 or Intel Celeron G540.

XBMC is great for organization and playback of videos. It is adequate (but perhaps not great) for music. On my HTPC, I run XBMC as an application in LUbuntu. This allows me to play music through Rhythmbox.

Here is a system very similar to my own build. It would be a lot quicker and smoother than the R-Pi.

PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/vwe2
Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/vwe2/by_merchant/
Benchmarks: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/vwe2/benchmarks/

CPU: Intel Celeron G540 2.5GHz Dual-Core Processor ($49.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: ASRock H77M Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($69.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Crucial 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3-1066 Memory ($29.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive
Case: Apex DM-387 HTPC Case w/275W Power Supply ($47.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Samsung SH-224BB DVD/CD Writer ($15.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $213.95
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-03-07 13:44 EST-0500)
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March 7, 2013 5:12:39 PM

There are many options with HTPC...so if you could be a bit more specific as to what this will be performing.

Are you going to record TV, watch TV, stream video from a service or watch BluRay/DVDs?

If this will be used for TV - is it over the air, cable, satellite or digital cable?

Do you require 1 tuner or multiple tuners?

Will you be using extenders like the PS3, XBox or Ceton Echo?
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March 11, 2013 1:38:17 AM

Thanks for your replys,

Yes I would like to watch blu-rays, but recording tv isn't a big deal at the moment. Most of my favorite shows I can watch online anyways. I seen press on the Roku 3 which implemented an idea I originally thought wasn't out there, you can plug-in your headphones into your remote - that's awesome. What appeals to me most is the android platform and it's versatility and support. That's why I am leaning more towards android ...there are other android hw out there and I have been keeping an eye out for all of them. Having bluetooth, wifi, watch any format video, and surf the web are the main things I'll do but once in a while I'd like to play some games.
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!