The Future Of The HTPC
When I want to gauge whether new computing gear is ready for mainstream adoption, I ask whether or not my mother could handle it. If the device is something I could give to my mom without terrifying her or getting a phone call every 10 minutes with questions about how to use it, then it has serious potential.
Certainly, the home theater PC (HTPC) continues to gain traction in this respect, but it really hasn't broken into the mainstream with any force. This is because HTPCs are still PCs. As much as they look like components that belong next to the amplifier in your living room, there are aspects of the personal computer that simply intimidate and confuse people who aren't comfortable with them in the first place.
But as personal video recorders (PVRs) become more prolific, as the line between a PC monitor and a living room-based TV blurs, and as Mom begins to rely on email and the Internet as much as I do, the HTPC becomes increasingly viable as an appliance. It’s inevitable that the future will see TVs and computing devices intertwined. But before that happens, we need user-friendly HTPCs, ready-made for public consumption. We need home theater systems that are powerful enough to handle any high-definition video and audio format we throw at them, yet simple enough for my mom to use, and in a comfortable package that is not the least bit intimidating.
PC vendors know this, too. They are working to make a mainstream-friendly HTPC real. Today, we're looking at ASRock’s latest HTPC offering, a cute (Ed.: I can't believe you used the word cute) and powerful little box its calls the Core 100HT-BD.