What's the best option these days for building a home theater PC (HTPC)?
October 2, 2008 10:09 AM Subscribe
HD-capable HTPC advice / help? I'm overwhelmed here... XBMC, Boxee, MythTV, Windows Media Center, CableCARDS, Popcorn Hour, Apple TV -- too many options!
What should I build to fit my needs within a reasonable cost?
posted by twiggy to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I should start by saying I'm plenty tech savvy. I'm not overwhelmed by the terminology. However, I've been putting off building an HTPC for a long time now and the longer I do, the more crazy software/boxes show up that muddy my idea of what I should do!
So, in my ideal world, here's my needs:
- Absolutely HAS to decode 1080p video without dropping frames -- from what I've heard a Mac Mini can't handle 1080p. I'm guessing then that a hacked AppleTV (which I see you can now install XBMC or Boxee on) is also not an option?
- I'd like it to serve as a DVR - I have Comcast Digital Cable, so I may need CableCARDS for this, right? I do have a Comcast DVR, and could live with using that instead, but I can't "copy off" my programming and archive it which sucks.
- I'd like it to also serve as a great media player -- I use XBMC on an original Xbox and I love that...
- Assuming I build something myself - I have no idea what a good video card is that has HDMI output and is reasonably priced. I don't really have much interest in playing games on it, so I don't need the craziest card out there...
- While looks aren't super important (it'll be in a cabinet behind frosted glass), it should at least have a case that will keep it running quietly (unlike Xboxes, which are loud as crap!)
- Future expandability is a big plus, but not 100% necessary as long as it fits today's needs. I love that XBMC is continually updated, has cool plugins, etc, but I'm not 100% married to it.
- I have a Logitech Harmony 890 remote that I love. I've got to at least be able to hack something together to control it with that.
Basically, a machine that runs XBMC and can decode 1080p, combined with a DVR, would be perfect. I just don't know what the ideal way is to build that for a reasonable price.
Then the HTPC world gets more confusing -- there are boxes out there like Popcorn Hour, AppleTV, etc that look like they either do a lot of this, or are hackable to do this stuff.. am I better off going with one of these? I see Popcorn Hour will even act as a NAS and a BitTorrent downloader, which is fantastic, but it doesn't seem to have any recording capabilities.
Any help would be sincerely appreciated - the vast array of options has become too much for even the finest google-fu given my lack of available free time.