Lend me your up-to-date media center knowledge
December 10, 2010 9:57 AM Subscribe
What's the latest in small, cheap media centers?
posted by averyoldworld to computers & internet (20 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Recently, the future Mrs. veryoldworld threw up her hands in disgust
at our various patchwork tv solutions and still having to watch Hulu and anything we've downloaded on a laptop instead of our tv. I'm
interested in buying or building a nettop-sized media center pc that
would solve the problem. The optimal solution would include access to
Hulu and Netflix, incorporate a remote, and cost less than $250. We
could jettison Netflix if need be as we do have it via the Wii. We
don't have cable, and our antenna options are slim and uninteresting,
so we don't need DVR functionality or a tuner. I do need some
advice about hardware and software. I've heard good things about
XBMC, but I'm unsure whether Hulu/Netflix will reliably play on it. I
know there are Silverlight issues with Netflix depending on the
underlying OS, and possibly a plugin is needed for Hulu.
There's also this wrinkle: We presently have a standard def tube
television. It only has composite a/v and component video
connections. At the same time, I'd like to be able to seamlessly
upgrade if we move to HD in the next year.
I've read some of the media center posts in the last year, and have
particularly noted the links to Lifehacker's guides (many of which use
an Acer Revo, which doesn't seem to be sold anymore), and to mini ITX mobo/CPU/VGA combinations that rely on Nvidia Ion for graphics, but I'm still not entirely clear on what the latest in hardware is.
Summing up, I'm looking for guidance on what components or
hardware/software combinations will:
1) Play Hulu (and hopefully Netflix) and normal video files;
2) Via composite or component at present, and HDMI in the future;
3) Take a remote;
4) Be reasonably small and quiet;
5) Cost $200 - $250.
I'm spinning my wheels looking. Any advice, please?