I would like this to be my last "media center" question
October 26, 2010 10:14 AM   Subscribe

Please help me pick out used parts for a pretty low expectation "media center".

Ok so I asked this before, but actually have a little bit of cash and more desire and maybe a little more understanding of what I want to do. So if you can help me pick out parts, I would really appreciate it.

This was my old post

I was re-inspired by this

When I say "media center" I mean:
1) keep all my (350gb) of music in one place
2) play that music in a easy to use interface
3) play DVDs and videos that I have on a hard drive
4) it's really not necessary, but if there were an easy way to play TV (the kind that comes from antennas) on the computer, that would be cool. But I live in Maine and I think there's only one station anyway.
5) I'd like it to be quiet, silent would be even better.

I am NOT looking for
1) recording off cable/TV
2) being online (this computer will not be online)

Mostly I don't like using my ipod with computer speakers as a stereo, and I don't really like using my computer that I do my work on as a stereo either. I'd like to have this console set up to just be for entertainment.

I'm looking for a nice, smaller, console stereo to use as a case and possibly as a speaker cabinet. Ideally I would like to mount an LCD on an arm on top of the cabinet. The LCD would play videos and also manage the music.

I'd like the LCD to be of reasonable quality. I have this monitor for my computer and I've been really happy with it. I'd like whatever I get to look about that good.

So I'm looking for suggestions of parts I can find on deal sites, ebay, etc. Specific models that work good that I could search for would be helpful.

I need:
1) Some computer that I can mount inside the console, either in its case or just mounting the motherboard and the parts to the inside of the console. Hopefully something that will be quite quiet, if not silent. I have hard drives to put in it.
2) A decent LCD. Preferably something I can find used that will be good for watching movies. Preferably something that I can mount on an arm.
3) Initially I'll probably use a mouse, but if there were some kind of remote control thing I could get affordably, that would be great.
4)An arm for the LCD.

I have a tiny bit more money to throw around. I'm looking to keep costs to a minimum, but want to make the thing work when I'm done with it.

Thanks for your thoughts!
posted by sully75 to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Popcorn hour A200 would do 1,2,3 and 5. No need for keyboard and remote, you can put a drive inside it for playback and/or add external ones via USB

posted by nicktf at 11:45 AM on October 26, 2010

Seconding Nicktf -- there's no need for a 'media center PC' any more, now that there's $100 boxes that come with their own remotes. I have the Seagate version:
link to product page on Seagate.com

and it's perfect. It even has two features you don't ask for, but which you will certainly want, which are:

1) network connectivity, so you can consolidate your media on a PC and play it over a network connection on your TV

2) integration with, e.g., Netflix, so you can rent movies directly on the box given a fast enough pipe.
posted by felix at 12:26 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

ION based Nettop. You can get them for just under $200. Just add a USB TV tuner.
posted by wongcorgi at 2:04 PM on October 26, 2010

http://www.applemediacenter.com ?
posted by darkgroove at 4:18 PM on October 26, 2010

If you are looking to build your own machine, check out the Mini-ITX motherboards with NVIDIA ION.

I'm putting one together myself, and got the "ASUS AT3IONT-I Intel Atom 330 PBGA437 NVIDIA ION Mini ITX Motherboard/CPU Combo". (Note: I haven't actually had time to put the thing together yet, so I just talking from a specification perspective here. There are reviews of the board that suggest it's perfect for a media center though. Big part of the reason I chose it.)

Of course, you'll need things like a hard drive, ram and power supply. For a hard drive there are a bunch of "green" ones that are nice. Not only do they save energy, but they run very quietly which is key for a media center.
posted by StimulatingPixels at 4:31 PM on October 26, 2010

Response by poster: Huh...regarding the Seagate and the popcorn media, I'm having a little bit of trouble understanding how they work. Can I put a 1tb drive into one of them and run it standalone? I don't want it to be connected to another PC.

Look cool though.

Any thoughts on a good LCD that can wall or arm mount?
posted by sully75 at 4:45 PM on October 26, 2010

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