HTPC vs separates

  TheArchedOne 07:22 07 Sep 2007

I've been wanting to buy/build an HTPC for some time. I've recently been researching the options and there are loads of nice ready-built machines out there and plenty options/advice for building your own.

However, I was surprised to find that I could meet all my requirements with separates. The added bonus of separates is quick start up and lower power consumption, both of which are very appealing.

My requirements are:

1. Quiet, slim, good looking
2. Central music/video store that I can play from my living room, office pc and laptop
3. Freeview (dual digital tuner)
4. HD recording (with all the trimmings)
5. DVD player / recorder

Nice to have:
6. Internet radio
7. living room Internet browsing (especially ability to purchase (download) music)
8. Quick start up and lower power consumption

I have no requirements for gaming or performing other pc tasks through this system (I can use the laptop for the latter). My budget is £1000 max.

The following combination of separates seems to do everything I need:

- DVD/HD recorder with freeview e.g. Sony RDR-HXD970B (fulfils 1, 3, 4, 5 & 8)
- Streaming media receiver e.g. Netgear HD EVA8000 (fulfils 6, 7 & 8)
- NAS media server e.g.Buffalo link station + amp (fulfils 2 & 8)

(I've not listed the amp/receiver (depending on if I go stereo or surround sound), because I'd also need this for the HTPC)

Considering my specific requirements, the only benefit to the HTPC relative to the separates I can think of is that it's all in a 1 box instead of 3.

So this is where the questions start....

Q1: Are there any other relative benefits to the HTPC that I'm missing. (I'd quite someone to make a strong case for the HTPC because I was looking forward to building one!!)

There may be way's for me to reduce the number of separates I need. One option I'd consider would be to loose the streaming media receiver since I can live without Internet radio (freeview should give me plenty!) and I can browse/download from my laptop. (I believe I can simply plug the NAS into the DVD/HD recorder via USB).

Q2: The NAS is acting as a central media server. If I was able to serve the files from the DVD/HD recorder (id buy the 500GB option in this case) so that I was able to receive them on my pc/laptop, I could loose the NAS. Is there a device that I could attach instead of the media receiver that would allow me to do this? Maybe this could be done via a networkable amp?

Q3: The ultimate separate would have all the features of the Sony recorder, network connectivity (preferably wireless), media server capabilities and - as a lower priority - Internet connectivity all in one box. Does such a device exist? I guess the answer is yes... an HTPC!! But surely this doesn't require the resources / processing power of a complete pc? If there's not something like this out there already, I think someone should manufacture/sell it it and buy me a beer for giving them the idea!

Q4. Are there any another options.



  iandunn 14:07 18 Jul 2008

Just saw this post, it's a bit old but I thought it might be worth a quick reply to help out other people too.

There still is no better way to consolidate all your separates into one than with an HTPC.

Also, given the amount of great streaming video and music now available on the internet, having full internet access in the lounge is a real must. Lots of products claim to have internet access - eg the Nintendo Wii, Apple iTV, Media Extenders etc, but none of them cut it in my view. They all have restrictions on the type of video playback they support, or won't let you install browser codec plugins. The only way to go here is a full HTPC.

An HTPC doesn't need to be very powerful either - an entry level Core 2 processor is more than capable, and coupled with 1GB DDR2 RAM, a quite hard drive, Vista Home Premium and a cheap DVD Burner (or blu-ray player) and you are in business.

No need for a separate graphics card either, some motherboards have more than capable onboard graphics (see gigabyte MA69 or MA78 models). Don't forget, an HTPC is NOT a games or business machine, and doesn't need huge 3D graphics power.

My favourite htpc cases at the moment are from Origen and Hiper.

If you want to see some examples and specifications from our online shop, visit click here.

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