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Home Theater PC users?

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by Badfish740, Nov 19, 2012.

  1. Badfish740

    Badfish740 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2007
    Messages:
    1,441
    I'm a latecomer to integrating a PC into my home theater, heck, I'm a latecomer to having a home theater! We are only just now getting around to purchasing our first large flat panel this year. We decided to go with the Vizio E601i-A3 (60" LED) as its the largest TV that will fit the space, it's definitely priced right, and I've read a couple of good reviews on this site. It is a "Smart TV" but from what I've read here, using a HTPC instead of the Wi-Fi capabilities of the TV will give more flexibilty. Basically I want to be able to use WMC7 to bundle a bunch of features I want for our home theater:

    Live sports (via cable and OTA)
    Ability to DVR our favorite TV shows to be watched later without buying/renting a cable company DVR
    Store movies and music
    Utilize Netflix, Amazon Prime (I know it doesn't really work with WMC7), and other services
    Watch Youtube and other web based content on a large screen

    We're not gamers nor do we want 3D capability, and as far as movie and music storage it wouldn't be a lot-we don't currently have a Blu-ray player and the movies we would like to store (less than 100) are on DVD and most likely won't ever be available on Blu-ray (they're hard enough to find on DVD), so something with a 1TB hard drive would probably be fine for now. I'm hoping someone could give a recommendation on a good store bought PC, $500 or less that I could use to power this system given our wants and needs. Finally, our current internet service is DSL through Century Link, which is the local voice and data provider. They do not offer television service so they offer a bundle (which we have) with DISH Network. The fastest internet we can can get at our location through them is up to 10Mbps down and up to 768Kbps up. Comcast is the only other option but their website is terrible and I can't actually find their speeds. I'm just trying to figure out which one would be the best option as far as speed for streaming movies.

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  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    49,701
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    I have a simple Dell slimline computer as a HTPC. I'll forewarn you that there are some pretty big potholes in this road. Macs are easier to set up and have all components working together. The problem with Windows HT is that every component you add assumes it will rule the roost. So you get conflicting drivers installed, completely different browsers or media players get installed that conflict at times with Windows Media Center, etc.. It can get pretty messy and you need to know what you can uninstall or not in order to get the system to function well. Then there is the mess that is copy protection in HDMI output that can blank out audio if everything is not handshaking correctly. I had a devil of a time with this until I went to Intel's site and got a much updated audio driver (Dell didn't provide this). It took me almost a week to get things settled down, not fun. Turns out that we just don't watch enough TV to make a lot of the recording features worthwhile, but they're in there.

    If all this sounds daunting, you might want to just get one that is ready to go like this: http://www.velocitymicro.com/wizard.php?iid=96

    If I haven't scared you yet, consider building your own: http://hometheaterreview.com/how-to-build-and-equip-your-home-theater-pc/

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