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All posts tagged "htpc"

Sunday, May 6, 2012

What Can HTPC Users Expect From Intel's Ivy Bridge

Posted by Richard Chao in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 08:00 PM

"The ability to cram in more and more transistors in a die has made it possible to have both the CPU and GPU in the same silicon."

AnandTech has posted their review of Intel's Ivy Bridge from the perspective of a HTPC user. They looked at refresh rates, decoding and rendering benchmarks, network streaming capabilities, power consumption, etc. Their review is pretty comprehensive and should be a must read for anyone wondering if they should update or keep what they have.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

XBMC Finds Eden

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 01:00 PM

"XBMC, our favorite software for setting up a custom media center, upgraded to a new version this weekend with lots of new features. Here's a look at what you'll find."

From AirPlay to performance improvements, XBMC has gone through a major overhaul with its latest version. For myself, the most notable difference I've seen with Eden is the new interface. The old interface, while pleasant enough, started to feel somewhat dated. The new setup looks much slicker and feels easier to navigate. With all the effort and cost that goes into creating a decent sized collection of movies, tv shows, family videos and the like, it is nice to see all that hard work reflected with some wow factor. I am just waiting to see if XBMC will go the route of Boxee and start offering their own hardware solution!

Tags: software, htpc, xbmc

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What To Use For Your Home Theater PC

Posted by Richard Chao in "Digital Home News" @ 09:38 PM

"The problem is, no one solution is "best"-it all depends on what you plan to use it for, how much you're willing to spend, and how much you're willing to tinker with it."

One of the challenges in building a home theater PC is where to start? Do you convert an unused PC, get a net-top PC, Boxee Box, Apple TV or build your own? This is an important consideration as it will dictate where your build goes and the amount of work. All have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Luckily LifeHacker has put together the pros and cons of each of the options and done some basic ground ground work so you won't have to go in blind.

Of the options listed in the LifeHacker article, they seemed to prefer either jail breaking an Apple TV or doing a custom build. What do you prefer when it comes to HTPC?

Tags: htpc, lifehacker

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Maximum PC Builds a Gaming HTPC

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 09:26 AM

"I don't want to watch cable TV. I don't want to use a controller. I just want to watch 3D Blu-rays and frag people with a mouse and keyboard, all on a box that fits on my entertainment center. Is that too much to ask?"

With that goal in mind, Maximum PC built a HTPC that can game as well as play Blu-Ray discs, and comes up with quite a nice rig. While I love the Silverstone case, I would have used a cheaper motherboard and RAM to drive down the cost some more. I have to ask though, how does one frag using a mouse and keyboard while on the living room couch?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Barebones Kits Simplify The Process Of Building A HTPC

Posted by Richard Chao in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 10:52 PM

"You can build exactly the HTPC you want-or almost any other kind of PC-in a dizzyingly short period of time by using a barebones kit."

For those of you wanting to build your own HTPC but do not have the know how of selecting all the required components, PC Mag has a suggestion for you, a barebones kit. According to PC Mag, barebones kits are ones that, "give you the frameworks you need for a PC, but don't fill in all the blanks for you." They are equipped with certain components while leaving certain ones up to your discretion and budget.

Click the read link to see how a barebones kit can simplify your build.

Friday, March 25, 2011

New Options For Your HTPC! It's Exciting!

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:00 PM

"If you’re in the market for a mini HTPC that won’t break the bank and will provide performance on par to high-end entertainment PCs from just a few years back, you’re probably scratching your head wondering which platform should I buy? On the one hand, you have the proven and popular Intel Atom D525 with NVIDIA ION 2 graphics. On the other, you have AMD’s new E-350 APU, which combines the CPU and GPU on one chip."

By the way things have played out, Intel has never really seemed that interest in the low cost market. While they have had great succcess with the Atom, it has always seemed to me like that never put that much effort into it. Since its original release, there have been a few updates, but with marginal performance improvements and power consumption reduction. It seems like the Atom is the unwanted child in a family of Core i3s, i5s and i7s. Now with AMD finally getting into the market for high performance low powe CPUs, Intel will either have to innoveate, or watch their market share dwindle even more than it already has.

Tags: hardware, htpc, amd, e-350

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Veho's Mimi Wireless Gamepad Keyboard

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 05:00 AM

"The Veho Mimi Wireless Gamepad Keyboard is not only a small form factor keyboard but also has a built in gyroscope so it can be picked up and used as a 3D mouse! Heck, if all that is not impressive enough, it also has a built-in 8-way gamepad with dual thumbsticks. Yes, this amazing piece of engineering will not only let you surf the web, and the mundane tasks but actually allow you to turn your HTPC into a full on gaming rig!"

I'm not entirely convinced of the utility of a keyboard that small, but if you're looking to ditch a full-sized keyboard on your home-theatre PC and still be able to do all the same functions, this looks like a possible solution.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Build Your Own HTPC on the Cheap

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 03:30 PM

"Sure, you can always pick up a set-top streamer like an Apple TV, a Roku, or a Boxee Box, or even use your Xbox 360 as a Media Extender, but when you go that route, you give up one important feature: control. That's fine if one of those devices (and its pre-packaged software) has all of the features you want and need in a streamer, but if you're looking for more flexibility in your set-top box, it might be worthwhile to roll your own. That way you can install any set-top software you like, and if something else catches your eye, you can switch to that just as easily."

This is the way to go if you want to maximize the control you have over your media. While most consumers will prefer the simplicity of an inexpensive streamer or the functionality of the game console they already own, this simply gives you the most total bang even though it is a bit more expensive and requires more setup work than any of the other options.

Tags: hardware, htpc

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Build Your Own 3D Home Theater PC

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 03:00 AM

"At its core, the home-theater dream can be distilled as follows: We want our movies to feel as cinematic as possible. And we want to be able to record and watch as many shows as possible on the biggest-possible TV screen."

I have zero desire for anything 3D, so I'm going to save bunch of money on the next major upgrade cycle. Plus I've found with the expanded capabilities of the current generation of gaming systems, a HTPC is becoming more of a niche item. But, if you've want to live on the bleeding edge, check out the full how to guide.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Boxee's Switch from Nividia's Tegra to Intel CE4100

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 02:05 PM

"The Boxee Box announced at the 2010 CES was based on the Tegra 2. In a post made on my personal blog right after the CES announcement, I had expressed my reservations on how it would be foolhardy to expect the same sort of performance from an app-processor based device as what one would expect from a dedicated media streamer or HTPC. Just as suspected, Boxee had to replace Tegra 2 with a much more powerful SoC. After evaluating many solutions, Boxee and D-Link decided to choose the Atom based Intel CE4100 for the Boxee Box."

A great article on the Boxee Box and how the switch from NVIDIA's Tegra 2 chip to the Intel CE4100 will enable the Boxee Box to really deliver on a high-quality experience in terms of hardware-assisted playback of HD video content. Will the software measure up? My Magic 8 Ball says "It's looking likely". Let's hope that's the case!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

How Does Your HTPC Stack Up?

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 09:00 AM

"Does the Apple TV compete? We compared it to a few of the most popular streaming alternatives on the market – and one about to hit the market – to see whether Steve is prepped for world domination… or too late to the battlefield."

Apple is hardly the first company to have released an HTPC, but the release of the new Apple TV has renewed media interest in the market. DigitalTrends has compiled a nice list of low cost HTPCs based on their capabilities. I do note that a lot of them include, or offer WiFi. Even using the 802.11n flavour, HDTV streams can be tricky, especially if you want 1080p goodness. Also, my experience with older "premade" HTPCs have left a bad taste in my mouth with regards to interfaces. I have not had a chance to test ones like the Boxee or Roku, but I do hope that they are bringing their A-game as the Apple TV will definitely be slicker than most of the other ones out there. I will stick with my XBMC though.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Build a Home Theater PC Inside an Ikea Besta Cabinet

Posted by Reid Kistler in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 04:00 PM

"Many of us use computers to power our home theater experience, but the last thing anyone wants is a noisy PC tower uglying up the living room. Here's how [a] reader... converted Ikea's Besta media console into a well-hidden, well-ventilated HTPC."

This is one of those DIY projects that most people will look at and exclaim either a) "What a cool idea!" or b) "Why would anyone want to do that?!?" Having helped to convert an old console television into a stereo cabinet, I found this project intriguing, but ultimately I fall closer to category "b" above, if only because there are a number of nice looking HTPC cases that should make the task much simpler. Still, given a suitable donor computer and a (less expensive!) cabinet, I could easily understand the appeal of being able to show off such a project. Read the full story at - which includes a number of pictures of the project in various stages of completion - and then let us know what you think: Is this the type of weekend DIY task that you would be willing to undertake?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

First Pictures Of The Tranquil iLX HTPC

Posted by Andy Dixon in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 12:00 PM

"Bringing beauty, power, efficiency and reliability to your desktop. Designed from the ground up, to provide a reliable and fan less cooling system for the power user, the ixL Power PC can process any application with ease. High definition video, complex 3D rendering, or just writing a letter - just do it. The fitted i3-530 CPU is Intel's latest 'power' CPU - so expect stunning performance."

Tranquil are famous for making silent PC's, and when it comes to media center pc's silence is what you need. This latest HTPCt from Tranquil packs a fair bit of power in to what I consider to be a very nice case. You can choose from an Intel Core i3 or i5 chip to give you the power you need, onboard intel HD graphics, HDMI and DVI connections as well as optical digital line out. The slot optical drive can be DVD or Bluray, whichever you choose. All in all, a very nice little package.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cablecard Replacement By 2012, Temporary Fix By This Fall

Posted by Jon Childs in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 12:00 PM

"The biggest news is that the FCC has asked the industry to come up with a residential IP gateway that is open and that will provide same abilities as your provider's equipment, and most importantly, it should enable the very same gear to work no matter what type of service you prefer, whether it be satellite, cable or fiber. But while the FCC has given the industry until December of 2012 to define and deploy these IP gateways before implementing an "appropriate enforcement mechanism," in the meantime the FCC wants to see the biggest issues with CableCARDs resolved by this Fall."

For all the Tivo and HTPC enthusiasts out there this is great news. The ability to replace your service, but still use the same equipment should be a great selling point for any hardware vendor trying to sell third party set top boxes. It is also good news that the FCC is trying to make current Cablecard offerings more competitive with the service supplied set top boxes. One of the FCC's list of fixes includes allowing software to use Cablecard based tuners without having to go through the full Cablelabs certification. This means you could buy your HTPC with a Cablelabs certified tuner and run whatever software you wanted on it. This is sure to please all those MythTV users out there.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Bye Bye Analog Cable

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home News" @ 03:00 AM

"On a final note, the loss of ClearQAM access is likely going to be followed by the loss of some fraction of the HTPC market, where users will not find as much value in a device that can no longer watch or record live TV from their cable company. Because of this potential nosedive in the HTPC market, I would be very surprised if Microsoft stayed entirely mum on the issue. They've put a lot of effort into Windows Media Center as a TV viewing platform and HTPC suite over the years, and this drives a stake right through that given the low adoption of CableCARD systems. Microsoft has been diversifying their TV operations over the years by getting satellite companies on-board and making some investments in IPTV/Internet TV, but cable TV is too big to ignore if Microsoft wants to keep pushing WMC. What this may lead to is anyone's guess, but unless they're going to drop the emphasis on TV viewing with WMC something will need to happen to keep WMC relevant in the cable TV space."

In theory CableCARD is great. The problem is, few sets support it. I hate cable boxes, but have one on our main set simply because it is required to get anything other than basic cable. This unfortunately leaves the rest of our TV's out in the cold and from the looks of the above article, it is only going to get colder. Hopefully this will go away over the coming decade. I don't think it is a huge stretch of the imagination to assume basic PC functionality will be included in TV's in the future. This combined with the future version of some service like Hulu could pave the way for a la carte service directly from the the studio and leave Comcast and friends out in the cold instead.

Tags: cable, htpc

Friday, June 12, 2009

Roll Your Own HTPC

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 03:00 AM

"These days, it’s easy to build a PC that’s quiet enough to be virtually unheard, yet powerful enough to play all the high-definition video that’s currently available. And making the proposition even more appealing, there are software frontends like Boxee and the new Hulu Desktop that let you harness all that hardware power in an easy-to-use, remote-friendly interface that combines the massive library of streaming video on the web with the DRM-free content you rip from discs or purchase legally on the web. We’ll introduce you to a couple of the options, then help you configure our favorite. By combining a few hundred bucks’ worth of hardware with a free software app and your broadband connection, you can reduce the money you spend on entertainment from $100 a month to $100 a year."

Agreed, depending on your watching habits, paying for cable these days can be quite a rip. If you can get the networks over the air in high-def for free or via Hulu and are willing to pay a couple of bucks for some on-line rentals you can get a lot of entertainment for a little money. If you are also willing to kick in for Netflix, between their Watch Instantly feature and DVD plans, you should have most shows and movies covered for significantly less than cable.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Digital Cable Recordings Now on Your HTPC

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 09:00 AM

"Access to premium HD on computers has eluded most for way to long, so as soon as we heard that it was finally possible for anyone to add a CableCARD tuner to just about any Media Center, we just knew we had to try it for ourselves, and more importantly, share with you exactly how to do it. This doesn't really require any hacking, or anything illegal for that matter -- we're not lawyers -- but it isn't cheap."

If you have the urge to spend a penny and your recorded shows are looking a bit fuzzy, EngadgetHD has the perfect way to lighten your wallet. The process is not for the timid and could cause a few small hassles with your HTPC, but the reward will be an HTPC with no need for an external cable box and a much cleaner setup for your home theater. I'm using a cable box myself and the latency and picture degradation are noticeable but I'm afraid that I can't see this as worth the effort. Accessing shows online is becoming easier by the day, and in a few years, it will be all you need, and you won't have to choose which shows have priority in recording!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Building a Windows 7 HTPC

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 12:00 AM,2159.html

"In this How To guide, we’ll explain why the HTPC now makes so much sense, we’ll show you the hardware that goes into our test platform (and how it all fits together), and we’ll walk you through using it with Microsoft’s Windows 7 beta, which should be shipping by the end of the year. Truly, this is the hardware/software configuration for which we've been waiting."

Not to take away from the coolness factor, but I'll be the contrarian here and say that I think the HTPC is overkill except for the most hardcore. Why? Things like the Xbox and other Media Center Extenders will give you 90% of the bang for a lot less of the buck.

Tags: windows 7, htpc

Friday, January 16, 2009

Lifehacker Picks The Best DVR Software

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 08:00 AM

"Earlier this week we asked you to share you favorite DVR applications, and now we're back with the six most popular answers. This week's Hive Five Call for Contenders was one of our tightest races yet, which is why we're featuring six popular DVR apps instead of the standard five."

Lifehacker's most recent Hive Five asked their readers what their favourite DVR applications where and the results are in! Their six choices will not surprise anyone who has looked into setting up their own media center, however, only one hardware solution made the list. I am a Windows Media Center person, but I've used all the choices they have listed at some point or another and they are all solid choices. It should be noted that two of the choices are also free, meaning all that is required to set up your existing computer as a DVR is a capture card. Is anyone out there looking to set up a home media center?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

VuNow PoD Finally Available

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 12:00 PM

"Just in time to snag some of that cash you're sure to have showing up right about now via greeting cards from around the world, Verismo Networks is officially launching its diminutive VuNow PoD. We've seen the device evolve quite a bit since June, but with a smorgasbord of competitors already grabbing market share left and right, we're left to wonder if this one won't be sitting on the outside looking in. The internet TV streamer hooks directly to one's TV and internet connection in order to deliver web content (YouTube, of note) to the tele. While specifics are conveniently omitted, we're told that users will have access to "a broad choice of online video content -- from movies, global Live TV channels, to user-generated content and viral videos." It's available now for $99, but can you stand yet another set-top-box beneath your flat-panel?"

I recently mentioned that this diminutive video player would be available on December 15th. Well, Verismo missed that date, but not by much. Nothing appears to have really changed upon launch, including the price at $99. While it can't record, it definitely seems to be an attractive playback device you can use if you've got multiple televisions around the house. There's no word on how easy it will be to use, but with a focus on just playback, I imagine it to be as easy as any other third party device, meaning it'll be no iTunes, but it'll get the job done. For me, I've got laptops that allow me to play anything I want to watch around my pad, but maybe some of you can find use for this over a towering media center.

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