HTPC - Build or buy? Newegg or.... Apple TV + atvflash, Mac Mini, or Dell Zino - AVS Forum
Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
post #1 of 29 Old 11-15-2009, 11:47 PM - Thread Starter
Member
 
mikes1p's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 56
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Looking for some wisdom/sage advice from those that have been down one of these paths already

I was all set to build my own with components from NewEgg (no Blu-Ray needs yet) I can do it for around $330 or so and have a lot of flexibility.

Then I notice the AtvFlash banner add and see it allows the Apple TV to do most of what I want. I can buy from the Apple outlet for $150-$180 + $45 for AtvFlash. The only problem is I need an external DVD drive which I don't like. iPods are common in my house so this has some appeal

Another thought is a Mac Mini to get a DVD drive plus a real computer but they are pushing $600 and I'm not sure how well they work as an HTPC.

Then I see the Dell Zino and for ~$450 I can get it with a DVD drive, $550 with Blu-Ray. Seems good on paper, not sure what it's warts are yet

So how will we use this? It has to be easy for the wife and kids to pop in a DVD or watch online TV (Hulu, streaming from the TV network sites), probably Netflix soon, we also what such torrent AVI's. Accessing our iTunes would be a bonus. If I build I'll run Windows + XBMC or maybe Win7 MCE.

Thanks in advance
Mike S
mikes1p is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 29 Old 11-16-2009, 01:53 AM
AVS Special Member
 
candre23's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 1,157
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
Banner ad or not, do not pay $45 for some ATV flashing scam. You can make a patchstick yourself for free and install XBMC / Boxee.

If you don't need 1080p playback (for now), then that's the cheap way to go. You don't get an optical drive, but half the point of moving to an HTPC is to ditch optical media.

If you do want more than the ATV, a Zino is the next logical step. The base $230 model will do 1080p h.264 playback and give you a DVD drive. The only upgrades that are worth considering are the 3250e or 6850e CPU (for HD streaming flash support), the blu-ray drive, and Windows 7. Even with all three you're only looking at $470.

As for the UI, that's your call. XBMC is excellent and free. You can try it out on your current PC to see if it is acceptable for your family. Other people swear by WMC, though I've always found it to be nothing but a pain in the ass.
candre23 is offline  
post #3 of 29 Old 11-16-2009, 05:16 AM
AVS Special Member
 
mike_311's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 2,889
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
from some one who has friends with the appletv, dont get one. you are tying yourself into itunes and their overpriced model. plus you can get tv tuners.

if you want an htpc get one, dont buy a crappy apple product and then have to hack it to get it to do what you want. get and htpc. you have way more flexibility and you'll be happier.

"If the world didn't suck, we'd all fly off."
mike_311 is offline  
post #4 of 29 Old 11-16-2009, 05:56 AM
AVS Special Member
 
Servicetech571's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 4,691
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
If I recall correctly something XBMC and Apple TV are missing the DVR function, kind of a biggie for many HTPC users. Some HTPC users are ditching their $100/mo TV bill by recording OTA and watching other content online.

If/when XBMC starts to have DVR functionality I'm going Linux... Right now WMC is the king for DVR functionality.
Servicetech571 is offline  
post #5 of 29 Old 11-16-2009, 06:35 AM
Member
 
toykilla's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 21
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Servicetech571 View Post

If I recall correctly something XBMC and Apple TV are missing the DVR function, kind of a biggie for many HTPC users. Some HTPC users are ditching their $100/mo TV bill by recording OTA and watching other content online.

If/when XBMC starts to have DVR functionality I'm going Linux... Right now WMC is the king for DVR functionality.

I thought MythTV was supposed to be a good DVR? and doesnt it intergrate with XBMC?

I am planning out my build now and want to go with ubuntu/XBMC/MythTV.
toykilla is offline  
post #6 of 29 Old 11-16-2009, 06:59 AM
AVS Special Member
 
Derek K.'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 2,272
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 13
skip the atv. I have one. it is a cute toy, but it will only barely play back hd mpeg2. mpeg4 - forget it.

that is until broadcom releases the drivers for their accelerator chips.

I'd say get the dell.
Derek K. is offline  
post #7 of 29 Old 11-16-2009, 07:56 AM
Member
 
mephiska's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 51
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Servicetech571 View Post

ome HTPC users are ditching their $100/mo TV bill by recording OTA and watching other content online.

This is exactly what I'm doing. I've ditched the digital cable, returned the cable dvr boxes and reduced my service down to basic cable (since I can't get OTA reception where I live unfortunately). HDHR with MC7 and QEM channels is a wonderful thing.
mephiska is offline  
post #8 of 29 Old 11-16-2009, 09:23 AM
AVS Special Member
 
Servicetech571's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 4,691
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by toykilla View Post

I thought MythTV was supposed to be a good DVR? and doesnt it intergrate with XBMC?

I am planning out my build now and want to go with ubuntu/XBMC/MythTV.

Myth will work if you are advanced Linux user and know all the terminal commands. Ubuntu is easy enough, it's just getting myth to work that's lost of fun...
Servicetech571 is offline  
post #9 of 29 Old 11-16-2009, 09:48 AM
AVS Special Member
 
IAM4UK's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 6,035
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Liked: 19
I build. The ready-made boxes have some appeal, but I want to have certain components, and can get the machine I really want for less than the machine that is merely close...

A.L.a.E.o.t.U.S., as proven 3/21 - never forget.
Defend liberty.
Knowledge isn't Truth; it's just mindless agreement.
IAM4UK is online now  
post #10 of 29 Old 11-16-2009, 10:10 AM - Thread Starter
Member
 
mikes1p's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 56
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Cool stuff, I still think I'm building.... but if I go the Apple TV route I figured I'd try XMBC Live before I'd try atvflash, didn't know about atvusb, I like that. Unfortunately the wife will still drag home a DVD from time to time, so I cannot go without a DVD drive. My fear with the Apple TV is it will be sloow and will have limited playback but at the price I could do two of them, one on the kids gaming TV, one for the primary HT room (projector).

Doing some more thinking on the Zino and the problem is I have some older gear that I would have to upgrade. My projector is better with Component video than VGA. My receiver does 5.1 audio via optical or rca, video via component, no HDMI. Zino is 2.1 via the headphone jack, or 5.1 via HDMI. If had more HDMI AV gear I'd probably just get one

Thanks for the info



Quote:
Originally Posted by candre23 View Post

Banner ad or not, do not pay $45 for some ATV flashing scam. You can make a patchstick yourself for free and install XBMC / Boxee.

If you don't need 1080p playback (for now), then that's the cheap way to go. You don't get an optical drive, but half the point of moving to an HTPC is to ditch optical media.

If you do want more than the ATV, a Zino is the next logical step. The base $230 model will do 1080p h.264 playback and give you a DVD drive. The only upgrades that are worth considering are the 3250e or 6850e CPU (for HD streaming flash support), the blu-ray drive, and Windows 7. Even with all three you're only looking at $470.

As for the UI, that's your call. XBMC is excellent and free. You can try it out on your current PC to see if it is acceptable for your family. Other people swear by WMC, though I've always found it to be nothing but a pain in the ass.

mikes1p is offline  
post #11 of 29 Old 11-16-2009, 10:18 AM
Senior Member
 
kevm14's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 471
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by mephiska View Post

This is exactly what I'm doing. I've ditched the digital cable, returned the cable dvr boxes and reduced my service down to basic cable (since I can't get OTA reception where I live unfortunately). HDHR with MC7 and QEM channels is a wonderful thing.

I dropped cable entirely. About 32 OTA channels, and dual tuner DVR. I am happy.
kevm14 is offline  
post #12 of 29 Old 11-16-2009, 10:40 AM - Thread Starter
Member
 
mikes1p's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 56
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
I hear you about Apple stuff. I'm an a Mac guy that went PC with no regrets, I'm an IT Manager so I do this stuff all day, I run a VMWare ESXi box in my basement running some Linux and XP VM's, so I know a fair bit about other tech stuff.

Reality is my house is full on iTunes due to iPod's. So connecting an Apple TV to the "stereo" would be a bonus for the family. I have a Slimp3 to play our music via my reciever and frankly it is too much of a pain for them to use. With an iPod touch they can control the Apple TV. Apple TV also has the outputs I need, and "hacking" it allows me around Apple's self imposed limitations. The price is appealling but I've never used one and my hunch is I would be frustrated with it's limitations

I know I could have a more capable HTPC by building my own
Mike S

Quote:
Originally Posted by mike_311 View Post

from some one who has friends with the appletv, dont get one. you are tying yourself into itunes and their overpriced model. plus you can get tv tuners.

if you want an htpc get one, dont buy a crappy apple product and then have to hack it to get it to do what you want. get and htpc. you have way more flexibility and you'll be happier.

mikes1p is offline  
post #13 of 29 Old 11-16-2009, 10:43 AM - Thread Starter
Member
 
mikes1p's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 56
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
That's exactly what I was hoping to find out BEFORE buying. Thanks for the heads up, I appreciate it
Mike S

Quote:
Originally Posted by Derek K. View Post

skip the atv. I have one. it is a cute toy, but it will only barely play back hd mpeg2. mpeg4 - forget it.

that is until broadcom releases the drivers for their accelerator chips.

I'd say get the dell.

mikes1p is offline  
post #14 of 29 Old 11-16-2009, 10:46 AM
AVS Special Member
 
Java Jack's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Austin TX
Posts: 1,784
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Given your legacy gear, building your own is probably the best option. You will have more control over what outputs are available.

Good luck on the build.

Regards.
Java

There are 10 types of people in the world, those that understand binary, and those that don't.

AMD@Home Blog: http://links.amd.com/Home
Twitter: http://twitter.com/Java_Jack
Java Jack is offline  
post #15 of 29 Old 11-16-2009, 02:07 PM
Senior Member
 
dooomi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 352
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
I've got a couple Apple TV's as well as a few HTPC's. I don't have a Mac Mini, but I have a couple MacBook Pros that I installed Plex on... and I thought the Plex front end was pretty sweet. I did XBMC on them as well, and was happy. I honestly didn't mess with the MacBooks much though, as I knew I wouldn't really use them as HTPC's since I already had so many dedicated HTPC's.

I did the patchstick from http://www.appletvhacks.net/ on both Apple TV's, and I have tested both XBMC and Boxee on them. I'll be honest and say I haven't really had any good experiences with the Apple TV's. They are just a huge pain to get everything working right, and smoothly... If you even can at all. They constantly freeze and stutter, or have to be restarted completely. And they run really, really hot... all the time. I mean, it's fun to play with if you just like to dork around with stuff like I do. And as mentioned earlier they do have a cool form factor. But, for what it's designed to do an HTPC is a much better choice IMO.

If an optical drive for the Apple TV is a concern, you can always stream from one on a PC on your network.

With all that said, if it were me, I would go the build route on an HTPC for sure. That's just me though, as I said I really enjoy dorking around on electronics.
dooomi is offline  
post #16 of 29 Old 11-16-2009, 09:55 PM - Thread Starter
Member
 
mikes1p's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 56
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
I think the HTPC build it they way I'm going, the appeal of the Apple TV was the form factor and it's a lot less work getting it going, also making it easy for the wife and kids to play our iTunes library through the home stereo. For the price I'd be tempted to try hooking it up to the projector, but you guys have convinced me that I'd be disappointed, thanks for the feedback. A PC will do the same iTunes remote stuff

The other ideas for even less $$ is the is the Air Port extender wall plug doo dad, or an iPod dock, we have one but they don't use it much.

Mike S

Quote:
Originally Posted by dooomi View Post

I've got a couple Apple TV's as well as a few HTPC's. I don't have a Mac Mini, but I have a couple MacBook Pros that I installed Plex on... and I thought the Plex front end was pretty sweet. I did XBMC on them as well, and was happy. I honestly didn't mess with the MacBooks much though, as I knew I wouldn't really use them as HTPC's since I already had so many dedicated HTPC's.

I did the patchstick from http://www.appletvhacks.net/ on both Apple TV's, and I have tested both XBMC and Boxee on them. I'll be honest and say I haven't really had any good experiences with the Apple TV's. They are just a huge pain to get everything working right, and smoothly... If you even can at all. They constantly freeze and stutter, or have to be restarted completely. And they run really, really hot... all the time. I mean, it's fun to play with if you just like to dork around with stuff like I do. And as mentioned earlier they do have a cool form factor. But, for what it's designed to do an HTPC is a much better choice IMO.

If an optical drive for the Apple TV is a concern, you can always stream from one on a PC on your network.

With all that said, if it were me, I would go the build route on an HTPC for sure. That's just me though, as I said I really enjoy dorking around on electronics.

mikes1p is offline  
post #17 of 29 Old 11-17-2009, 06:29 AM
Senior Member
 
dooomi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 352
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikes1p View Post

I think the HTPC build it they way I'm going, the appeal of the Apple TV was the form factor and it's a lot less work getting it going, also making it easy for the wife and kids to play our iTunes library through the home stereo. For the price I'd be tempted to try hooking it up to the projector, but you guys have convinced me that I'd be disappointed, thanks for the feedback. A PC will do the same iTunes remote stuff

The other ideas for even less $$ is the is the Air Port extender wall plug doo dad, or an iPod dock, we have one but they don't use it much.

Mike S

If you are just wanting to use the Apple TV to stream iTunes content through the home stereo, it is a good solution. It can stream iTunes audio and video with no problem usually.

I was under the impression that you wanted to use it to view DVD/Blu-Ray rips and such that were stored on your computer.... which is more difficult to get working properly.
dooomi is offline  
post #18 of 29 Old 11-17-2009, 12:47 PM - Thread Starter
Member
 
mikes1p's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 56
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by dooomi View Post

I was under the impression that you wanted to use it to view DVD/Blu-Ray rips and such that were stored on your computer.... which is more difficult to get working properly.

I was trying to keep my post simple and left out some details, also as I learn more the possibilities keep changing...

Upstairs is the TV room that I want the HTPC in and the goal is to be able to watch anything we throw at it. I'll be buying a 42" HDTV and a sound system soon. The kids game systems are in here as well

Downstairs in the living room we have a projector, dvd player, and 5.1 sound. Most of the time this gear is used for listening to music via an older Slimplayer (aka slimp3 which just isn't easy enough to use). Every few weeks we turn the living room a "Home Theater" and invite people over and watch a movie. Sometimes we plug in a laptop to watch something streaming, the VGA out of the laptop doesn't use the full resolution of the projector so an Apple TV potentially could be better. It will not replace the DVD player. Better still would be an HTPC to do it all and get rid of the DVD

Thanks for the reply
Mike S
mikes1p is offline  
post #19 of 29 Old 11-17-2009, 01:58 PM
AVS Special Member
 
ctviggen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 1,880
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Liked: 19
Does Boxee work with Windows 7? I'm also interested in the Dell or building my own computer.

Bob
ctviggen is offline  
post #20 of 29 Old 11-17-2009, 02:05 PM
AVS Special Member
 
NFLnut's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Van Down By The River
Posts: 1,205
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Having lurked on this subject for about two years and then recently pulling the trigger, I would urge you to build your own. You can decide what you want/need/can afford. There are so many options available and a lot of the software is free. That way, you have what YOU wat, and aren't tied into some proprietary system/software. You can always add and/or upgrade components as your budget and needs change, and new technologies become available.

I would steer clear of the AppleTV also. It's nice for people who have very limited skills and standards, but you can do a lot better with a homebuilt. Plus, I just hate Apple software! Especially iTunes, which is the most frustrating piece of software I've ever used!
NFLnut is offline  
post #21 of 29 Old 11-17-2009, 02:28 PM
AVS Special Member
 
ctviggen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 1,880
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Liked: 19
I built my last computer, which is a massive thing able to store 6 hard drives, had the one of the fanciest GPUs at the time, etc. However, I'm trying to simplify things, and I think it'd be hard to beat the Dell Zino HD and its tiny form factor. Also, the last time I built my own computer, it took me days or weeks of research to determine what to buy. Now, I have a two year old and have my HT room back to the studs. How much research do I have to do to build my own? If a lot, then I'll look to buy a single product instead of build.

Bob
ctviggen is offline  
post #22 of 29 Old 11-17-2009, 10:47 PM - Thread Starter
Member
 
mikes1p's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 56
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
If you just want to buy something that works I have the feeling the market is going to come up with some solid HTPC's. The Dell Zino, Asrock ION's, Acer Revo's all come close or hit the mark, depending on what you are after. My guess is Apple is going to revise the Apple TV soon, it's largely unchanged after 2 years, needs a Blu-Ray and to play more formats.

Problem with all of those is there is a thing or two on my list of needs/wants that each one misses. I'd get the Zino except it lacks outputs for my legacy gear that does what I need just fine. So I'm building a small HTPC.

I do my home tech stuff in a smaller modular approach, easier to get my head around, each doing a few things well, easier to swap or change. Rather than an all in one system that will be overly complicated.

Mike S

Quote:
Originally Posted by ctviggen View Post

I built my last computer, which is a massive thing able to store 6 hard drives, had the one of the fanciest GPUs at the time, etc. However, I'm trying to simplify things, and I think it'd be hard to beat the Dell Zino HD and its tiny form factor. Also, the last time I built my own computer, it took me days or weeks of research to determine what to buy. Now, I have a two year old and have my HT room back to the studs. How much research do I have to do to build my own? If a lot, then I'll look to buy a single product instead of build.

mikes1p is offline  
post #23 of 29 Old 12-02-2009, 10:33 PM
Newbie
 
Gotta Hankerin''s Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 1
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
I recently sold my AppleTV because I got fed up with it's lack of storage capacity. Apple's solution to expand the ATV is to sync with a home computer through iTunes, kind of like syncing your iPod. However, once your digital library gets sizable, transferring files back and forth takes quite awhile, slows down your network, and is generally just a lame solution to a storage problem. Plus I was thoroughly disappointed when I hacked my ATV. The Hulu playback through Boxee is not worth it. What a lot of folks don't mention about hacking the ATV is that Hulu doesn't run directly through Boxee like the other content channels. Instead, through no fault of it's own, Boxee must run a web browser in order to stream from Hulu. The ATV doesn't have the horse power to run Boxee, a web browser, and stream content. The result is a thoroughly unwatchable choppy mess. Don't buy an ATV thinking you will stream Hulu. There is also a hack that allows the ATV to access an external drive connected via USB but when the ATV software is updated that hack, like Boxee and Xbmc, goes away and a new hack must be created. Unless you can program a new hack yourself, you'll be waiting until someone else does meanwhile the bulk of your library is sitting on an external hard drive you can't access.

The beauty of a cable/satellite box is you don't have to mess with it. That's how the ATV should be too. But until Apple decides to allow ATV to natively access an external drive without having to sync with iTunes on a home PC then the ATV will never gain a wide audience.

I now use a Mac Mini as my HTPC. I upgraded it to 4GB Ram and I have a 1 TB external 7200rpm hard drive connected by FireWire 800. Plus I have a 2 TB Time Capsule as a backup drive. Yes this is all more expensive then an ATV but it's far more flexible, easily expandable, and I now use the very sleek Hulu Desktop Application. Yes, there are some drawbacks to the Mac Mini, specifically the need for a keyboard and mouse as opposed to a simple remote for the ATV and there are also some issues with display resolutions and overscan when using a TV as a monitor that I'm still working out. But, overall, I'm very pleased with the Mac Mini. It's quick and easy to use. Is it perfect? No, but even if I buy the shows I can't watch through Hulu, the computer and the iTunes expenditures will be less than paying for 2-years of cable.

If the AppleTV were not limited in it's storage options then I definitely would have stuck with it because, other than the storage issue, it is a well designed machine. Before you go all digital just remember that the downside to digital media is the amount of storage space needed. That means external drives and backup drives.
Gotta Hankerin' is offline  
post #24 of 29 Old 12-03-2009, 09:17 AM - Thread Starter
Member
 
mikes1p's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 56
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Great real world feed back.
Thanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gotta Hankerin' View Post

I recently sold my AppleTV because...

mikes1p is offline  
post #25 of 29 Old 12-03-2009, 10:11 AM
Senior Member
 
clutch69's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Cleveland
Posts: 299
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
I was thinking of getting a mac mini and using it as a HTPC, there are some nice free aps like plex that look cool, but now I am leaning towards the Zino, I just don't know. If the mac had a nice remote, ya know in place of a keyboard and mouse, I would be sold.
clutch69 is offline  
post #26 of 29 Old 12-03-2009, 10:25 AM
Senior Member
 
Russ Younger's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Meridian ID
Posts: 365
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Snatch remote for iphone ipod touch with plex works great! No need for keyboard and mouse. My wife and kid love it.
Russ Younger is offline  
post #27 of 29 Old 12-03-2009, 10:50 AM
Member
 
Disaster's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 161
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
I built two, and am glad I did. There are just too many limitations with the ones you buy pre-built...but they can be cheaper...if you don't need to upgrade them.

For example, you can get an inexpensive dualcore/motherboard combo for $120-$140. Another $30, if you want an optical drive, $70 for a hard drive, $70 for a dual tuner card, $60 if you want a discrete graphics solution but it really isn't necessary. That puts you about $300. If you have a college I.D. you can get Win7 upgrade for $30, or pay $120 for the family three pack (way I went since we had several computers to upgrade anyway.) That works out to $40/computer.

What can, and should, IMHO, be the biggest expense is the case and power supply. You can get a cheap case and integral PS for $60, but I've gone that route and invariably end up buyng a better power supply within a year or two and am left with a cheap case. Instead buy a decent Mediacenter case for $100, and spend another $50 on the PS.

Put it together you've got.
CPU+Motherboard. $120
Optical Drive, $30
Dual Tuner, $60
Memory, $90, 4Gb.
Win7, $40
Case and PS, $150
Wireless keyboard/mouse, $60

Total $550.

I'm running one system 33% overclocked and the other 50% overclocked (which is equivalent to getting a $80 processor discount.)

Meanwhile, my brother bought a Dell for $350, had to upgrade to a 2nd tuner only to find he was out of PCI-E slots...then the sound card didn't have digital out so he needed to find one that fit in his half height case......he is still sorting it out and already over the budget I spent.

Build advantages: Choose each component to meet your needs. Easier to upgrade. Develop understanding of hardware and software. Generally get more features for the price (firewire, esata, spdif....) Can overclock processor easier (with correct motherboard, basically getting a free upgrade.)

Build disadvantages: Need to figure out which components to buy. Need to deal with hardware and software installation and compatibility. No single warranty. Low end system will cost more.

If you check my other posts you will see where I recently posted questions on issues I was having with both builds. Both issues are resolved now and both computers are running stable, quiet and fast. If it works out like last time, they should run maintenance free for 3-4 years, at which point I'll have to decide whether a major or minor upgrade is necessary. P.S. One of these two is an upgrade and I was able to reclaim the case, power supply and magnetic and optical drives.

Find that Boxee, Hulu and recorded programs on Mediacenter fit our needs quite well...with only most basic cable subscription.
Disaster is offline  
post #28 of 29 Old 12-24-2009, 06:43 PM
Advanced Member
 
giza's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 564
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
mike1p, I as others have suggested would recommend you building your own HTPC for the main room and maybe purchasing a Dell mini or something for the other rooms. One thing that I will recommend highly is that you incorporate a media server in the mix. By having the media server, all you have to do then is build a streamlined HTPC without having to worry about storage capacity, etc. In my setup, I have a media server that resides in my office and I love it. Whenever I need to do any ripping, downloading, etc. I do it directly on the media server. I do not even have BluRay drives in my HTPCs (I use a PS3 if I want to watch something immediately).

Also depending on your needs, you can also look into using a XBOX360 as an extender. Recently there has been some goo developments to getting homebrew on the 360 and I cannot wait until we get the old trusty XBMC on the XBOX360.

Also, depending on the use of the HTPC, etc. will determine what device will be best. For kids that only want to watch DVDs, an XBOX360/PS3 may be best. For a wife that is not technical, a well built HTPC running W7MC and that has good remote control may be best. For someone like you (a techie) whatever float your boat.

HTPCs are not for everyone and they are not always as simple to plug-in and go. Having a good plan will save you both time and money in the long haul. I can say that is you decide to build, do not skimp on power supply and case. Those are the two items out of any HTPC build that you may not have to replace (with the exception of one day needing more power).
giza is offline  
post #29 of 29 Old 12-26-2009, 07:23 AM
Member
 
rklein's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 80
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
I wanted a zino but couldn't get on by christmas so instead rolled my own slightly larger HTPC for my kids for christmas based on the Zotac GF9300 mini itx board. Am very pleased with it.

1080p playback is perfectly smooth even while the CPU is peg by Ripbot encoding another movie.
rklein is offline  
Reply Home Theater Computers

User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off