HTPC Laptop - Talk me into or out of this setup - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 07-19-2012, 08:44 AM - Thread Starter
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I have an older Toshiba Satelite A205 laptop that I wanted to use as a simple HTPC. It has an Intel Core 2 Duo T25250 @1.5ghz and 2GB of ram. It is currently running Vista 32bit home version.

My goal is to have something I can use to stream Netflix, Hulu and HBOgo. Also store some of my kids shows and movies for playback and that's about it.

I have TONS of questions, but at first is this an adequate base to start with? I would of course upgrade the ram and most likely get a newer copy of Windows.

Any thoughts, comments, concerns or general advice? Any help would be EXTREMELY helpful.

Thanks

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post #2 of 8 Old 07-19-2012, 09:35 AM
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I used a laptop as an HTPC before although it was an Intel Core i5 Win7 64-bit 4GB RAM. It worked well for my needs.

Most computers can stream online content without any problems, so as long as you do not have any future plans to use it for blu-ray's you should be set.
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post #3 of 8 Old 07-19-2012, 10:05 AM
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I think that laptop has no HDMI and has a GMA950 graphics chip. As far as I know, it won't do HD.

But IF your TV has a VGA input, you could probably use this to stream internet content. Or, if your TV takes S-Video, I think your laptop has that output as well, but the picture quality is going to be pretty marginal.

But that laptop is probably outside the normal range for using it in this fashion.

Oh, and adding ram or changing operating systems isn't going to help. You'd be wasting that money. Just try it as is, and keep the money to buy something more suitable.
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post #4 of 8 Old 07-19-2012, 10:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the crane View Post

I have an older Toshiba Satelite A205 laptop that I wanted to use as a simple HTPC. It has an Intel Core 2 Duo T25250 @1.5ghz and 2GB of ram. It is currently running Vista 32bit home version.
My goal is to have something I can use to stream Netflix, Hulu and HBOgo. Also store some of my kids shows and movies for playback and that's about it.
I have TONS of questions, but at first is this an adequate base to start with? I would of course upgrade the ram and most likely get a newer copy of Windows.
Any thoughts, comments, concerns or general advice? Any help would be EXTREMELY helpful.
Thanks

I would grab Assassin guides as a start and skip the building part and configure of BIOS.

Pick up from the installation of Windows and follow the intelligent walk through about how to set it up.

There is even a link for downloads of 64bit windows HOME, PRO and Utimate you can download the ISO.
You will need a key code to register it as legit- but you get 30 days and 3 resets for a total of 120 days to do that.
I am not suggesting you don't pay Microsoft- because I think you should. I am a big MS supporter and feel that Windows 7 is a great OS and certainly worth the cost.
BUT,

What I am really suggesting is you buy yourself a couple months with almost no costs to play around and learn about HTPC, how it works, what it can and can not do and such.

What ends up happening in most cases is you realize your LAPTOP is not a perfect solution and for about $300 you can make a really nice kick ass purpose built HTPC that will work better. The difference is you kind of know more at the time you do it- so you set it up even better and pick out the parts intelligently- maximizing your enjoyment and minimizing your costs and frustration.

So my advice-

Grab Assassin Guides. Download the version of windows you want. (probably just 64bit Home)
YES- upgrade the DDR RAM to 4GB or more if you can do it cheap.
You might even want to consider replacing your HDD with an SSD before installing. You can get a 120GB model for under $100 bucks that would breathe new life into your laptop. The difference is more than night and day. It is very extreme. I can not imagine you would not be happy doing this- and if you build a purpose built HTPC like your thinking you can use it so it is not money lost or wasted- you can even add back your old stock HDD now and keep the laptop as a spare laptop too. Seems solid option for you.


Follow the guides from the installation of windows forward- Set up your Laptop to work like a HTPC and learn the software and set up process.

Install MEDIABROWSER and MEDIAMASTER- use them. learn about the cool features of browsing media and cover art.
Install the SHARK007 codecs and learn how you can play all kinds of video files in high quality audio and video.

You can use your TV as monitor I bet and close the lid. Buy a wireless remote like the LENOVO for $35 (I like mine)

You can really get your feet wet with HTPC with very little cost- and no costs wasted.

-

"Too much is almost enough. Anything in life worth doing is worth overdoing. Moderation is for cowards."
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post #5 of 8 Old 07-19-2012, 10:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zon2020 View Post

I think that laptop has no HDMI and has a GMA950 graphics chip. As far as I know, it won't do HD.
But IF your TV has a VGA input, you could probably use this to stream internet content. Or, if your TV takes S-Video, I think your laptop has that output as well, but the picture quality is going to be pretty marginal.
But that laptop is probably outside the normal range for using it in this fashion.
Oh, and adding ram or changing operating systems isn't going to help. You'd be wasting that money. Just try it as is, and keep the money to buy something more suitable.

VGA to component video adapter will allow you to run say 720p on your HD TV. They cost about 5$

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post #6 of 8 Old 07-19-2012, 10:36 AM
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Just to add, upgrading an OS on an old laptop is often more trouble than it's worth. Laptops tend to have a whole bunch of proprietary drivers, not included in W7, and at that age I seriously doubt that Toshiba created a set of W7 drivers for that laptop. You could check the Toshiba support website, but I'll be shocked if there is.

You can do what you need to do with Vista. Personally, I'd just stick with it.
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post #7 of 8 Old 07-19-2012, 01:15 PM
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Grab a VGA cable and try it out? Your computer should have WMC preinstalled with Vista. You could even try XBMC. See if you like it before spending any money on an old laptop. If it works then consider spending ~$20 on a USB IR receiver and remote. The IR receiver could then be reused on a proper HTPC if you decide to take that step. I would not bother with paying for a Win7 license on the laptop, wasted money in this case. The only reason you'd NEED Win7 is if you wanted to use a cablecard tuner.

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post #8 of 8 Old 07-19-2012, 01:33 PM
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What you've described does not require an HTPC, so I'm going to try to talk you out of this. A cheap Roku can stream Netflix, Hulu+, HBOGo and any of your video files over DLNA very well and has none of the cost or complexity of an HTPC. So any money you'd have to put into that laptop would be much better spent on a streaming device. You may even already have a gaming system that does most of it. Compared to the video quality you'll get out of that old laptop, even a Wii will look good.

If/when you decide to get a tuner and use a software DVR, come back and ask about setting up an HTPC.


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