Laptop as HTPC - AVS Forum
Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
post #1 of 13 Old 09-20-2012, 07:31 PM - Thread Starter
Senior Member
 
WaterBoyz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Holly Springs which is North of Atlanta
Posts: 223
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Liked: 17
Wanting a quick and inexpensive unit for now.

Getting SD HomeRun Prime to replace the Comcast box.

No gaming.

Trying to ease the Mrs away from the $100 monthly Comcast bill.

Will build a standard unit as the shock wears off from the Mrs.

Found a used Dell N5050. laptop.

W7 Home 64 bit SP1

i3 2350M 2.3ghz
http://ark.intel.com/products/53438/Intel-Core-i3-2350M-Processor-3M-Cache-2_30-GHz
http://www.cpu-world.com/CPUs/Core_i3/Intel-Core%20i3%20Mobile%20i3-2350M.html

4 g memory

WD 500g hdd
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136567

Has HDMI output.

The NIC is 10/100 so I will get a adapter like this.
http://www.amazon.com/Plugable-Gigabit-Ethernet-Network-Adapter/dp/B003VSTDFG/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

Thought and comments please.

I'm old.
Was trained on vacuum tubes.
Most everything I've worked on is in the museum or on the History Channel.
WaterBoyz is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 13 Old 09-20-2012, 07:58 PM
Advanced Member
 
Tiddles88's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 583
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 24
A $300 mini-ITX HTPC would be more pleasing to the wife and a better choice than a laptop, at least in my mind. I'd also prefer native Gigabit over any adaptor.
Tiddles88 is offline  
post #3 of 13 Old 09-21-2012, 01:30 PM
jlv
Senior Member
 
jlv's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: MA
Posts: 306
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 12
Dell currently has a sale on a Vostro 3460 laptop that is
i5-3210M (Ivy bridge, 2.50GHz)
14" 1366 x 768 (but this doesn't matter)
4Gb memory
500GB 7200RPM SATA Disk
Intel HD Graphics 4000 (HM77 chipset)
GigE, 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth
HDMI
USB 3
DVD drive
Windows 7 Professional
$629, but it comes with a $200 dell gift card, making it $429 (assuming you have something else at Dell you'd buy for $200).

I think that is competitive with all the mini-ITX builds I've seen, especially if you focus on compactness and quietness. All the mini-ITX builds win in terms of expandability, but IHMO I don't need more in my HTPC (just recording and playback). This lacks IR/remote and a tuner (but I'm using a HDHomeRun network tuner).
jlv is offline  
post #4 of 13 Old 09-22-2012, 08:53 AM
AVS Special Member
 
Davidt1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 1,269
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7 Post(s)
Liked: 12
I have been using a Thinkpad X120e netbook as a HTPC for almost a year now and couldn't be happier. I have recorded and edited over a hundred TV shows on it including all the Olympic events on NBC. These days just about any laptop is better than what I have. Go for it.

This remote is a must-have for a WMC based HTPC:
http://www.amazon.com/Windows-Control-Infrared-Receiver-Ultimate/dp/B00224ZDFY/ref=pd_sim_sbs_e_1/185-8241121-2732436
Davidt1 is offline  
post #5 of 13 Old 09-23-2012, 07:50 AM
AVS Special Member
 
captain_video's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Ellicott City, MD
Posts: 3,576
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 77 Post(s)
Liked: 138
Using a laptop as a HTPC sort of defeats the purpose of having a laptop. They don't give you the same bang for the buck as a standalone PC and they're not very flexible when it comes to making configuration changes. What happens if you need to take the laptop on the road with you? You won't be able to record your cable shows when you're away like you could with a dedicated HTPC. Laptops are for portable computing and really aren't meant to be a static device like a HTPC. You can certainly use one as a HTPC, but the question remains, why would you?
captain_video is offline  
post #6 of 13 Old 09-24-2012, 08:51 AM
AVS Special Member
 
Davidt1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 1,269
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7 Post(s)
Liked: 12
I can't speak for everyone, but a laptop HTPC is great for my minimalist mobile lifestyle. I can pack my laptop, HD Homerun, and Mohu Leaf antenna in a carry-on bag and get on a plane at a moment's notice. I can record and watch shows anywhere I am -- in hotel rooms and even at airports. I have two laptops so one is always left at home for recording stuff.
Davidt1 is offline  
post #7 of 13 Old 09-24-2012, 09:14 AM
AVS Special Member
 
jeffkro's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 2,053
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiddles88 View Post

A $300 mini-ITX HTPC would be more pleasing to the wife and a better choice than a laptop, at least in my mind. I'd also prefer native Gigabit over any adaptor.

Nothing wrong with laptop components, its really just the form factor that's for stink. The laptop component based mini systems make excellent low power small form factor HTPC in my opinion, but they cost a bit more. Cheapest way for a small form factor is probably mini-ITX like mentioned.

Something like this is what I mean:

http://www.asrock.com/nettop/Intel/CoreHT%20Series/
jeffkro is offline  
post #8 of 13 Old 09-24-2012, 09:53 AM
AVS Special Member
 
EricN's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 1,215
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 46 Post(s)
Liked: 195
For setting up your first HTPC, a laptop does have a couple side benefits.

Embedded UPS - great for when you are still doing lots of rearranging/plugging/unplugging during planning and testing.
Embedded Console - you don't have to grab a spare monitor/keyboard/mouse when you try some new graphics driver and get no signal on the HDMI port.

All the drawbacks are pretty obvious: poor expandability, paying for features you don't need, etc, etc. If you got a bargain on the laptop, are using a network tuner, and keep your goals limited for the first iteration, then you have already mitigated most of the downsides.


My advice is to avoid scope creep. It sounds like the initial WAF could greatly determine the future of this project. Pick one or two features that are well within the specs of the machine, focus on those, and really test and polish them. Once you hit the limits of the laptop's capabilities as an htpc, you are looking at full replacement for future expansion. That can be a hard sell if the Mrs is tired of being your QA department.
EricN is offline  
post #9 of 13 Old 09-25-2012, 11:34 AM
Senior Member
 
the crane's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Wheaton, IL
Posts: 464
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
I'm using an Asus laptop with similar specs as my HTPC and it works great. Bought it on Craigslist for $250. I am running XBMC and streaming to a jailbroken Apple TV2 in my theater and a jailbroken iPad3 around the house. It works like a charm even my wife and girls can manage to watch pretty much anything they want at any time.

Like others have said, I don't think this is a long term solution. I wanted to make sure this was going to something we were going to use long term, so this was my test unit. Now that I understand more about how my family interacts with the HTPC I will be building a dedicated machine sometime in the near future.

A laptop is a great place to start, but certainly has it's limitations. It's a great place to start.

I Golf
the crane is offline  
post #10 of 13 Old 09-25-2012, 06:37 PM
AVS Special Member
 
Favelle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Victoria, BC, Canada
Posts: 3,786
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Davidt1 View Post

I can't speak for everyone, but a laptop HTPC is great for my minimalist mobile lifestyle. I can pack my laptop, HD Homerun, and Mohu Leaf antenna in a carry-on bag and get on a plane at a moment's notice. I can record and watch shows anywhere I am -- in hotel rooms and even at airports. I have two laptops so one is always left at home for recording stuff.

Yep, +1.

Some people and some situations, they just work!

In terms of LFE, size does matter!
Favelle is offline  
post #11 of 13 Old 09-25-2012, 07:19 PM
Newbie
 
arjayd13's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 13
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 15
Ive been using a Dell Latitude E6400 with a port rep. Its being used as a bedroom htpc and works great. The only thing that bothers me about the laptop is that the fan can get a little loud.
arjayd13 is offline  
post #12 of 13 Old 10-21-2012, 04:53 PM - Thread Starter
Senior Member
 
WaterBoyz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Holly Springs which is North of Atlanta
Posts: 223
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Liked: 17
OK

I've decide to build a unit and have started a new thread for help and others to join along.

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1433653/1st-time-htpc-builder-needing-tlc

Please close this thread.

I'm old.
Was trained on vacuum tubes.
Most everything I've worked on is in the museum or on the History Channel.
WaterBoyz is offline  
post #13 of 13 Old 09-20-2013, 10:02 AM
Newbie
 
NuForce's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 2
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
My Economic and Versatile HTPC

At the beginning of the year (2013) I converted a couple of rooms into a Home Theater and was planning on building an HTPC but ran out of funds. So here's the story of my cheap solution.

I need a new laptop for my business so at the beginning of the year I won a bid on a refurbished Dell Latitude E4310 from the Dell eBay site. Because I didn't play close attention to the specs I quickly discovered that it has only one USB port which makes it fairly useless for my work. I soon purchased a Dell E6510 for business which left me with a very good spare laptop. Luckily got it for $286.01.

As I mentioned earlier, like most home projects I endeavor I went over budget so I couldn't afford to build my HTPC and decided to post pone building it til next year. With the theater completed and everything working fine after a couple of months I decided to hook the spare laptop up to my project just to see how well it could stream video and was happily surprised by the good quality even though I was streaming through the VGA connection.

I later purchased a used docking station for under $30. I improved the video quality by using an HDMI adapter in the Display Port Connector of the docking station ($8). The audio out is plugged into my surround sound receiver. I've been using this system since June 2013 and everything is working well.

For video I primarily use Amazon Prime Instant for streaming and Amazon Unbox for downloading movie purchases I would like to replay at a future date. The video quality is very good and the sound quality is ok. I do notice a slight quality difference between HD viewing on cable and HD viewing through the laptop. There is a bigger difference in sound quality but, it's still in stereo and the surrounds sound works adequately with the laptop. So far I'm pleased with the performance. I've pretty much put building an HTPC out of my mind. I really can't justify the cost.

Here are my Laptop specs:
Dell Latitude E4310
CPU: i5 2.67GHz
Memory: 4 GB
HDD: 250 GB
OS: Windows 7 Home

Other Components:
Projector: Panasonic PT-AE8000U
Surround Sound: Yamaha RX-V363
Speakers: 5.1-channel Insignia NS-HT 51
Optical Player: Panasonic DMP-BDT220 3D Blu-ray DVD Player

Nu
NuForce 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