Yet another "Death to HTPC" thread - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 159 Old 01-08-2013, 07:47 PM - Thread Starter
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First of all, disclaimer:

Look at my registration date.
I have learned a LOT from this forum and maybe, just maybe helped a few guys as well.
I know quite a bit about how to build a decent HTPC.


Now.

Headless Plex server.
NAS.
Roku 2 XS (around $50-60) or cheap Chinese Android stick for ~$30.

Both are capable of 1080p.
Both can run Plex client.

What do I need HTPC for?

I used to have one HTPC attached to every screen in the house, I have quite a few of them.
Now I am removing them much faster than it took me to build them.

Am I missing something?

Your opinions, camrades, please.

Good time to buy computers and computer parts: NEVER
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post #2 of 159 Old 01-08-2013, 08:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by galileo2000 View Post

First of all, disclaimer:
Look at my registration date.
I have learned a LOT from this forum and maybe, just maybe helped a few guys as well.
I know quite a bit about how to build a decent HTPC.
Now.
Headless Plex server.
NAS.
Roku 2 XS (around $50-60) or cheap Chinese Android stick for ~$30.
Both are capable of 1080p.
Both can run Plex client.
What do I need HTPC for?
I used to have one HTPC attached to every screen in the house, I have quite a few of them.
Now I am removing them much faster than it took me to build them.
Am I missing something?
Your opinions, camrades, please.

The major issues I encounter with non-HTPC Plex clients is they usually do not support every codec that my files contain. This means the files are transcoded, which reduces quality and also makes fast forwarding and rewinding difficult. That all depends on what kind of files you have though. Non-HTPC clients tend to be slower as well. Everything is essentially instantaneous on my i3 HTPC with an SSD. HTPC's also give you more customization (for instance you can't change the skin on the Roku client), and allow you to do advanced things like launch game emulators. They essentially give you more control.

There's nothing wrong with using Rokus if they meet your needs. Honestly, if there were a non-HTPC device that integrated with Plex, supported every single codec, was fast and responsive, and had an attractive UI, then I wouldn't see much of a need to use an HTPC either.
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post #3 of 159 Old 01-08-2013, 08:30 PM
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It just depends on what you wish to accomplish. Yes, quite a bit can be replaced by various set top boxes or other device such as Plex client, Netflix, and so forth. Heck, quite a bit can be replaced by an Android phone or tablet; I'm not up on iPhone and if you can hook it up to a HDTV.

Some things, can done, but just takes more. I find it's a lot easier for me to use all the various online broadband sports packages. The ones I subscribe to are NFL Game Pass, NBA Game Time, NHL Center Ice, MLB at Bat,, WatchESPN, and MotoGP. I use a VPN service to avoid blackouts. Not one STB allows me to use all them. I use my VPN on a STB; one PC limit at a time and I can't share it with other devices via internet sharing. On phones, I can't get as high of a bit rate compared to the PC.

Then there are other online streaming services such as Hulu Plus, BBC iPlayer and so forth. The PC is way easier to access all the video. Hulu is limited in it's Hulu Plus, which is for everything but the PC. A lot of devices, Hulu disables HDMI output that are mobile. iPlayer, need to have that UK IP which can be done on mobile or other devices, but that's dependent on the VPN; some other services such as TVCatchUP block certain ISP that are know to be used by VPN. I'm aware about the licensing issue and not arguing the use of a VPN. But like the sports, the resolution is limited on other devices compared to the PC.

Then there is the whole live TV and DVR playback. Most poeple can use their actual TV for live TV. Some people, like me, have TVs so old they can only use a analog signal. DVR playback is a another issue, especially with copyr once flag which reguires a media center certification if you use Media Center to do the actual recording. And a lot of the media centers are limited in what they'll play or what can be installed on them, which can limit stuff such as XBMC or Plex.

In the end, the PC is just a more robust machine. But they're more expensive. STB are way cheaper and can do a lot. But, it still doesn't eliminate the PC entirely either. Somewhere you need one or a NAS to do the DVR or store your media for XBMC or Plex. You definitely need one to either rip or download your media. It must may not be the one in the home theater, but rather sitting in the office.

It's not dead, it's just evolving.
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post #4 of 159 Old 01-08-2013, 08:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lockdown571 View Post

The major issues I encounter with non-HTPC Plex clients is they usually do not support every codec that my files contain. This means the files are transcoded, which reduces quality and also makes fast forwarding and rewinding difficult. That all depends on what kind of files you have though. Non-HTPC clients tend to be slower as well. Everything is essentially instantaneous on my i3 HTPC with an SSD. HTPC's also give you more customization (for instance you can't change the skin on the Roku client), and allow you to do advanced things like launch game emulators. They essentially give you more control.
There's nothing wrong with using Rokus if they meet your needs. Honestly, if there were a non-HTPC device that integrated with Plex, supported every single codec, was fast and responsive, and had an attractive UI, then I wouldn't see much of a need to use an HTPC either.

No doubt, HTPC is waaay more flexible than any Roku or another set-top in existence.
Point is, the cost of building+energy savings adds up.
How often do you need to rewind the movie? I thought so.

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post #5 of 159 Old 01-08-2013, 08:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by galileo2000 View Post

No doubt, HTPC is waaay more flexible than any Roku or another set-top in existence.
Point is, the cost of building+energy savings adds up.
How often do you need to rewind the movie? I thought so.

How often do I want to watch an uncompressed blu-ray rip in full quality without transcoding it? All the time wink.gif
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post #6 of 159 Old 01-08-2013, 09:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lockdown571 View Post

How often do I want to watch an uncompressed blu-ray rip in full quality without transcoding it? All the time wink.gif

THIS times a million!!! I haven't found any off the shelf hardware that can do this reliably. Huge bit-rate MKV's take decent power not found in settop boxes.
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post #7 of 159 Old 01-08-2013, 09:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lockdown571 View Post

How often do I want to watch an uncompressed blu-ray rip in full quality without transcoding it? All the time wink.gif

You have a point here, no doubts.

For my main movie experience I do launch my HTPC in my main room.

But in my bar room, or my bedroom, those Rokus and Android sticks are perfect.

Plex has became a greatest equalizer after the colonel Colts invention biggrin.gif

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post #8 of 159 Old 01-08-2013, 10:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by galileo2000 View Post

For my main movie experience I do launch my HTPC in my main room.
But in my bar room, or my bedroom, those Rokus and Android sticks are perfect.
Plex has became a greatest equalizer after the colonel Colts invention biggrin.gif

I agree, my setup has the 2 HTPCs plus a few extenders running XBMC (Plex's first cousin).

Looking ahead I see the extenders being replaced by Smart TVs, these are rapidly coming down in price.
The ones I am specifically interested in are the DLNA capable ones. I have my HDHomerun tuners behind the DLNA server so any extender or HTPC can access Live TV provided there is a port free on the tuners.

Web based streaming from Amazon and Hulu is taken as a given on my setup.

Standalone HTPCs will be around for a while yet, for me at least.
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post #9 of 159 Old 01-09-2013, 12:37 AM
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post #10 of 159 Old 01-09-2013, 07:13 AM
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It should be noted, I have one PC in my home theater, and rest of the house has first and second generation Roku boxes. It's just a matter of what is going to be watched in various rooms.

On a side note, I hoping with the HDHomerun going DNLA that someone or they can add a channel for it. I suspect a new box would be needed.
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post #11 of 159 Old 01-09-2013, 07:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jprovence View Post

THIS times a million!!! I haven't found any off the shelf hardware that can do this reliably. Huge bit-rate MKV's take decent power not found in settop boxes.

A jailbroken Apple TV plays it perfectly. Just no HD audio (pretty sure...not hooked up to my amp right now). I purchased a Roku and am curious how it works with Plex.
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post #12 of 159 Old 01-09-2013, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by xcrunner529 View Post

A jailbroken Apple TV plays it perfectly. Just no HD audio (pretty sure...not hooked up to my amp right now). I purchased a Roku and am curious how it works with Plex.

That would be somewhat less than perfect..

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post #13 of 159 Old 01-09-2013, 08:15 AM
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Do you mean the old silver Apple TV with a Crystal HD card installed? I don't think any other jailbreakable Apple TV can play full blu-ray rips...
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post #14 of 159 Old 01-09-2013, 08:55 AM
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I certainly agree that a dedicated HTPC for each TV location is no longer necessary but I do like having a central one connected to my main viewing area. For other locations streaming devices can suffice for the most part, especially if you have smart TVs as well. At the main TV, I need:
- some light gaming (emulators)
- Amazon Prime (through XBMC plugin)
- DVR and Live TV capability (WMC)
- music server functionality (Logitech Squeezebox server)
- file storage - this I want to move to a dedicated NAS at some point but haven't yet.
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post #15 of 159 Old 01-09-2013, 09:22 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xcrunner529 View Post

A jailbroken Apple TV plays it perfectly. Just no HD audio (pretty sure...not hooked up to my amp right now). I purchased a Roku and am curious how it works with Plex.

Works well. Install Plex channel on Roku and you are golden.
And Roku can be controlled thru wifi by any Android device, BTW.

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post #16 of 159 Old 01-09-2013, 09:45 AM
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I believe it's more of an evolution period for HTPC's as they are no longer required in every room of your house. A Roku is the efficient choice when it comes to extending your media to various rooms. But an HTPC would still be ideal in your main media room.

This of couse depends on what your needs/wants are. For me, I want more than light gaming. I want to be able to play any/every game in my main room. I also want to be able to access all of my media and play it as it's intended to be played. Everything from DVD rips, full Blu-Ray rips, mp3 and DTS audio albums. It all looks and sounds it best in my main room. But, for my bedroom a Roku would be more than sufficient as I'd simply be enjoying my media on a 32" LCD, using the stock TV speakers. I simply don't need anything more than a streaming device.

As for Smart TV's with DLNA, this is a good option. One issue that I've had with streaming directly to my TV is that some audio tracks can't be played. I'd need to do a bit of research to see what isn't supported, but a few times now I've tried to watch a movie with a multi-chan track, only to have no audio output period. If this weren't a problem though, DNLA TV's would be ideal.

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post #17 of 159 Old 01-09-2013, 10:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lockdown571 View Post

Do you mean the old silver Apple TV with a Crystal HD card installed? I don't think any other jailbreakable Apple TV can play full blu-ray rips...

No Apple TV 2. The 3 (1080P) isn't jailbroken yet. The Apple TV isn't outputting 1080P because it's a 720P device, but it is fully playing the 26GB MKV rip of mine without any stuttering.
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post #18 of 159 Old 01-09-2013, 11:00 AM
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For me, HTPCs with WMC are necessary everywhere I want to watch Live TV and have that nice guide, recording schedule, etc. experience without going through a million hoops to hack it together. I won't tolerate any degradation in performance, quality or stability. It needs to all just work. HTPCs for me satisfy all those requirements.

I tried the extender thing and it was slow (Linksys DMA2100) but ok good enough to be relegated to the basement in front of the treadmill but not on a main TV. That's where it landed. I don't want an XBox.

The kids playroom has a small E-350 HTPC running XBMC so they can watch movies and recorded TV and listen to music. They don't need live TV in there when there's a TV in the livingroom. That one could probably use a G-Box Midnight but I already had the E-350 so why bother? They have a Wii for watching Netflix.

My bedroom TV is a nice 50" plasma so I want the good quality and an inexpensive Intel G620/H61/128GB SSD/4GB system takes care of that. That has live TV, Netflix, etc.

My main livingroom HTPC I put together with used/open box/Black Friday parts and that's a A8-3820/A55/180GB SSD/4GB. That has live TV, netflix, etc.

I have a WHS2011 server in the basement for backups, centralized storage and a place to share recorded TV and movies. I also have a HDHomeRun Prime and HDHomeRun.

It works great, better than ever as a matter of fact with HTPCs much less expensive that the first ones I build, much smaller and power efficient and much more stable software. I am happy with it and WAF is very high. I experience no stuttering, great picture clarity and sound, usability is very high unless you're a babysitter in which case my 8-yr old will show you how it all work. Best of all, I hardly ever need to touch any of it. It just works. It's all good.

 

 

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post #19 of 159 Old 01-09-2013, 12:20 PM
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I've replaced my HTPC with a WD Live Gen 3. Its a backup box now. Have no problem playing 26GB mkv's with 15MB/s bitrate. It is slower though to load files but meh.
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post #20 of 159 Old 01-09-2013, 01:48 PM
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My HTPCs used to do everything under the sun. Now, I only have one and it's only used to play movie rips in my home theater and even then I don't use it that often anymore. DVR? I don't have a need for that anymore. Music? HTPCs sort of always sucked at that. I use Apple TVs and iPhones/iPads for the interface. Live TV? OTA antenna going straight to the TVs. Most of our TV viewing has been replaced by Netflix/Hulu Plus via Apple TVs. I even recently started using a cheap standalone blu-ray player for rentals and movies we don't watch often enough to bother ripping, because I wanted something that 'just worked' all the time.

The only thing left for it to do is play movies in our home theater that we watch often enough to warrant ripping, that aren't available on Netflix and that we care enough about to want the full-blown experience. That list is very small for us.

I've been tempted to turn it off for good more than once and instead buy some nice binders for our movies and just use our standalone blu-ray player.

Now, the whole concept of setting up HTPCs all over the house and having them do everything seems so 'old school' to me smile.gif It reminds me of the people I knew in college who were putting PCs in their cars so they could play their MP3 collection.
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post #21 of 159 Old 01-09-2013, 06:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by galileo2000 View Post

First of all, disclaimer:

Look at my registration date.
I have learned a LOT from this forum and maybe, just maybe helped a few guys as well.
I know quite a bit about how to build a decent HTPC.


Now.

Headless Plex server.
NAS.
Roku 2 XS (around $50-60) or cheap Chinese Android stick for ~$30.

Both are capable of 1080p.
Both can run Plex client.

What do I need HTPC for?

I used to have one HTPC attached to every screen in the house, I have quite a few of them.
Now I am removing them much faster than it took me to build them.

Am I missing something?

Your opinions, camrades, please.

If you ask me the industry is out to kill HTPC, I think they want to force users into locked down proprietary streaming boxes like roku and apple tv. MS seems to be on its way to dropping windows media center from windows which will really remove most of the functionality from our systems. I'm even tempted to get the roku 2 XS to replace my e350 for my secondary TV, I use it strictly for streaming.

"What do I need HTPC for?" For me the main need for HTPC is for a free OTA DVR, its like having a DVR capable cable box but for an antenna.
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post #22 of 159 Old 01-09-2013, 06:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Louquid View Post

A Roku is the efficient choice when it comes to extending your media to various rooms. But an HTPC would still be ideal in your main media room.

Can the Roku 2 XS play media files off of your NAS or main HTPC?
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post #23 of 159 Old 01-09-2013, 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by jeffkro View Post

Can the Roku 2 XS play media files off of your NAS or main HTPC?

You can using Plex.
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post #24 of 159 Old 01-09-2013, 06:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkro View Post

Can the Roku 2 XS play media files off of your NAS or main HTPC?

Via Plex it can. I run the plex media server on our file server, and the plex client on the Roku XS we have in our bedroom. The plex server transcodes my 1 to 1 BR to MKV rips into a format the plex client can handle. It's only a 720p TV so the quality dropoff isn't noticeable, although I did test it on my VT50 at full quality and it looked great. The tradeoffs are, you need a bit of power to do the transcoding, you may run into rew/ff issues, and sometimes the initial buffering is pretty slow. But it serves it's purpose and let's us watch our movie collection upstairs.

Looky here!
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post #25 of 159 Old 01-09-2013, 06:44 PM
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Via Plex it can. I run the plex media server on our file server, and the plex client on the Roku XS we have in our bedroom. The plex server transcodes my 1 to 1 BR to MKV rips into a format the plex client can handle. It's only a 720p TV so the quality dropoff isn't noticeable, although I did test it on my VT50 at full quality and it looked great. The tradeoffs are, you need a bit of power to do the transcoding, you may run into rew/ff issues, and sometimes the initial buffering is pretty slow. But it serves it's purpose and let's us watch our movie collection upstairs.

So to be clear, you install plex media server on your windows HTPC and then you can use Roku to play OTA TV shows that you recorded through Media Center?
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post #26 of 159 Old 01-09-2013, 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by jeffkro View Post

So to be clear, you install plex media server on your windows HTPC and then you can use Roku to play OTA TV shows that you recorded through Media Center?

No, as I stated we only use it for playback of 1 to1 BR to MKV rips.

Looky here!
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post #27 of 159 Old 01-09-2013, 07:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jeffkro View Post

If you ask me the industry is out to kill HTPC, I think they want to force users into locked down proprietary streaming boxes like roku and apple tv. MS seems to be on its way to dropping windows media center from windows which will really remove most of the functionality from our systems. I'm even tempted to get the roku 2 XS to replace my e350 for my secondary TV, I use it strictly for streaming.

"What do I need HTPC for?" For me the main need for HTPC is for a free OTA DVR, its like having a DVR capable cable box but for an antenna.

I couldn't agree more.
They do want us controlled.
There are some smart ppl out there. they could not beat us, so they joined us. They offer functionality which was unheard of just a few years back. And then when we all are there - trap will get closed!

Good time to buy computers and computer parts: NEVER
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post #28 of 159 Old 01-09-2013, 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by jeffkro View Post

So to be clear, you install plex media server on your windows HTPC and then you can use Roku to play OTA TV shows that you recorded through Media Center?

This is possible unless the recordings are copy-once.
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post #29 of 159 Old 01-09-2013, 09:13 PM
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HTPC is a tiny niche so I do not the industry cares much about it.

Myself, do I need it? No, but it is convenient to have a PC hooked up to my projector.

A PC can handle any file out there while with set top boxes you always have to jump through hoops.

I have Apple TV as well but it will never fully replace my PC since there always will be some file or some streaming website that is much easier to deal with on a computer.
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post #30 of 159 Old 01-10-2013, 02:38 AM - Thread Starter
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HTPC is a tiny niche so I do not the industry cares much about it.

Myself, do I need it? No, but it is convenient to have a PC hooked up to my projector.

A PC can handle any file out there while with set top boxes you always have to jump through hoops.

I have Apple TV as well but it will never fully replace my PC since there always will be some file or some streaming website that is much easier to deal with on a computer.

Yes, it is a tiny niche, but we have a lot to offer to the society.
Except society doesn't care much.

I had mentioned to my doctor that I am a computer guy, and recently installed a new appliance in my house. Her response was: "Roku? Oh yes, we have it and use it a lot"

I felt quite stupid.

You know, long time ago companies used to have vice presidents in charge of electricity.

Video distribution is becoming kind of commodity, nobody cares about the technicalities.

.

Good time to buy computers and computer parts: NEVER
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