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TrendyGUy 02-10-2013 10:22 AM

Hi all,

I was just about to pull the trigger and order all the parts for a new HTPC and upgrade from my Google TV but was starting to think of how the interface would work with my current HD cable box. Right now my cable box is plugged into the Google TV and then into the TV. This setup makes it easier for my wife to use because there is no input switching, she can press two buttons on the remote, Plex launches and she is good to go. So I am wondering how having a HTPC and my cable box are going to work with the TV? Will I have to have each one on a separate HDMI input and will need to change back and forth? Is there some kind of accessory that will make the HTPC more like a Google TV and have a video passthrough?

My entire reason for changing is because 1. I do not like having my large PC on all the time just so we can watch movies/tv shows whenever we feel like it and 2. I have been finding Plex to be somewhat unreliable at times and have been having some issues with it freezing, crashing, and unable to play some files.

Thanks for any tips/advice!

lockdown571 02-10-2013 11:03 AM

You won't be able to pass your cable box through your HTPC a la Google TV. Are you in the U.S.? If so you could get a cable card tuner like the HDHomerun Prime or the Ceton InfiniTV and watch all your TV through Windows Media Center. Windows Media Center is also a fantastic DVR.

TrendyGUy 02-10-2013 11:09 AM

Yes, I do live in the US. I was thinking about doing that but wasn't sure if I was ready to take that leap yet. How is the TV guide in doing something like that? and is the HD picture just as nice?

Thanks for your reply!

Sammy2 02-10-2013 11:40 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by TrendyGUy View Post

Yes, I do live in the US. I was thinking about doing that but wasn't sure if I was ready to take that leap yet. How is the TV guide in doing something like that? and is the HD picture just as nice?

Thanks for your reply!

The guide is just fine and here Charter puts adds in the guide you get none of that. You will not get VOD or PPV, though.

The HD picture is fine, depending on your set up. What GPU are you planning to use?

mdavej 02-10-2013 11:57 AM

Can you clarify what you are trying to do exactly? The HTPC replaces your cable box, so there is really no interface to your cable box. Your cable box is gone. If you want to keep one connected just in case, then you simply switch inputs. If that's a problem for your wife, just get a universal remote or an automatic HDMI switch.

To expand on what Sammy said, the HTPC cable tv interface is far better than anything you may have seen on your cable box. Here's a screenshot.

TrendyGUy 02-10-2013 11:57 AM

This is what I am looking at:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD A10-5700 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($128.99 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: ASRock FM2A75M-ITX Mini ITX FM2 Motherboard ($95.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Memory: Crucial Ballistix Sport 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($43.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital Green 2TB 2.5" 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive ($180.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Case: Apex MI-008 Mini ITX Tower Case w/250W Power Supply ($39.99 @ Amazon)
Optical Drive: Lite-On ihes112-04 Blu-Ray Reader, DVD/CD Writer ($54.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $544.92
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-02-10 13:56 EST-0500)

lockdown571 02-10-2013 12:01 PM

Also, when you install Plex Media Center it adds a launcher in WMC to launch Plex. When you quit Plex it goes straight back to WMC. If you're not attached to Plex you can also use Media Browser which works right inside WMC.

TrendyGUy 02-10-2013 12:01 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by mdavej View Post

Can you clarify what you are trying to do exactly? The HTPC replaces your cable box, so there is really no interface to your cable box. Your cable box is gone. If you want to keep one connected just in case, then you simply switch inputs. If that's a problem for your wife, just get a universal remote or an automatic HDMI switch.

To expand on what Sammy said, the HTPC cable tv interface is far better than anything you may have seen on your cable box. Here's a screenshot.

Mostly it will be used to stream videos online and watch ripped movies/shows. As of right now I was not going to put a TV Tuner into it but now I am starting to rethink that. My original question was being asked with me not placing a TV tuner in the HTPC and having a separate cable box still.

mdavej 02-10-2013 12:11 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by TrendyGUy View Post

Mostly it will be used to stream videos online and watch ripped movies/shows. As of right now I was not going to put a TV Tuner into it but now I am starting to rethink that. My original question was being asked with me not placing a TV tuner in the HTPC and having a separate cable box still.
IMO an HTPC is major overkill for that kind of thing. A streaming disc player, roku or WDTV is far cheaper and easier. Pretty much the only reasons I use an HTPC are to avoid cable box fees and surf the net. I use other devices for streaming and watching ripped movies/shows. Of course an HTPC can do that sort of thing, but it's kind of a pain to set up a and use IMO, and a lot more expensive than a $60 roku. There's no problem keeping a cable box as well as a tuner in your HTPC, but then you have 2 devices doing exactly the same thing, and you aren't saving any money. But if that's what you want to do, you won't have any problems.

lockdown571 02-10-2013 12:43 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by mdavej View Post

IMO an HTPC is major overkill for that kind of thing. A streaming disc player, roku or WDTV is far cheaper and easier. Pretty much the only reasons I use an HTPC are to avoid cable box fees and surf the net. I use other devices for streaming and watching ripped movies/shows. Of course an HTPC can do that sort of thing, but it's kind of a pain to set up a and use IMO, and a lot more expensive than a $60 roku. There's no problem keeping a cable box as well as a tuner in your HTPC, but then you have 2 devices doing exactly the same thing, and you aren't saving any money. But if that's what you want to do, you won't have any problems.

I think it depends on what your priorities are. If you mostly use Netflix, Hulu, etc., then I think a content streamer is better. If you watch a ton of personal media, then I think HTPC's are superior. I wouldn't recommend them to a complete computer novice though, although OpenELEC is pretty user friendly. WMC is a also probably far superior to your cable company's DVR, and using WMC can save you money in the longterm as well.

Plus, once you can add infinite DVR storage and skip commercials...

Sammy2 02-10-2013 12:48 PM

It was a pain to set up but now it is awesome. Basically an appliance.

Sammy2 02-10-2013 12:49 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by TrendyGUy View Post

This is what I am looking at:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD A10-5700 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($128.99 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: ASRock FM2A75M-ITX Mini ITX FM2 Motherboard ($95.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Memory: Crucial Ballistix Sport 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($43.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital Green 2TB 2.5" 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive ($180.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Case: Apex MI-008 Mini ITX Tower Case w/250W Power Supply ($39.99 @ Amazon)
Optical Drive: Lite-On ihes112-04 Blu-Ray Reader, DVD/CD Writer ($54.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $544.92
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-02-10 13:56 EST-0500)

You will have no problem whatsoever with that set up for HD video.. None, nada, zilch.

I suggest ditching the optical drive and getting a solid state boot drive, BTW.

TrendyGUy 02-10-2013 12:53 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by mdavej View Post

IMO an HTPC is major overkill for that kind of thing. A streaming disc player, roku or WDTV is far cheaper and easier. Pretty much the only reasons I use an HTPC are to avoid cable box fees and surf the net. I use other devices for streaming and watching ripped movies/shows. Of course an HTPC can do that sort of thing, but it's kind of a pain to set up a and use IMO, and a lot more expensive than a $60 roku. There's no problem keeping a cable box as well as a tuner in your HTPC, but then you have 2 devices doing exactly the same thing, and you aren't saving any money. But if that's what you want to do, you won't have any problems.

I watch my own media much more than I stream Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. I already have a Logitech Revue and I am unhappy with having to have my regular desktop computer on 24/7 just to host Plex Media Server and store my media. I also find the Plex app to fail frequently for me.

TrendyGUy 02-10-2013 01:01 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammy2 View Post

You will have no problem whatsoever with that set up for HD video.. None, nada, zilch.

I suggest ditching the optical drive and getting a solid state boot drive, BTW.

Thanks, do you think this might be overkill?

The optical drive is for playing bluray discs.

Sammy2 02-10-2013 01:21 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by TrendyGUy View Post

Thanks, do you think this might be overkill?

The optical drive is for playing bluray discs.

I have an optical drive that is in an external enclosure. It is attached to my PC. I rip my Blu-rays to my HDD and then stream them to my HTPC which is an appliance that I rarely even touch. I operate it with a remote and then occasionally with a wireless mini keyboard but not much at all. I use remote desktop from my PC and do basic maintenance stuff on it from the comfort of my office chair with a full keyboard and mouse. I have connected the Blu-ray drive to my HTPC once just to ensure that it works and that is it. If I want to play an actual disc, I use my Blu-ray player in the AV cabinet but I hardly do that anymore even.

As far as the computer goes, It might be a bit overkill but you will be able to use MadVR right out of the box without adding a video card. That is a plus and it will be somewhat future proof. I'd go with that or an A8 if I were building today.


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