Need recommendations for HTPC, operating system, and Ethernet tunners - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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Old 09-16-2013, 05:18 PM - Thread Starter
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So... I've been gone a while. It's been a few years since I last posted.

Anyway... I'm looking to get a new PC to use for a HTPC. So what should I be looking for in terms of specs? Small Form Factor is needed. Inexpensive is also high on the list. Will be used as a secondary computer in the house.

So far I'm looking at the ACER AX3995-UR20.

I've also looked at the Dell Inspiron 660s.

So what about the operating system? Right now I have an Acer X1200 running Windows 7. So far so good. Both the PC's listed above come with Windows 8. I have a Windows 7 license available. Would it be better to install Windows 7 on the new machine or leave it with Windows 8?

I've been aware of the SD HDHomerun Prime tuner. The Ceton InfiniTV 6 ETH is new to me. Other than the number of available tuners and cost, does one have advantages over the other? How well do the perform over wireless (802.11n or 802.11ac)?
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Old 09-16-2013, 06:18 PM
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A couple of points to note:

- If you are going to use WMC, then only Windows 8 Professional supports WMC and you have to buy "Pro Pack" for $100.
- Windows 8 does not support non-Microsoft extenders (e.g. Ceton Echo).
- Windows 8 is fast and crisp.
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Old 09-17-2013, 04:48 AM
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Buying any preconfigured PC may end up locking you into proprietary hardware, making it difficult, if not near impossible, to upgrade components down the road. Dell is notorious for this, but I don't know about Acer. There are several guides for picking out HTPC hardware from both renethx and assassin.

Stick with Windows 7 for WMC. Too many issues with Windows 8. "Fast and crisp" doesn't do much for you with regards to HTPC use, especially if you're using WMC.

Forget about wireless for HTPC use. Go with hardwired. If that's not feasible, you might want to consider a PowerLine setup.

SiliconDust has been doing ethernet tuners a lot longer than Ceton so I'd consider them first. It mostly depends on how many tuners you need. If three is sufficient, go with the HDHomeRun Prime. If you need more than four then go with the Ceton InfiniTV6 ETH.
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Old 09-17-2013, 06:38 AM
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I have an Acer very similar to the one posted but a bit older. It makes a great little HTPC. It's very small, fast and quiet. But it does have a couple of drawbacks. I don't know about the newer models, but mine only has 2 SATA ports, so I had to disconnect the DVD drive to install an SSD. Plus, if you opt for an internal video card or tuner card, it can get pretty warm. I had to add another fan to mine. The hardware isn't proprietary though, so you can do pretty much whatever you want inside the case, including different drives (space for one 3.5 and one 5.25). You can save a lot of money if you buy used.

Instead of wireless, I use DECA, which is nearly identical to MOCA, but far cheaper, and much more reliable than power line. Last time I checked, you could get a pair of DECA adapters on ebay for under $20. That's a fraction of the price of MOCA hardware. More details on that HERE.
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Old 09-17-2013, 11:34 AM
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HDTV does not work well with wireless, unless you are one of the few lucky ones who have perfect wireless signal and no interfierence, at which point, you are better off buying a lottery ticket. You will have to do wired.

Windows 7 has WMC, Win 8 does not.

It is a $110 add on to Win 8, and $10 add on to Win 8 Pro.

You need WMC if you are going to be tuning copyright protected cable TV.

6 TV's in the house on FiOS and we only pay $4.99/month to connect them all!!! Power to the CableCard and WMC7!!!
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