So it looks like I should be looking into a computer, but I guess at this point I need to know what features the computer needs to have. My goals are this:
To be able to:
Stream 1080p over cat6
Steam audio over cat6 and wireless
Stream video wirelessly
Be able to stream to TVs, laptops, iPhones, and tablets
To view pictures over cat6 and wirelessly
Stream video from websites such as youtube and NHL.com
Be able to access the above remotely (not 1080p remotely unless that is relatively easy to do.)
Stream 2 or 3 videos at once or 2 videos and one audio stream or similar
The ability to transcode (I am guessing that will be needed using something like Plex or XBMC?)
So in wanting to do the above what sort of hardware requirements would a computer need to have? Once I know that I can start my search. I am hoping I can find something for $300-$400 or so. Maybe used, or upgradable perhaps. Not afraid to build my own machine either. I haven't done that before, but I like that type of stuff, and I have repaired a few laptops before. So any suggestions? Processor requirements? USB 3.0? Graphics card? 10/100/1000? Do I need a Blu-ray drive to rip from? Thanks!
Plex clients on everything else, the PC could double as a HTPC if so needed or relegate it to back room server duties and stick with a set top box for Plex. More options should be coming with official Android TV platform which is rumoured to coincide with the Android 4.4 announcement very soon. The Android TV platform also has Chromecast so Google's video push service could be used if the websites support it (youtube does of course) or the website makers create an app for the Android TV platform.
There are some unofficial chomecast software packages for Windows and OSX that make them act as recievers however they wont work with DRM video and changes Google makes to Chromecast may break compatibility, of course you always have the web browser to fall back on with the PC but PC's are messy to use.
So maybe buy an old PC and swap the processor maybe? Would an i3 be okay or does it need to be an i5? I know this is a total 101 question, but what would the difference be between a PC setup like this and a htpc? Is it a matter of I being directly hook up to a TV?
If you had the means I would buy an Apple Mac Mini, lots of processing power, small & silent, they are a great box to use as a HTPC. Because of the very good CPU in it you will have plenty of grunt for transcoding content.
For any off the shelf PC a Core i3 should too as long as some of the media isnt crazy stuff like raw Blu-ray video.
I do it nicely with the following specs:
System Name: RemixedBeast
Processor: Intel i5 3570K @ 3.4Ghz
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Pro3
Cooling: Coolemaster Hyper 212 Evo
Memory: 16GB Corsair XMS3
Video Card: EVGA Nvidia GTX 650 Ti SSC 1GB
Hard Disk: 1.5TB Seagate/128GB Samsung 840
Optical Drive: None
CRT/LCD Model: Samsung SyncMaster P2350 23in @ 1920x1080 + LG Flatron 19in Widescreen 1440x900
Case: Antec Three Hundred Two
PSU: 620w Antec High Current Gamer HCG-620M
Software: Windows Server 2012 x64 Standard
This also functions as my main workstation as well as performing remote virtual desktop, VMs, and PLEX media serving.