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Affordable, Girlfriend Friendly HTPC, Capable of Handling OTA, DVR, Netflix, Hulu

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I've been doing some research on my own and I have a plan all drawn out but I thought it would be best to run it by the experts first before spending money on everything. So thanks in advance everybody.

So a little bit about myself and my situation. I live in Brooklyn at the moment and will be heading back to Manhattan shortly. Recently I've been looking at my expenses with the goal of trying to rein in our spending a bit. My cable TV subscription (~$65) is a complete waste because we only watch basic cable and HBO. So I started looking into an HTPC that could also catch OTA signals. I already use Hulu and Netflix so this seemed like an easy decision.

The last hurdle is that I want my girlfriend to be able to use this on her own when I'm not around. Trying to show her how to change inputs, turn on the xbox, and manuveur her way to Netflix was just not happening. So again, this seemed like an easy choice because cable, the DVD player, netflix, hulu, and ripped movies would all be in one place, on the same input on the TV.

So I think this is a pretty simple setup but I just want to see if anybody has any thoughts.

Computer: Asus Revo 3610 with Windows 7 MC. Is this capable of handling all of the Internet streaming? I read it was fine if you just update Flash to 10.1.


Antenna: The below from monoprice. All of the signals in NYC come from the Empire State Building so I think I should be pretty good.

http://www.monoprice.com/products/pr...seq=1&format=2


TV Tuners: Since this is a micro PC I'd have to go with a USB model. What do you think about the below? How many would you suggest getting? If I have two that means I can either record one show and watch two shows or record two shows without watching anything. Right? Might have to step it up to three if thats the case.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16815260023

Remote: I could use some suggestions here. I'm assuming any WMC compatible remote will do but I'd love some suggestions. Thanks!
post #2 of 10
Thread Starter 
I appologize if this was written terribly. I just wrote it on my iPhone on my train ride to work so you can imagine it was a little frustrating. I'll edit it a bit later, thanks again.
post #3 of 10
The problem with "micro PC's" is there isn't any slots to add PCI-E/PCI tuner cards.
post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Servicetech571 View Post

The problem with "micro PC's" is there isn't any slots to add PCI-E/PCI tuner cards.

I was thinking about using a USB connected device like the below, does this work?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16815260023
post #5 of 10
Somebody can correct me if I'm wrong but USB tuners are very CPU intensive especially if you are running an atom processor and you are recording in the background?

If you have any routered network already, I would recommend the HD Homerun unit. It's more expensive but you get 2 tuners and any computer in the house can watch TV. The setup, for me, was very very easy and works really good with Windows 7 MC. My household loved it so much that I had to go out and get another one.

You can then use Hulu desktop and there are some easily installed plugins to make it a fairly seamless transition between Hulu and Windows media center.

I use this one: http://huluwmc.teknowebworks.com/

You probably already know that Netflix is in Windows 7 MC as well.

Hope this helps
post #6 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by processedmeat View Post

Somebody can correct me if I'm wrong but USB tuners are very CPU intensive especially if you are running an atom processor and you are recording in the background?

I wouldn't expect a USB tuner to be any more/less CPU hungry than a PCI based tuner. These days, there's no conversion/encoding happening since all you're doing is writing a MPEG-2 stream to disk.

You're probably more bottlenecked by your USB bus and SATA bus than you would be with the CPU.

But that's my guess anyway.
post #7 of 10
You might want to look to a small desktop like this.

Small footprint, huge drive, hdmi out, better performance and it has a pcie if you want to install a card later.

Go with the HD Homerun. Everyone says it's the way to go.

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applicati...622&CatId=4928

Acer AX1301-U1302 Small Form Factor Desktop PC - AMD Athlon II X2 215 2.70GHz, 4GB DDR2, 750GB HDD, DVDRW, HDMI, eSATA, FireWire, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
post #8 of 10
I was thinking about getting one of these as well. Over at www.revohtpc.com they have been able to successfully test 3 tuners at the same time on this machine.

http://revohtpc.com/2010/02/23/how-m...e-revo-handle/
post #9 of 10
I highly recommend the Logitech Harmony remotes. They work with a standard MCE IR receiver on the HTPC. They take some time and patience to set up at first, but I find they make navigating and switching inputs very easy. The high end ones seem expensive for a remote, but can really make a difference in ease of use.

There are also some very good looking keyboards and mice out there. Logitech DiNovos, Microsoft Arc Keyboard are what I currently use.

I figure if I am going to use something every day, it is worth spending a little more to get something that I really like.
post #10 of 10
I haven't given a review of the KWorld USB tuner, yet, so I'll try to add some input here.

I just got one as a Shell Shocker deal from Newegg. I got the package with antenna, RF remote and the tuner.

In short, it completely screwed up my Windows 7 MCE environment. I was using it in conjunction with an ATI HD 650 PCI-E card on Windows 7 64-bit. By adding the KWorld tuner and trying to set it up in MCE, it took launching of Media Center from one second to about ten minutes. And the entire computer locked up (eventually recovering) while it tried to do that.

I had to remove all of the drivers, but it still messed up the Media Center operations. The solution was to roll back to a prior snapshot of the OS, and then I had to reinstall all new updates and changes. I wasted about four hours on the KWorld card, yesterday.

YMMV. It might only be my setup, as other things that wqere supposed to work for others on MCE don't work for me. However, I wouldn't recommend that card based on what it put me through. Maybe one of the Hauppauge external tuners?
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