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I'm sure this has been done to death...

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
New to the forum and the htpc world. I recently canceled my satellite service. Concurrent with cutting the satellite, I bought a Roku. Little did I realize how limited in scope Roku's "channels" are. Anyway, I'm now looking to purchase an HTPC, probably better described as a media streamer pc. I have a 42" Samsung plasma (720p, circa 2006 - yeah, I know, you are all drooling over it). I want to be able to stream Netflix, Hulu, etc, etc, without the frame dropping and choppiness I've been reading about from atom/nvidia ion stuff.

I do not want to build my own. Although I believe I am capable, I live in the boonies - 50 miles from anywhere. So, if I forget to order a part, damage something, etc. It's a huge pain in the butt. For simplicities sake I want to purchase a pre-built system. The problem is, the more I read the forums, the more it seems pre-built systems are terrible.

I'd also prefer to keep it at $500 or less if feasible. Any advice? Thanks!
post #2 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by wsumarine View Post

New to the forum and the htpc world. I recently canceled my satellite service. Concurrent with cutting the satellite, I bought a Roku. Little did I realize how limited in scope Roku's "channels" are. Anyway, I'm now looking to purchase an HTPC, probably better described as a media streamer pc. I have a 42" Samsung plasma (720p, circa 2006 - yeah, I know, you are all drooling over it). I want to be able to stream Netflix, Hulu, etc, etc, without the frame dropping and choppiness I've been reading about from atom/nvidia ion stuff.

I do not want to build my own. Although I believe I am capable, I live in the boonies - 50 miles from anywhere. So, if I forget to order a part, damage something, etc. It's a huge pain in the butt. For simplicities sake I want to purchase a pre-built system. The problem is, the more I read the forums, the more it seems pre-built systems are terrible.

I'd also prefer to keep it at $500 or less if feasible. Any advice? Thanks!

Depending on the case size I would suggest to get a pre built small tower or desktop model instead of a HTPC, this way there are much more choices and a bigger case would mean less heat.


You could get something like this in your budget, it is more than powerful enough for HTPC duty but it does not have a blu-ray drive. If you build yourself you can save money by choosing components on sale and stuff but something like this is also a good alternative.

http://www.buy.com/prod/gateway-sx28...217283326.html
post #3 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by wsumarine View Post

New to the forum and the htpc world. I recently canceled my satellite service. Concurrent with cutting the satellite, I bought a Roku. Little did I realize how limited in scope Roku's "channels" are. Anyway, I'm now looking to purchase an HTPC, probably better described as a media streamer pc. I have a 42" Samsung plasma (720p, circa 2006 - yeah, I know, you are all drooling over it). I want to be able to stream Netflix, Hulu, etc, etc, without the frame dropping and choppiness I've been reading about from atom/nvidia ion stuff.

I do not want to build my own. Although I believe I am capable, I live in the boonies - 50 miles from anywhere. So, if I forget to order a part, damage something, etc. It's a huge pain in the butt. For simplicities sake I want to purchase a pre-built system. The problem is, the more I read the forums, the more it seems pre-built systems are terrible.

I'd also prefer to keep it at $500 or less if feasible. Any advice? Thanks!

Have you taken a look at my thread? TONS of information there.
post #4 of 18
Maybe take a look at the xtreamer ultra.
post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks, everyone, for the input. I forgot to mention, I do not need a blu-ray player as I do not own any blu-rays, and probably won't adopt the format for a while. Also, Assassin, I have looked at your thread, it's amazing, just a bit overwhelming for a newb like me!
post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
So, it looks like, based on the responses so far, that I don't need to worry about integrated vs discrete graphics. For some reason I thought integrated graphics were a problem (at least with the ions).

Thanks.
post #7 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by wsumarine View Post

So, it looks like, based on the responses so far, that I don't need to worry about integrated vs discrete graphics. For some reason I thought integrated graphics were a problem (at least with the ions).

Thanks.

Integrated graphics work great.

You need to decide if you want to build it yourself (I think you should).

Then decide if you want an i3 setup vs a zacate setup.

Again, use my thread (first page especially) as a reference. Feel free to post in my thread about a specific build parts list and I'll help you out.
post #8 of 18
Doesn't sound like you need 1080p. No tuner cards, or any expansion slots at all for that matter. No real concern about future-proofing right now. If you don't need web surfing and can stream on a wired LAN, you can probably get away with a Boxee Box for $200.
post #9 of 18
Until a month ago, every HTPC I have ever had, I built. Save yourself that aggravation and learn from the people with years of experience. Today, most people just getting into it would be better off buying prebuilt. Certain integrated graphics are excellent for HD as long as you choose the right CPU and graphics. This laptop is my latest HTPC:

http://www.officedepot.com/a/product...78-A25-Laptop/

Picked it up on clearance for $450 and loaded it with Windows 7 Professional 64-bit. It idles at less than 15 watts, and flies when it needs to. What more do you need?
post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by wsumarine View Post

Thanks, everyone, for the input. I forgot to mention, I do not need a blu-ray player as I do not own any blu-rays, and probably won't adopt the format for a while. Also, Assassin, I have looked at your thread, it's amazing, just a bit overwhelming for a newb like me!

There's basically five essential Hardware parts to a HTPC:

Case
Motherboard
Processor
Memory
Hard Drive

Then there's a little bit of software and other than Windows it is mostly open source.

Pretty easy actually. Plus you fell good about doing it yourself.

I mentioned the xtreamer earlier because that is one out of the box basic barebones system that you could look at but for the same money you can probably build a better system yourself.
post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 
The xtreamer looks interesting. Is there anything like that already on the market?
post #12 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by wsumarine View Post

New to the forum and the htpc world. I recently canceled my satellite service. Concurrent with cutting the satellite, I bought a Roku. Little did I realize how limited in scope Roku's "channels" are. Anyway, I'm now looking to purchase an HTPC, probably better described as a media streamer pc. I have a 42" Samsung plasma (720p, circa 2006 - yeah, I know, you are all drooling over it). I want to be able to stream Netflix, Hulu, etc, etc, without the frame dropping and choppiness I've been reading about from atom/nvidia ion stuff.

I do not want to build my own. Although I believe I am capable, I live in the boonies - 50 miles from anywhere. So, if I forget to order a part, damage something, etc. It's a huge pain in the butt. For simplicities sake I want to purchase a pre-built system. The problem is, the more I read the forums, the more it seems pre-built systems are terrible.

I'd also prefer to keep it at $500 or less if feasible. Any advice? Thanks!

Check out the Zino thread. My requirements were like yours. ~$325 maybe all you need to spend.
post #13 of 18
I hate to diverge from topic, but if you're just looking to stream to stuff like Netflix, and Hulu, the Roku should work for you. I have a HTPC and three Roku boxes, so I'm familiar what the Roku can and cannot do compared to an HTPC.

Granted, the Roku only gets access Hulu Plus, which does not have access to all the Hulu content. There is no media streaming from a network attached storage. But if you have one with a USB port, you can plug media files off of it. No web browsing, but I assume that is not what you were planning to do. Netflix is actually a better experience on the Roku than a pc, in my opinion.

Lastly, there are quite a few "private channels" for the Roku. You may want to check out Nowhere Man's website. He's got quite a few good one. There are other website that list all of the available private ones and the codes to enter on the roku website in your roku account to get them.

I do agree the Roku is limited. From what you listed, I don't see where you're going to benefit significantly with an HTPC. Knowing next to nothing about your setup, if you're getting dropped frames, stuttering, and so forth from Neflix and Hulu on the Roku, sounds more like network or ISP issue. I have some issues with the Roku, but that has never been one. And if you do live in the "sticks" I've read the internet can be less than ideal.
post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
The Roku is great for what it is, but I can't watch standard hulu (free hulu) shows on it. I can't just jump over to say, TBS and stream a show, or over to Fox and pick up a show that fell through the cracks. I want to be able to move around the internet as I need.

I'm not having any problems with the Roku, it just doesn't have the flexibility I want.

...now assassin has me thinking about building...lol

I almost pulled the trigger on a zino, but it seems that there are a lot of dissatisfied owners out there...
post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by wsumarine View Post

...now assassin has me thinking about building...lol

Build a zacate.

I could piece you one together for $250 or more depending on what you need on it.

Zacate MB/CPU/GPU: $120-$180
RAM: $45
Hard Drive: $40-$80
Case+PSU: $50
Wireless (if needed): $20
Optical (if needed): $20

Also if you can get Windows7 for cheap or free then that cuts $100 off the top right away.
post #16 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by wsumarine View Post

The Roku is great for what it is, but I can't watch standard hulu (free hulu) shows on it. I can't just jump over to say, TBS and stream a show, or over to Fox and pick up a show that fell through the cracks. I want to be able to move around the internet as I need.

I'm not having any problems with the Roku, it just doesn't have the flexibility I want.

...now assassin has me thinking about building...lol

I almost pulled the trigger on a zino, but it seems that there are a lot of dissatisfied owners out there...

Just do it!!
post #17 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

Build a zacate.

I could piece you one together for $250 or more depending on what you need on it.

Zacate MB/CPU/GPU: $120-$180
RAM: $45
Hard Drive: $40-$80
Case+PSU: $50
Wireless (if needed): $20
Optical (if needed): $20

Also if you can get Windows7 for cheap or free then that cuts $100 off the top right away.

One thing not mentioned here is that this needs to happen with any barebones system.
post #18 of 18
As far as prebuilds go, this HP laptop looks pretty solid (coupon code NB5751 gets it for $400 free shipping). http://www.shopping.hp.com/series/ca...ore?aoid=35252

AMD Dual-Core E-350 1.6GHz
3GB DDR3
320GB 7200RPM HDD
11.6" 1366x768 High Definition HP BrightView LED Display
AMD Radeon HD 6310M Discrete-Class Graphics
HDMI port
WiFi N
Bluetooth
6-Cell Lithium-Ion Battery
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
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