Originally Posted by jefejt
I'm pretty new here. My plan was to hook the PC directly to the TV. I'm not sure what the extender option is...
Really I'm looking at doing this in increments. I have a good antenna that will be mounted shortly. I have a Roku to stream for now. I'd like to have the PC to stream other videos and eventually use as a DVR.
Hey Jefejt, the extender option involves an Xbox 360. Basically, instead of using a dedicated HTPC, you hook the TV tuners up to your existing computer. When you start Windows Media Center on your xbox 360, it looks just like WMC on the PC except the tuners and recordings are accessed from your PC over the network. More info here
Pros of using an extender instead of a dedicated PC:
-An Xbox 360 only costs $200
-Very easy to setup
-More reliable than an HTPC from my experience (it's hard to 'break' and xbox 360)
-As far as Live TV and DVR, it looks and behaves exactly like WMC
-Xbox has Netflix, Hulu, ESPN 3, Vudu and others built in
-The computer you install the tuners on needs to be turned on whenever you watch TV on the Xbox 360 or record something (although I believe the computer can be configured to wake automatically)
-accessing streaming services on the Xbox 360 (like Netflix) require a $60/year subscription and most are limited to 720p
-the Xbox 360's functionality is limited, i.e., you can't make it do whatever you want it to like you can with an HTPC. First instance, you can't play blu-rays or stream extremely high bit rate video to your xbox 360 (or certain file formats)
-Xbox is somewhat noisy (although your HTPC could end up being more or less noisy depending on what components you use and how you configure it)
One option is not better than the other. It just depends on what you want it to do. The Xbox 360 is far easier to setup, but there are many limitations.