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Who else now uses htpc's exclusively for all content (including TV viewing)?

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 
I must say, I think we may finally be approaching the golden age of the HTPC. I have owned/operated an htpc for probably 10 years. There has always been glitches, shortcomings, tweaks that need to be done, fine-tunings here or there, it has always been a work in progress with the rare WAF. And while it may continue to be a work in progress going forward, it won't be out of necessity so much as out of new functionality.

I currently operate the following: (and oh yes its overkill)

1 - Home-built HTPC (nothing special)
- P45 chipset, E8500 proc, 4 GB ram, Crucial C300 64GB as the OS drive, 1-2 tb HD space, bluray reader, ATI 5600 series GPU and a Ceton Infinitv 4 tuner card.
- This is my main TV viewing, movie watching, all encompassing rig.
2 - Zotac Nano AD10 mini htpcs
- One has an ssd main drive, one has a standard 200gb 7200 rpm drive. Both are running Windows 64 bit OS.
- Both work incredibly well in so many ways I have even thought of replacing my main htpc. They are incredibly quiet. They are incredibly efficient. They go in and out of sleep better than any other htpc I have used (all by remote control, no need to walk up to the pc and push the power button).
1 - XBOX extender (probably to be replaced with another Zotac at least for TV duties in the future)

The 2 Zotac boxes utilize a Silicondust HDHomerun Prime 3 tuner sitting on the network. The XBOX extends off of the home-built HTPC and its Ceton card.

For network storage:
1 - HP Mediasmart server with an external raid array attached via eSata

1 - ReadNas NV+

Current total storage between the two is around 12TB usable, with a couple more slots for additional drives.

All htpc's use the xbmc plugin for MCE and all of my movies and tv shows are run through the XBMC front-end (other than recordings from the TV tuner cards).

I use a Harmony One to control the main htpc rig and it is stellar and completely child/wife proof.
For the Zotac's I use a couple of older Harmony's that still work quite well with only a couple devices in the mix.

One of the best things about my setup (which again is overkill, who needs 7 tv cable card tuners?) is that I have removed all rented cable boxes from the equation and my viewing experience is light years better than what Comcast could ever offer. The menu's are better, the content is richer, all my movies at my fingertips, and no rental fee's.

If I could classify myself I would say I have always been restless when it comes to the HTPC. Trying to hunt down answers to problems, upgrade software, fix issues, improve the overall experience. I've spent countless hours on this forum looking for answers. This of course would impede me from the true goal, enjoying the overall experience. I think that at this point I can finally sit back and enjoy because I have finally found my happy place and hopefully others out there are arriving along with me!
post #2 of 41
I'd say about 70% exclusive use.

1) FLAC and CD's sound better through my Oppo.
2) BluRays & DVDs play flawlessly and reliably through my Oppo.
3) TV looks better with my TV's tuner. However, the WMC interface and DVR functionality is excellent.

Sure, a HTPC works well as an all-in-one solution, but until it can match the performance of consumer electronics it will never be widely accepted as a complete replacement.
post #3 of 41
The only media I don't use my HTPC for is my car radio . Otherwise, it's everything - music, home videos, movies, photos, security camera, caller id, everything. That is why I love it.
post #4 of 41
I use mine exclusively for :
* Pictures
* Music
* Movies & Series (through media browser)
* dvd (native MS player)
* Blu ray (TMT plugin)
* TV (double OTA tuner)

And it's pretty awesome, WAF factor is high
post #5 of 41
2 TV's...HTPC + xbox 360 extender...cable card + DCR2650 tuner on FiOS. It is used for 100% of tv/video viewing. Operation is simple and seamless enough except for maybe the process of the 360 booting and going into/connecting to WMC maybe being on the long side. Not quite perfect as I occasionally yet pretty regularly get tuner conflicts for no reason despite latest drivers/patches and every other tweak I can find, up to several times per week, but works well enough to not go back to the verizon boxes.

Really wish I could iron out those tuner conflicts as it would make my setup very solid at that point. May switch to a ceton internal pcie tuner at some point as prices are coming down on em and see if that helps. Looks like the DCR2650 may be a dead product already to me since it's a silicon dust product sold under Hauppauge, and while driver updates were on the regular when it first came out, there has been nothing in the last 4 months. Would be fine if it worked perfectly, but I have a feeling the conflicts have at least something to do with the tuner itself and not entirely just windows if windows at all.
post #6 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by C17chief View Post

2 TV's...HTPC + xbox 360 extender...cable card + DCR2650 tuner on FiOS. It is used for 100% of tv/video viewing. Operation is simple and seamless enough except for maybe the process of the 360 booting and going into/connecting to WMC maybe being on the long side. Not quite perfect as I occasionally yet pretty regularly get tuner conflicts for no reason despite latest drivers/patches and every other tweak I can find, up to several times per week, but works well enough to not go back to the verizon boxes.

Really wish I could iron out those tuner conflicts as it would make my setup very solid at that point. May switch to a ceton internal pcie tuner at some point as prices are coming down on em and see if that helps. Looks like the DCR2650 may be a dead product already to me since it's a silicon dust product sold under Hauppauge, and while driver updates were on the regular when it first came out, there has been nothing in the last 4 months. Would be fine if it worked perfectly, but I have a feeling the conflicts have at least something to do with the tuner itself and not entirely just windows if windows at all.

I assume you've tried http://support.microsoft.com/kb/981129 ?
post #7 of 41
Use mine for everything except Amazon Prime videos and Youtube. I use my Roku for Amazon and Samsung Apps for Youtube.
post #8 of 41
100% HTPC viewing...

Two systems online now.


Started with OTA and a Hauppaug 2250 in one HTPC. Got the bug for a speed upgrade and reconnected the cord for the wife..(FiOS tripple play). Tried a Hauppaug 2650 CC tuner; wasn't happy with unexplained tuner conflicts. Yanked that sucker out and grabbed a Silicondust HDHR3.

Was having a few issuies with the HDHR3; upgraded my router to a WNDR 3800 and life is so much better. I would say my HTPC's are about 97% reliable now. I am waiting a few more weeks before I install the latest beta firmware.
post #9 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bi_Polar View Post

For network storage:
1 - HP Mediasmart server with an external raid array attached via eSata

I'm at 5% as I'm still deciding on building a dedicated HTPC (using Laptop occasionally to connect to TV)

I have the EX485 for storage, but I'm worried that I may have to upgrade if using it to distribute HD video to the whole house.
Which model MediaSmart server do you have?, Have you upgraded either the software or hardware?, and how is its performance?
post #10 of 41
The addition of the Ceton card sealed the deal. No more HD-DVD player, Blu-ray player, and I was even able to remove 2 cable boxes.
post #11 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by StardogChampion View Post

The only media I don't use my HTPC for is my car radio . Otherwise, it's everything - music, home videos, movies, photos, security camera, caller id, everything. That is why I love it.

Same list as above minus caller ID.

I have the ceton PCI E tuner which handle all my live TV. Xbox's in the bedrooms, security cameras outside, Blu Rays with Power DVD 11, Blu Ray MKV rips, nearly 30K mp3's available anywhere in the house etc..All family pictures. Netflix. Wireless mouse and keyboard for 65" screen internet browsing. All connected to a yamaha AVR via HDMI 1.4a working flawlessly with 3D and all audio formats, Dolby, DTS, DTS-HD MA, Dolby True HD etc..

The MCE PC itself is in my living room, built it to be nearly silent with 4 2TB Geen series HD's in RAID 5 and another 4TB NAS in my basement. This gives me room to grow my home media collection for the next year or 2.

All relying on an old Asus MB with a Quad core Q6600...
post #12 of 41
I use mine for everything. Love the all in one box solution.
post #13 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeathPoobar View Post

I'd say about 70% exclusive use.

1) FLAC and CD's sound better through my Oppo.
2) BluRays & DVDs play flawlessly and reliably through my Oppo.
3) TV looks better with my TV's tuner. However, the WMC interface and DVR functionality is excellent.

Sure, a HTPC works well as an all-in-one solution, but until it can match the performance of consumer electronics it will never be widely accepted as a complete replacement.

I would agree with you on TV looking better if you are referring to OTA signals, which I personally don't use. As far as comparing the output of the CETON card or the HDHOMERUN Prime to a cable box, I honestly can't tell a difference. It could be I have tweaked a few settings for what I consider near optimal quality.

Bluray playback, it's true, not as good as a dedicated player. My BluRay drive in the PC with Power DVD is probably 90-95% as good but there is a slight noticeable difference. With that said, I can't recall the last time I loaded a disc. I almost exclusively rip and watch MKV's.

Sound quality - I did forget to mention I use a Pioneer VSX-1120K receiver in the mix. I have no issue with the surround sound quality at all. As for listening in the rest of the house, I have Sonos everywhere but can see your point.

My love for the HTPC is its flexibility in doing nearly any/everything. All my "stuff" is in one place. No other consumer device can accomplish this. I can't explain to my wife how to use more than about 2 devices. After that, she simply makes me take care of it or doesn't use it. And, while it isn't the *best* at probably any one thing, it is so close on so many levels I can live with the 5% difference in some cases as the positives far outweigh the negatives.
post #14 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by whiteboy714 View Post

I use mine for everything. Love the all in one box solution.

+1 The best thing is never having to change inputs on your TV.
post #15 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by StrikeOne33 View Post

I'm at 5% as I'm still deciding on building a dedicated HTPC (using Laptop occasionally to connect to TV)

I have the EX485 for storage, but I'm worried that I may have to upgrade if using it to distribute HD video to the whole house.
Which model MediaSmart server do you have?, Have you upgraded either the software or hardware?, and how is its performance?

I tested my WHS this morning running 4 concurrent HD streams (MKV files) to 4 different PC's. All play back at the same time perfectly, no stutter. I can't speak to more than that.

I have a EX495 - not much difference. I would say that as long as you have a gigabit based LAN (gigabit swich, gigabit connection to your whs and htpc's) you should be fine with no need to upgrade. I havent upgraded the software beyond what was preinstalled on the server other than the latest powerpacks. As far as I know this server will not run WHS 2011.

As far as concerns over running out of storage, you can add more storage using a raid storage enclosure which connects to your whs via esata. Mine has 5 bays. Thats the only "hardware" upgrade I have done.
post #16 of 41
Our HTPC is the only:

Cable box, DVR, CD player, DVD player, Radio in the house.

Well, 2 out of 4 extenders have built in DVD/CD player (Linksys DMA 2200).

Everything is in one location easily accessible with a remote from any TV in the house.
post #17 of 41
*raises hand*

There are 2 devices in my AV cabinet: an Onkyo Receiver and my HTPC (although I'll probably add an Oppo player this year)

My main functions are:
  • Hulu+ through Hulu Desktop
  • Netflix through WMC plug-in
  • Media Browser connected to 8TB of movies/tv shows
  • LiveTV/DVR through WMC + Charter ClearQAM

Total monthly costs: $34.99 + $7.99 + $7.99

I couldn't be happier than I am now with my setup.
post #18 of 41
I'm officially 100% as of this week.

50" plasma x2
HD projector w/100" screen
Xbox 360 extender x3
HP Pavilion Elite PC w/4TB of storage
Gigabit network
Cisco Gigabit router w/Tomato & 1TB NAS HDD
Silicon Dust HD Homerum Prime 3 tuner receiver x2
Logitech Harmony Remote x3

With all of this our life has become a little bit easier. I recently returned three Comcast HD DVRs which now saves us over $50 per month in equipment lease fees AND we have a lot more functionality. I just hope this whole setup stays stable and works as least as good as it does right now. Moving forward I'm going to tweak things and add more things (most at the software level on WMC7: Hulu, Media Browser, Media Center Studio, etc.) so here's to hoping nothing borks what I have right now. This may not be for everyone but it seems to be for us. lol
post #19 of 41
I have 3 TV's and 1 projector in the house. The TV and projector are in the living room running exclusively off the HTPC located there. That HTPC offers up live digital TV OTA, movies from a home server located in another room, and music from the internet. The TV in the master bedroom runs exclusively off of the HTPC located in that room. That HTPC offers the same functionality as my other one. The TV in the guest bedroom is hooked directly to the OTA signal, and does not run through an HTPC.
post #20 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bi_Polar View Post

I tested my WHS this morning running 4 concurrent HD streams (MKV files) to 4 different PC's. All play back at the same time perfectly, no stutter. I can't speak to more than that.

I have a EX495 - not much difference. I would say that as long as you have a gigabit based LAN (gigabit swich, gigabit connection to your whs and htpc's) you should be fine with no need to upgrade. I havent upgraded the software beyond what was preinstalled on the server other than the latest powerpacks. As far as I know this server will not run WHS 2011.

As far as concerns over running out of storage, you can add more storage using a raid storage enclosure which connects to your whs via esata. Mine has 5 bays. Thats the only "hardware" upgrade I have done.

Thats great to hear about its performance, I know there was a trend a while back to upgrade the ram and cpu of the MediaSmart servers, but I think that was for reasons other than streaming.
post #21 of 41
I use mine for everything but BR's, I use the PS3 for that. I already had one and don't want to pay for a BR drive and software. Plus all the stories I've read on here with people having issues with it just doesn't make it worth it. For my use the PS3 works well. Everything else goes through the HTPC.
post #22 of 41
Ordered a cable card to round out my HTPC which for the most part I did everything with.

Older core2duo build but it gets the job done just fine.

Not going to be happy using WMC7 for TV(use XBMC for everything else).
post #23 of 41
I'm 100% HTPC but its mostly just used as a DVR and DVD/blu-ray player. I'm not home enough to justify paying for a good internet connection and getting netflix. For me the best part of HTPC is having DVR functionality without having cable.

HTPC = cord cutting device

You know with how happy people are with their HTPC's it kind of makes you wonder why Microsoft doesn't contract with somebody in China and sell purpose built HTPC's. They could make a really simplified interface for the OS primarily built around WMC and really simplify these things for non tech users. They did this for game consoles I don't know why they don't do it for set top boxes, they already put the work into WMC.
post #24 of 41
none/0% of my content is from HTPC....
(depending on what you define a HTPC as...)

all of my video content comes from my headless SageTV server stuffed into my crawlspace... regardless of what room I am in at the time using sage HDx00 extenders... (or my MAME cabinet running sage client... still not a HTPC though...)

all my audio comes from Sonos regardless of what room(s) I am in at the time.
post #25 of 41
I have kind of been there and come back again. While I have fully dressed HTPCs all over the house, I am back to the Tivo and the BD player.. I remain unconvinced that for my main display which gets 99.9 percent of my viewing time that HTPC is the way to go. I am testing both JR MC and should it get cablecard support it would push me back in to the HTPC camp. The Ceton extenders could get me to go that way as well provided they support a wide range of formats.
post #26 of 41
My house has been 100% HTPC since May. Two home built machines, one i5 which handles comskip and transcoding duties, along with HTPC needs in the bedroom and an i3 for the living room.

OTA Live/DVR with 2 HDHR dual tuners
XBMC for Movies and other media


Such a better way to watch television. I can't imagine going back.
post #27 of 41
Me. Have done so for years now.
post #28 of 41
I am using mine to the max also. I just wished that Microsoft would have put a gigabit card in the xbox, I still have some buffering issues when playing my movies from the pc.
post #29 of 41
I just bought an Assassin HTPC so once that comes I'm canceling DirecTV and will be strictly HTPC or media streaming via Boxee Box, PS3, and WDTV Live.
post #30 of 41
I really wish I could use my HTPC for everything. One of the biggest problems though is Netflix. The quality just stinks on a PC, and it's something I use constantly. So, I use xbox 360s for that, and since I have them I use them as extenders. The HTPCs just run Plex right now.

One product that is very, very interesting though that doesn't get much press is Google TV. I picked up a Sony NSZ-GT1 just to play with it last week. What's brilliant is that passes the video from any device through the Google TV. That means you don't have to change devices, you just press a button on the remote and there's your HTPC or Xbox 360 or what have you, and you can even use PIP to continue navigating your Google TV while your Xbox 360 is playing video. So even though you technically have 2 devices, it feels like you have 1. Hell, it even comes with IR blasters so you can easily hide your AV receiver and 360 behind a cabinet.

The big disappointment is that the Sony only supports a few remote codes (codes designed for run of the mill cable TV boxes), and I can't get it to control my Xbox 360. I can use a separate remote, but then it feels like I'm using 2 separate devices again. The Logitech Revue Google TV can learn codes, but they don't make it anymore and it has some other limitations (no MPEG2 or DTS support).

There are more Google TV devices on the horizon though, and hopefully we'll see more device support. Anyways, there's some major potential here. Google TV has an open app store, so anyone can make 10 foot apps for it. Plex for instance is coming out with this awesome looking update soon for their Google TV app.
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