Originally Posted by dfkimbro
It’s hard for me to recommend an HTPC anymore unless you are going to use it for MADVR.
Have you considered a box running Android TV OS like the Nvidia Shield?
It’s a bit pricey if it isn’t on sale, but you can find them for $150 US or less when there’s a sale. I “think” Kodi on the Shield would handle the DVD menus and ISOs, but someone else will need to confirm that. There are some other Android TV boxes that are less expensive.
MADVR?? I know what a DVR is, but not what a MADVR...
I'm looking for a HTPC, in a cable box size/form. Where it'll stream video files from a NAS (reg DVD copies, Blu-Ray copies, and possibly 4K in the future). Have a DVD/Blu-Ray (or 4K) drive in it where it'll play DVD's locally like a DVD player (I have 1,500+ DVD's, so a page where it shows the DVD cover artwork, and has the ability to show the description is ideal). Basically combine everything into one box, so that under the wall mounted TV it would be just the HTPC and cable box.
Where I can watch TV from the cable, watch a movie stored on the NAS, watch a movie (or TV Show) from a disc locally if it's not stored on the NAS, use Netflix, YouTube (possibly), etc. I'd like not to spend hundreds on a OS (like Windows, etc.), so something like a free/cheap Linux distro or something of that nature. No need for a DVR as the provider I'm with has one for the whole house that can do 6 programs at a time. So something basic and low cost, but able to play the formats listed above.
I probably shouldn't have capitalized MadVR that way. In short, MadVR is video rendering software for HTPCs that provides the best possible rendering and upscaling for standard and high definition formats so you get the best possible 1080p or 4K image on your display. It's not a DVR. The first few threads on this forum usually contain one of more threads about MadVR. In my mind, MadVR is the only compelling reason to use an HTPC these days, and it requires at least a moderately powerful GPU.
My point was that nothing you've listed, except using a DVD/Blu-ray drive for playing a movie from a disk, requires an HTPC, and is probably easier to do (and likely less expensive) using a streaming device (like a Shield TV or Apple TV or Firestick) and a standalone blu-ray player. Watching a blu-ray directly from the disk using an HTPC (and getting the disk menus) will require additional, potentially expensive software. Unless you're watching a lot of blu-rays, I think you're better off ripping them to a hard drive and streaming them, like you do your ripped DVDs, or just use a standalone blu-ray player.
Setting up and maintaining an HTPC can get to be a real pain and is not the same (mostly) smooth user experience as a consumer electronics device.
Most of the streaming devices (Shield, Apple TV, Amazon Firestick, etc.) will stream video files from a NAS just fine at a lower price and less hassle than an HTPC, and do a much better job with Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc. Additionally, you can probably use a streaming cable replacement service like YouTube TV, DirectTV Now, Sling TV, Playstation Vue, or Hulu to get rid of the cable TV box/DVR.
Just my 2 cents as someone who has almost completely quit using my HTPC after 6 years of it being my family's primary way to watch cable TV using WMC with HDHomerun Primes and cablecards, ripped movies, and DVD disks (no blu-ray disks because of the issues I mentioned above). I too had a vision of an HTPC being the one device to rule them all, but I found that i spent all my time tinkering and maintaining the thing and fixing a problem every week or two when a family member just wanted to watch a sitcom. After we switched to a Shield TV for Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Now, and YouTube TV to replace Comcast, my family all admitted that they always thought the HTPC was too problemtic and hard to use and were enjoying watching things a lot more.
if you want a new time-consuming, attention-consuming hobby, then an HTPC can be fun to build, setup and tinker with. if you just want to watch your content, i think there are better ways to go that didn't exist a few years ago.