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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
so i've been looking around for months and reading and trying to settle on some sort of content delivery method for my hdtv and it's been a struggle. i was looking at boxee, roku, etc., but then my brother mentioned the very basic setup he has using a bargain basement refurb'd dell optiplex and a video card he installed, along with a remote mouse/keyboard. but even that system would cost me 200 bucks since i also need a wireless adapter.


so is there a consensus for the bargain shopper? i've been looking at the Acer Revo AR1600, but again that's going to run me 200+ bucks with the wireless adapter, so maybe i should just go with boxee?


there must be a consensus cheapest option for the user without the time to build his own...
 

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If all you are looking at is steaming, I'd stick with a ROKU myself .. as assassin said, you get what you pay for ..


I use a high end laptop myself with an HDMI out .. but it's not cheap ..
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin /forum/post/20824762


You really do get what you pay for. That is all I will say.

I'm sure you're right about that.


But if you were going to buy an HTPC rather build your own, what would be your choice, on the low end and also if money wasn't an issue. I'd be really interested to hear your opinion on this since you're truly an expert on the subject.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks mgkdragn. Really appreciate the links and the feedback. Like I said I've been struggling with this, and I feel like I'm finally getting a handle on my options and the way to proceed.


The thing about Roku is that it doesn't allow you to stream a lot of downloaded content, at least according to this review:

http://www.wired.com/reviews/2011/08/roku2/


So that leads me back to the boxee box, which apparently does support virtually all file types, but will cost me about as much as a cheap laptop, thus the dilemma...
 

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I'd still vote for a laptop with an HDMI out .. but that's just me ...
 

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I don't recommend going wireless unless you're only using it to stream content from the internet or downloaded, low bitrate 720p Blu-ray rips.


That said, you'd be hard pressed to find a PC-based solution for less than $200 unless you find a really good deal on a used PC.
 

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Here, get youself a real system I posted this couple of days ago in the "HTPC Component Deals" thread.:

BTW, Micro Center has renewed it's "$40 off a compatible motherboard with the purchase of a 2nd generation Core processor."


They already have by far the lowest prices on these processors. So you can buy a $99 i3-2100 or a $179 i5-2500K and get $40 off an already discounted motherboard. Heck, you can get a Biostar H61MH and the i3-2100 for a combined $120.


This is the greatest deal for builders that I know of.


They also have Corsair XMS3 2x2GB DDR3-1600 CL9 SDRAM for $24.99 after rebate and a Hitachi Coolspin SATA III 1.5tb hard disk for $49.99 after rebate.


$195 total for an i3-2100, H61 mobo, 4gb ram, and a 1.5tb hard drive is a pretty good start on a pretty nice system. Add a case, PSU and Windows and you're ready to go. (oh, they have a Thermaltake V3 mid-tower case for $27.99 and an Antec Earthwatts 380 for $39.99 - $263 plus Windows for the whole system. Why exactly would anyone buy an Atom or e-350 system or a nettop?) Just better have a lot of stamps for all the rebate submissions.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by hailmatty
So that leads me back to the boxee box, which apparently does support virtually all file types, but will cost me about as much as a cheap laptop, thus the dilemma...
It depends on exactly what you want to do. If you don't want it to manage your tv/act as a dvr then possibly a stand alone appliance would be best for you.


My htpc is a generation or two old (conroe C2D) but it works very well for me with bluray and digital cable. id say that if I sold it as is id get between $200 and $350 for it.


Those Atom and Fusion based pcs seem to struggle with some Flash and Silverlight based video like Netflix.


I got my pal a Boxee Box as a wedding present. He has really enjoyed it so far - it can truly play just about every file type out there. Before that he was using his laptop plugged into the tv to watch ripped movies and do streaming.


Also keep in mind when you are looking at what file types a device can play that you account for bitrates - Boxee can play direct m2ts and mkv remux files from a bluray disc. Most media players can't handle those files.
 

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Flash has had hardware acceleration since version 10.1, 1080p vids from Youtube work just fine on the Fusion. Don`t know about Netflix
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by hailmatty
so i've been looking around for months and reading and trying to settle on some sort of content delivery method for my hdtv and it's been a struggle. i was looking at boxee, roku, etc., but then my brother mentioned the very basic setup he has using a bargain basement refurb'd dell optiplex and a video card he installed, along with a remote mouse/keyboard. but even that system would cost me 200 bucks since i also need a wireless adapter.


so is there a consensus for the bargain shopper? i've been looking at the Acer Revo AR1600, but again that's going to run me 200+ bucks with the wireless adapter, so maybe i should just go with boxee?


there must be a consensus cheapest option for the user without the time to build his own...
FYI - target currently has a promo for a Fusion (C-50) based Acer netbook (specifically, this AO722-BZ454 ) for $249 w/ a $30 gift card. I had purchased this netbook during Target's promo last month ($249 w/ $50 GC) and have been playing with it.


So far, it has played every video I have thrown at it - Bluray movies (watched Dark Knight BluRay via an external Bluray drive connected to this machine), 1080p youtube videos (incl the Birds of Prey scene from Planet Earth) as well as "regular" HDTV feeds from HDHomerun via 7MC. The other night I was further testing and was able to play back two HD videos (a 1080p youtube video and a 720p HD-PVR recording). I should note that I did remove a lot of the bloatware and installed 3rd party software (ffdshow, LAV splitter/filters, MPC-HC, etc).


BTW, there are reports that if the box mentions BIOS v1.04, then its highly likely the netbook will come with an upgraded Fusion processor (C-60 w Radeon 6290) which allows Turbo clocking the CPU to 1.33GHz (from 1Ghz) and GPU to 400Mhz (from 280Mhz) compared to the C-50 based version of the same netbook.


As was mentioned in the HTPC blog someone else linked in this thread, I also appreciate the fact that its so portable and light (~3lbs) where I can simply unhook it from the TV and use it in my home office when I want to.


Ofcourse, as assassin said, you kind of get what you pay for. This netbook does not incl an optical drive (but neither does the AR1600 you listed in your post, so I'm assuming this may not be a deal breaker for you?). Plus, my tests so far indicate that the GPU seems to be powerful enough to run pretty much any HD formats I've thrown at it and bitstream HD Audio formats via the HDMI port, I dont believe it is powerful enough to do 3D BluRay (Havent tried it myself so cannot confirm one way or another) nor is it powerful enough to do Netflix HD via browser since Silverlight is not GPU accelerated yet and the CPU is not powerful enough (although I've heard people have been able to successfully use WMC's built-in Netflix app without any problems). Dont use Netflix myself so cant comment on this either.


BTW, I understand Target's return policy allows returning these for upto 90days without any restocking fee in case it doesnt work out for you. Just some things to keep in mind.


Good luck,

-Topper
 

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There are probably a lot of people here that have decent systems and would like to upgrade to the next level. If you want a great deal - just say you are also considering a used system. You probably start getting PMs right away.

I bought a used case and some used 1TB drives that have worked out perfectly for less than half the cost of new.


I actually have an Acer Aspire Revo that makes a pretty good cheap HTPC (it's not for sale) that you may want to price too - if you only want new gear.
 

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It is hard to buy an HTPC for less than $200 unless you get a used one. There are good used PCs, usually lease end returns from business, that can be bought for $150 or less. But they can be very limiting in RAM. Some have 512MB or 1GB and it is not cheap to upgrade because they use old standard. And their video card is not going to cut it.


It really depends on what you want to do. If you want streaming/netflix/youtube/hulu/mp4/mkv etc, those set top boxes for less than $80 do a very good job. Logitech's Google TV just recently dropped to $99. If you want to record TV, you will need a PC.


Use of laptop as HTPC is okay but the problem is heat. Many laptops expect you to keep the screen open. Otherwise, they could overheat or degrade performance. If you don't have a problem leaving the laptop open at at least 30 degree angle, you are okay.
 

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Newegg has the odd shellshocker deal for around $220 but that would be a mid-tower case. Not really an HTPC looks/size wise. For under 200 it will have to be a media player device. I have an Xtreamer that has been very good so far (about 6 months). The base unit was $130 new I think and I added a 2.5" 500GB HDD for another $50. You could also look for a used one on eBay. It plays everything I've thrown at it so far including high bitrate 1080p mkv's.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by hailmatty /forum/post/20824793


I'm sure you're right about that.


But if you were going to buy an HTPC rather build your own, what would be your choice, on the low end and also if money wasn't an issue. I'd be really interested to hear your opinion on this since you're truly an expert on the subject.

the answer is: he wouldn't buy an HTPC because he could just build it. why would he buy one?
 

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I guess I don't understand why someone wanting an HTPC would pay $250 for a underpowered (1ghz cpu?), minimal capability netbook from Target of all places when, as I demonstrated above, with a little smart shopping you can build a full fledged i3-based HTPC with real memory, real PSU, real hard disk for a little over $300 or for well less than $300 if you already have an available Windows 7 license.


Just because something has an HDMI port does not automatically mean it will make a good HTPC.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zon2020 /forum/post/20837554


I guess I don't understand why someone wanting an HTPC would pay $250 for a underpowered (1ghz cpu?), minimal capability netbook from Target of all places when, as I demonstrated above, with a little smart shopping you can build a full fledged i3-based HTPC with real memory, real PSU, real hard disk for a little over $300 or for well less than $300 if you already have an available Windows 7 license.


Just because something has an HDMI port does not automatically mean it will make a good HTPC.

Agreed.


See post #2.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zon2020 /forum/post/20837554


I guess I don't understand why someone wanting an HTPC would pay $250 for a underpowered (1ghz cpu?), minimal capability netbook from Target of all places when, as I demonstrated above, with a little smart shopping you can build a full fledged i3-based HTPC with real memory, real PSU, real hard disk for a little over $300 or for well less than $300 if you already have an available Windows 7 license.


Just because something has an HDMI port does not automatically mean it will make a good HTPC.

Because most people don`t want a hulky desktop case in their living room (the thermaltake V3 you suggested)
 
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