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I'm trying to bring my home entertainment from system from 1990 to 2011, and I'm having a hard time deciding between the HTPC route and the alternatives. One thing to note: The system will be projector-based, so no TV will be involved. Here's what I anticipate using it for from most to least frequent:


1. Playing file-based music (ideally streamed off a separate NAS device that will also handle streaming to our computers and backups)

2. Playing streaming video content (Hulu, iTunes, Amazon VOD, Netflix)

3. Playing streaming music (Pandora)

4. Playing DVD's

5. (Optional) Playing Blu-ray


What is critical is that I be able to control 1 and 3 from an iPhone/iPad - I don't want to have to fire up the projector just to select a song, nor do I want a separate proprietary screen device that's just used to control music playback. I'm going to be getting a new receiver, so I have the luxury of a blank slate.


The question is whether an HTPC is the best way to address all these needs or if I'm better off with some sort of streaming device (WD TV live, Popcorn hour, etc.). An HTPC sounds like it will handle all of my needs well with the potential exception of Netflix (the Netflix thread here is chock full o' problems) and perhaps Blu-ray (other reading indicates a standalone player might be more hassle-free).


OTOH, streaming devices all seem to use Hulu Plus or require an addon like Playon to get Hulu and only some of them have the ability to be controlled via the iPhone/iPad. I haven't seen any that support iTunes, either.


I could, of course, use an HTPC for everything except Netflix and get a networked blu-ray player for Netflix and blu-ray, but I'm hoping to avoid an extra box.


Any recommendations on one device that will get me 1-4, remote control of music via iPhone/iPad and end up with my hair on my head, not in my hands? Does anyone have any experience with DLNA/UPnP receivers like the Onkyo HT-RC270? (I was thinking about using one of those to cover 1 and 3, hopefully remote controllable via an app like media::connect or eyecontroller and then a networked blu-ray player for everything else, but that would probably mean giving up on Hulu and iTunes.)
 

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yes, you can do all the things you want with an HTPC. I'm not familiar enough to suggest what to do and can't. What I can say, it's not going to be cheap, and you can do what you want cheaper with a Blu Ray player and set top box.


The nice thing about the HTPC is it is more robust. I'm able to watch any online video I can find. With a VPN service, no such thing as a blackout.


Hulu will be free; hulu plus cost $8/mn and has HD feeds, full seasons, and can be use on other devices such as iDevice, Roku, PS3 and so on (no all shows/movie are available). I think the Hulu desktop app is really good for hulu.


Netflix on the PC is a bit of an odd beast. I do agree it works better on streaming devices. I do think it works on the PC fine as well (I use a late 2009 mac mini 2.66 D2C WinXP). I'm not quite a videophile and have colorblindness issues, but I find HD feeds (from good sources) are fine. Just an occasional drop frame, and pans look the same on the PC and devices. Just don't expect BR quality. It's about a DVD or upconverted DVD that is not super crisp.
 

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HTPC all the way when it comes to iPad and Iphone control (or Android devices). XBMC has more frontends for iOS and Android than i can count on my fingers. Not so much for streamers.

http://forum.xbmc.org/forumdisplay.php?f=93
 
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