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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What are the pros and cons of an HTPC vs. a media browser (Popcorn Hour et al)? I understand that an HTPC can be more powerful and is certainly more upgradeable/customizable but what does that really equate to? Will an HTPC at the same price point have much better audio/visual quality over a media browser? Anyone using both who could give first hand testimony? Of course I would be comparing to one of the higher end media browsers.


I would like to keep the setup as simple as possible and it seems like a nice option to just buy one of these media browsers and with some configuration be up and running. Reading my way through some of the HTPC building threads (including the sticky) I feel like I could quickly get in over my head and end up with a box of parts that may not work or if configured incorrectly not give me any improvement over pre-built solutions.


As for my intended use I have a modest DVD collection which is growing and I would like to rip and serve it up all from one source. Though I have none now I also plan on adding Blu-ray. I will also be serving up digital photos, and MP3's. No gaming. No TV functionality (have HD DVR for that).


Thanks all.
 

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Make sure you do research on YAMJ if you plan on setting up a popcorn hour.


To be honest, I think with the help on this forum, it would be pretty easy for you to figure out what to buy. Then setting up MCE and codecs isn't too tough. Its not much harder than setting up YAMJ on a popcorn hour.


They both have +/-s.


The popcorn hour is slow and the UI is very bad. You can improve the UI using YAMJ, but its still not going to be as good as MCE and its still going to be really slow. You also have to run YAMJ from a PC everytime you add a new movie.


There are annoying issues with the popcorn hour too, where the hard drive spins up for no reason and little things like that, that come and go with new firmware updates.


However, the popcorn hour does play a lot of files without worrying about codecs. It also supports bitstream of TrueHD and DTS-HD, but from what I remember it was only in the TS format, not in mkv. That might have changed though.


MCE requires a little more initial set up, installing windows and codecs, but thats stuff we can help you with. If you use something like mediabrowser, you can have use a program like metabrowser to automatically watch folders to download meta data automatically.


So I would vote MCE over the popcorn hour. I had a popcorn hour for 2 months, and was never really happy with it.
 

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i went through the same dilema. i wasn't sure what to get...


in the end i went with an htpc, becuase all the media extenders, you will find, have some sort of shortcoming, whether its netflix/hulu support, media format, live tv, etc... where the htpc really doesn't, it can do it all.
 

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I am still in the configuring stage of my first HTPC, but I think it is the way to go. I had an older PC sitting around not getting much use so I thought I would see if it would work. From the help here I have been able to get it up and running. It has been a little time consuming, but I think that has more to do with my ways of research (I tend not to ask questions unless I really can't find the answer on line). Here is my experience in a nutshell.


I wanted something similar to your needs. Something to rip DVDs and eventually Blu-Ray, photos, and MP3s, as well as some web surfing, no TV duty. It needed to be very cheap (read FREE!!!). I have a very nice photo editing PC (i7, 6GB RAM, yada, yada, yada) and my old machine (Athlon 3000+, 1.9GHz, 2GB RAM, yada...) was sitting unused. I decided to put the old machine to use as a client and let the new machine do all the work (if any) and provide the storage (server).


In the end I settled with MediaPortal on the client. It works with XP is one of the main reasons I settled here as I only had XP Pro on the old machine. I used the sticky here for setup and it worked great. I don't think I had to do any additional work beyond what was listed to get it up and running.


I use DVDFab to rip my DVDs. I am still playing around with it some since it can eliminate the FBI warnings and such, but otherwise it works great!


I added the NetFlix plugin and Hulu Desktop using the MultiShortcut plugin for MediaPortal as well.


For photos, I simply pointed MediaPortal to the location of the files on the server and it is done! Same goes with my MP3s.


In all I have spent about $15 on getting this setup as I needed a couple of cables and all the software is free! I will have to get a MCE remote, wireless keyboard/mouse, and some more storage at some point, but for $15 so far I have a HTPC!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the input guys. I think I was always leaning towards HTPC but was hoping NMT (networked media tank) was as good as it sounds.


Thanks for the vote of confidence and I'm sure I can build an HTCP (with the excellent support AVS members provide).


I looked at the recomended systems from the sticky (page 85) and am not sure which would be best for my needs. Any suggestions as to what I really need. Also other than form factor is there a reason to build a micro/mini/atx system? I have a dedicated closet for my components so I was thinking of just puting all this hardware in a "regular" PC case to save a bit. Also seing as size doesn't matter (neither does sound pollution) are there cheaper hardware setups or should I just stick to those presented and put it in a different case?
 

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I have 2 HTPCs as well as a Popcornhour A-110 and SageTV HD 200. I much prefer my HTPCs as I have complete control over the UI and experience. I like the idea of a mixed environment because I can load my movies on an internal HDD of the PCH and now I have a portable jukebox when traveling. Biggest drawbacks of an HTPC are price (potentially, depending on your setup) and it is a PC so normal PC maintenance is required.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mojo-TMH /forum/post/17039184


Thanks for the input guys. I think I was always leaning towards HTPC but was hoping NMT (networked media tank) was as good as it sounds.


Thanks for the vote of confidence and I'm sure I can build an HTCP (with the excellent support AVS members provide).


I looked at the recomended systems from the sticky (page 85) and am not sure which would be best for my needs. Any suggestions as to what I really need. Also other than form factor is there a reason to build a micro/mini/atx system? I have a dedicated closet for my components so I was thinking of just puting all this hardware in a "regular" PC case to save a bit. Also seing as size doesn't matter (neither does sound pollution) are there cheaper hardware setups or should I just stick to those presented and put it in a different case?

I woudl go with a Micro-ATX build, Gigabyte 785G mobo, AMD 245 CPU, 4GB memory, Corsair or Antex PSU (430w), and throw in a 4670 GPU, running W7
 

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Im on the same fence as you, im playing the very dangerous "waiting game" if your not careful you will end up waiting forever. Im waiting on the c200 to be released to see the pricepoint and performance, vs what current htpc solutions are avail at the time.
 
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