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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Short version: Are the PH devices more for basic home users? For the $350 of a PH cost, could I build a basic HTPC for streaming and downloaded video playback?


Long version:

I'm a tinkerer, I admit it. I build my own PCs and have tried linux, windows, and mac. I have a current HTPC but it's old and won't even do a QT 720p trailer. I admit it's my old PC from 2003, so I'm not surprised.


Anyway, I was going to start researching new parts, when I saw the Popcorn Hour device, which looks like it would be able to stream videos from my current PC over the network, and has a slick interface. But for the price, since I'm capable of installing a new HTPC, is it worth it? Could I build a basic HTPC (not counting storage space) for the $350 that it would be for a Popcorn Hour? I have a few reusable accessories which helps out. But are any of the interfaces (like MediaPortal) as good?


Lastly, if I go HTPC, would it be worth it to put a BD-ROM in it for $100? I don't currently have BluRay at home, still on a 720p DVI projector.
 

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IMO, no, you can do much more with the HTPC.
 

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I'm a tinkerer like you and don't see the reason to spend the money on those devices. I use my old pc as a htpc and it works fine. Its a 939 single core proc with 3gb ram and a 250gb drive running win7 64 fine. I use win7 media center with mymovies which i think is the easiest and best since media center is built in and doesn't need added software. I also have a tuner card in it for recording OTA shows. I don't see a reason for you to have bluray unless you have 7.1 audio or something. I have a 720p plasma and have a ps3 and don't think it's worth spending the $4 extra with netflix and all the extra space on my drives to rip the blurays. Also you need another program like total media theatre which is like $80 to play blurays as windows doesn't have the codecs. I plan on upgrading to bluray soon since i'm buying a 1080p projector nextmonth
 

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Another thing with win7 the new sleep mode makes resuming almost instant. Also you can sleep and resume from sleep using wireless keyboards. And my friends and I always seem to be on youtube or other sites on our tv or we get on cbs and fox or hulu to watch shows we forgot to record or something. All things those boxes can't do. I do however use a 360 as a media center extender in my 4 year olds room and she can easily pickout a movie herself with the controller. We set mymovies to only display g and pg movies on it so she doesn't see any movies we don't want her to. She loves it
 

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I think part of the key is what you said - you like to tinker.


If you like to tinker, you can spend weeks tinkering with an HTPC trying to get it set up just right. I'm just starting. It's fun but personally I'd rather have it all set up already as I don't have that much time to mess with it.


For me having a projector, it seems the quality of the picture is not as good as with my blu-ray player. For instance I tried a 1:1 ripped movie SD and played it back and it didn't look as good as when I played it on my BD player. It probably wasn't upscaled. Of course I could probably tweak the settings and figure out how to upscale and all that other stuff but isn't it easier just to put a disc in the player and hit play?!


Like poster above said though, it is nice to be able to browse the net and watch videos on any site you want and not be limited.


I think I will end up getting a popcorn hour box though. I think there is one that is $200 no? The extra features on the $300+ seem like "luxury" features.

I just want to see first hand what they can do and if it's easy to use or if it to will require tinkering.


Here is a biz idea for someone - build HTPC's and CONFIGURE them to be completely set up out of the box. I'd be the first to buy one
 

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Really a tough call, depends on exactly what you want to do. I own 2 HTPCs, a PCH A110/A200/C200 along with other players. The PCHs are nice in that for the most part you can get up and running very quick, you don't have to worry about software, codecs, pc maintenance, etc... However the stock UI blows so you will need to spend some time setting up a jukebox like Aeon.


I use my HTPCs though as my main playback devices as I just appreciate the flexability when it comes to choosing a UI and more feature rich UIs/Media Centers. Also, I have bitstreaming of HD audio working which is something that is somewhat of a struggle with the PCH (depending on what model you have and what formats your movies are in). I use W7MC + MediaBrowser as my main UI. I am in teh process of building another HTPC around the core i5. I am going with a mini-itx build that I figure I should be able to do for under $400


Here is some info that may be helpful:

PCH C-200 Review
PCH A-200 Review
Setting up YAMJ + Aeon For The PCH

Setting Up Media Browser
Setting Up MyMovies
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·

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Wait for the boxee that comes out in a few months. It's 200 and can stream HD content. Also from what I her on the xbmc forums you will be able to put xbmc on itwhich is a real plus if you like to tinker. I think this would be your best bet. Or get an ion machine like an acer revo nettop
 

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I spent 3 months almost studying the C200 waiting for it to come out. Then when they finally released it after being on a waiting list I got screwed and never even got one then I was supposed to wait 3 more weeks or some crap like that. Then I found this site. Learned how to build an even better htpc.


There are a few things you have to understand about the C200 or any of their machines. You are still going to have to tinker. Sure they have some codecs built in but theres no way its going to work perfectly with every file you throw at it. There are countless threads on that forum about stuff like that. Then you are going to have to tweak the interface most likely. Its a huge long list and you end up messing with the same exact issues mostly that you have with an HTPC...


except an HTPC can do anything you want it to. Including act as a DVR which for me was what pushed me over to an HTPC. But there are dozens of other reasons that make an htpc better.
 

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So you can have DVR capabilities with the PCH if your are running a GBPVR "server". The PCH (A-100/A-110) is a supported extender for GBPVR. They have expressed interest in working with the GBPVR to support the C-200 model as well so this may be in the works shortly.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by rflores2323 /forum/post/18170052


Wait for the boxee that comes out in a few months. It's 200 and can stream HD content. Also from what I her on the xbmc forums you will be able to put xbmc on itwhich is a real plus if you like to tinker. I think this would be your best bet. Or get an ion machine like an acer revo nettop

Boxee Box will not be able to play high bitrate HD content (supposedly anything above 10MB/s) and will most likely not be able to bitstream. My expectation is that the PopBox will blow away the Boxee Box when it comes to playing back local content yet the Boxee Box will have better online content
 

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Go with an ION nettop and use XBMC. Either in its Live! incarnation or with Windows7 and the new DirectShowPlayer builds and/or DXVA2 support.
 

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i tried a bunch of different media streamers.... including popcorn hour.


in the end the most flexible/powerful/easiest to setup (yes i said that)/compatible whole house solution is to have a main htpc and client htpc's that use the same graphics engine and operating system.


For example, an Nvidia 9400 igp based main htpc plus ion pc's (or even old pcs with recent 210/220 cards?) for streamers.


I could easily setup a whole house system with 5 streamer boxes in an afternoon using windows 7 ultimate x86. Maintaining the different boxes is made easy using remote desktop. I start with wiped hard drives and do fresh win7 install.


You can use XBMC but i found it is easier to setup and use media center to start (since it is already there after os install). XBMC has some nice features and you can have both XBMC and win7mc and use both.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by vladd /forum/post/18171353


So you can have DVR capabilities with the PCH if your are running a GBPVR "server". The PCH (A-100/A-110) is a supported extender for GBPVR. They have expressed interest in working with the GBPVR to support the C-200 model as well so this may be in the works shortly.

So does the popcorn hour have the DVR capabilites or can it just act as a frontend for a HTPC in the background? (AKA you need to buy BOTH for DVR to work, might as well just get only the HTPC)
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Servicetech571 /forum/post/18172172


So does the popcorn hour have the DVR capabilites or can it just act as a frontend for a HTPC in the background? (AKA you need to buy BOTH for DVR to work, might as well just get only the HTPC)

You need both. If a DVR is also required, the Popcorn Hour is feasible only as client player for extra rooms.
 

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As a former Popcorn Hour owner you should remember that it's not "plug and play". To get it running requires some tinkering and to make the user interface look decent requires a lot more. A Windows Media Center PC is probably the easiest to set up.
 
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