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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As I have been working on the parts I need and getting everything in order for my HTPC I keep coming up with the same question. If I am building a device that is going to store and play back all of my movies and music but not play games, why do I need to go through so much trouble of matching parts, getting the right drivers, downloading the right programs, getting an operating system that I don't need for anything other than accessing the couple of programs I am going to need, have a keyboard and mouse that I don't need with a remote, and most of all have a big case with noisy fans?


If my DVD player can read movies and decode all of the video/audio formats, work with a remote, fit in a small case, and not have any fans, why can't we make a computer just like it? Or better yet, why can't we just add a gigantic hard drive to a DVD player? When I turn on my DVD player I don't have to wait for it to boot up some operating system and then I have to select a program to find my movies and then another to play that movie, it just plays. And it's not like a DVD player has a quad-core processor with 4gb of ram. All of the processing power of a DVD player can fit inside of a mini portable player you can carry on a plane that is barely bigger than the DVD disk itself. So what gives?
 

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The answer is actually VERY simple. VERSATILITY, or lack there of. A dvd player is just that, a dvd player, it can't surf the internet, or play games, or transcode media, or run any of the amazing variety of software that a computer can and that's because of a neat technological advancement called specialization. Think of it this way, would you want a pediatrist removing your spleen? I sure wouldn't. If all you are doing is playing your music and watcihng DVDs then by all means, buy a DVD player and an Ipod. You can even get some DVD players that will let you hook up your ipod and play your music.


If you want to decrypt, transcode, re-author and compress your DVDs onto a hard drive for access to your entire collection anytime you want, then you're going to need something a LOT more powerful than just a DVD player, that's where HTPCs come in. You really just need to keep in mind how much actually goes into a single small action like ripping a CD or DVD to understand why you need so much more power than a DVD player can provide.


And realistically, if you want something small and low powered that can still handle even high def and still do everything else that a computer can do, it's possible, it's called nVidia Ion and it can literally be just about as small as current BD players, but in order to get all that power in such a small package, it costs a lot more.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris3377 /forum/post/17007595


If my DVD player can read movies and decode all of the video/audio formats, work with a remote, fit in a small case, and not have any fans, why can't we make a computer just like it? Or better yet, why can't we just add a gigantic hard drive to a DVD player?

They're called media streamers, and there's a whole separate forum for them. They're cheap (mostly $100-$200), they're small, they usually only have one small fan or none at all, and they play most media files.


Media streamers are great up to a point, but after that point you need a real HTPC. All currently available streamers have limitations of some sort. Most have slow, simplistic menus that are not efficient at navigating large media libraries. Most have limited functionality beyond simply playing media files (no ripping, transcoding, web browsing, etc). Most require a PC to transcode web-based video from netflix / hulu.


If you don't need the polished interface options or versatility of a HTPC, then a media streamer is a valid solution. But if you want the best audio and video quality, 100% codec support and the ability to attractively organize a large media collection, a proper HTPC is the only way to go.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris3377 /forum/post/17007595


If my DVD player can read movies and decode all of the video/audio formats, work with a remote, fit in a small case, and not have any fans, why can't we make a computer just like it? Or better yet, why can't we just add a gigantic hard drive to a DVD player? When I turn on my DVD player I don't have to wait for it to boot up some operating system and then I have to select a program to find my movies and then another to play that movie, it just plays. And it's not like a DVD player has a quad-core processor with 4gb of ram. All of the processing power of a DVD player can fit inside of a mini portable player you can carry on a plane that is barely bigger than the DVD disk itself. So what gives?

Well you can if you know how to design circuit boards and write embedded software.


There's a big difference between a DVD player and an HTPC. A dvd player is a simple device designed to do only one thing very well. Thus the designers don't have to use general purpose operating systems, like Windows, when designing it. They either don't use operating systems at all or they use something that is very simple compared to what our PCs run. Even if they decide to use an OS like linux or BSD, they will strip it down to the bare minimum. Because of that, they can get away with much lower power processors. They don't have to worry about it being able to do things like run a web browser or any other typical PC application.


Because we want versatility, we use general purpose PCs and try to turn them into something that acts like a stand alone device. Thus, we need to use general purpose operating systems like Windows/linux/etc. Because of that, are hardware requirements are much higher than a stand alone dvd player.


Honestly though, if all you care about is playing DVDs then you don't need a modern PC. You can use something that is 5+ years old. You can also setup your HTPC to do things like automatically start your frontend application, play the movie when you insert the disc, work with a remote and not require a keyboard/mouse, etc. You can also use small cases and lower power processors so that you can get away with at most maybe 1 fan (if any), especially if all you care about is DVDs. Today's HTPCs don't need a quad core processor with 4 GB of ram. The only people who need that kind of power are those who do a lot of transcoding.
 

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I am an HTPC fan until the bitter end. No question. But my WDTV is the size of my frickin' mouse. Its unbelievable what a tiny thing can actually do.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Favelle /forum/post/17009822


I am an HTPC fan until the bitter end. No question. But my WDTV is the size of my frickin' mouse. Its unbelievable what a tiny thing can actually do.

Yah the WDTV is a great device. I had it first before I started using my pc as an HTPC. You will lose some functionality for people that want dvd menus. But its a great product and its only 100 bucks.


But once I got my pc running as an htpc I havent touched the wdtv since, it just doesnt compare.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Favelle /forum/post/17009822


I am an HTPC fan until the bitter end. No question. But my WDTV is the size of my frickin' mouse. Its unbelievable what a tiny thing can actually do.

I started with a WDTV, then moved to a HTPC after getting tired of moving files from one computer, to an external to the WD. Now with a HTPC in teh living room, networked to my other machine it doesn't matter where my media is, I can access ti quickly, and easily from the PC in the living rooom. But yes, the WD is quite good at playing, just about everything I played.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heli Pilot /forum/post/17009985


I started with a WDTV, then moved to a HTPC after getting tired of moving files from one computer, to an external to the WD. Now with a HTPC in teh living room, networked to my other machine it doesn't matter where my media is, I can access ti quickly, and easily from the PC in the living rooom. But yes, the WD is quite good at playing, just about everything I played.

Yeah but now with the features of the WDTV 2 moving files may not be necessary since it will have build in ethernet. I have been toying with building a HTPC for my bedroom tv and I may just wait until the new WDTV comes out. You can read more here .


I enjoy building my PCs but I always overdo it. I am wondering if I am better off with a streaming device.
 

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There is another way to look at the issue.

The stand-alone boxes do what they do in hardware, for the most part.

PCs have to do it in software because the chip manufacturers have refused to allow their hardware to be incorporated into PCs or PC cards.


DRM also comes into play. The versatility of a PC brings the potential for piracy so the content owners and distributors but roadblocks in place to protect their investment.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heli Pilot /forum/post/17009985


I started with a WDTV, then moved to a HTPC after getting tired of moving files from one computer, to an external to the WD. Now with a HTPC in teh living room, networked to my other machine it doesn't matter where my media is, I can access ti quickly, and easily from the PC in the living rooom. But yes, the WD is quite good at playing, just about everything I played.

32GB flash drive for me. No moving files anywhere but to my USB stick. Even the largest Blu-ray rip fits on it just fine.
 

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My point it having a HTPC is to have one machine that does everything. Blue ray player, HD DVR with no monthly fee and whatever hard drive space you want, music juke box, and hulu player. You can't buy a Hulu player and everything else requires having a ton of components. Plus you really don't need that much computer power, you could build a pretty cheap PC that will do all this. Athlon II, mobo with onboard video/audio, 2 to 4 gigs ram, and a tv tuner.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Ok, maybe a streamer is more what I am imagining but I am unfamiliar with them. What I have in my head is taking an imaginary DVD player and removing the disk loader and replacing it with a BD reader that can read DVD, DVD audio, SACD, and normal DVD. This wouldn't take up any more space than the old tray loader. Then adding in a 1TB hard drive in the empty space in the back of the case, but that won't take up much space either. The DVD player already has the outputs you need to your receiver and projector, so no sound card or video cards needed. Then the only problem I see is the program which could be simple, stored in flash memory or on the hard drive itself, that accesses the files you have ripped to the hard drive and displays them for you to select from. I don't see why it would need an OS like Windows since it wouldn't need to be much fancier than what an old iPod could display. It's just showing movie files not doing spreadsheets or power point. It seems simple to me in my head, but I'm no computer/programming wiz.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heli Pilot /forum/post/17011649


When you have almost 1.5TB of movies and music it's annoying.

I can only watch one movie at a time.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris3377 /forum/post/17011892


What I have in my head is taking an imaginary DVD player and removing the disk loader and replacing it with a BD reader that can read DVD, DVD audio, SACD, and normal DVD. This wouldn't take up any more space than the old tray loader. Then adding in a 1TB hard drive in the empty space in the back of the case

Kaleidescape makes a device exactly like the one you're describing. It costs ~$10,000 and it's just about to be made illegal .


Don't forget, ripping DVD for any reason is technically against the law in the US and several other countries. Any company that sells a device for ripping DVDs has a giant bulls-eye painted on their back.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris3377 /forum/post/17011892


Then the only problem I see is the program which could be simple, stored in flash memory or on the hard drive itself, that accesses the files you have ripped to the hard drive and displays them for you to select from. I don't see why it would need an OS like Windows since it wouldn't need to be much fancier than what an old iPod could display. It's just showing movie files not doing spreadsheets or power point. It seems simple to me in my head, but I'm no computer/programming wiz.

Correct. You do not need an OS like Windows to do that. However, it takes a lot of time and money to create software that not only does that, but can do it efficiently on a small, low power embedded processor. Creating the software to do this is not nearly as trivial as you make it out to be.


I don't think anybody is going to try selling a device like that, in the USA at least, anytime soon seeing as how the RealDVD case is going.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrBobb /forum/post/17013578


Hey Chris, am sure others (maybe not here) have had the same idea than u do. Think of a device u like then google see if others have hacked into it. Come back tell us how u made out. Sounds feasible.

LOLs let me, let me


old original Xbox modded w/ Linux/XBMC, PS3, to a lesser degree my xbox360
 
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