HTPC vs separates

Discussion in 'Home Entertainment Computers' started by TheArchedOne, Sep 22, 2007.

  1. TheArchedOne

    TheArchedOne
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    I've been wanting to buy/build an HTPC for some time. I've recently been researching the options and there are loads of nice ready-built machines out there and plenty options/advice for building your own.

    However, I was surprised to find that I could meet all my requirements with separates. The added bonus of separates is quick start up and lower power consumption, both of which are very appealing.

    My requirements are:

    Essential:
    1. Quiet, slim, good looking
    2. Central music/video store that I can play from my living room, office pc and laptop
    3. Freeview (dual digital tuner)
    4. HD recording (with all the trimmings)
    5. DVD player / recorder

    Nice to have:
    6. Internet radio
    7. living room Internet browsing (especially ability to purchase (download) music)
    8. Quick start up and lower power consumption

    I have no requirements for gaming or performing other pc tasks through this system (I can use the laptop for the latter). My budget is £1000 max.

    The following combination of separates seems to do everything I need:

    - DVD/HD recorder with freeview e.g. Sony RDR-HXD970B (fulfils 1, 3, 4, 5 & 8)
    - Streaming media receiver e.g. Netgear HD EVA8000 (fulfils 6, 7 & 8)
    - NAS media server e.g.Buffalo link station + amp (fulfils 2 & 8)

    (I've not listed the amp/receiver (depending on if I go stereo or surround sound), because I'd also need this for the HTPC)

    Considering my specific requirements, the only benefit to the HTPC relative to the separates I can think of is that it's all in a 1 box instead of 3.

    So this is where the questions start....

    Q1: Are there any other relative benefits to the HTPC that I'm missing. (I'd quite someone to make a strong case for the HTPC because I was looking forward to building one!!)

    There may be way's for me to reduce the number of separates I need. One option I'd consider would be to loose the streaming media receiver since I can live without Internet radio (freeview should give me plenty!) and I can browse/download from my laptop. (I believe I can simply plug the NAS into the DVD/HD recorder via USB).

    Q2: The NAS is acting as a central media server. If I was able to serve the files from the DVD/HD recorder (id buy the 500GB option in this case) so that I was able to receive them on my pc/laptop, I could loose the NAS. Is there a device that I could attach instead of the media receiver that would allow me to do this? Maybe this could be done via a networkable amp?

    Q3: The ultimate separate would have all the features of the Sony recorder, network connectivity (preferably wireless), media server capabilities and - as a lower priority - Internet connectivity all in one box. Does such a device exist? I guess the answer is yes... an HTPC!! But surely this doesn't require the resources / processing power of a complete pc? If there's not something like this out there already, I think someone should manufacture/sell it it and buy me a beer for giving them the idea!

    Q4. Are there any another options.

    Cheers

    TheArchedOne
     
  2. SeanT

    SeanT
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    You want to build an HTPC. So build one

    Once you have finally got it all working with all the hacks and the niggly bits worked out, and added an HD drive or two, the satisfaction is worth all the stress and hassle!

    Plus it'll probably cost less, and do sooo much more, and be more future proof - I used to be soooo dubious about getting one!
     
  3. TheArchedOne

    TheArchedOne
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    You're right....if I want to do it I should. But it's a little more complex than that.... the reason I'm writing this at 6:30 on a Sunday morning us that I have an 8 week old son (he's the one who told me my current AV setup's a waste of space!). With all my time taken up with work or family stuff, I'm skeptical that I'll be able to find the time to build an HTPC and will get my ear bent if pc bits are left lying on the dining room table for weeks on end! Roughly how does it take to build an HTPC?

    The other serious attraction of the separates for me is lower power consumption and easy on/off. I like to turn things off at the socket to save the energy used by standby. Having to wait for the OS to boot each time I want to listen to music or watch digital TV is a bit of a turn off. Are there ways to reduce boot (and shutdown) times in an HTPC?

    I appreciate that the HTPC will give me a whole lot more than the separates, but what are your thoughts about whether the separates can fulfill my specific requirements?
     
  4. SeanT

    SeanT
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    I use S3 standby - my electric bill is fairly reasonable (it's more the increased use of the washing machine that puts it up!)
    I have an 11 week old daughter, I still find time to pull the PC apart and tweak it occasionally, and muck about with cars and stuff - you just need to be patient and have an understanding partner :) (oh, and forget about that thing called a social life, at least for the next 15-18 years or so)
     
  5. cosmicblue

    cosmicblue
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    I have also been through this thought process - and to meet all your requirements probably means that you, like I , will have to build an HTPC for yourself.

    There are off the shelf machines appearing now but none managed to tick all my boxes and I wanted to be able to play the odd game too.

    My goal would mean that my Hifi system would amount to an AV amp and a Media PC with a corresponding lack of boxes no CD Player, DVD player or PVR - the whole lot would be in one box.

    Surprisingly this is one gadget that is easy to 'sell' to ones partner - less wires, less space, less dust, smaller cabinet etc. I used an mCubed HFX Classic case and the internal components of an Acer PC along with a fanless power supply and extra 500Gb disk.

    It took about 5 evenings to build (I am very fussy and wanted it to be very neat and tidy inside) and the total cost (including the donor Acer) was slightly more that £1000 - the greater majority being the case and heat sinks etc (£583). You can build an HTPC for a LOT LESS, using quiet fans etc but it won't be absolutely silent - achieving absolute silence is expensive.
     

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