Minimalist HTPC Front-End Thoughts

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by McChubby, Nov 6, 2005.

  1. McChubby

    McChubby
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    I've been lurking around the HTPC forum for a while now, just trying to get my head round the whole thing, and like many, starting to get an idea of what spec. I might need...

    So, I got onto the subject of cases; size, spec, "beauty", cost, and what kind of "user interface" I'd like to have... There is some truly good looking kit out there at a price, which got me thinking...

    Has anyone investigated the idea of having an external HTPC front-end with, say, an "umbillical" to the actual HTPC (which can then be stowed away out of sight, in a low spec case)? This could potentially remove the need for absolute silence also.

    The front-end would only need to house a DVD drive, VFD/IR, and maybe card-reader etc, thus making the case quite small, and hopefully cheaper than a full-blown HTPC case. The only downside to this would be the need for an "umbillical" cable and the maximum length that this cable can be.

    So, anyone looked into this? Any suggestions on potential cases to achieve this sort of thing? ;)
     
  2. Cable Monkey

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    Windows Media Edition can be furnished with a media extender. These are now becoming available here though what needs to be done to make them work with UK settings I cannot say. There are some none windows extenders that work via wireless and of course the SnaZio.
     
  3. Bl4ckGryph0n

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    Then again, most house don't (yet) have a comms-room....Ultimately yes, but not now...Different perhaps for some of the characters on this forum...

    Then again it is not that difficult to make it silent, nor have lots of storage, nor have it look nice in the living room...So I can't really see a big market for it...And lets face it, the HTPC market is tiny itself...
     
  4. Maff et1

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    Both DVI/VGA and USB cables can be quite long (in the case of USB only 5m but can be chained with extenders for upto 25m). So with a long display cable and a USB remote receiver on a long cable there's no reason why you'd need anything else in the same room.

    Getting to the DVD drive would be a hassle but either store DVD's on the hard disk or use an external USB dvd. USB card readers and even VFD's are also available. So, run a USB link into a USB hub and you might be sorted.
     
  5. Rambles

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    It's a good idea, but the more I think about it, the less I like it. There is sound to think about, as well as running the tv aerials into the tuner card(s), and you are going to wish you had a keyboard at some point. You could remote desktop into it for maintenance.

    With MCE you need to keep the pc fairly uncluttered, installing just minimum software / drivers / codecs etc to avoid conflicts. And you don't want to be multi tasking too much. I think for the hassle it would create, it would be easier to just build one in a nice case with passive/quiet cooling, there is lots of silent solutions available now.

    You could run an extender into the lounge, such as a modded xbox or similar, only connection to the main pc would be an ethernet cable.
     
  6. McChubby

    McChubby
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    Thanks to everyone for their feedback on this... It does seem like it's more hassle than it's worth; still, from my point of view, it was worth asking the question.

    ;)
     
  7. Skunkpipe

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    I have a Linksys WMCE54AG MCE Extender. All that needs doing to make it work is to cut the US plug off and replace with a UK plug - the PSU inside is 100-240V so no issues there. It'd be interesting to see how good the XBox 360 is at this also. Normal XBox can do it, but IMHO they're just too noisy; perhaps it's possilbe ot soundproof
     
  8. The Dude

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    The solution I went for is to use my WiFi laptop and Remote Desktop to fully control my HTPC.

    the HTPC has all the good internal components, and all the display/sound outputs.. but no monitor, keyboard, or mouse, and would be hidden in the loft if it weren't for the shiny Accent case I bought before thinking of this...:rolleyes:

    As I have a second PC (the laptop) I have nothing installed on the HTPC except JRiver MediaCenter & TheaterTek.. so the same approach would accomodate MCE very nicely I'd imagine...

    You can spend nearly as much on a good case and quiet PSU as the cost of a laptop these days.... If I was starting over my HTPC would be running in a £20 case and tucked out of earshot/sight up in the roof.
     
  9. McChubby

    McChubby
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    Thanks for this info... This is the kind of thing I was wondering if someone had done; the idea of not spending £200 on a case is compelling.

    Has anyone considered just putting a relatively noisy PC in a cupboard near (ish) to their TV/AV eqp., and just run cables to a small box in their AV cabinet/stand for an external IR/VFD/DVD? If so, how small was the case, and where'd you get it from? That way you can still get VGA/component to the TV, sound to the AV amp, and have a wireless keyboard/mouse/etc. direct to the PC (which is hidden in the cupboard), and have a very minimal case housing the necessary human interface (IR/VFD/DVD).

    Sorry if I've laboured the point, just an idea. :suicide:
     

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