Posted on May 8, 2012 by Jingles | No Comments
Most typical entertainment set-ups usually consist of a set-top box (unless the TV is fairly new, I haven’t seen a new TVs that doesn’t have a built in TV tuner), a DVD or Blu-ray player, maybe an Amp and some sort of network media player like a Boxee Box, possibly a PVR or DVD recorder. That’s a lot of devices, remotes, and tangled cables (cable spaghetti anyone?) cluttering up your entertainment space.
All of those separate devices make it a pain to do something simple like watch TV. You have to turn on the TV, then turn on the set-top box if your TV doesn’t have a built in TV tuner, and if you have an Amp then you have to turn that on too. It seems a bit ridiculous just to watch TV, it’s more complicated than it should be.
Sure you could get a universal remote to replace your other remotes to make things a little easier, but you still have a bunch of different devices and tangled cable spaghetti. How cables get tangled while they sit there and don’t move is beyond me. There must be a messy cable tangling monster out there that visits in the dead of the night and messes up the cables and gets them all tangled. But I digress.
A better, and arguably the best, solution for a lot of people is a Home Theatre Personal Computer, or HTPC.
To prove that a HTPC is the best solution I’ll show you how one HTPC can replace multiple devices and do all of the things that those individual devices used to do.
For the sake of this example lets say that you have the following entertainment set-up; A set-top box, Blu-ray player, Boxee Box, and a 500 GB PVR
Now lets look at how a HTPC can do the same job as each of those devices.
It’s kinda obvious, it lets you watch HD TV. A HTPC can do the same job with a TV tuner card.
Do you really need me to point out the blindingly obvious? The addition of a Blu-ray optical drive in a HTPC will let you do exactly the same thing as a standalone Blu-ray player with less cables, clutter, and one less remote. A Blu-ray burner or combo drive will also let you burn Blu-ray and/or DVD discs allowing the HTPC to kill the standalone DVD recorder.
Basically this device, like any other media player, will let you watch digital videos and listen to digital music on another computer connected to your home network. It also lets you watch streaming media. Media players are little more than a a device that offers a small subset of the HTPCs functionality. Any HTPC, or even any normal PC, connected to a TV can do everything a media player can do and more by default.
500 GB PVR
So a PVR lets you record digital TV, it’s the digital equivalent of a VCR. A TV tuner card in a HTPC will not only let you watch HD TV it will also let you record HD TV while you watch another channel. So if there are two shows on at the same time that you want to watch then watch one and record the other to watch later. If you get quad TV tuner goodness up in your HTPC box then you can watch and record even more shows! With a HTPC you can always install larger or more HDDs so that you can store more, try doing that with a dedicated PVR.
That’s how one HTPC can replace a bunch of different devices, and do more than any of those individual devices could ever do. Can you play streaming internet radio with any of the devices you already have? Can you can get the weather? You can on your HTPC. You can even integrate Twitter, Facebook and Skype into your HTPC, you can even browse the web, now that’s not something that you can do easily unless you invest a ridiculous amounts of money in a “SmartTV”.
You could even possibly replace a Wii with a HTPC that runs Dolphin a Gamecube & Wii emulator!
A HTPC can cost less than a bunch of dedicated devices. It can reduce the clutter, also reducing the amount of cables you need to hook everything up making it easier to set up and less cables = less tangled cable spaghetti.
A HTPC is more customisable, for example if you want to use some Hi-Fi speakers you can by connecting your HTPC to an amplifier, alternatively you can use regular speakers like Logitech’s Z906 5.1 Channel THX Certified Speaker System.
It’s easy to build a HTPC that fits the look that you are after, with so many PC cases it’s easy to build a HTPC looks like a piece of Hi-Fi equipment or to build an extremely small HTPC to fit in a tight space. HTPCs come in all sorts of different shapes, sizes and configurations to suite your needs.
I can’t think of a reason why a HTPC is not a better solution than a bunch of dedicated devices. Can you think of any reason why a HTPC is bad in any way shape or form? Let me know what you think, leave a comment.