Home Theater PC

At some point I was planning on building a Home Theater PC (HTPC), but so far didn’t get anywhere. The setup I have right now, my regular PC (mostly a gaming machine) plugged into the TV and some silly cable setup to another 2.1 audio system, is working well enough.

So if this is something you’re interested in, here are some resource I gathered on the topic. To start, Martin Fowler provides a good overview of various options. He also links to Jeff Atwood (aka codinghorror), who built his own system.

A friend of mine got a setup consisting of a jailbroken Apple TV (on amazon.de, amazon.com) and a Synology NAS (on amazon.de, on amazon.com). The Apple TV runs the frontend software and streams data from the NAS. After a Jailbreak, you can put BoxeeXBMC on it, otherwise you’d be restricted to Apple’s network storage options. The Apple TV is quite cheap, the NAS isn’t, and you also need to buy disks.

Maybe I’ll revisit this sometime next year, for now my regular PC with Zoomplayer does the trick. What would you recommend?


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  1. As you mentioned Boxee: The D-Link Boxee Box HD Media Player could be a viable option.

    There seems to be a whole lot of options for relatively cheap streaming-clients and/or media centers. Just search for “media center” or “boxee” on amazon.

  2. Ian

    I’m using my regular pc with mediaportal. It’s a 10 ft interface fully custumizable and very powerful. I can watch trailers of my movies, download subs, listen to pandora,last fm and stream almost every video from the web. All control with a 10$ ir remote from ebay…. You gotta check this out!

  3. @Enes: That D-Link Box allows you to plugin an external USB drive. That might be a lot more interesting then an actual NAS.

    Also update the paragraph, replacing Boxee with XBMC, which is what he’s actually using.

    @Ian: Thanks, I’ll take a look at mediaportal.

  4. bw

    I ended up going for an acer revo machine, they are small form factor PC’s essentially but the graphics capabilities are great considering the low price. The 3700 which i have has a HDMI port and optical sound onboard so you can link it to your TV straight away no messing around. Its only 500GB but get a few 1TB external HDD like WD passport and link them up to one of the many USB ports (i think theres 6). Wireless Keyboard, wireless mouse and wireless windows media remote with some cheap software like intelliremote to get it synced to your favourite media software.

    The best thing about using a PC instead of some dedicated media machine like a boxee is that you can upgrade and troubleshoot as much as you want.

    I have XBMC installed on mine along with spotify and a few other bits and pieces. There are even some good tutorials on partitioning your HDD so you can have a dual-boot windows/xbmc machine.

    good luck! feel free to email me if you have any questions!