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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Home Entertainmentorium

A photo of my half height HTPC Hmm a bit dusty.

Back in the mists of time my friend and I separately set out to build ourselves PCs to act as multimedia players. I’m not sure if “HTPC” had been coined back then because my friend christened his “The Home Entertainmentorium”. Snappy!

My wife was highly sceptical about my plan to build a second PC and install it into the living room. She was sure that it was simply a devious plan of mine to extend my computing related mess throughout the house. However she could see the benefit of having her 600+ CD collection collated with each track only a click away so I was in living room PC business.

Looking at my HTPC PC now it is seriously dated with its 1.6 Semperon CPU on an Asus A7V8X-MX motherboard with Gforce 6200 GFX. That said it still performs its multimedia tasks in a most satisfying way, CD and DVD burning, TV recording, music, DVD player, photos, internet access, internet radio and 5.1 surround sound to mention but a few. All told it’s a great bit of kit and thanks to the BBC iPlayer, 4OD et al it has become even more useful.

I have to admit that I am pretty smug as, after my wife’s initial resistance, it has turned out that she uses this PC far more than I do. In fact, she refers to it as “her” PC.

Currently I am thinking about upgrading to accommodate HDTV but this would require a new CPU, motherboard, probably RAM, Blu-ray Drive and TV card. Not to mention a HDTV. That’s a pretty penny and at time of writing I think it’s still a bit early to jump on the HDTV bandwagon, besides that, the thought of replacing our entire DVD library to take full advantage of HD brings on nausea.

If you haven’t dipped your toe into the HTPC sea yet why not give it a go.

Just bear in mind that you are going to want the PC to be as quiet as possible. Also don’t get hung up on what the PC looks like (as I did). For simplicity’s sake I would advise using a standard size case which, if it’s a bit ugly, you can always hide away.

3 comments:

  1. Interesting how the mists of time have affected your memory, Polybore. I'm sure I had mine up and running before you had even thought about making yours...

    My "Entertainmentarium" is now "The Tainty" and its design has equally evolved. It is a Philips 5960 DVD player with HDMI upscaling (not needed) with an 80gb hard drive connected to it via its USB port. £55 for player, £20 for Icy Box drive enclosure.

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  2. Polybore, have you considered a next-gen console? The PS3 has Wifi and a Blu-Ray drive for about £290. It will stream media from your PC using free software like TVersity. It has USB ports and it is quieter than Xbox360.

    The Wii can stream too (heh heh) and it is the only console with BBC Iplayer support but I think you can access that with a PS3 via a hack.

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  3. Wow Madonna and Guy Ritchie. If only I had known that you shared my interest in HTPCs it would have added an extra layer of appreciation of your artistry.

    Guy, I was considering the xbox 360 as an upgrade path from my existing PC. However like many I have been put off by the demise of the HD DVD format. I have turned my thoughts towards the PS3 because of its blue ray drive, also I am intrigued by the idea of running Linux on it. I'm afraid I cant consider the Wii mainly because of its name. We have plenty of wee going on in the living room at the moment courtesy of our Son.

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