As if I didn't have enough unfinished projects to keep me busy (no, I still don't have furniture), I've decided to build my own Home Theater PC (HTPC). This page will contain links I found useful, as well as my notes on my particular HTPC. Enjoy!
- Aesthetics - Needs to look like a home theater component, not a computer
- Output Capabilities - Output high definition (HDTV) video and pass through 5.1 audio (both Dolby Digital and DTS).
- PVR - Should have all standard PVR features, such as timeshifting, live tv pause, interactive program guide, etc. Two tuners to allow recording of one channel while watching (or recording) another. At least one tuner should be able to tune HDTV broadcasts
- Audio Library - This one is easy.... just install iTunes and move music library to HTPC. I can't wait to get the iTunes visualizer going on my yet to be purchased big screen TV
- Photo Library - Store all my photographs on this server as well. Need slideshow capability. Coming from the Mac world and iPhoto, I need to find a decent application to handle this.
- Storage - To facilitate the PVR and Audio Library requirements, I'll need lots of fast storage (don't forget some tv data will be HDTV). Rule of thumb is about 8-10GB/hour for HDTV, and 1-2 GB/hour for regular tv. I'd like a minimum of 24 hours of storage for tv alone. If all 24 hours is HDTV, that would take approximately 240 GB just for TV. Throw in an additional 80 GB for photos, music, and software, and we need at least 320 GB.
- Archiving - Ability to burn DVD's of recorded shows for longer term storage
- Gaming - I want to eliminate the need for my Window's gaming machine in my office. Choosing a version of Windows should allow this. Also, take care in choosing video card that can handle gaming needs
- Internet - Want to surf from my couch... this should be a freebie
- Remotes - Need ability to control the HTPC wirelessly. I'd like a remote for simple tasks, but also need a keyboard for surfing.
- QUIET - this thing better be cooled quietly... I don't want to hear the whine of fans during quiet parts of movies.
Extras (non essential wish list)
- On Screen Caller ID
- WiFi sharing (the box will be connected using cat5 ethernet, but would be nice if the box doubled as an access point)
- Card Reader - for reading CompactFlash and the likes.... I don't know why I put this here, I have yet to need one since I just connect my camera to the computer
- Home Security Integration - I've got a wireless webcam that I haven't been using... so at a minimum, integrate that into the system.
- Home Automation - maybe as simple as installing some X10 software... I really don't think I need this.
- htpcnews.com - Contains guides, forums, and reviews.
- AVS Forum - More forums.
- byopvr.com - Contains guides, forums, and reviews.
- HTPC Vocabulary
- Windows MCE pre-built HTPC's - If you want it all built for you in a pretty package, here is a list of retailers
How To Articles
- HTPCNews' Building an AMD64 HTPC for around thousand dollars - Nice detail.
Brian's 320GB MythTV HDTV HTPC DVD Burner
EFF's HDTV-PVR Cookbook - These two go well together if you want a Linux based HDTV HTPC. I'm probably going to use Windows Media Edition so that I can play more games.
- Building a Uneed X11 System - Part 1 - I like this case, and this thread discusses building a system around this case.
- Extreme Tech's HOWTO - Pretty good article.
Building a Home Theater PC - Part 1
Building a Home Theater PC - Part 2 - This is old, but still useful. Could be useful for someone building a HTPC on a tight budget. The author claims can be done for less than $600, but I question the quality of such a HTPC.
- HTPC Frontend roundup - This link had me leaning towards Windows MCE for a while... but I think I'll give the open source and free MediaPortal a try first.
So that about wraps up the project overview. Be sure to read part two where I discuss the actual parts that I will purchase.
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