Building HTPC 1 – Research

(This is the first part of this HTPC build series do read the Part 2 – HTPC Build and Part 3 – HTPC Final )

It was 2008 and I needed to replace my old faithful Sony Vega CRT TV. LCD TVs were becoming quite mainstream at that time and anything above 46 inches were more than 2000 bucks. Spending that much requires some research and I landed on avsforum’s LCD forum. I bought the TV but discovering avsforum was a discovery for gadget loving geek. I will come to that later. Watching TV on 52 inches of LCD was a revelation. Around the same time my little daughter came into the world and there was explosion of cute pictures and HD videos. To watch them on the TV I bought a media player called WDTV  which could show me all the media I had on the hard disk attached to it as well as youtube etc.

Since I had discovered avsforum I kept going back to it for reading various things audio video. I found out that due to their thinness LCD TV have poor speakers so one should get external speakers. For watching movies, speakers should really be in at least 5.1 config. Of course to drive these speakers you need a good audio receiver. While I am grokking the intricacies of audio systems and looking at to get a home-theater-in-a-box or separate speaker and receiver I browse to the home theater PC area of avsforum. Being a computer guy it is even more fun.  So now it is 2009 and it has been more than a year I have bought the Samsung 52″ LCD TV. And I am totally sucked into the AV world. Thanks to avsforum.

So far I only have the TV and a media player WDTV.  But I am also exploring if I should get speakers, audio receiver and may be a HTPC. Reasoning behind HTPC is to have the browsing capability to stream anything you want as WDTV can only stream youtube and couple of other services. While I am in the wait and see mode, there comes a deal at Fry’s a local store for Onkyo home theater in a box for quite cheap. Specs look good with some decent speakers and 4 HDMI ins and I buy that on a whim. Then Google announces Google TV. A friend who works at Logitech is able to get me Revue.

Google TV with Revue is good and it has the Chrome browser where I can browse, stream all I want. It integrates nicely with the Onkyo receiver I have. Netflix, Amazon VOD integration is even nicer. I really like the way search results are overlayed on live TV and the picture in picture is nice. Having used WDTV I am used to the really nice interface to browse local media i.e. pictures and videos. This is where Google TV sucks – while it is great for online media browsing app for local media is not so good. I have to keep WDTV and Google TV while what I want is a single box for every thing. My desire now for HTPC grows even further. So I start doing the final research for building the HTPC and looking for all the components that would go into it. AVSForum’s HTPC forum is the ultimate source for it. Two threads on this forum

  1.  renethx ‘s Guide to Building a HD HTPC and
  2. assasin  ‘s Assassin’s Simple/Beginner HTPC Buying and Building Guide

are my main sources. I learnt a lot from these guys in choosing the components. I ended up buying renethx’s guide to pay my debt :)

 

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