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Home Theater PC?

BrymBrym Registered User regular
My TiVo died when I moved a few months ago, and I'm looking to replace it. Although I liked the TiVo, I'm not too keen on the monthly fees, so I am considering a home theater PC, but am somewhat bewildered by the options out there.

How fast do I need it to be (or how much memory do I need) to be able to equal my TiVo's performance? Namely, I'd like to be able to record two TV shows simultaneously in HD (720p is okay) while also simultaneously streaming HD video from the internet or my lan. And I'd like to do it with a box that looks good in my entertainment center and is no louder than an xbox 360. Is this something that can be done for under $650? A Tivo Premiere plus lifetime service is $650 these days, so that's the target I'd be looking to beat.

Brym on


  • AlectharAlecthar Alan Shore We're not territorial about that sort of thing, are we?Registered User regular
    edited October 2012
    Are you just recording standard broadcast channels, or do you have a cable subscription?

    Streaming content over the internet isn't a problem, streaming content over your LAN is mostly a question of network throughput and the disk performance of the streaming device (as opposed to the device receiving and displaying the stream). Recording 2 shows is do-able. If you have cable, you'll need to get a CableCard (if you don't already have one) for the tuner. Otherwise there are a number of tuners you can use.

    The main issue isn't necessarily capability, but useability. You'll probably have to do some experimenting to find software (or a combination of software) that works for you.

    Oh, and that is something that can be done for under $650.00.

    I think. I'll do some research and get back to you.

    Alecthar on
  • BrymBrym Registered User regular
    I'm recording standard broadcast channels that come through cable. It's only the unscrambled stuff, so I don't need a CableCard.

    Experimenting with software will be the fun part :) I understand that windows media center supports netflix now and there are plugins that make Hulu work, so that might be a good solution.

  • a5ehrena5ehren AtlantaRegistered User regular
    edited October 2012
    Best HTPC hardware guide out there.

    You should be able to do what you want for your budget without any problems. It doesn't really take that much CPU power, so you can definitely go with the low-end of these recommendations (the Pentium G620 section).

    a5ehren on
  • BrymBrym Registered User regular
    Wow, that is an impressive-looking guide. Thanks for the link.

  • Jebus314Jebus314 Registered User regular
    I use WMC, and have the netflix/hulu integration. Works great. I am also using it to dvr the standard broadcast channels. Also works great for that. I can share my setup if you're interested in the software. The other options that seemed popular are XBMC and mediaportal. Haven't used either.

    As for the hardware, you really don't need anything impressive. Any of the sandybridge/ivybridge intel cpus will be fine with their integrated gpu. This gets you perfect looking 1080p movies/tv if you want it. AMD also has their APU lineup which gets you slightly better video with slightly to significantly worse cpu power. Not sure how much the cpu drop will matter, but the more you are doing simultaneously, the more it will become important. For reference I went with the i3-2100t off Alcethar's recommendation and it works flawlessly for all the tv things I want to do. At very low energy cost. Memory is cheap, get lots (4-8GB). I like having an ssd for quick bootup/program loads, but definitely get a hdd for tv recording. It doesn't need to be fast, but apparently the massive write/deletes that happen with tv recording is not so great for a ssd.

    "The world is a mess, and I just need to rule it" - Dr Horrible
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