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Cheap HTPC Solution
Entered on: August 5, 2009 10:48 AM by Ross

I got my dad a WD TV HD Media Player for Christmas a couple of years ago after Fatty found it in a Best Buy ad and I looked into it and it seemd liked a great deal (for someone other than myself): for about $100, you can have a box that plays practically any format - AVI, WMV, MKV, etc, up to 1080p.  The only limitation is that it has no built-in storage nor ethernet connectivity - it just has a couple of USB ports. So I got that for my Dad along with a cheap USB hard drive, loaded him up, and he was happy.  Good for him, but not so much for my needs since I don't want the headache of physically loading up a drive all the time.  I much prefer my network-based solution

But now all that's changed.  Apparently, people are hacking these to support a USB-ethernet dongle, so it functions like a proper home theater PC!  This could be just what I was looking for for my secondary TVs in the house.  After I get one working, I'll report my findings.

NEWS 651 - 4 Comments
From: BigFatty Entered on: August 5, 2009 2:00 PM

That is pretty sweet.  I am discovering that a one TV household is not the best style.  Especially if some there is company over and I wish to watch some TV.  Call me antisocial.  If I could set up a TV in the bedroom with a wireless one of these....  Wow - problem solved.  Gives me an excuse to upgrade my 32 inch to something a tad (just a tad!) more respectable.  Would a 42" fit in my entertainment center????

Now... were to put the TV in the Bedroom.....

Ross - keep me posted!

From: Ross Entered on: August 5, 2009 6:50 PM

Dude, you have no idea... when my parents and my uncle and his wife were visiting a couple of months ago, I was so happy to have another room with a TV to whisk myself and Heather away into another room to watch Mythbusters while my mom kept her captive audience "entertained" with copious Obama-bashing. 

However, upon further investigation, the WDTV is not looking quite as promising as I'd first hoped: while people are networking the WDTV, they're still tending to treat it more like an Xbox with a fat hard drive - just downloading the movies to local storage.  My preferred solution is to keep all the media on a central media server and let each TV access the same source.  It looks like it might be possible to do what I want, but it's by no means a turnkey solution, and I'm afraid my tolerance and time for such fiddling is waning as the years go on...

From: Ross Entered on: January 9, 2010 7:43 AM

Regarding HTPCs, I should mention that I picked up one of these nifty Acer Aspire Revos from Best Buy over the holidays to use as an HTPC in my family room, and it is a, dare I say, perfect HTPC solution!  Together with my buddy Jeff, (of Hirschy highway fame) we have figured out how to get this thing working as an XBMC front end that can play full 1080p video! 

Its onboard graphics chip does all the heavy graphics decoding work so that its pitiful main CPU doesn't have to do much.  Simply by installing the Linux-based XBMC live to the hard drive, you have a full blown media center in minutes.  Not only that, its library features are amazing: using and, it can index my entire movie and tv collection in no time and present some amazing views

We are using a standard Windows MCE remote, which of course can be controlled in turn with a properly configured Logitech Harmony remote as well.  Not only that, we've got suspend mode working correctly through the remote so that it takes just a few seconds to turn on and off.

I plan to get another one of these for my bedroom.  For $200, it's worth having one on every TV in the house!

From: Ross Entered on: January 9, 2010 7:57 AM

I should also mention that this device is a pretty sweet and relatively inexpensive alternative to an HTPC wireless keyboard.  Might not even need a remote!


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