: Help me design HTPC System!

2010-08-27, 06:48 PM
Hi everyone,

Let me tell you what I am using right now and where I hope to see improvements.

Motorola Cable Modem
Linksys WRT400n Router
Lacie Network Space 2
Onkyo HT-R380 Receiver with 5.1 surround speakers.
Epson Powerlite Projector
Apple Macbook Pro 15" (Mid2010)

I also have another set of speakers connected to the receiver running on an Apple airport which I use Airtunes on.

The way in which I use this set up is by using the Lacie's dedicated torrent downloader to watch video that I've downloaded. It also functions as my external harddrive for my laptop and time machine runs on it. I use the PS3 to watch blurays and DVDs.

My problem is two fold. One is that the Lacie is giving me never-ending problems. It is very buggy. There have been two firmwares upgrades in the past 3 months and they can't even successfully be loaded onto the machine due to some type of "legacy software problem". My second problem is that I can't generall surf the web or anything like that on the projector when I feel that with the amount of equipment I'm using, I should be able to.

I'm contemplating returning the Lacie, selling the PS3 and getting a HTPC to work as my bluray/dvd player, bittorrent downloader, media server, external harddrive and media centre.

Can anyone offer any suggestions?

2010-08-27, 08:42 PM
Normally, PC or Mac is one of two hearts of the HTPC system (proper receiver is another one). Not external HDD or "media player" like Lacie or WDTV. You can almost indefinitely upgrade a PC, choosing software players that you like. My favorite is VLC, and SMPlayer is another one, equally good.

I am using ancient 7-years old mATX PC (small form factor) as a dedicated HTPC, it is silent, monitor output permanently connected to TV and not used for emails or work. I installed 700 GB HDD on it - enough for ripped movies. After I will have upgraded video-card (the current one was made before HDTV appeared), I will be a happy camper for 3 or 4 years, and then the time will come for a new HTPC.

One of the problems that you will encounter is a good remote control with mouse function. I am using Gyration 4101us, it is cheap and it's Ok, but ZV (ZeeVee) would have been better. You MIGHT get away without a mouse function if you always stay within Windows Media Center or similar Apple interface, but it's better to have a mouse. 4101 and ZV have it.

Good luck.

2010-08-28, 07:34 AM
Help me Build New HTPC (Post here to discuss plans for new HTPC) (http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=79116)

2010-08-28, 12:50 PM
You'll need to read these too:

Easy MythTV Install & Setup Using Mandriva and PLF (http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=124299&highlight=linux+mythtv)

Easily Build A Cheap Brand New Fully Functional HD PVR (http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=110684&highlight=linux+mythtv)

SageTV as THE total solution for HTPCs (http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=98383&highlight=linux+mythtv)

and there are other great threads too, so take your time and don't buy anything until you've really gotten the best tips and info that this site offers. ;)

2010-08-28, 05:00 PM
When I read the original post again - either I'm lost or the application is not typical.

Breaking down the requirements:
1) Surfing web - what Epson projector has to do with this? Poor picture quality on enlarged screen - then get any 720p or 1080p LCD TV, 32" should be enough. For actual surfing (= typing URL and keywords) 1080p is preferable, and 720p is OK for watching the results of that surf - movies etc.

2) Media center - you already have 15" laptop - it can work as an HTPC for all your needs. If HDD is not enough for storing movies, than you do need an external HDD.

3) Watching hard copies of DVD/Bluray - there is nothing better than standalone DVD/Bluray player. Silent, no problems with software, no problems with video card and usually good remote control.

So.... it looks like you only need a TV set. #3 - standalone player - is nice but not mandatory, you can use the disk driver of laptop and some remote.

2010-08-29, 08:30 AM
Closing. See link in post #3