In my last post I made the comment that I hoped my appetite for new “geek” toys was sated. It appears that was not the case. For some time now, I have been contemplating getting a HTPC (Home Theater PC). I wanted something that would hook directly to my HDTV system via cable. This would allow me to surf the web on my HDTV as well as provide flawless playback of high definition content.
I was contemplating getting a low-profile system from either Zotac orAcer. Both were very small and would fit nicely on the console with my HDTV setup. Using the included infrared or bluetooth keyboard I would be able to add significant capability over my existing Roku and LG Blu-Ray disc player.
Right now I am using two programs to add Internet content for streaming to my HDTV. The first program is called Tversity. Tversity allows me to stream content that I subscribe to, including Youtube video, as well as content on my local network. With the included decoding capability, I am able to stream most file types without a problem. Overall, Tversity is a very good program.
The second program I am using is called Miro. Miro allows me to subscribe to a myriad of programming which is downloaded to my local network and then streamed via Tversity to my HDTV. It works similarly to iTunes.
There are also two media center programs which I am using to add even more capability to my network. These are XBMC and Media Portal. Both of these programs provide an interface similar to Windows Media Center. They allow me to view my photos, videos, and music in an integrated fashion. Both also include add-ins that add the capability to include weather, RSS, and other content. The problem with both of these programs is that the interface is not viewable on my HDTV.
The solution to the problem with XBMC and Media Portal is to install the software on an HTPC which would be connected directly to my HDTV. Thus my interest in the Zotac and Acer HTPC’s. The only problems with that is the dedicated nature of a HPTC. I thought a better solution would be a new laptop.
I had a Dell Mini 9 netbook which I use extensively in addition to my Dell Dimension desktop computer. The Dell Mini 9 ran Ubuntu 10.10 and I loved it. I said loved because I sold it recently. The reason I sold it was to help pay for my new ASUS Eee PC 1215B-PU17-BK 12.1-Inch Netbook (Black) which is on its way from Amazon.
With the ASUS notebook, I will be able to use XBMC, Media Portal, and Windows Media Center with the laptop connected directly to my HDTV via the HDMI port. The ASUS has enough horsepower to play 1080p content without stuttering or buffering. I am going to also add a bluetooth keyboard so I can control the laptop from my couch. When I am not using the notebook as a media center I can simply disconnect the HDMI cable and use it as a laptop.
I hope this will be a perfect solution. I will report back on it once I have received my laptop and had a chance to try everything out. Any comments you may have about what you are using for a HTPC system are very welcome. That is all. Peace.