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  • A beginners alternative to HT pc?

    Hi all,

    I read with interest much of the HT PC thread, but since I have not looked into the hardware or software at all, it was mostly over my head. I can see how this is where things are going, for both audio and video.

    That said, as I was reading, I was wondering if there is a low cost way to start to get into this for beginners and ran across this unit, the WD TV Live Hub Media Center . I've seen some pretty good reviews of it on You tube and written, like in PC Magazine. I realize it is not an audio system like the HT PC is, but it may work as a storage and orgainzational medium for music files, sending them to either a standard HT receiver or perhaps a DAC as well as for all you vidoes, photo's movies, etc.

    At $200, it doesn't seem like too much of an investment and includes a 1 TB hard drive with the ability to add an external HD via one of the external USB ports (I have an external case and 2TB hard driver on the way already for restoring old data from crashed hard drives, etc.) that could be used to expand the storage.

    I'm sure I'm illustrating my woefully lacking knowlege in this area, but a guy's got to start somewhere and I'd like to hear opinions from those who have some real experience with this type of technology.

    Here's a couple links about it:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16822136831
    http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products.aspx?id=570
    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2372779,00.asp
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/3990/w...ive-hub-review
    http://www.maximumtech.com/western-d...ive-hub-review
    http://www.legitreviews.com/article/1456/1/
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nASliwRjPl4
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p85j_...eature=related
    Dan N.

  • #2
    Re: A beginners alternative to HT pc?

    I know with the Live and Live Plus that people liked them. I didn't care for the interface since I was coming from Microsoft's MCE. I returned it and spend a few more $$'s on a Compaq computer with Sempron processor they were blowing out at $230 at Staples. I added a passively cooled Radeon 5XXX series display card and 92mm HSF and still came out to only $270.

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    • #3
      Re: A beginners alternative to HT pc?

      That's the big problem with units like the WD Dan. They can decode just about everything but the user interface is crap. The units that do have a nice GUI are either more costy or lacking in their ability to decode multiple formats effectively.

      As for HTPC's...they've come a long way especially on the windows side but software updates often make them buggy especially those that are OS based.

      A really NICE stable HTPC option that has everything needed and IMO the best GUI is a Mac Mini running PLEX. It's not exactly cheap but it isn't expensive either. It is very stable though. Check it out on Youtube for some walkthrough videos.

      Ohhhh...If you do like the price of the WD, check out the Boxee Box which is currently the media streamers choice device in the $200< price range.

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      • #4
        Re: A beginners alternative to HT pc?

        My buddy has the WDTV he got from newegg... he loves it. I haven't checked it out yet. I built an HTPC a few months ago using this guy: Zalman503. Its great I can tell you... lots of cool features. Not sure if Zalman has a newer model or what else is out at the moment, I stopped looking after I bought it.

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        • #5
          Re: A beginners alternative to HT pc?

          budget budget budget budget. 200 500 1000 2000. I tell everyone that somewhere someplace there has to be a computer in the setup.


          mac mini 2010 2.4ghz with a warranty is 469 from the apple refurb store needs a ram upgrade and a betterr hdd so it costs about 600 fully setup. a new 2011 mac mini is 599 needs a ram upgrade and a better hdd and a dvd or a blu ray player costs about 700 fully setup. I have upgrade and built hundreds of MM's and they are nice but not low cost.

          an hp laptop can be had at a good price and link to your tv. there are some codes for hp laptops 30% off they are code until sept 25 the quad core is 900 loaded after the qoupon

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          • #6
            Re: A beginners alternative to HT pc?

            Thanks for the feedback, guys!

            Both of you mention the poor interface. Did you happen to look at the new "Mochi" interface that the newest WD TV Live Hub uses? It looks pretty slick to me and gets the most rave reviews from those who have reviewed it. The new GUI interface and inlcuded 1TB hard drive seems to be the main differences from past units, which is probably because these are the things most critisized in the past.

            If you haven't seen it, take a look at some of the links and let me know what you think.
            Dan N.

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            • #7
              Re: A beginners alternative to HT pc?

              Using both a laptop as an HTPC and buying a competitor to the WD box, I vote for the media box. There are many competitors to the WD brand, and I picked one that played more formats and had better video quality. There are lots of reviews and comparisons out there.

              My problem with the HTPC is the windows updates required, and the Windows occassionally putting the wifi ahead of the soundcard, leading to gaps in music playback.

              If you can avoid windows, then the HTPC would work but its not cheap (mac)or easy for beginners (Linux or...). If surfing the web freely on teh TV isn't a big requirement, save yourself the headache and buy a media box. Mine comes bundled with numerous "widgets", channels, youtube, google etc, like high end TVs and i paid $130 for it a couple years ago.

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              • #8
                Re: A beginners alternative to HT pc?

                Originally posted by DDF View Post
                Using both a laptop as an HTPC and buying a competitor to the WD box, I vote for the media box. There are many competitors to the WD brand, and I picked one that played more formats and had better video quality. There are lots of reviews and comparisons out there.

                My problem with the HTPC is the windows updates required, and the Windows occassionally putting the wifi ahead of the soundcard, leading to gaps in music playback.

                If you can avoid windows, then the HTPC would work but its not cheap (mac)or easy for beginners (Linux or...). If surfing the web freely on teh TV isn't a big requirement, save yourself the headache and buy a media box. Mine comes bundled with numerous "widgets", channels, youtube, google etc, like high end TVs and i paid $130 for it a couple years ago.
                That's interesting to hear and very helpful. The new WD TV Live hub seems to get a lot of praise for its abilty to play about every type of format that is available, to go along with what looks to be a great looking interface and a 1 TB hd that one review reported would run you $120 by itself. It looks really slick to me and really easy to set up.

                I just figured I was missing some serious flaws, but so far nothing has come up that would sway me from risking the $200 on it.
                Dan N.

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                • #9
                  Re: A beginners alternative to HT pc?

                  GUi?.......now here's a GUI.!



                  And if you don't hate iTunes, the AppleTV for $99 is another great option with additional Airplay applications constantly in development. For those with an iPad2 there simply isn't any other streaming device with this much available content. Whatever you can view on the iPad you can view on the ATV2 with Ipad mirroring coming in iOS5 next month.

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                  • #10
                    Re: A beginners alternative to HT pc?

                    I use a combination of my PS3(Video) and receiver(Audio) for streaming. If the format is not supported by any of them I usually plug my laptop using this
                    My Statement monitors
                    My Piccolatas
                    My LM3886 amp

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                    • #11
                      Re: A beginners alternative to HT pc?

                      I bought an Acer Revo early this year and put XBMC on it. I use it to stream video from my main computer in the basement, to my tv upstairs. The xbmc interface is great, plus I have a fully functional pc.

                      Wem

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                      • #12
                        Re: A beginners alternative to HT pc?

                        That's a pretty good base, XBMC Live on a laptop as an interface...(read: FREE) amazing amount of "tweak-ability" (so much so, that it got to be overwhelming for me, and I went back to media player/WMC...) But if you have time to research it...it plays about anything.
                        If you have an old PC around, you can convert it to a FreeNAS box, add a few drives, and store everything....set up XBMC to point to, and read all the files...however you have them stored/encoded. All you really have invested are a few 1, or 1.5 tb drives, and they're , what 79 bux on sale?
                        If I can't afford it...I don't need it

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                        • #13
                          Re: A beginners alternative to HT pc?

                          I probably overlooked it but what are the goals of this appliance? If you need 1080p playback and cheap then the best way to go is probably with a dedicated appliance like the ones you listed. Which one? Check the reviews I guess.

                          If you just want to play some tunes and youtube and dvds and stuff ANY PC can probably be used. The last time I upgraded my PC I handed mine down to the wife and took her old one and jammed it behind the entertainment center along with a wireless keyboard and mouse and used it. I was running Windows XP and used a free program called VLC Media Player to playback all my files. Used a VGA cable to hook it to the TV and used a minijack to rca cable to hook it to the stereo.

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                          • #14
                            Re: A beginners alternative to HT pc?

                            Got a pentium 4 2.66GHz for free in a dumpster. Added DVI video (free) +1GB ram ($20) + 5.1 soundcard ($20) +DVI-HDMI converter ($5) Installed Ubuntu (free) and a 500GB HDD ($70) and I now have an HTPC. Next I need a wireless KB/mouse combo and I am totally set.

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                            • #15
                              Re: A beginners alternative to HT pc?

                              Originally posted by rone View Post
                              Got a pentium 4 2.66GHz for free in a dumpster. Added DVI video (free) +1GB ram ($20) + 5.1 soundcard ($20) +DVI-HDMI converter ($5) Installed Ubuntu (free) and a 500GB HDD ($70) and I now have an HTPC. Next I need a wireless KB/mouse combo and I am totally set.
                              +1

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