Coding Horror recently ran an article called Revisiting the Home Theater PC, in which Jeff Atwood runs through the components he used to build an HTPC. I was pretty excited to see this because, as far as I can tell from the MythTV site, other than a Mac Mini, these systems are all over the map. I was having a hard time figuring out what to use. Here’s what I wanted in my first HTPC:
- Low power (<= 25 watts idle)
- Play 1080p video
- 2 tuner HDTV ATSC capture
- hard drive of at least 500 GB (I’ll add a NAS later)
- DVD Drive
- HDMI output to TV
- Audio output to stereo
- Mythbuntu (no Windows)
- wired Ethernet 100 or 1,000 MB
- wireless keyboard w/ mouse (preferably a trackball)
- wireless remote
- Case that looks like A/V or stereo component rather than PC
- writable Blu-Ray drive
I picked out all the components at Newegg, but wasn’t sure if the Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250 would fit. While I was trying to figure that out, the hard drive sold out. That’s when I found out there weren’t any comparable options in the 2.5″ form factor. The case Jeff uses only takes that size. By the time I switched cases, I had to swap some other components and soon had no idea how much noise the system would kick out.
To get a sounding board, I went to two local HiFi and Video stores. These guys do custom installations and home theaters and provide support for their systems. Both of them wouldn’t touch this market because the PC’s aren’t reliable enough and they’d get killed by the support requirements. The second shop recommended a local PC shop. Clearly HTPC’s are still in the computer domain and the integration of the computer and TV is going about as well as the US adoption of the metric system.
Talking to the HiFi guys left me feeling like I was on my own, but Dave Wang at Lynk Computer was familiar with what I wanted to do. He was able to tell me that the changes I made would probably make more noise that I would be happy with. I left him my requirements, Jeff’s article and the components I picked out and he’s going to spec out a system for me.