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View Full Version : How Does Your HTPC Stack Up?

Hooch Tan
09-08-2010, 05:00 PM
<div class='os_post_top_link'><a href='http://www.digitaltrends.com/home-theater/new-apple-tv-vs-roku-vs-xbox-360-and-others/' target='_blank'>http://www.digitaltrends.com/home-t...360-and-others/</a><br /><br /></div><p><em>"Does the Apple TV compete? We compared it to a few of the most popular streaming alternatives on the market &ndash; and one about to hit the market &ndash; to see whether Steve is prepped for world domination&hellip; or too late to the battlefield."</em></p><p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/dht/auto/1283954359.usr20447.jpg" style="border: 0px solid #d2d2bb;" /></p><p>Apple is hardly the first company to have released an HTPC, but the release of the new Apple TV has renewed media interest in the market.&nbsp; DigitalTrends has compiled a nice list of low cost HTPCs based on their capabilities.&nbsp; I do note that a lot of them include, or offer WiFi.&nbsp; Even using the 802.11n flavour, HDTV streams can be tricky, especially if you want 1080p goodness.&nbsp; Also, my experience with older "premade" HTPCs have left a bad taste in my mouth with regards to interfaces.&nbsp; I have not had a chance to test ones like the Boxee or Roku, but I do hope that they are bringing their A-game as the Apple TV will definitely be slicker than most of the other ones out there.&nbsp; I will stick with my XBMC though.</p>

09-08-2010, 06:17 PM
I'm not sure I'd call these HTPCs...probably just media streamers. Far closer to Media Center Extenders than to a Media Center PCs. But I digress.

I have a WDTV Live Plus (the latest one with Netflix support), a Sony Blu-Ray with DLNA and Netflix (and soon Hulu Plus), a PS3, and of course my Windows 7 PC (not currently connected to a TV, but useful for comparison since I use it to watch at least half of my "TV").

Both the WDTV and the Blu-Ray are quite slow and clunky compared to the PS3. And the interfaces are not nearly as pleasant as the PS3, Media Center, or what I've seen from Apple. BUT, the Blu-Ray to me is the perfect place to embed a media streamer. Not a TV and not a separate box. You can replace it if necessary without replacing the TV, but it serves as a central hub for controlling all non-live TV. It's also not a power hog (and "loud") like the PS3 or a full fledged HTPC. IF they can put in better, faster low power processors and make the interface first class rather than a tack on, then I think this will be quite a desirable option.

I think, though, that a concept more akin to Google TV that passes live TV (with IR blasters for cable boxes if necessary) through the same interface is the best option. I don't care much for the Google TV interface...I do not want the full web on my TV (couch potatoes should have tablets for this IMO), just a really good, simple, stylish and elegant way of aggregating (and probably searching for...I like the keyboard on the back of the remote idea) media. But I love the concept of Google TV.

SO, give me a pass-through interface integrated into a blu-ray player (with a non-blu-ray option, as well), make it slick and wife-friendly, and sell it for around $199 (my current Sony blu-ray was $150), and Apple TV will remain a hobby. One remote. One box. Low power. Quiet. Media nirvana. Throw in a lightweight "server" that does DLNA but augmented with decent meta-data and image support, and I might well stop watching so much TV on my PC.

09-08-2010, 08:04 PM
I guess they chose to use a discontinued but still available version of the Xbox for comparison because it sells for $149. A better comparison would be the new Xbox S 4Gb model that sells for $199 but includes 802.11n. Even with the older Xbox model, it would still be my preferred choice.

Not only are the programming choices listed available but ESPN is coming in November and Hulu Plus next year. With these two options and the Xbox's other abilities, the era of ala carte television is at hand. The only other channel that is watched in my house that might tie me to cable a while longer is my wife's devotion to QVC. If Microsoft can get that on the Xbox, I will bid farewell to Comcast.

As for streaming on these devices, I have watched several movies streamed from my upstairs Win 7 PC to my downstairs Xbox at 1080p resolution. On one of the movies, we experienced a momentary stutter, but other than that the performance has been flawless.