DrBoost
DrBoost UltraDork
3/24/12 5:07 p.m.

I know this has been discussed before, but it's been a little while and technology changes so fast I figured I'd ask again.
My windows HTPC is dying and I don't believe in putting money into a windows machine. So, I could either buy/build another windows HTPC or go the mac mini rout. I know the software and hardware for a windows based machine, so that's a plus. Macs work, that's a plus. Here's what I want to do with it: be able to watch television shows from the network web sites so that rules out appleTV and googleTV and the like (as far as I know).
I stream Netflix movies all the time.
I'd like to install GBPVR or Snapstream or the like to use it as a DVR as well.
I want to be able to burn recorded media to DVDs as well. I know the newer mini's dont have an optical drive, but I can shoot it to my imac for burning.

I know the mac is the more expensive way to go, but, from my experience it's worth it because they work, no updates necessary and no hiccups. But this windows machine has actually lasted more than the normal 24 months, I'm thinking because it doesn't surf the net?

I hope all this made sense, I threw my back out Thursday and I'm medicated right now.

z31maniac
z31maniac UberDork
3/24/12 7:25 p.m.

My Windows 7 machine, in the living room hooked up to the 65" (that I'm posting from right now) has been going strong for two years now with no problems.

Granted, I did spend quite a bit and make sure I bought good stuff, etc.

I do all the same stuff, except the DVR thing, and I've never had a problem and I surf the web all the time with it.

Below is what I bought two years ago.

Western Digital Caviar Blue WD1600AAJS 160GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive Item #: N82E16822136075Standard Return PolicyThis item is serviced by the Western Digital. Please call 800 832 4778 for service. $39.49

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-4GBRL Item #: N82E16820231277Memory Standard Return Policy $109.99

Antec Three Hundred Illusion Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case Item #: N82E16811129066Limited Replacement Only Return Policy $59.99

Western Digital AV-GP WD10EVDS 1TB SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal AV Hard Drive -Bare Drive Item #: N82E16822136496Standard Return PolicyThis item is serviced by the Western Digital. Please call 800 832 4778 for service. $89.99

SAPPHIRE 100283-3L Radeon HD 5770 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card Item #: N82E16814102873VGA Standard Return Policy $174.99

ASUS M4A79XTD EVO AM3 AMD 790X ATX AMD Motherboard Item #: N82E16813131402Standard Return PolicyFor Asus Tech Support, Please Call 502-995-0883 or http://helpdesk.asus.com/ $103.99

AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor HDZ955FBGMBOX Item #: N82E16819103808CPU Replacement Only Return Policy $159.99

FSP Group Blue Storm II 500W ATX 2.2 SLI Ready Active PFC Power Supply compatible with Core i7 Item #: N82E16817104034Standard Return Policy

turboswede
turboswede PowerDork
3/25/12 12:26 a.m.

MediaPortal is open source and will control tuner cards and allow you to extend it to control Netflix and online web streaming.

BAMF
BAMF Reader
3/25/12 12:59 a.m.

We went the mac mini route a few years back and it's been great. We saved enough in not having cable TV that it paid for itself in a year.

The new ones don't have DVD drives, at least not the one the office bought last week. The new ones have HDMI though. Ours has an optical audio out on the headphone jack. I believe the new ones do too.

Hulu desktop is pretty nice, works with the remote and all. Netflix is browser only, and their website changed recently to be less user friendly in the living room.

DrBoost
DrBoost UltraDork
3/25/12 8:57 a.m.
BAMF wrote: We went the mac mini route a few years back and it's been great. We saved enough in not having cable TV that it paid for itself in a year. The new ones don't have DVD drives, at least not the one the office bought last week. The new ones have HDMI though. Ours has an optical audio out on the headphone jack. I believe the new ones do too. Hulu desktop is pretty nice, works with the remote and all. Netflix is browser only, and their website changed recently to be less user friendly in the living room.

Does your mini have DVR capabilities? I know I can do everything else on a mini since I can to it on my imac. But the DVR thing requires a tuner card and the capture software, that's what I'm not sure about.
I can put together a windows machine easily, but buying a windows machine is like buying a GM front-wheel drive car. Yeah, I can do it, but why would I want to?

BAMF
BAMF Reader
3/25/12 9:30 p.m.
DrBoost wrote:
BAMF wrote: We went the mac mini route a few years back and it's been great. We saved enough in not having cable TV that it paid for itself in a year. The new ones don't have DVD drives, at least not the one the office bought last week. The new ones have HDMI though. Ours has an optical audio out on the headphone jack. I believe the new ones do too. Hulu desktop is pretty nice, works with the remote and all. Netflix is browser only, and their website changed recently to be less user friendly in the living room.

Does your mini have DVR capabilities? I know I can do everything else on a mini since I can to it on my imac. But the DVR thing requires a tuner card and the capture software, that's what I'm not sure about.
I can put together a windows machine easily, but buying a windows machine is like buying a GM front-wheel drive car. Yeah, I can do it, but why would I want to?

We would also need a tuner like the Elegato Eye or similar along with software to capture over the air broadcasting. I haven't really put much effort into figuring out what it would take, and it's never really been an issue for us. The little bit of TV we can't watch via Hulu or a network website is something we enjoy watching live anyhow. So for us it works out.

DrBoost
DrBoost UltraDork
3/26/12 4:41 a.m.

Thanks Bryce.

slefain
slefain SuperDork
3/26/12 10:46 a.m.
DrBoost wrote:
BAMF wrote: We went the mac mini route a few years back and it's been great. We saved enough in not having cable TV that it paid for itself in a year. The new ones don't have DVD drives, at least not the one the office bought last week. The new ones have HDMI though. Ours has an optical audio out on the headphone jack. I believe the new ones do too. Hulu desktop is pretty nice, works with the remote and all. Netflix is browser only, and their website changed recently to be less user friendly in the living room.

Does your mini have DVR capabilities? I know I can do everything else on a mini since I can to it on my imac. But the DVR thing requires a tuner card and the capture software, that's what I'm not sure about.
I can put together a windows machine easily, but buying a windows machine is like buying a GM front-wheel drive car. Yeah, I can do it, but why would I want to?

Another vote for the Mac MIni. My five year old C2D 2.0 gHz Mac Mini has been a little rock of Gibralter as a HTPC. Currently it is rocking a $7 DVI-to-HDMI adapter and outputting 1080p to my projector. Normal DVD up-scaling is amazing on the native DVD player app. I don't bother with DVR. If you want to watch it, there are ways to do so within hours of a broadcast. Just install this: http://tvshowsapp.com/ and make sure you have Transmission installed and plenty of hard drive space.

This sums up my feelings on watching what I want, when I want: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/game_of_thrones

pinchvalve
pinchvalve PowerDork
3/26/12 10:55 a.m.

MAC = Miata. It's always the answer.

scardeal
scardeal Dork
3/26/12 11:43 a.m.

I've got a Mac Mini hooked up to my HDTV via a DVI --> HDMI converter cable.

Watch lots of Netflix, CBS, Hulu (NBC) on it. I do miss my DVR somewhat since we got rid of cable TV though. Could have used it yesterday.

turboswede
turboswede PowerDork
3/26/12 12:59 p.m.
pinchvalve wrote: MAC = Miata. It's always the answer.

Um, the MAC is more like an S2000. Ready to go out of the box and if you "improve" it you usually end up making it worse.

A generic PC = Miata since you can make it exactly what you want for many times cheaper than an S2000 minus some of the trendy design.

I have 4 HTPC's in the house, all of them running Windows XP with TV Tuner cards and IR remotes managed by MediaPortal. All of them are P4's between 2-3GHz and between 1.5 and 3GB of RAM. All were built via cast-off parts and Newegg/Ebay shopping. All of them are HD-ready (ATI HD video cards and Hauppaugge TV Tuner cards) and perform DVR functions.

With that said, I watch so little OTA TV though that the vast majority of stuff watched is via the web (Hulu, ALMS.com, etc), downloaded (Torrents, aka Top Gear) or via DVD (upconverted).

Currently, I'm shopping for some Blu-ray ROMS to replace the DVD-ROMs and I need to increase the drive space on the server to handle the larger Blu-ray files that I want to rip from the discs.

scardeal
scardeal Dork
3/26/12 1:43 p.m.

Am I the only one that thinks a DVR should be a box in a closet somewhere, recording everything I want it to, and have a completely different compy as a playback machine and have them all networkified?

turboswede
turboswede PowerDork
3/26/12 1:52 p.m.

MediaPortal actually works that way. It is built to run as a Server (using MySQL as a backend to manage a media database) that is controlled via the remote TV clients. The limitation I've found is that the latency built into most wireless networks causes significant delays to make it less than ideal to use, so I just run each system as its own TV server and Client.

With faster networking and decently built systems, it could work quite well as it supports as many tuner cards as the operating system allows (Windows XP by itself has a limitation on the number of Tuner cards allowed when not using Media Center addition, there is a quick fix available though to get around that) So with enough tuner cards you shouldn't have any issues with concurrent recordings, etc.

DrBoost
DrBoost UltraDork
3/26/12 1:55 p.m.

I couldn't sleep last night. I bought a new (well, "refurb'd" or a return is more like it) mini, i5 for $520. Then I picked up a eyeTV Hybrid for $60 shipped. I should be up and running 20 minutes after being home Thursday!

ThePhranc
ThePhranc HalfDork
3/26/12 3:02 p.m.

Now I know what to do with the left over parts of my weekend computer build. First one ever built and 90% problem free.

BAMF
BAMF Reader
3/27/12 11:05 p.m.
DrBoost wrote: I couldn't sleep last night. I bought a new (well, "refurb'd" or a return is more like it) mini, i5 for $520. Then I picked up a eyeTV Hybrid for $60 shipped. I should be up and running 20 minutes after being home Thursday!

Sweet. Let me know how the eyeTV Hybrid thing works for you.

DrBoost
DrBoost UltraDork
3/28/12 7:45 a.m.

I will Bryce. Maybe I'll post an update Monday or thereabouts. That'll give me a few days to use and evaluate it. It's hard to wait for me new toys to come in the mail....

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