Computer advice thread ("What's the best way to do this?")


In b4 @apreche shows up and tells you you’re wrong for wanting a Smart TV device instead of spending several hundred dollars on an HTPC.


The thing though is that I wouldn’t be opposed to buying or building an HTPC. The issue is that I don’t really have the expertise in this matter and thus do not know what the best option would be.


Get literally any computer with an HDMI output and connect it to your TV. That’s it.


Your use case practically requires an HTPC. This is already out of bounds for most devices.

Never ever get a smart TV however. They are security nightmares.


Allow me to share my journey with an HTPC. When it first occurred to me that an HTPC was an option (someone on geeknights mentioned it around when I started listening) I immediately realized that it’d be superior to any other option I could come up with so I set about setting one up.

Step one, procure a computer, I was still pretty broke at the time so I didn’t wanna spend much so I started hunting around for old computers. I luckily found one that was in a pile to be recycled. It was an old laptop with windows XP on it.

The charger clearly wasn’t for it and when it booted there was a bios screen talking about voltages and how you probably shouldn’t be using a charger that didn’t come with the laptop. I completely ignored it and set about putting windows 7 or 10 on it. (I can’t remember which) It didn’t have an HDMI out but it did have VGA + headphone jack. I set up a quick guest account without admin access set the resolution as high as that laptop/cable would support and didn’t even have a wireless keyboard at the start so there was a cable between the couch and the tv.

Even with all the garbage it was superior. Over time I got a wireless keyboard. Steam stream came out, and finally I started to get annoyed that the darned thing was so under powered that I had to stream overcooked and couldn’t run it natively.

I later got a 2012 or so like gaming Laptop (the bios literally says “republic of gamers” it was so tacky) after an employee at my job left and left it there for like a year and it became my responsibility to dispose of it. I took it home, reinstalled windows and went to town. Now it had hdmi out so I could replace the garbage vga I had. That was glorious for a time.

Then my sister moved out of our parents house and she’d grown to love my HTPC so much when she came over that I decided to give it to her as a gift. This is when I finally assembled my own. It’s the same as building any other computer except you now have to measure the case to see if it will fit in the area and all the internals to see if they will fit in the case.

My point that I’m belaboring right now is that there are levels. Literally any computer at all. As long as it can run windows (or you’re crazy) can be an htpc. There are levels, for years I sufficed on one that I literally pulled out of the bin. This garbage pc was better than any other solution I could have come up with.


Literally just get any PC. It doesn’t have to be powerful (though quiet is nice). Laptops are often fine.

Just use the TV as its monitor. Get a cheap wireless mouse/touchpad.



You might want to check out Plex. I used to use it to stream movies and anime from my computer to my Xbox in the family living room because I wasn’t allowed to put in an htpc at the time. When I finally got into my own place a while back, I would use my laptop as my htpc, but store the shows on my computer and use Plex to stream to the htpc.

The downside to Plex is that it requires you to really name all of your media files correctly to work. Sometimes it just works, but other times you have to rename your files to match the name of the show in a public database.


After talking to my coworkers, I have decided to give Raspberry Pi with Kodi a shot. Worst comes to worst I have a Raspberry Pi to play with and can still build an HTPC or just put a non-custom built computer to the TV.

Edit: Oh yeah, and I bought a Syncology NAS.


Building a cheap media PC would have probably been cheaper than a fancy NAS, but the NAS has other added benefits. Have fun, sounds like a excellent project.


Doing both in one is not a bad idea either.


Got the Raspberry Pi, set it up and it works fine, though I still need to figure some things out. Managed to play some of the files though it had trouble with a dual audio file, though perhaps it also has a bit of a weird video encode.

Also annoyingly the plastic Pi case kit I got in the bundle was shipped with a missing/wrong part. Instead of two different sides, one with slots for the power supply, HDMI cable and headphone jack and one solid side, I got two of the one without the slots. Already sent an email to the shop I ordered from.


My wi-fi USB adapter is old and slow, and I think it’s about to choke on me any day now.

Anyone got any recommendations for a good replacement?


Does it have to be USB?


If it doesn’t have to be USB definitely get a proper card.


The innards of my PC don’t have enough room. A USB would be easier.


If you absolutely can’t fit it I’d get this.


So… I have experience in Wireless USB NICs but not for the reasons that are helpful to you.

Like 2 years ago I was obsessed with breaking wep, wpa and wpa2. And part of that meant having a usb NIC that was capable of going into monitor mode (so it could capture and modify traffic) I tried two, the panda, and eventually I upgraded to the alpha dawg

Both worked but I found that the panda had a more limited range and eventually I moved to the alpha so I wouldn’t have to leave my car. Unless you’re using aircrack-ng to do deauth attacks and intercept the handshakes I’m not sure I can really vouch for their quality. They capture traffic well so they probably can just like… browse the internet just fine.


Thank you both for your input. I ordered the EDUP that @panfriedmarmot linked above, and now my wi-fi strength is consistently at max. Thanks!


I thinking it’s time to get a new laptop. My Toshiba car tuning laptop dies at 40% now and Lenovo W500 Thinkpad battery dies after about 2hr. I’d really like a laptop that could just run for hours without having to worry about the battery. I’m trying to balance not spending a lot of money with getting enough horsepower to be my general purpose computing. Looking for suggestions of things I should look at. Something that interests me is the Microsoft Surface Go, but I don’t if it fits my primary use cases of sitting on the couch with the laptop on my lap.


This is almost certainly not the best way to do this, but it’s possible.