I can’t believe Scott is banging on about HTPC vs streaming boxes again. Actually, I can. There’s a certain ring of dogma to it. For other things, he admits there is a variety of tools to get a job done, but not this one? Well, I’m sure his solution is a perfect fit for everyone.
It’s really funny that someone would spend hundreds of dollars on a watch that lets them not take their phone out of their pocket but scoff at people spending $35 so they don’t need to use a keyboard to watch netflix.
You do not need a keyboard to watch Netflix on an HTPC. There are many software and hardware solutions for this. What part of “there is nothing a proprietary box can do that an HTPC can not do” is not clear?
Meanwhile there are many many many things an HTPC can do that no proprietary box on the market can do. And you know what? I don’t need to even start listing those things, because there is one thing that beats all and immediately disqualifies all tiny boxes from consideration.
Does your tiny box have adblock?
Does the HTPC have, for the cost of less than $100, a way to wirelessly display what is happening on a phone, along with streaming the sound from that phone?
How’s $15 sound?
Personally I’ve never had a need for this feature. There are so many ways to simply use a mobile device as a remote control for the media players on the PC that are much easier. There is no content available on any mobile device that is not available on the HTPC. Streaming would also be much lower quality, and use a lot of battery on my device for no reason.
So no. The cost of HTPC plus any software it might run is not less than $100.
I mean, if you wanna get technical. I acquired my HTPC for the low low cost of $0. It’s an old laptop that an employer many years ago forgot to collect from me when I quit.
It had windows xp on it before I turned into something usable. The point I’m clawing my way towards is that… Yes, literally any computer will work even the cheapest, garbagest, under $100 clunker that you can find will suffice.
You have a computer already. Use that computer. The cost of an HDMI cable is $10. The price of the HTPC is only relevant if you do not own any actual computers, but I doubt anyone here has a phone/tablet as their sole computing device.
They don’t make HDMI cables that will magically go from a basement office to an upstairs living room.
Also say you are in a small aparement where the computer is actually within a reasonable distance of the TV, if you’re working/gaming and someone else is looking to watch a movie now you have to stop and work on that.
So for many who aren’t single apartment dwellers, they need a dedicated, minimalist HTPC that fits in their tv room and matches the decor and/or hides into their entertainment center shelving alongside sound receivers and DVD players and VHS players.
If you can afford an entertainment center with a sound system, you can afford a spare computer. As Naoza said, it doesn’t need to be high powered unless you want to play high powered games. The JackBox minimum system requirements are 4GB of RAM and 1GB of storage. You can get a computer like that for basically free.
Also, the point of an HTPC is that you do not need a large entertainment system full of boxes. Why is there a DVD player there? The HTPC is the DVD player. It can be the sound receiver too. It can be everything. One box does all. Why would anyone prefer an array of smaller boxes and lots of switching between them instead of just one box?
People have legacy stuff.
I agree you can throw away the DVD player and put ypur HTPC there instead.
I don’t think any PC should replace a quality discrete sound receiver or external DAC/Amp
I also agree buying a good HTPC is the optimal and best choice with anything from zero to a modest up front investment, depending on what one has or wants.
I think the ideal would be some kind of central home server that, beyond having a multi-disc RAID storage solution for the entire house to store media to, can also link to any TV in the home and provide each one with unique content at the same time. This may require some kind of wireless video solution however and I don’t know if we are there yet.
In the meantime, for me, the main TV is hanging off a ceiling upstairs while my PC is other side of the house downstairs so, hardly able to run hardline to it. I’ll instead need to build a super-small HTPC that can sit on top of a China cabinet.
I have never in my life seen a PC with speaker wire connections. I can agree with you that the HTPC does things that nothing else can, but you need a receiver to get a good surround sound system, or a soundbar if you want reasonable sound(full disclosure, I work for a soundbar company and I’m something of an audio geek)
I also have never seen speaker wire connections directly on a sound card or motherboard. Though, there may be some ridiculous sound card or motherboard that has them. However, if you really want to have some sort of real sound system with an HTPC, there are many terrific options.
Every motherboard these days has optical output, so get a sound system that has optical input. I have had the Logitech Z-5500 since I lived in Beacon. It is still terrific.
Get some sort of amplifier that takes optical, 3.5mm, or RCA input. I have an amp very similar to this one in my bedroom.
Depending on your setup, something like this HDMI audio extractor might be useful. These are extra good for situations where the optical output from the television strips out the surround sound, and you want get the audio to the speakers before it hits the TV.
Because the HTPC does everything, you do not need to ever switch audio input sources. All you need to do is get the sound output from the HTPC to the speakers. You can do this with tiny amps/converters and do not need a large receiver of any kind.
I have a MacBook Pro that streams video and audio to the Apple TV wirelessly. I don’t even need a HDMI cable. Any other iOS device can stream to it too. I just don’t see the need to get a HTPC which requires all kinds of amps and cables!
Because the Apple TV only streams certain things, as opposed to ALL things. Steam games? Non-Steam games? Video sites with weird players that don’t have Apple TV apps? All those apps that specifically deny permission to be used with AirPlay? Actual Adobe Premiere for previewing a video I am making on an actual TV?
Or instead of that, buy a ZVOX soundbar/soundbase
(I work for them, so if you need help with it, there’s a decent chance I will be the one helping you! Also, we have nice discounts on open box stuff, just ask.)
Yes all of those things. I can mirror my laptop screen to the Apple TV or use it as an external monitor. Everything that is possible to show on a MacBook screen can be on my TV. As well as everything on an iPad or iPhone. The TV itself does screen sharing from Android phones too. I’ve never found a single limitation in everything I’ve tried to do so far.
It’s incredible how you are so wilfully ignoring the experience of people who don’t have the exact 100% match to your own use. What is it about this topic which makes you so blind to the solutions other people have found to their own entertainment needs?
Ok, so apparently I was unaware that the Apple TV had this feature. When was that added?
The reality here is that you aren’t actually using the Apple TV, as in you are not using TV OS. You are actually using your Macbook! You are using an HTPC! You are using the Apple TV only as a wireless HDMI cable. This is exactly what I suggest doing. It’s only if you actually use TV OS ( or Roku, or Chromecast, or whatev) that your experience will be limited.
Which really brings to mind your arguments about cost. The cost of your setup includes the cost of an entire Macbook! An Apple TV on its own is limited trash. You must also have a Mac, which is way more money than the cost of a stand-alone HTPC. Also, an Apple TV costs $150. You are paying $150 for just the wireless HDMI cable. And although it is wireless, which is pretty nice, a wired one costs much less.
TL;DR: I didn’t know an Apple TV could be used as a wireless HDMI cable. You are actually using an HTPC, not the limited and crappy TVOS.
Oh, also how is the lag on that? Is it good enough that you can play a fast pace game on the TV?
Again, you are misunderstanding my situation. For 95% of our TV watching, we just use the Apple TV and its apps. Mostly YouTube, Netflix, some news TV apps. Almost all the time we aren’t actively watching TV, we use the Apple TV and the surround speakers for streaming music.
I don’t I use the airplay feature very often. When I have needed it, it has always worked, but it’s just a backup. But the airplay feature is great if one of us starts watching a YouTube video on our phone or laptop, and then decide to show the other person on the TV, and then it’s one taps to start it showing there.
If I’m streaming some sportyball, I can put that in a separate browser, and full screen that on the TV via airplay. Then I can go about using my laptop just as I would normally, and the sportyball is on in the background. A long HDMI cable in the same situation would be a real pain.
Before we had the Apple TV, we’d just plug in laptops via a HDMI cable, so that meant I’d only do it in set circumstances, like to watch a movie or TV show. Now I can do it on the fly. But I am not paying $150 “just” for the wireless HDMI, though that is a continuous bonus.
I don’t play any games. I don’t notice the lag.
The point is that most people are using one of those little boxes and nothing else. They are limiting themselves to just the walled garden of whatever particular tiny box(es) they have. Thanks to this feature that I was previously unaware of, an Apple TV PLUS a Mac is basically an HTPC, minus the games that are Windows-only. An Apple TV on its own, just not acceptable.