Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Consideration for a HTPC

HTPC, stands for Home Theather Personal Computer, some prefer to call it Media Centre PC. I guess when this is mentioned, everyone know why I need onem to put a PC next to a LCD TV.

I've been stuggling to design/settle for a new PC for my new house/home networking, and I'd studied the market for almost 2 months. There are neither 1 solution that fit my needs nor cheap. A HTPC suppose to be a neat and stylist PC like Aopen Mini or Mcubed Macro

but the downside of that is, you can have a good graphic card and limited expandable PCI slot. I can get 2 PCs, 1 for HTPC, 1 for my study room. But, we already have a HP laptop, and a company Dell laptop. Having 2 PCs are redundant. A good HTPC is expensive, Niveus Rainer is one of the top notch HTPC. It is also called Media Centre Extender.

Then, game console come into the picture. Initially I want a PS3 as it supports DLNA, an industry standard for media (audio,video, photo) sharing within concept of a digital home, which able to stream video from a DLNA compatible device/software. I can use TwongkyMedia , a software for PC to stream between PC and PS3 (or XBOX360). Although it can streams Divx, Xvid encoded file, photos and mp3, it doesn't play p2p tv such as ppstream or tvuplayer. And, eventually we think Wii is a better console as we can sweat and exercise at home.

There a few devices other there that archieve my basic needs, such as EZFetch, Linksys DMA 2100, HD Mediabox, but they can't play p2p tv. The latest XBOX360 dashboard did mentioned about P2P tv, but that is subject to ISP content.

So, I need to find other alternative. I do come across this device, Avrio HDMI Over Cat5e/6,

but I don't have a ethernet link at home. I sent an enquiry to the sales team, as I curios whether i could extend the ethernet over Powerline device, such as Netgear HDX101

But they have no clue what i'm referring to :( Then I came across Remote Desktop solution. RD is not something new, it is common if you connect remotely to terminal server on Win2k or Win2003. Depends on the concurrent license you purchase from Microsoft, that's the limit how many users can access the server at the same time without kicking other user from their session. Windows XP and Vista only support single remote desktop session, if you allow other user to remote desktop your pc, you will be kicked out from your session.

Fortunately, I found a great link that allow concurrent access to Vista (Home Premium/Ultimate) version, but required some hack to the registry and a dll replacement. With this hack, it means I can get 1 HTPC for my TV, while using it to watch p2p TV or downloaded drama, I still can remote access it to process my photos (ideally) or play games (not sure my bandwidth is sufficient, maybe with powerline product or draft n router will not be an issue) using my laptop.

Well, this is all I could find/think of at the moment. Home network connectivity can be simple (if you have a lot of money to spend), or complex (under budget constraint, or want to reduce power consumption).

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