Geekzone: technology news, blogs, forums
Guest
Welcome Guest.
You haven't logged in yet. If you don't have an account you can register now.




42 posts

Geek


# 28091 18-Nov-2008 13:37
Send private message

Hi all,

I am looking for a pc for in my lounge, that meets the below criteria. I have been considering building my owm HTPC, but would prefer not to: I would for now rather buy an out-of-the-box solution.

- Used mainly to play movies, photo's and music on my 32" Samsung LCD TV (with HDMI port). Also for Office and Internet (incl. streaming video and audio).
- Has to allow for wirless keyboard and mouse control
- I would prefer to be able to use it as a back-up or home server type computer, so I can backup my Dell XPS M1530 files to it. Ideally I would like to install office on it, and then synchronise outlook between the two computers. All via my Wifi home network.
- Has to look good, be as little and quiet as possible, and use as little power as possible.
- [Optional] including a TV card so I can record off my tv or even watch Freeview HD (I only have a normal Sky box)

I have been nosing around, and found the following systems:

- Mac Mini
- Dell Studio Hybrid
- Acer Aspire L3600
- HP Slimline s3330 of de s3580

Are there pro's or con's with these systems that I should be mindful of? And am I missing systems?

I am new to New Zealand, so I also don't really know which the right places are to buy these type of computers or to find more information on them. I did find my way to www.pricespy.co.nz but that's about it.

Any tiny bit of information is very much appreciated.

Thanks!

View this topic in a long page with up to 500 replies per page Create new topic
 1 | 2
5604 posts

Uber Geek

Moderator
Trusted
Lifetime subscriber

  # 178576 18-Nov-2008 14:02
Send private message

I shudder at the thought of ootb htpc's, but there are some good places to buy around NZ... that said I can't recall their names!  Best to go to a company that specialises in them though, I have seen smaller PC hardware places selling media center PCs but the level of stress involved in setting them up and getting support for them is too high to be worth the cost. 

A Mac mini would certainly work well and looks great.  You'd need an external drive to make its storage worthwhile, especially if you don't already have a PC on a network with a good amount of storage. 

Best to keep your HTPC as just a HTPC because the more you add to it, the deeper the mess when things go wrong.  Most people tend to keep their HTPC as clean as possible and only use it for that - or perhaps a bit of browsing during downtime.  That being said, you can make yourself a fairly robust a cheap server out of some low spec 2nd hand PCs now.  Just chuck some drives in there and use it to serve the media to the front end (mac mini or other). 

I personally don't think the htpc movement has reached enough maturity for ootb solutions to be fully viable - unless you're being offered some serious support to go with it.  so many things can go wrong on them, sometimes because of such a simple thing as a windows update. imo you're always going to need to have a hand in building/designing your rig so that you know where things are when they go wrong. 

If you're just after a media player/internet device for the lounge you could consider the PS3...it's got all the features + Blu-ray + it's nice looking and quiet AND plays games.  TV playback is something I heard they were looking at incorporating soon as well (can someone elaborate on that perhaps?).


91 posts

Master Geek


  # 178595 18-Nov-2008 15:38
Send private message

Have got a Dell Hybrid and it is crap, bought the bluray version and the hardware (CPU and graphics) can't support bluray movies. Pretty stupid really. Checkout ili.co.nz for complete media center's and software.

 
 
 
 




42 posts

Geek


  # 178614 18-Nov-2008 17:14
Send private message

Hi guys,

Thanks for the fast replies, appreciated!

@ nzwogboy: good feedback, it makes me rethink the Dell Hybrid option... It looks sleek but it seems to be underperforming for it's price bracket. I will also check out ili.co.nz.

@ gehenna: like your comment in the Mac Mini.. Would be a good chance to have my first mac, and I do have two external harddrives that I could connect to it. Funnily enough one of the more obvious downsides to the mAc Mini is that the on/off switch is at the back, which would not be that handy in a lounge setting...

I am also curious about the performance issues and other problems that you are referring to, and the support needed for that. What sort of issues would they mainly be? I thought my usage profile would not require any high spec systems, but maybe I am wrong? Is it mainly HD related? Or is it because of TV recording? 

I have considered the PS3, but apart from already owning an xbox 360, I would also like to be able to do some light pc stuff.

Maybe I can pose another question: the below HP Slimline S3580 pops up at Bond & Bond for 1399 (without monitor). It doesn't have Wifi (nor room for expansion) so that would have to be a usb solution, but would the rest work?

  • 2.6GHz Intel® Core? 2 Duo processor E4700
  • 2GB DDR2 RAM
  • 500.0 GB Harddrive
  • Blu-ray Player & SuperMulti DVD burner
  • 10/100 Wired LAN
  • nVidia GeForce 9300GE 256mb 3D PCI-Express Graphics card - HDMI
  • Windows® Vista Home Premium
  • Digital TV Tuner
  • 9-in-1 Digital Media Reader

  • Cheers!

    Diedrik


    4025 posts

    Uber Geek

    Trusted

      # 178619 18-Nov-2008 18:05
    Send private message

    That above system from bond and bond would work i'd think - a 9300 should be able to decode Freeview HD and blu ray no trouble, providing it's kept up with the rest of the progressions in the nvidia range. Its nice and small also.

    I would personally look at asking ComputerLounge to do you a computer build, they have installation and configuration options for compters and i know at least one person on their staff is into HTPC's.

    Though that HP one is suprisingly good value for what it is, usually any Prebuilt with a mediacentre component in it is $2k+. I would actually consider that as an option if i was looking at this kind of thing.



    42 posts

    Geek


      # 178750 19-Nov-2008 09:24
    Send private message

    Thanks eXDee, I will have a look at ComputerLounge as well. And look into the HP more...

    Cheers!

    5604 posts

    Uber Geek

    Moderator
    Trusted
    Lifetime subscriber

      # 178755 19-Nov-2008 10:00
    Send private message

    Hi again
    I'm mainly talking about the fact that a couple of things aren't fully supported in NZ yet, which you'll see from reading some of the other threads to do with stuff like Freeview on DVB-S/DVB-T in Windows Media Center.  It takes a lot of tinkering to get things like that working, so if you need those features be prepared for some possible frustration in getting them working.

    As for the Mac, unless you're planning on just using Front Row or some other Mac app for your media interface, you'll want to use Boot Camp and install Windows Media Center on it to get the added TV functionality if you are using an external USB tuner.  If you don't want to use Windows Media Center and would prefer a *nix solution then you can get any PC really, but again your tinkering factor goes up exponentially.

    91 posts

    Master Geek


      # 178757 19-Nov-2008 10:24
    Send private message

    OK ill be honest, I work for ili Ltd "integrated lifestyle innovations" we specialise in developing software for Vista Media Center. We have developed home automation plugins, Home audio plugins and our One Touch software. About 40% of the development time was spent just on the media center tweaks etc itself. I am not trying to advertise, just trying to give information about products that we have researched.
    We use to use the mini macs and load vista on them (well we still do, but only for special circumstances), they are very quiet, almost silent and they are small. Problem is the hard drive size and you cannot put internal tuners in. We have also looked at the Dell but as above it is crap.
    We have always used the big box (the silversone) and now it is pretty much the only one we sell. The system is a finished solution with either twin DVB-S tuners (currently only works with an 11300 LO LNB) or 2 analogue inputs for connecting sky boxes. http://www.ili.co.nz/Portals/1/GeneralDocuments/ili%20Media%20Center%20Brochure.pdf
    We sell them as an "appliance" not as a PC. We beleive we are the only ones that currenlty sell a finished working solution in NZ with full support. We actuallly sell through the custom install dealer channel not to the direct public but will sort something out for Geekzone customers (not that I think there would be many as most on here would build there own).
    I wont be offended if the Mod edits this because of "advertising" because I assume there are rules but I really am just trying to help.

     
     
     
     


    5604 posts

    Uber Geek

    Moderator
    Trusted
    Lifetime subscriber

      # 178759 19-Nov-2008 10:34
    Send private message

    Wow, first you bash the opposition without disclaiming youre employment with the company your recommend the OP looks at, then you go into a full sales speech.  Dody man, you'd have been better off posting that 2nd post 1st and then you wouldn't have looked so blatantly dodgy.

    91 posts

    Master Geek


      # 178761 19-Nov-2008 10:42
    Send private message

    I think you miss understood, dell is not our oposition, no PC hardware manufature is, they are more likely to be our customers one day. We develop software, we only sell the hardware because no else really sells a complete working solution. Hardware is not our game, it just is until there are more people we can sell our software to. We have a dell, we bought it to see if it would be sellable but it is not. The mini mac is better.
    Check our website and you will see what I mean. To make a point, name one company in New Zealand that sells a finished working media cneter that you mum could use? If you can then thanks, you would have just givin me someone I can sell our software to, that is all we want, to sell our software.
    We are having trouble getting sales in NZ due too the lack of media center builders here, we are concentrating our efforts on Aussie at the mo.
    I am not trying to advertise, like I said if the mod thinks I was wrong to post it he can remove the post.
    We have been on breakfast TV and in Tone magazine, our show home is Microsofts Digital Home for 2008 http://tvnz.co.nz/view/video_popup_windows_skin/1593380?bandwidth=128k
    Hopefully there will ba a review on our software on here soon.



    42 posts

    Geek


      # 178771 19-Nov-2008 11:15
    Send private message

    Hi guys,


    either way, the answers have been helpful. Originally I wasn't intending to do much more than just playing photo's, video'a and music from the PC and some internet browsing/e-mailing. Hence my thinking that one of those out of the box systems could be good enough. I have written off the Dell Hybrid, as this thread plus other reviews confirm it's not that good, so now I am still looking at the HP slimline range (good deals and it seems to offer a lot), the Mac Mini and possibly the Acer L3600 series (haven't found much info on these yet).

    My worry with the Mac, after reading some posts elsewhere and some reviews, is that it might be hard to get a good resolution on an LCD tv. But I have to read up on that. Also it doesn't offer any tv card options, whereas the HP has one built in.

    Reading the above though, has also made me reconsider the HTPC idea, something I originally shyed away from because of too much hassle/costs and too much functionality. I will re-look into this. I looked into the ili website, but not sure if I could handle a large box like that...

    91 posts

    Master Geek


      # 178772 19-Nov-2008 11:24
    Send private message

    Yeah our big boxes are mainy for new homes that can be located in AV racks. Another one to look at which we are curretly testing is the Asus Nova P20 http://www.pbtech.co.nz/index.php?item=WKSAS0020
    It comes with a media Cneter remote, built in IR receiver and has wireless N built in. Plus it is very cheap. The acer L3600 is pretty good too, thing to watch with these (including mac mini) is the DVD drives, most of them have the brand (Matsashetsu or something) that cannot be made region free, might not bother you though. As for the mac and the resolution you can run them at 1080P with a DVD, but no good for HD.



    42 posts

    Geek


      # 178847 19-Nov-2008 16:03
    Send private message

    nzwogboy: [...] As for the mac and the resolution you can run them at 1080P with a DVD, but no good for HD.


    Can you tell me what you mean with the last bit, that it is no good for HD?

    Thanks!

    91 posts

    Master Geek


      # 178855 19-Nov-2008 16:36
    Send private message

    Well is no good with playing Freeview HD or a ripped Blu-ray etc, the on board graphics and CPU cant haddle it, very choppy. So no real benifit using 1080P resolution for media.

    Edit: In saying that, I don't think it will do that at any resloution. Will play some HD but no the H.264 stuff. I don't know all that much about the different codecs etc. But I can say you can watch a DVD with 1080P as your sesolution but you cannot watch Freeview HD without it being choppy etc. If you watch some of the sample WMV HD clips you will notice a difference between 720P and 1080P ie it is not as smooth at 1080P.

    2792 posts

    Uber Geek


      # 179140 20-Nov-2008 20:46
    Send private message

    I recommend computer lounge 100% get a prebuilt rig from there




    HTPC: Intel i3-2100 / 12GB RAM / AMD HD7750 / 480 GB SSD / 58TB Storage / MediaPortal / MadVR / Win10
    AVR: Pioneer Elite SC-LX87 220W 9.2 Ch AVR
    Speakers: Wharfedale Jade 7 Fronts / Jade 2c Center / Jade 5 Rears
    Subs: iNuke 3000dsp 3000W proamp with 4x 15" JBL Sealed Subs
    Display: Samsung 60" UA60H6400 LCD TV
    Accessories: Gefen HDMI Detective with splitter


    2104 posts

    Uber Geek

    Trusted

      # 179155 20-Nov-2008 23:05
    Send private message

    nzwogboy: Yeah our big boxes are mainy for new homes that can be located in AV racks. Another one to look at which we are curretly testing is the Asus Nova P20 http://www.pbtech.co.nz/index.php?item=WKSAS0020
    It comes with a media Cneter remote, built in IR receiver and has wireless N built in. Plus it is very cheap. The acer L3600 is pretty good too, thing to watch with these (including mac mini) is the DVD drives, most of them have the brand (Matsashetsu or something) that cannot be made region free, might not bother you though. As for the mac and the resolution you can run them at 1080P with a DVD, but no good for HD.


    Any ideas who is the distributor for the P20 as I've not noticed this unit in NZ before.




    Generally known online as OpenMedia, now working for Red Hat APAC a Technology Evangelist and Product Manager. Still playing with MythTV and digital media on the side.


     1 | 2
    View this topic in a long page with up to 500 replies per page Create new topic



    Twitter and LinkedIn »



    Follow us to receive Twitter updates when new discussions are posted in our forums:



    Follow us to receive Twitter updates when news items and blogs are posted in our frontpage:



    Follow us to receive Twitter updates when tech item prices are listed in our price comparison site:





    News »

    Industry plan could create a billion dollar interactive games sector
    Posted 19-Aug-2019 20:41


    Personal cyber insurance a New Zealand first
    Posted 19-Aug-2019 20:26


    University of Waikato launches space for esports
    Posted 19-Aug-2019 20:20


    D-Link ANZ expands mydlink ecosystem with new mydlink Mini Wi-Fi Smart Plug
    Posted 19-Aug-2019 20:14


    Kiwi workers still falling victim to old cyber tricks
    Posted 12-Aug-2019 20:47


    Lightning Lab GovTech launches 2019 programme
    Posted 12-Aug-2019 20:41


    Epson launches portable laser projector
    Posted 12-Aug-2019 20:27


    Huawei launches new distributed HarmonyOS
    Posted 12-Aug-2019 20:20


    Lenovo introduces single-socket servers for edge and data-intensive workloads
    Posted 9-Aug-2019 21:26


    The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 6.3
    Posted 9-Aug-2019 16:57


    Symantec sell enterprise security assets for US$ 10.7 billion to Broadcom
    Posted 9-Aug-2019 16:43


    Artificial tongue can distinguish whisky and identify counterfeits
    Posted 8-Aug-2019 20:20


    Toyota and Preferred Networks to develop service robots
    Posted 8-Aug-2019 20:11


    Vodafone introduces new Vodafone TV device
    Posted 7-Aug-2019 17:16


    Intel announces next-generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors with up to 56 cores
    Posted 7-Aug-2019 15:41



    Geekzone Live »

    Try automatic live updates from Geekzone directly in your browser, without refreshing the page, with Geekzone Live now.


    Support Geekzone »

    Our community of supporters help make Geekzone possible. Click the button below to join them.

    Support Geezone on PressPatron



    Are you subscribed to our RSS feed? You can download the latest headlines and summaries from our stories directly to your computer or smartphone by using a feed reader.

    Alternatively, you can receive a daily email with Geekzone updates.