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 Post subject: Smart TV will kill HTPCs
PostPosted: Mon Oct 04, 2010 5:39 am 
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http://tbreak.com/tech/2010/10/technolo ... ill-htpcs/

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I’ve been using HTPCs for over five years and have transitioned between lots of hardware and software solutions. As much as I love building HTPCs, I can see their end approaching with TVs getting smarter.

With the plethora of clever, <$200 HD interface devices between TV & PC/network that have burst on the market in the past year, with google & apple tv, it's hard not to agree.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 04, 2010 6:48 am 
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HTPC is a niche market and it remains so. What these new devices are doing is bringing the things HTPC users enjoy to the mass market. People who went the HTPC-route due to lack of choice will probably move to one of these <$200 standalone boxes. However, there are those who opt for HTPC's because of their flexibility and it's unlikely standalone boxes would be able to reach the same degree of flexibility in the very near future.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 04, 2010 6:59 am 
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While I am inclined to agree in principle, reality is that this will not happen for a number of years.
I purchased a PS3 for the Blu-ray and media center functions. All in one solution right? Then Netflix was locked out unless you used The Disk.
Other devices that I have looked into will not run Hulu.
There is always some sort of limitation with formats and copyrights which have things in a state of flux. Manufacturers are constantly adding and removing functionality.

To date (for me at least) the most complete all in one solution has been a HTPC for the simple reason that there is always a way to get it to do what I need it to do. This varies from user to user and makes it virtually impossible for an all in one solution whether integrated or a stand alone box.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 04, 2010 8:00 am 
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It looks nice as a replacement for that headless receiver connected to a personal network that already has other NAS and ripping devices. This should have been called Logitech Squeezebox TV or something. ;)

But that's only a part of the HTPC market IMO. There are many general purpose rigs that can also rip stuff, play games, get used for work, and hold whole media libraries—all in one place.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 04, 2010 8:09 am 
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HTPC is by definition a PC that connects directly to the TV. My point is simply that such a PC will soon become unnecessary for people who use HTPC today. (Soon meaning perhaps a year or 2 - the trend is already very strong.) This certainly does not eliminate a PC in the home dedicated as a home server w/ multiple functions.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 04, 2010 8:46 am 
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MikeC wrote:
HTPC is by definition a PC that connects directly to the TV.

My point exactly. This is a broad definition, not equal to "receiver/decoder box connected to some content source." So no, such solutions will never replace HTPCs, just make the market more focused (read: even smaller :P).

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 04, 2010 8:59 am 
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Modo wrote:
My point exactly. This is a broad definition, not equal to "receiver/decoder box connected to some content source." So no, such solutions will never replace HTPCs, just make the market more focused (read: even smaller :P).

Your comment is a bit blurry. I know we are basically in agreement, but there are semantic differences.

It sounds like you're saying that the conventional definition of HTPC as a PC that connects directly to the TV (acting as PVR, tuner, etc) is too narrow, and you don.t accept it. Well, whether you accept it or not, that is the definition of HTPC.

To speak more broadly, there's no stepping back from the digital home with multiple computers. We invariably run networks, have multiple computers, and share files among them. Those files end up being displayed as video on the TV, and music on the stereo. But a PC no longer has to be directly connected to the TV (or stereo) do this. With smart TVs, they can interact with the network w/o any need for interface devices... and for non-smart TVs, those interfaces devices can be smart <$200 boxes instead of PCs.

You can still fiddle all you want with specialized programs for all kinds of media manipulations from your PCs -- but they don't have to be connected to the TV or in the same room.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 04, 2010 9:51 am 
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MikeC wrote:
It sounds like you're saying that the conventional definition of HTPC as a PC that connects directly to the TV (acting as PVR, tuner, etc) is too narrow, and you don.t accept it.

I do agree on that definition. What I noticed was that the smart TV presented in the article is very limited. They only mention network streaming—no storage, disc player, ripping, or advanced customization (read: reprogramming) options. What they have now, is a decoder box integrated into a TV.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 04, 2010 2:19 pm 
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I agree with both of you. That's just how I am.
I can see having a cheap $60 Roku where you just come home and turn it on to watch the big game, plop down in the recliner, and fall asleep. Hey, I'm gettin' old.
But if I want to watch one of the public domain black and white movies stored on the HD I will go to my HTPC, currently a 785. Sometimes my networks don't works.
If I want to listen to the Hifi then it's going to be the Intel Atom 510 configured as a cPlay memory player.
If it is SOHO work then another one of these old computers setting around here.
With Android, DLNA, GoogleTV, 3D, Zacate, and Sandy Beach, we are on the threshold of what we have always wanted.
I am going to build a special room. More on that later.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 04, 2010 10:26 pm 
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Whenever I upgrade my main computer, my HTPC is first in line for parts as long as they fit.

I like being able to run whatever I want on the best display in the house. I can even use it for work. It handles games very well.

It is also a fast file server, handling real gigabit speeds. Other computers in the house run SSD thanks to this.

My HTPC keeps things simple. I don't need other boxes for video games, data storage, Blu-ray, online video, whatever.

I know I've read articles saying the HTPC is going to die, based on whatever amazing gizmos are popping up at the time... Since the 1990s. But it has always been unpopular. I never met anyone with an HTPC. But I love mine.

5 years from now, the small boxes will be really powerful by today's standards. But weak in comparison to the HTPC of the future.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 05, 2010 6:46 am 
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I keep waiting for HTPCs to be more appliance-like (fiddle-free, minimal off/sleep power, painless integration of DVR/tuner functions, etc) and instead we see more appliances with some (but not all) of the functionality I want in an HTPC. It's always fun to see the tech spaghetti hit the wall and see what sticks.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 05, 2010 9:29 am 
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It's good to see that LG went the smart route and just bought an existing and working UI.

Usually when companies that have no expertise in UI design come up with stuff like this, it ends up being rubbish. They're often nerdy as hell, with ugly small fonds and desktop OS like file/folder views, so it's always a little embarassing when you have a girl over and just want to see some chick flick. After you have used 5 different remotes to switch on all the devices you need you have to fiddle through a dozen sub-menus to activate all functions the device forgot since the last time and when the recently-played-files list only contains titles with star in it (trek, wars, gate) you inconspicuously peak over your shoulder if she's still there. I always feel like the biggest geek in these situations.


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 4:24 pm 
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MikeC wrote:
HTPC is by definition a PC that connects directly to the TV. My point is simply that such a PC will soon become unnecessary for people who use HTPC today. (Soon meaning perhaps a year or 2 - the trend is already very strong.) This certainly does not eliminate a PC in the home dedicated as a home server w/ multiple functions.


the googleTV i saw didn't say anything about whether or not it'll play media files over the network.

the further you go from an open architecture HTPC, then closer you go to locking yourself into a specific provider's restrictions and whims.


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