Investing in a Home Theatre PC (HTPC) is always a wise choice if you are passionate about multimedia. The flexibility and capabilites of a solid HTPC, coupled with some great gadgets, are unrivalled by standalone media players. So here are are 10 signs that you need to invest in a HTPC.
1. You want to watch your multimedia on the big screen
Tired of watching Youtube on that tiny 20″ monitor? A HTPC will allow you to move away from your study and make your multimedia the focus of your living room. It’s one thing to be huddled around a desktop to watch the latest viral video, but being able to sit on the couch with your feet up and show everyone is in a league of its own.
2. You have a lot of media
We live in a digital age and often this comes with a plethora of multimedia – video files, music, CDs, streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, etc.
Whilst being spoilt for choice is not a bad problem to have, making sure that you can readily watch (or listen) to what you want is important for a pleasurable experience. How often have you wasted precious minutes looking for that particular video hidden away?
A HTPC allows you to consolidate all of this media into one simple interface and ensure that you watch what you want, when you want.
3. You want to combine gaming and watching movies
Most of us love gaming on consoles. However, PC gaming is becoming a more potent player in our lounge room. With support from Valve through initiatives such as Steam Big Picture and In-Home Streaming, having a HTPC means that you can readily flick between watching a movie to playing a video game almost seamlessly.
4. You want a central entertainment hub
Often when we set up out our living room, we end up with multiple devices: a Blu-ray player, CD player, maybe a streaming box. This makes everything cluttered and is a pain if you want to move from one media source to another. Getting a HTPC means that you can combine most of these devices into one box, all controlled through an attractive interface.
5. You want flexibility in your setup
Don’t need a particular feature – simply don’t add it. Want to be able to stream and record live TV to watch later, fork out for a TV capture card. A HTPC gives you the flexibility to build a device that meets the needs of you and your family, and stop you paying for unnecessary components.
6. You want something that will play everything
One of the best parts of owning a HTPC is comparability. So many standalone players (Apple TV, I’m looking at you!) support limited formats and others have strict limits on the bitrate or standard of the files that they will play back. A HTPC overcomes this by being able to offload as much to hardware decoding as possible and, where a video file cannot be decoded in hardware, can leverage the CPU to process it. So whilst your WDTV will refuse to play those new H.265 video files, a HTPC will power through them.
7. You want something you can upgrade
There’s nothing worse than when something you have bought becomes defunct or is no longer supported by the manufacturer, such as that YouTube app on your streaming box that no longer works. Furthermore, with the ever-changing world of technology, you may need to buy a whole new box to access the latest entertainment. Or you may have simply outgrown the in-built storage on your DVR and can’t bring yourself to clear off those seasons you’ve worked so hard to record. A HTPC is upgradable – so you can add whatever new features you want. Eyeing off more storage, add a new Harddrive. Drooling over high speed wireless – remove the cables and add a Wireless AC card. The power is now in your hands.
8. You want something that you can customize
Customisability is key with a HTPC, with such a diverse range of Frontends and Skins available, you can make your box look and function exactly how you want – with cover art, metadata, watched flags – The whole enchilada.
9.You want powerful controls
There are two elements to this – parental controls and remote controls. A HTPC offers much more granular control of what you allow your kids to watch and most frontends even offer user profiles, so everyone can have access to different multimedia!
Secondly, whilst we’ve already covered the best remotes for your home theatre, a HTPC gives you even more was to control your viewing experience, with Web-based and App-based controls for your desktop and mobile devices. So you can play videos, queue up your favorite tracks and even share your videos on your TV, all from your phone or tablet.
10. You want a new gadget
This one is one we’re often guilty of. You’re a gadget lover and that smartphone is just not doing it for you anymore and you want a new project. A HTPC is a great long-term project that will give you hours of joy (and most likely a couple of frustration). There is nothing more satisfying then knowing the world’s entertainment can be accessed from your couch – all because of your new toy.
So there you are – 10 signs you need to invest in a HTPC. Time to get buying!
Photo Credit: Simon Wüllhorst via Compfight cc/Transformed from the Original