Tom’s Hardware has documented their “master plan” of building the ultimate home theater PC (HTPC). While they weren’t trying to accomplish anything extraordinary, they were trying to squeeze the components in a set-top sized case with minimal fan noise. Using a proprietary small form factor case limited their choices of components and, combined with quirky software, led to great frustration.
I do feel their pain having been down this path several times. Heck, they didn’t even run the device long enough to truly experience the driver update rollercoaster. What Tom’s didn’t seem to realize is that companies have started releasing preconfigured living room-friendly HTPC’s, such as the WinBook model pictured here. You might encounter some of the same software frustrations, but at least someone else has taken care of the hardware integration.
Tom’s Hardware says: Hype aside, is it really possible to build a PC that is quiet and does everything that a high-end remote-controlled set-top box can do? And don’t forget it’s got to look good in your living room, too. To avoid jumping in and randomly throwing together a system, we first compiled all the functions and properties of our HTPC. The list was not very long, because the main features were TV capability and playback of various video and audio formats. We are still not satisfied with the results of our Home Theater PC, and are temporarily giving up handcrafting our own hardware. But it looks as though a better solution is within reach.