So, what can this box do?
- Play and Stream most disc based media: Bluray, DVD, CD, etc
- Record, Pause, Playback High Definition Free Broadcast TV (no subscription needed!)
- Plenty of storage capacity (1.5TB = 100s of hours of TV)
- Place-shift live TV and locally recorded media (watch it anywhere)
- Play Internet content Hulu, Netflix, Boxee, YouTube, etc.
- Play (all formats of) videos stored on flash drives or usb sticks
- Streams Videos, Pictures, etc. from other computers on your network
- Surf the web with Firefox or your favorite browser with long range wireless keyboard
- Fully functional TV-style remote controls 95% of Media-PCs functions
- Stream music directly to your receiver without having your TV on
- Play PC or web-based games (power gamers will want to upgrade the graphics)
- Display 3-D media and play 3-D games
- Plenty of graphics and cpu horsepower for almost any media or server application
- Stays in standby mode when not in use (uses less than 2 watts! - measured here)
- Quiet (fans barely audible)
Note: A Media PC is also sometimes called a Home Theater PC (or HTPC). I prefer the term Media PC since it is a more general term that better describes it's capability and use.
Why do it yourself?
There are an endless list of stand-alone media/set top/DVR boxes you can buy (or rent), but in my opinion they are all flawed in one way or another. Most of the problems with other boxes are:
- Cable, Satellite, or IPTV DVRs have limited functionality and tie you to expensive monthly fees
- Media streaming boxes can be limited to specific services and often will only play limited video formats.
- Few devices will let you record broadcast TV (and usually come with monthly fees)
- Few devices will let you surf the web (or if they do, come with crippled browsers)
Another advantage to building a Media PC is that you can replace multiple boxes with one device that really does it all. In my case I replaced a DVD player, Slingbox (for placeshifting), Comcast Cable DVR and Squeezebox (for audio streaming) all with one Media PC. As a bonus, I sold my old devices (Comcast took back my DVR) on Craigslist and recovered some of my project's expenses!
Some videos of the Media PC in action
Also, here are more pictures of what this box can do.
First, since it is so important, here is a overview of the remote control options for a Media PC.
- Parts list
- Assembly instructions
- Setting up the BIOS
- Loading the software
- (optional) Turn your Media PC into a SqueezeBox Audio Streamer
- (optional) Configure a recording light
- (optional) Go wireless N for streaming Media
- (optional) Tame your remote with an IR blaster and EventGhost
- (optional) Setup your Media PC for place-shifting and remote access
- (optional) Easily backup your Media PC
- (optional) Add multiple tuners to your Media PC
- (optional) add 3-D to your Media PC