HTPC or Streaming Box (Expat)

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HTPC or Streaming Box (Expat)

Postposted on Thu Jan 10, 2013 6:09 am

So I just moved to Tokyo and would like to have access to some American TV (and sports if possible).

I'm trying to decide if a streaming box (e.g. Apple TV, Roku, WD Live) or an HTPC (build my own or mac mini) would be better to access U.S. content. I don't mind paying for a subscription or on a per show basis, but I would like to have fast access to television as it comes out.

I'm kind of leaning toward an HTPC because it will be more versatile, but in my experience they can be hard to use in the living room. Also it would be much more expensive.

Does any one have any experience or an opinion about what would be better?
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Re: HTPC or Streaming Box (Expat)

Postposted on Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:24 pm

Just to talk streaming.
I don't think advice for how to get around geoblocking is allowed to be posted by forum rules (sorry did not check to make sure).
Most pay services are geoblocked and I do know a few people who use tricks to bypass the geoblocking to get the US services (ie US Netflix, Hulu) in Canada.
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Re: HTPC or Streaming Box (Expat)

Postposted on Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:43 pm

I'm not asking about geoblocking.

I guess my question is more about does an HTPC make sense if you can't get OTA channels and don't want to use it for gaming?
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Re: HTPC or Streaming Box (Expat)

Postposted on Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:52 pm

My thoughts would be what sort of flexibility are you looking for? A Zotac Zbox can easily fit in the living room, and if you want more than MediaCenter, you can get some nice wireless keyboard/mice combos.

I don't like the streaming boxes myself, mostly because I want to tinker. I used to have a PS3 which served the function, but I like what I can do with my HTPC much better.
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Re: HTPC or Streaming Box (Expat)

Postposted on Fri Jan 11, 2013 1:16 am

I was thinking about one of those Zotac boxes. I think there is a new version coming out?

I do like the concept of an HTPC because of its flexibility, however, I'd like to the interface to be easy to use from the couch (maybe even with a remote). I guess you really have to choose flexibility vs. ease of use.
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Re: HTPC or Streaming Box (Expat)

Postposted on Fri Jan 11, 2013 9:05 am

kumori wrote:I'm not asking about geoblocking.

I guess my question is more about does an HTPC make sense if you can't get OTA channels and don't want to use it for gaming?


I just wanted to state that. Because it makes the HTPC much more attractive.
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Re: HTPC or Streaming Box (Expat)

Postposted on Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:13 am

I've had two content streamers over time (DLink and Popcorn Hour). I'm converting to HTPC in the next month.

You cannot guarantee the consistency of support for a content streamer. With an HTPC, you are your own support. You aren't dependent on someone else for firmware updates, bug-fixes, etc. from a company that may or may not get it right (and I've seen what happens when they don't).

I'd much rather run a PC with XBMC or Windows Media Center after several years; there's more flexibility and I can choose what I want for power configuration. Also, if you're serving up your video from a Windows box, setting up file shares is nice and convenient.

I'll be posting my project once all of the parts come in.
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Re: HTPC or Streaming Box (Expat)

Postposted on Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:56 am

For HTPC I have a couple options I use a Raspberry Pi ([url]raspberrypi.org[/url]) running a version of XBMC ([url]raspbmc.com[/url]). I actually have more than one of these, to get up and running cost me about $75-90 ( the RPi (plus DVD and Bluray licenses), Media Centre remote and ir receiver, low power micro USB dongle, case (the Pi is just a circuit board) and Class 10 SD card (Sandisk Extreme))

I also have a Mac Mini 2010 running XBMC (Apple makes nice hardware) but that is an expensive way to do it.

The media source for me is a WHS2011 box, but a portable hard drive works just as well.
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Re: HTPC or Streaming Box (Expat)

Postposted on Sun Jan 13, 2013 1:37 am

How is the Mac Mini working for you? I was thinking about getting one of those to do double duty as an HTPC/Backup server.

Currently I'm doing my backups to a repurposed netbook that I put a 1TB drive in, but the fan is going bad on the netbook and those kind of proprietary fans seem hard to find and kind of expensive.
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Re: HTPC or Streaming Box (Expat)

Postposted on Mon Jan 14, 2013 9:45 am

kumori wrote:How is the Mac Mini working for you? I was thinking about getting one of those to do double duty as an HTPC/Backup server.

Currently I'm doing my backups to a repurposed netbook that I put a 1TB drive in, but the fan is going bad on the netbook and those kind of proprietary fans seem hard to find and kind of expensive.

It works very well, more than enough power to handle the HTPC chores. I had bought the Mac Mini as a machine to learn programming for iOS apps and have repurposed it to HTPC.
I'm a fan of XBMC and the media indexing capabilities it has for browsing my personal media files.
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