There are many sticky beliefs and myths about home theater computers. In this article, I will discuss 5 common myths about home theater PCs. After reading this, you will learn that HTPCs are not that expensive, do not necessarily require a TV tuner or a remote control and certainly are not dead.
1. I need a TV tuner to call my PC a home theater PC
I personally think HTPCs as TV recording devices will be dying. More and more TV content is moving online and for example all the content providers in my area have switched to online DVR service called TVKaista where I can watch any show on local TV channels with my XBMC media center.
So, to my mind a TV tuner is no longer needed, as we have great online video services such as TVKaista, Netflix, Hulu and more.
2. HTPCs are too expensive for what they can do
An HTPC is only as expensive as you want to make it. You can build an HTPC for less than 500 dollars and it will play everything beautifully. You can even build one using old computer components you might already have in your apartment.
Furhermore, most of the media center software such as Windows Media Center, XBMC, Boxee and Plex are completely free.
Let’s do a calculation to see how expensive (or inexpensive) an HTPC is compared to other home theater devices.
Watch and record live TV shows:
TiVo Premiere DVR: $226
Blu-ray/DVD player to watch movies and play CDs:
Panasonic Blu-ray DVD Player: $159
Radio player to listen online radio services such as Pandora:
Grace Digital Internet Radio: $97
Digital media streamer to view pictures and stored music and videos:
Roku XDS Streaming Player: $98
Karaoke player to sing karaoke:
VocoPro Karaoke Player: $132
Weather station to instantly check the weather:
Oregon Scientific Weather Station: $38
Total cost of separate devices: $750
Total cost of our example HTPC build: $520
Keep in mind that this cost of $750 does not even include a desktop computer’s price, as I assume that you already have one in your household.
3. Linux based media center is complicated to setup
I have been always of the opinion of that installing a Linux operating system is a complicated process.
However, after installing an XBMC Live Linux to a bare bone HTPC, I was surprised to learn that it takes less than 30 minutes to have a media center ready to watch the first movie.
This is much less than you would spend installing Windows 7 and XBMC to your computer. Furthermore, the driver support is much better on Linux compared to what it was couple years ago.
4. You need a remote control for your media center
Many people are saying that you need a remote control to have a real media center experience.
However, I do not agree with this. For example, I have a Microsoft Arc keyboard in my living room and my wife really enjoys using it as you can use it without a line of sight with a very fast response to the key presses. With an infra-red remote control I often struggle as I need to have the line of sight and the response to the key presses, e.g. when scrolling down a long list of media files is far from smooth.
5. The HTPC is dead
Honestly, not many people even know what an HTPC is, so how it can be dead as it has never been really alive?
Many of my friends view videos through their Xbox, PS3 or Blu-ray player, yet they had no idea what an HTPC was. After they saw my home theater PC setup for the first time, they all were amazed what you can do with your TV.
There will always be a large group of technology enthusiastics who know what HTPC can do for them, so it will never go away. We just need to keep educating the public.
However, a home theater computer is already transforming from what used to be its core purpose. Take as an example how the role of HTPC has changed from over the air personal video recorder to streaming HD video content over the web.
Now, if I got you convinced that the HTPC is the way to go, have a look at my example HTPC builds to get started.