Monthly Archives: July 2011

Upgrading to a new Media Center PC – Part 3, The Setup

Here’s the specs and comparison of my old and new HTPC.  After this I’ll list the rest of my setup.

new htpc vs old htpc

Old HTPC: Compac Presario model SR1834NX (full specs).  This computer had an AMD athalon 64 Processor and an aftermarket video card.

New HTPC: Acer model AX1420G-U5832.  This computer features an AMD Athalon II x4 quad core processor running at 3.1 GHz.  It also has a 1terabyte HDD and 4 Gigs of RAM.

Comparison: With a fresh Windows XP install and aftemarket video card, the original Compac PC performed well considering it’s age (over five years old).  However, Read more »

Upgrading to a new Media Center PC – Part 2, The Swap

As mentioned in the previous post, there are many reasons for getting a HTPC.  Mine was outdated, so this is how the upgrade went.  It was supprisingly easy actually.

The first step was removing the old PC.  This wasn’t too hard, but it always takes a leap of faith to pull the cords out of your equipment as the new equipment is unknown.

dusty compac pc

The old Compac PC

After unhooking the power cord, HDMI port, and VGA cord, sliding it out from in back of my subwoofer (a great hiding place) was fairly easy. Unfortunatly, dust builds up fairly quickly back there, so a good cleaning of all the cords, the PC itself, and the area surrounding it was in order.  I used some anti-allergen spray as well for good measure.

Anti-alergen spray is probably a good idea when changing HTPCs

Anti-alergen spray is probably a good idea when changing HTPCs

Once clean, the little Acer PC slid into the open space quite easily.  The power and VGA cables were never removed from the TV or power socket, simply plugged right into the new PC.  The new PC didn’t have an HDMI port (used for audio on the previous PC – had some issues getting it to fill the entire screen), so an RCA cable had to be used to go out of the line out jack to audio input to my receiver.  One of these was readily available, so it wasn’t an issue.

From the time I started to the time I could see a picture on the screen from the new Acer computer was probably Read more »

Upgrading to a new Media Center PC – Part 1, Why a PC for the TV?

Mac Mini as HTPCMedia center PCs or HTPCs seem to have come into their own in the past couple years.  Services such as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu give the average person legal ways to stream content off of the internet at little or no charge.  Additionally, backups can be made of the of DVDs in one’s collection and viewed off the PC itself.

Systems such as the PS3, Xbox360, and Wii are good media streaming solutions for some, but have drawbacks.  These include the fact that there is a limited interface for Netflix (here’s how to use the old interface for a PC) and that you have to pay for Hulu Plus to use it on game systems.  Google TV hasn’t taken off the way some would have liked, and Apple TV and the Roku player are limited to what the manufacturer gives you as well.

The Mac Mini (pictured above) is probably a decent solution as it’s small and well designed.  However, Mac products are generally more expensive than PC products.  I have not tested one, but here’s Engadget’s review if you’re curious.

To put things in a more positive light Read more »