HTPC vs PS3 or Xbox360

Shentar

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So I want a media server/player for my living room. I don't want to do live recording, I just want something to play video files I download and occasionally use to surf the net in the living room on my 50" 1080p plasma.

The big questions: Do I make a HTPC or just a media server? An HTPC would just be to watch movies off the PC or video files I download (like races or Top Gear or whatnot). I wouldn't mind watching Hulu or Youtube stuff as well.
Or do I just make it a server and use my PS3 or 360 to play the files. I'd lean toward the PS3 as the Xbox doesn't play a lot of codecs (or last time I checked it didn't).
if I go with an HTPC, I'd probably run Ubuntu and something like Boxee, XBMC (most likely), or Myth.

I have this nice PC I got free from work. Its an Asus P5ND2-SLI motherboard with 2Gb RAM and a Pentium D 3.2 GHz CPU. Its got an Nvidia Geforce 8800 GTS 256mb card in it. I've got a Dual Layer DVD-drive for optical use. I scored an LSI PCIe 8-port SAS/SATA raid card from work and 8 750gb SATA hard drives for storage. I can probably scare up some more ram if needed. Like 4 GB worth. The motherboard is nice as it has an optical audio output for surround sound to my home theater system.

So any thoughts? I supposedly could just do the HTPC and experiment with the PS3 and Xbox functionality using daemons. Who knows, but thoughts are nice to get from others. Originally I was going to use a Macbook Pro 15" laptop that I salvaged with a broken LCD, but then I later salvaged another MBP with a good LCD but bad hardware...sooo while that is still an option (as I have another MBP 15" I use for work and a 15" Dell laptop for home use), I got all that storage on the desktop pc, which is nice :)
 

rickhamilton620

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If you use Windows Media Center on the HTPC, you can use the XBOX 360 as a Media Center Extender to access the content on another TV besides the one that is hooked to the HTPC. I'm pretty sure that XBMC can do something similar... Keep in mind that you can't do any cable HD premium content w/out getting a system with a CableCard.
 

thevictor390

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Xbox doesn't have a web browser and PS3's isn't very good so I'd rule those out if that is important. Personally I'd just turn your box into an HTPC, it's more than powerful enough to play HD video itself.
 

RdKetchup

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I have both a PS3 and an XBox 360, and a computer (but not an HTPC) hooked to the TV.

I usually use the PS3 to access the media library on my PC. With the bluray remote, it just feels more natural than with the Xbox360 controller. Plus the PS3 interface a a lot nicer than the XBox interface for that kind of task.

On the PC I use PS3MediaServer to share the media library. It is compatible with both the PS3 and the XBox, and it does transcoding for the formats that are not supported by the PS3.
 

Der Stig

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^Same here.

PS3 for Blu Ray and Region 1 DVDs, computer for Region 2 DVDs and the Xbox for gaming.
 

mcrouch2000

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I have 3 xboxes and access them from the computer using media extender. I can access it though media center. videos, or tversity. You can download tversity for free and I like using it the best. Dell sells the xboxes cheap. They had the arcade version for $149 and free shipping last month here in the states so it was a no brainer, plus the xboxes double as a gaming system and much more, They are trouble free once you set them up
 

prizrak

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If you want Hulu you are going with a PC and one that runs Windows at that. I used to use my 360 for video but it sucks because it doesn't play a lot codecs. Using it as a media extender lets it play pretty much everything that the PC can but quality is somewhat diminished and .mkv's suck ass, some work well others look terrible.

My current set up is a Win 7 PC with Hulu desktop installed, there is a hack for the Media Center that allows you to start Hulu desktop from inside of it and go back to it once you are done all using a remote.
 

Matt2000

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Personally I use my Xbox 360 as my media player streaming straight from my NAS box over WiFi. The only advantage of a HTPC for me would be streaming iPlayer (simply because it's quicker than downloading) and MKV file support (eliminating the need to convert to h.264). I don't use the extender despite having Win7, far too slow and clunky.
 

smib

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I used to use a 360 via media center with a win7 of over wiring quite happily, but after selling the Xbox I built an htpc running xmbc on win7(for steam mostly) and have had no real issues. The only problem is that since xbmc for windows doesn't support hardware acceleration, I have to back out of it for 1080 stuff.
 

Mercury

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I use the PS3 with PS3 Media Server on my PC. I'm really enjoying it as it's a very easy to install/use setup and it works perfectly. I use the PS3 as a media server a hell of a lot more than I use it for gaming, but just remember if you plan on playing 1080p MKV files the PC the media server runs on must be strong enough to transcode it, I'd say you need a Core2Duo minimum for that, I seriously doubt a Pentium D would handle the pressure...
 

pepitko

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I use my 360 as a media center. I have movies and tv series on an external hdd, which is plugged into the xbox for most of the time. What sucks is that it doesn't play mkv files (but conversion takes something like 10 mins) and supports only FAT32 so your files cannot be larger than 4GB. I don't have a PS3, but want to get one, so I don't have an opinion on that at the moment. I really wish, they built in mkv support into the xbox. Not having a browser isn't an issue for me as I have a laptop for that..
 

prizrak

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^It takes 10 minutes for you to transcode from mkv? What the hell kind of machine do you have? Or is all your stuff in SD?
 

Polygon

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I've tried the 360 and I now I have an HTPC. Without question I would go with the HTPC over a PS3 or 360. An HTPC has no limitations and the other two have a lot of limitations.
 

Matt2000

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While it may be limited, I do find that on my 360 it's easier to navigate to videos on the NAS drive, which could be a pain in the arse on an HTPC (I know it's a bit more long winded in XMBC). As far as transcoding MKV files, I reckon it takes 4-5 minutes to do most files with GOTSent.
 

smib

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An HTPC with XBMC makes navigating to anything just as easy, or even easier than on an Xbox, particularly if you have a remote.
 
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