Help me pick an HTPC replacement

Late last year, I built up a home theater PC to replace one that had died. It’s got a very pretty case designed to fit in with audio equipment (protip: if you’ve got young kids or large dogs, don’t hook up the power button to the motherboard. Use the reset switch instead). I put a Blu Ray drive, about 6 TB of storage, and a massive amount of RAM in it. It’s a hoss of a box, and I’m not going to be getting rid of it.

The new house we bought has a great media room. It’s already wired for sound and has surround speakers in the ceiling. The HTPC would look great on the built-in media rack.

Unfortunately, the media room is a converted attic space. It’s not connected to the central HVAC in any way. Instead, it’s got a 13 year old PTHP that only has “on” and “not on” as options. They’re kinda spendy to run, and spendy to replace with newer computer controlled models. What that means is that this room will only be climate-controlled when we’re using it, which probably tops out at 2 hours a day.

Having an always-on server in that kind of situation is bad. I imagine that the room will get to probably 110F in the summer, before you add the waste heat that electronics produce.  I need some sort of set-top box that can do the following:

  • 7.1 audio out, via either optical or over HDMI
  • Handle a variety of video media in 1080p over DLNA or SMB, or run PLEX or XBMC natively.
  • Not get killed by frequent power cycling

That last one is there because I’m probably going to put all my stuff on a switched outlet and power that guy off when we’re not using it.

We have a Logitech Revue we’re using in the bedroom now. It’s okay, but it’s discontinued and underpowered.

The Roku 3 looks like it meets all my criteria (PLEX has a Roku Channel or whatever it’s called)

The VIZIO Co-Star looks like it has promise, too only does 5.1 sound, so it’s out. I can’t find anything definitive about the Sony NSZ-GS7. We won’t be getting cable at the new place, so most of Google TV’s features are wasted.

A co-worker just got this and based on his experience, it’s probably not going to meet my needs.

I haven’t considered any Blu-ray players with network features. Should I?

What other boxes should I consider?

3 comments to Help me pick an HTPC replacement

  • Chris

    I have a HP microserver N36 that I use as a streaming video source for my whole house… I stream to my XBOX and to every PC in the house from it.

  • The Plex channel on my Roku 2XS works great, and it gives the Roku YouTube access that it doesn’t have natively. Plus, you can toss Plex Media Server on your current HTPC to stream the content that you have saved there, even with the HTPC set up somewhere else in the house.

    As a bonus, the Roku doesn’t seem to draw much power or generate much heat when its in “standby” mode, so you might be able to get away with just leaving it on (also, it’s designed to be left connected, and automatically downloads updates while in standby).

  • oddball

    You know that I’m a fan of my Roku 2 running Plex. You might want to look into either LG or Samsung blueray players. I believe Plex will run on most of those (they’ve got a list on their site).

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