Sunday, January 06, 2008

HTPC (pronounced "aych tee pee see")

One of the things I always said I wanted to do after I graduated was to put together a Home Theater PC, or as the FLA goes, an "HTPC." It's fundamentally no different from a regular PC, though it does differ in form and in function. For my HTPC, I knew that the primary purpose would be a music player for my library of digital music, a video player for my library of digital video, and most important, a sort of hub of all things emulated. So far the menu consists of NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, GBA, N64, MAME (coin-op arcade games, essentially), a DOS emulator, and ScummVM, which very specifically plays a collection of old Lucas Arts adventure and a handful of others.

Turns out, what's also been loads of fun is firing up the ol' 'fox and browsing Youtube with friends. Here's a screen shot of the desktop, wherein I'm using a cool utility called Avedesk, which lets you deck out the desktop with over-sized icons that pulsate with various effects when hovered over with the mouse pointer.

In it's form, an HTPC is usually meant to be different insofar as it should look good when placed on your media riser next to your other toys, be they an xbox, a dvd player, a receiver and stereo, etc. I ended up choosing Lian-Li's PC-35B because it's the smallest PC case available, and a slight smidgen of sexy thrown in. The downside was that it is, in fact, so small, that I have no room to add any expansion cards to the motherboard, and so when choosing said board I had to find one that would have on-board video and sound that would be good enough. On-board sound these days is actually quite good, and since this was never meant to be an HTPC powerhouse capable of playing modern-day games, the on-board video does the job well enough.

I've got lots of USB controllers too, so come over to my house and we'll play through Secret of Mana 3-player style, or maybe run through the classic X-men arcade game :-D


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