My ASUS motherboard came with an IR remote/receiver that works very well with XBMC. I had never bothered with it because I assumed it only worked with the shitty software ASUS included which can’t play 90% of my media.
XBMC has been able to play everything and makes the entire process much, much easier.
I built the HTPC around this ASUS board. I threw that and a couple of huge hard drives into an old Compaq case. Total cost was ~$400. I like the board because it’s completely fanless with a laptop-style power brick.
The only disappointment is the CPU isn’t powerful enough for HBOGo - when I try to play anything it’s terribly stuttery.
As a different option, you could get a WiHD transmitter/receiver to transmit your video/audio from your laptop to your TV. Control everything on your laptop as per usual but watch the media on your TV screen and speakers. I’ve got one of these and am quite pleased with how it works.
I have this and so far, not my favorite device. For DLNA, seems to be working pretty well, so far… but the streaming, the apps, chrome are a bit of a let down. Flash player crapped out halfway through project runway. Amazon “app” is just a bookmark, no real app. I’ve had to pull the plug on it a few times to reset the device. There is nothing on the front of the box that indicates it’s on or processing, anything.
I tried the Boxee route. On paper, it sounded perfect: pre-built, small and kinda cool looking on the AV shelf, lots of support.
After a year, I find I never ever use it. For things like Netflix and HBOGo, the speed and interface on my PS3 and XBox are far better. For using web sites/internet, it is slow, very awkward and clunky. It worked best for simply being a way to play movies and TV shows I ripped off of my DVDs but even for that it was just OK. In fact, I find the little Roku that Dish sent me (to make up for them dropping AMC) to be much friendlier, quicker, and sport a better interface.
So I’m also in the boat of looking for the “ideal” - i.e. having something that looks and feels like a regular computer but with the output going to my 54" plasma 1080p TV.
Running XBMC, nesrie? Like I said, it just came out. XBMC for android is still in rapid development. The amazon plugin is actually quite full-featured, and it plays everything I ask it to-- on linux. I haven’t tried the android version. You may be happier with Plex, but it does require that you run the plex media server on the other end.
Or were you talking about the googletv? I wasn’t implying that anyone would actually use it as a googletv, just a platform to run the plex or XBMC apps. I got rid of my googletv awhile back, it’s pretty useless. I do like the keyboard, though, and use it on my linux HTPC now.
I am using a Vizo Co-Star device which I am not entirely sure what is on it at the moment. It’s updated a few times already, so Vizio is certainly trying. Whether or not it just came out, devoting an entire button on the big ass remote to an amazon app that is nothing more than a bookmark on chrome, and the remote itself is subpar just as a universal remote… well it doesn’t work well.
I have my PC connected to the TV through DVI–HDMI. The sound goes to an amplifier that’s connected to a 5.1 set. I’m thinking of also connecting my wife’s computer through HDMI to the TV, but I’m not sure how to get the cable across. I suppose the best solution would be a 15 to 20 meter cable all around the living room.
The only tiny problem my setup causes is the hassle of switching the sound to the headphones every time I want sound at my PC.
So, anyone know how well this system performs? I assume it has 1920x1200 (i.e. 1080p) output? I saw someone mentioning their system didn’t handle HBOGo well - any idea how this would do? I"m very tempted…
I use SetSoundDevice to get around this little problem. Since it can be called from the command line, I took a second to throw together batch files for “switch to computer mode” and “switch to TV mode” that called it with the number of the audio device I wanted (2 for headphones, 1 for HDMI-out). I also called the default Windows7 program “DisplaySwitch.exe” to auto-switch between “Extend on the two PC monitors” and “output directly to HDMI out” in those batch files, but that might go further than you need if you’re not rocking two monitors AND the TV like I am :D
I then set keyboard shortcuts to the batch files in Windows and can basically just tap Ctrl-Alt-M for computer mode (M for monitor) and Ctrl-Alt-T for TV mode. Super nice and took all of about 5 mins to setup :D