The HTPC, as acronym says, is a pc that have home theater features, so a system with multimedia features.
On the market there are ready premade HTPC or like “normal” computers they can be manually assembled.
These pc have common elements with normal pc, like motherboard, cpu, hard disk, ram, video card… but other we dont find like tv tuner, satellite/DVB-T card, etc… or that common ones but with features points to home enterteinment (eg. horizontal chassis with fine and specific design for fitting in a living room)
Sure at least one time you heard terms like HDMI, DTS, etc…, thanks to the big flexibility of HTPC from hardware point and thanks to specific software always more advanced and fully featured it’s possible to implement all actual technologies and also by upgrading/expanding the system you can implement the next future ones.
Today combining the HTPC with a recent or last generation tv it’s possible to watch movies, play audio files and see photos both in “normal” and high definition (HD) mode, managed by the multimedia control center, that’s the HTPC software.
Naturally the cost of the home theater system is very variable depending to components used and own needs, eg. a dvd player/burner instead of a bluray player.
A fast, cheap and easy solution that many practice is to directly connect the notebook provided by HDMI port to tv (paying attention to the max resolution allowed by the video card of notebook)
Ok isnt optimal and best solution for HTPC but it does the job…
There are many pros to have an HTPC:
– high customization
– all features in one system
– upgradable and expandable
Moreover providing network connection to the device you can do more things, listen music and watch movies, web tv etc… in streaming, access to multimediali contents of sites/services like Youtube, Hulu etc…
The software is an important part of HTPC, there are both commercial and free/opensource and for various OS.
List of free/opensource software:
MythTV (linux based, working natively in Mac OS X too and in Windows by the WinMyth port), developed from 2002, supports plugins and themes
Kodi (multiplatform), the most fully featured and popular solution
MediaPortal (for Windows) the pro to be opensource makes it costantly developed, supports plugins + extensions