October 09, 2009
| by Stephen Hopkins
Last week I showed you that the basics of a fully functional HTPC (home theater PC) don’t have to cost an arm and a leg, especially if you plan on the bulk of your storage being network based.
That little ditty did, however, have one item lacking for anyone looking to backup a large DVD collection ... it didn’t have a drive! My original thinking was there would likely be a PC with said drive, more encoding horsepower, somewhere on your network anyway.
For anyone looking for a similarly priced one-stop-shop, check out the refurbished eMachines EL1210-09 for $199 from Tiger Direct. It’s a small form-factor PC with all the basics (AMD Athlon CPU, 2GB RAM, 160GB HD) as well as a home-theater friendly HDMI output and h.264-crunching Geforce 8200 video chipset.
As with our last candidate, 160GB isn’t going to store a large video library, but it will be plenty of space for your OS, front-end of your choice (I like XBMC if you’re not setting up a DVR), and other apps. Another bonus for those looking to get going out of the box without installing a ton of new software, this one comes with Vista Home Premium (which includes Media Center) and may qualify for the Windows 7 upgrade program.
Yep, I just called Vista a bonus.
Stephen Hopkins is chief technology editor for EH Publishing. He writes product reviews, features, and focuses heavily on 3D TV, iPhone and iPad apps, and digital content.