Top 25 Ways to Use a HTPC
A Home Theater Personal Computer (HTPC) is the bridge between your home theater and your home network. Why have a HTPC? Below are the top 25 ways to use a HTPC:
- Streaming Video – watch Youtube, Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Video, TV.com, and more on your HDTV. Sites such as Hulu.com and TV.com stream network TV shows from ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX. Streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Video gives quick access to tens of thousands of movies and TV shows.
- DVD Player – an HTPC’s DVD player can upscale, reduce blur, and sharpen video as well as any $500 DVD player on the market.
- Central Location For All Data – multiple computers, laptops, or Smartphones can use a HTPC as a central location to save digital music, family videos, pictures, and data files into one convenient location.
- Personal Digital Jukebox – play iTunes and MP3s using the home theater’s speakers or any distributed audio speakers.
- Blu-ray Player – Adding a BD-ROM drive to a HTPC creates a Blu-ray player. BD-ROM drives are far cheaper than stand-alone Blu-ray players.
- Digital Video Recorder (DVR) – record high definition or standard definition broadcasts by adding a video capture card to a HTPC. Includes Tivo like capabilities such as pausing and rewinding live TV .
- Home Automation Controller – software used to control home automation devices can conveniently be installed on a HTPC. Software can be used to control automated lights, security sensors, security cameras, electrical outlets, thermostats, window blinds and more.
- Ultimate Game Machine – play all the top PC games on the big screen with surround sound. The only true high definition game system besides Xbox 360 and PS3.
- Digital Photo Album – have a digital camera, but don’t have a good way of showing the pictures? A high resolution HDTV can be a great way to display digital pictures to more than one person.
- Home Video Player - watch home videos on a HDTV without having to burn DVDs.
- Camera Video Security – attach USB or Firewire video cameras and use a HDTV to watch live video of who is at the front door, or to check whether the kids are playing naughty or nice. Also, a HTPC can record a camera’s video for security purposes.
- Camera Memory Interface – Compact Flash, Memory Stick, Standard Digital, Firewire, and USB interfaces can be added to a HTPC. There’s no need to spend extra money on a HDTV with all the above interfaces when they are available on a HTPC.
- Stream Video – use a HTPC as a place-shifting device, similar to a Slingbox. Programs like Orb allow streaming video from a Home Theater Network to a laptop, work computer, or Smartphone. Streaming Video is perfect for anyone who loves to travel, but doesn't want to miss their local news, or local sports team in action.
- Internet Radio – with thousands of free online stations, why pay for satellite radio? Listen to internet radio using a home theater and distributed audio speakers.
- Talk on the Phone – get free phone calls using VOIP and programs like Skype.
- DVD Video Server – back up all of the family's DVDs to one convenient location.
- Control Receiver – use a HTPC to control a receiver through its RS-232 port, Ethernet, or USB ports. A receiver can then be controlled through other networked computers or a PDA.
- Download Movies – tired of physical disc media such as DVDs or Blu–ray? Use a HTPC to download movies from places such as Amazon Video, and never worry about a disc getting scratched again.
- Docking Station – use a HTPC as a docking station for all the portable devices such as PSPs, Video iPods, and Smartphones.
- DVD Burner – use a burner to save family videos, music, video recordings, pictures, or other important data.
- CD Player – use a HTPC to play regular music CDs or MP3 CDs.
- Surf the Web – use the big screen HDTV as a monitor to surf the web.
- Use as a Regular PC – check e-mail, chat, and Office programs.
- Play WMV HD DVD Disks – Windows Media High Definition disks allows HD video to be encoded onto regular DVD disks. Watch Terminator 2 – Extreme Edition or other WMV HD movies in HD.
- HD DVD Player – HD DVD lost the format war, but there are still lots of people with multiple HD DVD movies. An HD DVD ROM can be a great way to backup all the those HD DVD movies for the eventual day when there are no HD DVD players on the market.
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