Main Hardware (Output)
There are many options for home theatre setup in the market nowadays. How do you choose one that suits your need? Do you need a full computer setup, Home Theatre Personal Computer (HTPC), Media Player/Streamer or Media Dongle?
Majority of users prefer an “out-of-the-box” media player like Apple TV or ViewQwest TV. No setup is required. Full PC and HTPC require a lot of tinkering and software tweaks to make it compatible for use in the living room as a media device. Typically, home users prefers plug and play and do not wish to use a bulky keyboard and a mouse when they are lying on their couch. Tiny icons, difficult controls and typing need to be minimized to fit the living room remote control.
HTPC like ViewQwest TV might be the obvious winner nowadays. Main hardware setup is very simple, as you only have to plug in the HDMI cable to the TV and power it up. Those advanced users can use optical cable to connect to more advanced hardware like a home theatre system (amplifier with 5.1/7.1 surround speakers)
1) Integrated remote and keyboard (with trackpad or gyro)
2) Track pad/Mouse and wireless full keyboard
3) Mouse with on-screen Keyboard
4) Universal Remote
I would advise to get a backlit device with wireless capabilities for the living room. More advance users might want gyro enabled remote or voice activation on the remote.
Software Setup for PC or HTPC
Basically you need to customize the software setup to your liking. Setting up an organized library of TV Shows, Movie and Music is important. I categorize my Movies folder to different language first. The sub categories are further divided into genres. If you have software like Plex and XBMC it will help to auto divide your movies into all the relative categories.
Software Setup for Media Players like ViewQwest
No setup at all. Plug it in and stream all the content you need from the Internet or network attached storage within the house.
Of course, the next step is to show off your HTPC setup to your friends and family. They will be impressed! Stay tuned for a tour of my home theatre system setup! Part 2 here