Those of you who know me might be familiar with my favoritism of this idea. If you are not, get ready for me to try and sell you.
The technology isn’t really developed enough for it yet. Give it a couple more years; one maybe two. The learning curve is still a little steep for the average John Q. User. A Home Theatre Personal Computer (hereafter referred to as an HTPC) isn’t quite ready to be used regularly by somebody who doesn’t think that having to fiddle with things for 5 minutes to play a DVD sometimes isn’t fun in a perverse sort of way.
Imagine your TV, TiVo, DVD player, and your stereo were all combined, and you’ll begin to understand the possibilities of what an HTPC can be good for.
Computers are very good at emulating the functions of other machines. If your computer is at all modern, it can probably already play DVDs, and it would have to be really antiquated to be incapable of converting your audio CDs to files onto its hard drive for to play them later. It only takes the addition of a card that grows less and less expensive all the time before it can take on the role of a TV and Personal Video Recorder (a PVR or more colloquially known as something like a TiVo).
The average home PC is just spitting distance from an HTPC. But let get me to why you should care.
Let me give you a “for instance” of something that you can’t do any other way, but that you can get with a HTPC. Mine, with almost no set up, can tell me who is signed on to my instant messaging program. As I watch a movie, if I so choose, a little window will pop-up in the corner of my screen saying “TravellersBag has just signed on”. If I felt like chatting with that person, I could then do so.
That isn’t a really compelling reason by itself, but it alone isn’t really my point. As a fully functional computer, the HTPC can become integrated with any number of other programs and give the user all kinds of features that will benefit them.
Ok ok, that was a lot of tech-speak and it’s kind of vague and probably you aren’t interested in it.
Here’s a good reason for the average Joe: Remotes.
My brother-in-law and sister’s household has something like 4 or 5 remotes in their TV room. At its height, my parent’s living room was home to a similar number. An HTPC would be just another remote to clutter things up and make things more complicated and get lost, yes?
Not on your life.
Because the HTPC replaces other electronics, it actually reduces remotes. There is almost no reason that a home theatre setup based around a HTPC should require more then one remote.
That would be refreshing, yes? One remote to do everything once again. You haven’t been there since the VCR was invented, but I think the HTPC will take you there again.