The Media Center PC an Idea whose Time has Come, Or Why You Need it … Now!

When it comes to home media we live in a very interesting time. It was not that long that ago that the media that we enjoyed whether it be movies, music, television or games were all experienced separately on their own different platforms. If you wanted to experience a great film in all it’s glory you went to the cinema. When you wanted to listen to your favorite music it was on the stereo in the other room. TV programs were enjoyed on the day of broadcast and then maybe much later in syndication. But all of this has changed and in a very short time. Media formats have come and gone. Entertainment platforms have multiplied and become more diverse. It would seem that the media world has become hopelessly fragmented. But this is not the case.

We may watch our favorite movie on our phone while flying 30,000 feet in the air or play a game on our tablet while relaxing in the backyard. We may experience our media in any number of ways on many different platforms but there is one thing that unites them all – the internet. It may seem so obvious as to not be worth mentioning, but the internet is what allows us to enjoy our media in so many different ways. And it is the internet which makes the media center pc such a great idea whose time as finally come.

The media center pc is, in fact, the answer to many different questions.

Cable Tying You in Knots? Cut the Cord and Cut the Cost

When people find out that I’m in the business of designing media center pc’s one of the first things that comes up in conversation is the cost of cable and satellite television. I have yet to meet a person who feels that they are paying a fair price for their basic and premium-channel cable and satellite subscriptions. Costs are high and continue to rise. In their report “Digital Video Outlook,” marketing specialists NPD Group noted that the monthly cost of cable and satellite subscriptions have risen 6% annually and are on track to continue at that rate into the near future. Working from the 2014 average monthly cost of $86 they projected the average monthly cable bill to be $123 by the year 2014 and a whopping $200 by 2014!

pay-tv forecast
After a series of multi-billion dollar deals with major sports franchises in New York and Los Angeles, cable and satellite giants Time Warner Cable and Verizon have quietly bumped up the cost of their monthly basic service between $2 and $5. It seems that all of their subscribers in these regions will have to pay for these excessive one-time deals. How much are people willing to pay for television?

For many people the answer to this costly dilemma is to cut the cord and rely on their media center pc. There has never been a better time to cancel that monthly subscription and strike out on your own. Many have already taken the plunge. As Comcast CEO Neil Smit recently admitted at a media conference, their premium channel subscriptions have been steadily falling for more than two years. You’re probably asking yourself right about now, “how can I replace my monthly subscription?” Along with the major broadcast network’s online offerings, there are a range of channels, apps and providers all clamoring to provide you with a wide range of television options. From the well-known like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video-on-Demand and MLB.TV down to the more obscure, the range of available content is growing at an almost daily rate. The best way to handle this wide range of content and enjoy it on as many devices as possible is through a well-designed and properly configured media center pc. Just think of it as designing your own personal cable network! Jump on board the future is now!

So, You wanna build a Media Center ?

Right about now you’re probably thinking, “wow, cutting the cord sounds like a great idea.” But your media center pc is more than just a cable television replacement. Much more! Forget about TV for a moment. What about all the media that you already own? Better yet let’s just think about all of the video files that you already own. You know, all those movie files (xvids, avi’s, mkv’s, etc.) and all those formats (DVDs, Blu-rays, etc) scattered around the house on hardrives, thumbdrives and discs. Your media center pc is the answer to movie chaos. It is your whole-house movie organizer. The play-anything, stream-anywhere solution to your entertainment needs. Imagine all of your movie files indexed and accessible at the touch of button from any of your devices! Aaaah…I can see myself in the Lazy Boy right now.

I want to say how we are grateful…Accept my gratitude…Many Thanks…from the deep of my heart.
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Your Media Center PC: Television, Movies and a Whole Lot More

A ‘whole-house media organizer,’ I like the sound of that. And not just movies. A media center pc can keep your entire digital life organized and make it accessible from any device you choose. Photos? No problem. Music? Natch. E-books? Never tried it but I can’t see why not!

But it is more than a movie-playing, television-streaming digital organizer. As a great person once said, “Man does not live on movies, television and music alone.” And he was right. What about games! A well-designed media center pc is also a hard-hitting game playing machine. Imagine kicking ass in the latest first-person shooter one minute, streaming your favorite music from Pandora the next and later getting caught up on the latest episodes of Family Guy via Hulu. And all from the same chair!

Under the hood: No Guts, No Glory

I know a lot of you out there are thinking, “what is this guy raving about? Why should I build a media center pc when there are plenty of different media streamers available?” It is true that there are quite a few media streaming devices available from the likes of Apple, Roku, Western Digital, etc. littering the shelves of electronics stores across the country. Some of these devices are capable of providing a few basic media functions. Some might even find a place in a home network. But none of these devices are capable of providing the total media experience that can be achieved with a well-designed media center pc. They just don’t have the guts!

All of our recommended pc builds, from the Mini PC to the Media Center Home Server, are capable and powerful devices able to handle all the daily digital chores. Whether playing 1080p video from a hard drive or streaming it from an online service like Netflix, all of our builds are can handle it without breaking a sweat. ……..

A Home For Your Media Center PC: You Want to Put it Where?!

Sometimes when building a media pc the home media enthusiast focuses on the technical side of the project (the “guts”) and ignores what can be termed the “environmental” elements of the build – noise, heat, size and appearance. Not here at We build them powerful enough to do the job and to look good as well.

As Home Theater PCs (HTPC) have become more mainstream, case designs have dramatically improved. Not too long ago the average HTPC was a noisy, ugly, living room-unfriendly, nondescript black tower. Not anymore. No longer satisfied with a tower pc in the living room, home media enthusiasts have demanded — and received — much more stylish cases designs. Today the best looking piece of technology you own might be your media center pc! (Check out the Media Home Server below and it’s drool-worthy Silverstone case!) Along with improvements in case design have been dramatic reductions in case size. Today the average media center pc case is no bigger than your audio-video receiver.

Heat and noise used to be the unwanted side effects of having a powerful media center pc — but no more! With advances in CPU and VPU technology, media center pcs no longer need bulky, expensive, heat-producing, video cards. Advanced video-processing technology built right onto the motherboard is now the rule and not the exception. What does this mean to the home media enthusiast? It means a device powerful enough to play 1080p 24fps video and 24-bit uncompressed multichannel movie soundtracks yet be quiet and cool enough to find a home in a comfortable living room environment.

It all adds up to a high Wife Acceptance Factor (WAF). As our own Stan so ably demonstrates, slick case design plus quiet and cool performance equals a high Wife Acceptance Factor. You can’t argue with that! It’s science!

Which System is Right For Your Living Room?

The Mini PC – Your Lightweight Champ No bigger than the size of an Xbox 360, it’s your whisper quiet, inexpensive, low wattage media center. The Mini PC will play every 1080p HD file you can throw at it, whether it be locally stored or streaming from the internet from a service like Netflix. Quick access to your media library through gorgeous menus running a program like XBMC or Plex — all for a little under $250.

The HTPC Gamer – Your Middleweight Champ This is the system that will make you the envy of all your friends. Whether you have it connected to your HD projector or big screen LCD/Plasma TV this bad boy shines at everything it does. Smooth as silk 1080p video playback of all your locally stored media and Blu-Ray discs. Stream HD videos from services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon without a hitch. And if that wasn’t enough – stellar frame rates when playing any of the latest video games!

The Media Center Home Server - Your Heavyweight Champ This system is built with sharing files between home computers, tablets and phones in mind. Why settle for the limitations of a store-bought server when you can build one that’s better and cheaper?

  • The Mini PC
  • stores 100+ Movies
  • DVD/CD player
  • HD 2500 video
  • USB 3.0
  • 2 GB memory
  • 110w max usage
  • 6.7″x6.7″x3″
  • The HTPC Gamer
  • stores 400+ Movies
  • Blu-Ray player
  • Radeon HD 7770 video
  • USB 3.0
  • 8 GB memory
  • 210w max usage
  • 12″x14.2″x4.2″
  • Media Center Home Server
  • stores 2014+ Movies
  • Blu-Ray player
  • HD 4000 video
  • Enhanced Security

The Mini PC – Lightweight Champ

The Lightweight Champion may be small but he’s got it where it counts. Whether playing high-definition videos or streaming music to devices throughout the house, the Mini PC Lightweight does it all quickly and quietly. He just gets it done.
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Middleweight Champ

Power, versatility and good looks… No were not talking about your date last night, were referring to the Middleweight Media Center PC that everyone will want for the family room.

Heavyweight Champ

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hardware-buyers-guideNot sure what hardware to use for your Media Center PC ?
Follow our hardware buyers guide to help you choose just the right mix of components to meet your needs.
build-media-center-pcSo you want to build your very own Media Center ?
Follow our step by step guides, tutorials and videos to help you properly assemble your components into a cutting edge living room PC. Of course we’ll also help show you the optimal methods to install your operating system and apps!
build-media-center-pcThis is where we show you what killer apps to run on your new media center system.
download-free-appsMake sure you grab a copy of our Calibration software and HD Demo Disk in our FREE download center

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