HTPC or Roku type box?

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I say "Roku type box" because I don't know the general name for these products. There are several out there...

WD TV Live Plus:

Then ther eare ones from Iomega, Argosy, AverMedia, ASUS, D-Link....countless companies.

Anyway, my sister cares only to watch and store media (movies, tv shows). She spoke to a colleague at work and he told her to get an HTPC. Hearing that she only needed to store and watch media, I told her to get one of those Roku type boxes - not only is it cheaper (the cheapest HTPC I could build for her would be at least $300 where as these Roku boxes are only $100ish) and use less energy, but they are just easier (no dealing with Windows, IR receiver, or any of that crap).

My question to the community is, what "Roku type box" should I recommend she get? Or should she go the HTPC route? Be aware that if you suggest the HTPC route, I am not building her some sort of core i7 behemoth - it would be something more along the lines of a quiet, energy efficient machine (think Intel Atom or AMD APU) because she would never turn it off.

I think Roku is the most glorified of the bunch considering it has been around for a while, but I understand there are some codec deficiencies it has? I'm not sure...I've never played around with Roku, but I figure someone has made a better competing product (WD TV Live Plus?).

Do any of these Roku-type products come with an built in hard drive? E.g. WD TV Live Plus? They look like they should but some of them don't specifically say they do.

Just to give you a little description of my sister's interests:

-she likes to store movies...a lot of them

-she watches movies in AVI format, and very often MKV format

-very rarely, if at all, does her media come in any lesser expected format (MPG, WMV, D2TS, RM)

-she has her music, probably all MP3, although I know she has tons of I'm not sure what her interests are with regards to music

-I'm aware Roku comes with channels (, netflix) as do many of the competing products, but these would just be icing on the cake.

-she has an external hard drive she would like to hook up

-she would definitely like for interconnectivity between network devices (e.g. her laptop).

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Jason S.

Roku cannot store media. it's simply a middleman between the tv and the media stream. Roku cannot even interface w/ a NAS or another network storage device.

it can, however, play video from an attached usb external hd.

sorry, i dont know anything about those other products you mentioned.

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Roger H.

You would need a somewhere to store the files so either a Roku type box as you call them and a USB HDD or a WDTV Live Hub which has a 1TB drive built in. That might be somewhat limiting however but it's exandable via USB drives as well. Now what I did is i have my Windows Home Server (or any NAS will do) and get the WDTV Live Plus which can stream Netflix and Hulu Plus and all that, but it can also stream from your network which the actual Roku devices can't do. Boxee can do this as well so that's another choice. So if she just wants to save her TV shows and then watch them, just make sure you get a good size USB drive or NAS, if not just stream them from Hulu/Netflix.

I have about 2.5TB of stuff on my server from my DVD collection that I sold off (guess I no longer should keep the ISOs, oh well :shifty:) and it grows all the time with new TV shows and new movies that aren't available on Netflix just yet. I started a Blu-Ray collection but still rather copying stuff to the server :D

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El Marto

i have a Boxee Box which is sweet. it plays every format under the sun and from every source. i have it playing from my 2 portable HDD's over USB and my NAS over the network. categorises and organises your shows too. Would recommend to anyone.

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Personally, I would get something like this

It leaves all options open, you can slap any HTPC software you want on it and have complete control. And it's guaranteed to play any files. You can attach a USB HDD, USB Blu-Ray drive, stream from wired/wireless, watch Hulu & other online video etc.

But in your case it sounds like all you need is a standalone media player, if the only thing you will be doing is playing files.

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Sir Topham Hatt

I had a WDTV (not the Live or the Live Plus).

It was great, I mean, really simple and played everything I wanted. However, the one downfall of it was space. With only two USB ports, the most you could store is 5/6 Tb of data. While that might be fine for now, I was looking for something which would be good for years. So I invested about ?400 in a simple PC (no graphics card) and use that with Windows7 / XBMC.

The case I bought has space for 6 hard drives (12Tb - 6x2Tb drives) and a further two 5.25" bays (I don't need any drives for it as it's network attached), which I could use for another couple of 2Tb drives. Obviously as the 3Tb drives are now entering the market, then this space can very easily go up. Then the old 2Tb drives could be used in my desktop PC.

However, for what she wants if it is mostly SD things, then a "middle-man" box would be better for her. If she is looking to increase her HD collection then she needs to think bigger. Not sure if there is some kind of server rack that could be built which then connects via USB to the middle-man box which sees it as some sort of RAID "one large disk" setup?

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see this maybe the zotac mini pc thing would be suitable plus can upgrade parts if need be and relatively cheap.

Can also get barebone ones can put your own memory and hdd in for cheaper just search for them〈=en

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