Build a Media Center Computer with any Computer that has USB
or a Network
Although there are several
different ways you can build a media center computer, I'll show you
what I use, simply because it's extremely cost effective, and it's an
upgrade that I can use over a long period of time.
So what is this upgrade, it's simple, there's a media player that you
can buy, currently for under a $100 dollars that will play full media
content from your current computer through a network connection or from
a USB flash drive. It has 1080p, optical out and the video
playback is superb quality.
The great part of using this versus streaming directly from the
computer is simple. You can build a great gaming computer without
making sure your video card has the options you need. The
same goes for the audio. Just focus on the best parts to make
your computer, connect this device, and you have the best of 2 worlds.
Previously I used a PS3 as my media center, but because the supported
formats were very limited, I was looking for something I didn't have to
convert files on. The Western Digital TV Live HD Media Player
That's a mouth full. It's has played everything
thrown at it. Compatibility is great. From picture
files, to music, or even movies encoded with just about anything work.
The only format I have found that it doesn't work with is
audio encoded with AAC. For that a quick encode on a freeware
program called mkv2vob which I found in my PS3
days does the trick, and it's point and click use. Update
As a recent firmware update has come down for this media
it now plays every file I've tried, this includes AAC encoded audio.
As you can see from the picture, the device is really compact,
reference, the remote is about half the length of a regular TV remote.
Setting it up is easy and playback is great. The
unit will auto update if you have internet access hooked up on your
network as well, this way when new upgrades are made available, you can
get them easily.