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Home Theater PC Guide: 1080p HDMI Edition
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Old 2nd December 2008, 11:38   #1
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Default Home Theater PC Guide: 1080p HDMI Edition

TiVo and its brethren get credit for introducing the average consumer to the concept of the digital video recorder (DVR) and opening the door to bigger and better things. The Home Theater PC (HTPC) is the computer enthusiast's answer to all the things that a DVR generally does, with the potential to do everything a full-fledged computer does. The concept had a bit of a slow start until Microsoft's release of Windows XP Media Center Edition (MCE) 2005, which gave the very familiar Windows a living room interface and the hardware support that HTPCs needed.

No matter what operating system you use for your HTPC, the same general concepts exist: recording and time-shifting TV are the device's most basic functions; playback and recording of DVD and Blu-ray are secondary but (perhaps) no less critical, followed by distribution of audio content and, in more ambitious setups, serving up digital media in its capacity as the whole home network's media storage center. And don't forget the ability to do mundane things like browsing the web from ten feet away on a shiny new 1080p HDTV.

The newest evolution in the HTPC is the continuing development of HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface). HDMI allows a protected connection that carries both audio and video over a single cable, and in the current version, 1.3a, HDMI is finally established enough that it now just works. . . most of the time. When the last update was published, HDMI for content protected video was working fairly well in the HTPC arena, but HDMI for content protected audio was not yet working very well. That has changed in the past few months, as AMD, NVIDIA, and Intel have all made substantial improvements in getting full-blown HDMI working. Things are now solid enough to make HDMI a vital part of the HD-capable HTPC.
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