Monday, November 8, 2010

Ultimate Home Theater

Since I buying my TV this summer I've been contemplating what my ultimate home theater would look like (and by look like, I mean what it would include).  My definition of "ultimate" might sway a little from most people talking about their home theater.  I define an awesome home theater as sleek, efficient, and does everything I need it to do.  So I've been thinking a lot about streamlining.  And streaming, because I don't have cable so it's my favorite way of watching a variety of television.

Here's my current set up:
The Set Up

Don't get me wrong.  My current set up isn't bad, in fact I really like.  But we're talking ultimate home theater.  So here's how it currently functions.  The black box on the chair to the right is my PS3.  It does pretty much everything (like the ads say) - games, blu-ray, DVDs, hooks up to the internet - but no Hulu (more on that later).  The silver cord and with white thing connected to it on the chair to the left, is how I hook up my MacBook Pro to my TV.  This is how I watch my ultra wonderful, Hulu.  The black cord going across the left chair is going to my antenna, which will hopefully find a home on the wall eventually.  I don't have cable.  I find I can meet most of my needs through my Hulu and PS3, at least while in grad school.

Other than streamlining (and streaming), I've been focusing on how I can decrease clutter.  So continually thinking of how to have as few things (boxes, remotes, cables, etc.).

Here's what I've (mostly) decided on:

1. If Hulu decides to play nice with the world and allow streaming through my PS3 (without paying an arm and two legs - as it currently is set up), then I would use my PS3 (already own) to stream my Hulu Plus and Netflix if I decide to keep it (though unlikely).

  • I would digitize my entire DVD collection, put it on an external hard drive and hook it up to my PS3 via one of the usb ports.  The biggest thing lacking would be the ease of use.  To play my movies and TV shows on my PS3 I would have to do the equivalent of digging through folders on my external hard drive.
  • I could also upload all of my music onto the external hard drive, however, I would have the same problem as above.  Sony really needs to add a media player to the PS3.  Then it really would do everything (besides play Hulu).

2. If Hulu (or Sony, not sure who's doing it) decides to continue to play hard ball, or I decide that the non-user friendly media center on my PS3 takes away from my viewing, then I would begin saving my pennies for the ultimate entertainment hub - the Mac mini.

Here's what I would do if I got a Mac mini:

  • Hook it up to the TV via a HDMI cable (no converter needed!)
  • Store all of my previously mentioned digitized media on it.
  • Turn on home sharing in iTunes on my laptop and on the mini - allowing for my music to stay on my laptop (where it's most convenient) and my movies on the mini (where the hard drive could hold them)...but allowing each device play the media content as if it was it's own.
  • Have Hulu Desktop launch on start-up - immediate access to content.
  • Last, but not least, I would purchase this bad boy:

EyeTV One.  He would turn my mini into a DVR.  I could record the shows I know I'm going to miss, pause the show I'm watching to make dinner, edit the content to make super awesome montages of all of my favorite scenes to share with you guys (if copyright law allowed), AND (see diddy on iTunes sharing above) play my recorded TV shows in my bed on my laptop (sick days???).

AND if the mini becomes a part of my home theater (which would then be dubbed my ultimate home theater), I could control everything with my iPod Touch.

Did the world just stop spinning??  I think I felt it.  Clearly, I'm not leaning toward one option :)  Too bad, the mini has so much upfront cost (though by not paying for cable it pays for itself in time).  I'd better start saving my pennies.


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