Posted on 3rd Feb 2009 at 10:21 by Richard Swinburne with 4 comments
While I mull over the hardware for our inagural home theatre PC (HTPC) buying guide, I'm back thinking about all sorts of (self induced) overly-complicated logic to do with total energy efficiency, GPU versus CPU acceleration, and inevitably, the software driving it.
You see, as much as ATI, Nvidia and even Intel have built in their respective video accelerators for MPEG-2, MPEG-4 (DivX/Xvid AVI) and h.264, (most of) the software still needs to be coded to take advantage of it. Apart from paid-for software like PowerDVD or WinDVD, there is only Media Player Classic - Home Cinema edition that enables this option. The usual home theatre interfaces like Windows MCE and an all manor of other popular ones, do not. So we're still left with the CPU taking most of the grunt and that's not a bad thing until you get into super high bitrate 1080p.
One of these software packages I covered last year was the early alpha version of Boxee
. To be honest I still feel like I don't get it but I'm willing to give kudos to these guys because they keep getting award after award, especially at CES.
Boxee still commands itself as the "social media centre," which I still think is wrong, but its advantage lies in the fact that it's been particularly tuned to be a one stop shop for online viewing of major networks. Simply being able to watch all your favourite shows through one portal is a huge advantage, especially as it's been designed for our American friends.