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A home theater PC (HTPC) is a home theatre system that is integrated with your personal computer. These can be purchased from retailers, or you can build them yourself. Building an HTPC gives you a greater degree of choice in the components involved. You can mix and match equipment to your own personal taste, but it can be a time consuming task.
There are many variables to consider when installing an HTPC in your home. These include the size and type of screen. The choice available these days is huge.
Depending on your budget, you can now choose from plasma, pure flat or LCD screens. They all have varying degrees of resolution and definition. Choices in the size of the screen are also huge, and they can either be floor standing or hung onto a wall like a painting.
Keep in mind that the screen will not just be used for watching television and films. As an HTPC is a fully functional computer, you can also surf the net and play computer games. The HTPC can play DVD films and music can be accessed from CDs and downloaded MP3 music. Basically, anything you can see on a computer screen can also be seen on an HTPC television screen.
Sound is also another factor to consider. The more speakers you have strategically placed around the room, the more it will sound as if you are in a movie theatre. The sound card on your computer can be used not only for high quality digital output but also for recording your own digital inputs. You can pass sounds through the sound card from sources such as an MP3 or DVD player. Depending on your budget, you can experience crystal clear digital sound surrounding you just as good as in a movie theatre.
Another less obvious factor to consider is security. If you are integrating a personal computer into your home theatre, you may want to set up a separate user account. The reason for this is that you may have more than one PC networked together around the house. Your HTPC has the ability to access all your PC's data and you may have private information such as bank details stored within. A separate account means that you can choose which data can be retrieved through your HTPC.
You should also consider the placement of the HTPC in order to receive the best acoustics and picture. Also, you may not want miles of cables around the HTPC area. You can avoid this with newer infrared technology or with wall mounted cable access points. Once the HTPC is in place and set up, there are no restrictions on your viewing pleasure. With the amount of choice available via DVDs, television and cable access, you may never want to leave your home again.
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