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Definition: HTPC

(Home Theater PC) A personal computer that is used to store and play music and movies as well as display photos. Also called a "living room PC," an HTPC is installed in the A/V cabinet and connects to a stereo or home theater system. The HTPC's CD/DVD drive is used to play the media or rip titles to the hard drive.

With media player software, a quality sound card and quiet case, a standard PC can be turned into an HTPC. For example, the Media Center interface in Windows provides the so-called "10-foot user interface" for HTPC deployment. An HTPC's CD/DVD drive often provides an economical alternative to stand-alone CD/DVD decks and digital media servers designed strictly for home theaters. However, high-end HTPCs can be significantly more costly than regular PCs. See digital media server, Windows Media Center, 10-foot user interface and home theater.

A Windows Media Center PC
Designed for A/V cabinets, CybertronPC makes a variety of Media Center PCs. This Core i7-based model has 2 terabytes of disk storage and an HDTV tuner card. (Image courtesy of Cybertron International, Inc., www.cybertronpc.com)

Software Solutions
The 10-foot user interfaces in the Zinc software (top) and Boxee software (bottom) turn a computer into a home theater PC. Zinc provides access to video content, while Boxee is an alternative to Windows Media Center. See video portal.