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Definition: HTPC

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

With media player software, a quality sound card and quiet fan, any standard PC could be turned into an HTPC. For example, the Media Center interface in Windows provided the so-called "10-foot user interface" for HTPC deployment. An HTPC's CD/DVD drive often provided an economical alternative to stand-alone CD/DVD decks and digital media servers designed strictly for home theaters. However, a high-end HTPC could cost significantly more than a regular PC. 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 made a variety of Media Center PCs. This Core i7-based model had 2TB of disk storage and an HDTV tuner card. (Image courtesy of Cybertron International, Inc.)

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