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Are Mini PCs and Mac Minis the Best Choice for a PVR?
Ed Kohler

PVR Wire is reporting that Systemax has launched a series of new Mini PCs that may be "prime candidates" for use as PVRs:

Systemax Mini Media Center PC - PVR Wire

Systemax has launched 3 new computers in what it's calling the Impact Mini-PC line and is shooting to capture the Mac-mini loving audience.

2 of the PCs use the Windows Media Center operating system making them prime candidates to act as your household PVR.

Personally, I don't see the advantage of a Mini PC for PVR use. Why not just get a cheap and powerful desktop and put it in a closet or the basement? How Mini will your Mini really be once you have something (external hard drive(s)) plugged into two USB ports and one Firefire ports?

The only advantage I see to putting this in the living room is easy access to the DVD drive.

Are you using a Mini (PC or Mac) as a PVR? If so, why did you choose it over a desktop?


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1. Posted by: JJ Hawkins on September 18, 2006 11:09 AM:

I use a standalone TiVo for my living room, and a Shuttle XPC Media Center for my game room. I also have a desktop that functions purely as a desktop.

I picked a small form factor case for my game room PVR because it looks good beneath my television and houses a 160 gig internal hard drive, which isn't a ton of space, but is perfectly adequate for recording content without the need for an external USB or Firewire hard drive clogging up my entertainment stand. There's also space for another internal drive should I decide the 160 gigs isn't enough space.

A regular desktop stuck in a closet didn't fit my needs because the shuttle functions as a DVD burner/player as well for archiving shows and watching movies. I preferred not to go to the closet or another room every time I wished to perform one of these DVD related functions.

I also hook up a Gigabeat S30 via USB on a regular basis to transfer recorded TV shows, music, and photos which would be cumbersome if the PVR resided in another place.

You're right in that a mini PC isn't the "perfect candidate" for everyone. For some, a cheap desktop hidden away would work just as well and save some money. However, the Shuttle cost about the same to build as the mid-range desktop media center option - so given my circumstances - I opted for the small form factor route.

Overall, I think aesthetics were my main reason as well as access to the DVD drive and USB ports - not to mention the fact that I don't have long enough cables for the media center to reside any more than 5 feet from the TV.

Thanks for linking to our story.

JJ Hawkins

2. Posted by: John Andrews on September 20, 2006 9:29 AM:

There are many mini pc solutions available for PVR use among other media uses, you might want to consider some of the different mini pc's these guys offer:


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