Build a Media Center Computer with any Computer that has USB or a Network

Although there are several different ways you can build a media center computer, I'll show you what I use, simply because it's extremely cost effective, and it's an upgrade that I can use over a long period of time.

So what is this upgrade, it's simple, there's a media player that you can buy, currently for under a $100 dollars that will play full media content from your current computer through a network connection or from a USB flash drive.  It has 1080p, optical out and the video playback is superb quality.

The great part of using this versus streaming directly from the computer is simple. You can build a great gaming computer without making sure your video card has the options you need.  The same goes for the audio.  Just focus on the best parts to make your computer, connect this device, and you have the best of 2 worlds.

Previously I used a PS3 as my media center, but because the supported formats were very limited, I was looking for something I didn't have to convert files on.  The Western Digital TV Live HD Media Playericon.  That's a mouth full.  It's has played everything I've thrown at it.  Compatibility is great.  From picture files, to music, or even movies encoded with just about anything work.

The only format I have found that it doesn't work with is audio encoded with AAC.  For that a quick encode on a freeware program called mkv2vob which I found in my PS3 days does the trick, and it's point and click use.  Update  As a recent firmware update has come down for this media player, it now plays every file I've tried, this includes AAC encoded audio.

wd tv live media player

As you can see from the picture, the device is really compact, for reference, the remote is about half the length of a regular TV remote.  Setting it up is easy and playback is great.  The unit will auto update if you have internet access hooked up on your network as well, this way when new upgrades are made available, you can get them easily.

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Updated October 14 2013

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