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Home Theater Service

home theater PC (HTPC) or media center computer is a convergence device that combines some or all the capabilities of apersonal computer with a software application that supports video, photo, audio playback, and sometimes video recording functionality. Although computers with some of these capabilities were available from the late 1980s, the "Home Theater PC" term first appeared in mainstream press in 1996.[citation needed] In recent years, other types of consumer electronics, including gaming systems and dedicated media devices have crossed over to manage video and music content. The term "media center" also refers to specialized application software designed to run on standard personal computers.

An HTPC and other convergence devices integrate components of a home theater into a unit co-located with a home entertainment system. An HTPC system typically has a remote control and the software interface normally has a 10-foot user interface design so that it can be comfortably viewed at typical television viewing distances. An HTPC can be purchased pre-configured with the required hardware and software needed to add video programming or music to the PC. Enthusiasts can also piece together a system out of discrete components as part of a software-based HTPC.

Since 2007 digital media receiver software has been incorporated into consumer electronics through software or hardware changes including gaming systems, Blu-ray Disc players, televisions, and set top boxes. The increased availability of specialized devices, coupled with paid and free digital content, now offer alternatives to multipurpose (and more costly) personal computers.

Although digital media players are often built using similar components to personal computers, they are often smaller, quieter and less costly than the full-featured computers adapted to multi-media entertainment.

In recent years, convergence devices for home entertainment including gaming systems, DVRs, Blu-Ray Players and dedicated devices like the Roku have also started managing local video, music, and/or streaming internet content. Likewise, some managed video services like Verizon's FiOS allow users to incorporate their photographs, video, and music from their personal computers to their FiOS set-top-box including DVRs. Gaming systems like the Nintendo Wii, Sony PlayStation 3[33] and the Microsoft Xbox 360[34][35] support media management beyond their original gaming orientation.

As computing power increases and costs fall, traditional media devices like televisions have been given network capabilities. So-called Smart TVs from SonySamsung, and LG (to name a few) have models that allow owners to include some free or subscription media content available on the Internet.[36] The rapid growth in the availability of online content, including music and video and games has also made it easier for consumers use these networked devices. YouTube, for instance, is a common plug-in available on most networked devices. Netflix has also struck deals with many consumer electronics makers to have their interface available for their streaming subscribers. This symbiotic relationship between Netflix and consumer electronics makers has helped propel Netflix to become the largest subscription video service in the U.S., using up to 20% of U.S. bandwidth at peak times.

Other digital media retailers like Apple, Amazon.com and Blockbuster have purchase and rental options for video and music on demand. Apple in particular has developed a tightly integrated device and content management ecosystem with their iTunes Store, personal computers, iOS devices, and the AppleTV digital media receiver. The most recent version of the AppleTV, at $99, has lost the hard-drive that was included in its predecessor and fully depends on either streaming internet content, or another computer on the home network for media.

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