I have a small dilemma I’d like to share with you – and maybe get some feedback: I’m planning to buy a computer, as I currently don’t have a computer for myself at home (well – that’s not really true: I have about 6 of them, in various stages of assembly, but none of them is more recent then a Pentium 3 type and I really don’t have the time or the patience to start making something useful from all the parts). So I have set aside a budget for purchasing a computer in the next month or so. Its not that I really need one – I have one at work (not a laptop like in my previous job that I could carry it with me home – hence my need for a new one) and at home I usually leech one of Karen’s PCs – which she is mostly fine with (notice the “mostly” part – another reason I should get my own).
Now, I would really like a good laptop – either some generic PC (MSI is cheap, Dell has good offers, and they’re now supporting Linux, and I can always get a Lenovo/IBM ThinkPad with which I had good experience), or maybe even a Mac BookPro (still not available in black, but I can work with that 😉 ).
I would also really like an HTPC (Home Theater PC). The main reason is that I download a lot of video content that I want to watch on my TV (mostly Anime, most of which is not [yet] distributed in English speaking countries so I think its OK). Currently my procedure has always been to encode it to MPEG4, burn to DVD and play on my DVD reader, but this is really hassle – especially as Anime is often distributed in files carrying multiple audio tracks and the subtitles not encoded into the video. Also changing DVDs all the time is annoying. An HTPC can solve me all those problems – I could put the downloaded files directly on the HTPC and it could play whatever I give it without any conversion necessary, and with enought disk space (I’m planning on 320GB, although 500GB would not be much more expensive) I can store a lot of stuff that can be watched without getting of the sofa… Another feature that isn’t that important for me but I could see a use for is – PVR: I would be able to record shows from my satellite TV connection (“Yes”) and watch them when I have the time (instead of missing the show and having to download it from bittorrent 😉 ).
Money-wise, an HTPC costs about as a cheap laptop. If I want a good laptop, it would probably be around 7000 to 10000 NIS (Macbooks cost a lot) while an HTPC would be about 4500 NIS with a nice flat DVD-player-like case – a cheap bulky case, in addition to being cheaper would allow me to buy cheaper components and would make the whole package around 2500 NIS.
So, I’m wondering what I should get. A laptop would sure be nice, but I don’t really need it for computing outside the house – I have a desktop at work which I’m not going to replace and a palm PDA for the meager computing I need while being outdoors (mainly note taking, calendar and address book management). I would use a laptop mainly at home and maybe on holidays (though my girlfriend would not like that) to do what little computing I do at home these days. OTOH, an HTPC might be more useful and I can make do with what I have now a few more months (say – about half a year before I have money for another computer).
Please tell me what you think.