Steiger CEO Discusses State Of HTPCs, Unveils LEET Workstation Models

Status
Not open for further replies.

bit_user

Splendid
Ambassador
It does look great. I love the front panel display - I've always wanted something like that, but never quite satisfied with the drive-bay units.

But the problem is that you're paying a lot for the fancy case and noise optimization. For most people, it's just not worth it. Plus, the Dell workstations I use at my job are already really quiet (although I'd guess SD uses better components and offers more flexibility).

They found a good niche with HTPCs, but it won't be easy to break out of that. And that market is disappearing, as TVs now have built-in streaming and people can use "stick" devices to upgrade those that don't.
 

sykozis

Distinguished
Dec 17, 2008
1,759
5
19,865
37
The entire problem is cost. The CEO mentions cost of upgrading, but how often do you actually have to upgrade a Blu-ray player? In my experience, it only has to be "upgraded" when it fails. You can easily find a Blu-ray player for less than $100. For the cost of a "base model" LEET Studio, you can buy all the equipment to stream media across your entire house. There are even streaming media players out now that will play Blu-ray....and stream the movies. So, for $70, I can cover most of what an HTPC does. Add a PS4 or XBox One and I've covered another "feature"..... Looking at their website, they're awful confident about what they're selling. The "entry-level" ERA Pure starts at $1250 for the "standard" configuration....which is a system with a total build cost of about $400. So, they're charging an extra $850 for a "fancy" case and assembly. An Intel H81 chipset (outdated), a Pentium G3258 w/ stock cooler, a meager 120GB SSD (guess they assume you don't actually need any storage space), Integrated graphics, integrated audio, 4GB ram and meager 300watt PSU and a 4x Blu-ray combo drive.

Basically, what I'm seeing, is that this company is out to rip people off just like every other "boutique builder" in existence....
 

bit_user

Splendid
Ambassador
Yes.

That's awfully cynical. I think they arose to fill a niche, and they're just trying to find some way to either expand or at least replace the HTPC market, the days of which are numbered (as you rightly point out).

When you do anything custom, in relatively small volumes, it's going to be expensive. I can pretty much assure you these boutique builders are operating on rather thin margins. I know a guy who used to be in this business until about 5-6 years ago.

I wish them luck. I like that there are high-end options out there, for those who want & can afford it. Although I enjoy building PCs, I might consider just buying machines from these boutique-types if I had a fair bit more disposable income and a little less free time. I probably waste too much time geeking around with my machines that I should be using in more productive ways.
 

epobirs

Distinguished
Jul 18, 2011
172
3
18,695
1
Asking a PC maker to compete with game console pricing is absurd. The business models are completely different. The biggest factor is that the console maker gets a piece of the action on all software sold.
 

Blueberries

Reputable
Dec 3, 2014
572
0
5,060
30
So basically these appeal to people that have no experience with computer hardware and lots of money.

Why not just buy a Mac Pro? It's the same size.
 

TeraMedia

Distinguished
Jan 26, 2006
904
1
18,990
3
I bought into the HTPC movement back in 2005. I built one and put a terabyte in it, both to demonstrate to myself that it could be done ("Cool, my own personal Terabyte..."), and because I was tired of my important data being at the mercy of small, failure-prone laptop HDDs. Back then, a Terabyte required a RAID 5 array of at least 4 HDDs, so that PC required the use of some of the highest-end consumer components available in order to fit in a ATX box.

So much has changed since then that a completely different paradigm makes better sense.

- XBOX One is moving in the direction of integrating everything - cable STB, game console, PC, Smart TV / social browser, disk player. The next XBOX will have everything that a full-fledged HTPC has, albeit with a closed architecture and software. When that happens, there will be very little reason to get an HTPC - especially when you factor in the added headaches of system setup, configuration and maintenance.

- Microsoft seems to be killing off the old WMC 7 interface, which became apparent when they didn't bother integrating it from the get-go into their Metro UI in Windows 8, but instead made Media Center an add-on, special, non-PC-device interface on top of their Metro add-on, special, non-PC-device interface. Yeah. Want a great way to kill a piece of software? Don't invite it to the software upgrade party. There are other HTPC UIs out there, and some of them can do some fantastic stuff, but XBOX is going to have a full team developing and enhancing its UI for the next decade - that's going to be a tough horse to out-run.

- Video streaming is now much easier and much less expensive than movie library compilation. Never mind the questions of legality that arise in some countries, it's easier and less expensive to let someone else maintain the hardware and data management for thousands of movies than to try to manage your own library locally. No, the HD quality isn't there - but anyone who really wants that level of quality isn't going to want a single big HTPC box in the middle of the living room anyway. They're going to want a bunch of rack components in the server closet acoustically isolated from the movie room.

- Cable co's are doing everything in their power to make the use of anything other than a rented STB a PitA. Between switched digital video, "accidental" misconfiguration of cable cards, frequent changes to channel offerings, schedules and channel assignments, and timing out of switched channels without user intervention, they've done their best - and will continue to do their best - to make using an HTPC on a cable connection a marginally-effective system architecture.

Steiger is plainly trying to expand or migrate into a new market with these workstation products, because they (rightly) perceive that the HTPC market is dying. Unfortunately for them, there is a very limited market for single-box LR shelf components like this one. Customers either don't need / want to spend that much, or they can afford to put the PC hardware elsewhere (such as a utility closet) in which case it doesn't need to be pretty, can be built more cheaply, and is easier to maintain anyway.
 
2TB of storage is way too little for a HTPC. Especially at that price $3400 and $3850. The storage should be closer to 20TB to 25TB RAID 6 at those prices. The GPU would be helpful to speed up ripping your bluray library
 

surphninja

Honorable
May 14, 2013
207
0
10,680
0
This guy is insane. And those specs are absurd, no matter what the pc's being used for.

The only niche I can imagine them serving is gullible rich guys. Nobody who actually knows anything about HTPCs is going to fall for this.

First of all, no machine needs that's much RAM. Period. Second, if an HTPC works as it's supposed to, you hardly notice it at all. Not only do you not need a fancy chassis, but after having it for more than a few hours you're going to want your HTPC case to be as plain and non-distracting as possible- even indicator lights on the case can be terribly distracting during a movie. Third, an HTPC does not need to be a full ATX. I don't even see a reason it needs to be more than mini-itx.

I could go through why each component on the spec sheet is ridiculous, but you get the gist. Few people are gonna fall for this garbage.
 

TwoDigital

Distinguished
Jan 2, 2008
285
0
18,810
6
Maybe my experience isn't representative, but I've found REAL HTPC experience rather difficult on a regular PC. I use Ceton CableCard tuners - which along with HomeRun tuners are really the only way to watch encrypted tv channels on an HTPC. This also necessitates the use of Windows Media Center for watching television on said unit. I've found watching Blu-Ray disks very difficult as well. I am constantly updating AnyDVD to newer versions as the copy protection on Blu-Ray disks gets worse every day. The company who made my Blu-Ray player product just out-of-the-blue quit making playback software (TotalMedia Theatre.).. the PC is constantly asking me to update Flash, or install new updates from Microsoft, or new versions of Silverlight or patches for this-and-that.

I'm sure there is some tuning I can do with "auto updates" but then when you really expect something to work (like when I put in a Blu-Ray disk) and the latest updates aren't installed.. I can't play it.

My experience with "The current state of HTPC" isn't about whether or not I buy some new-fangled extra-expensive PC with an outdated CPU and stats... it's just that the system is so DRM-'infected' and non-integrated that my wife, for one, just gets frustrated and turns off the TV and walks away.
 

toadhammer

Distinguished
Nov 2, 2012
112
2
18,685
0
So, they're charging an extra $850 for a "fancy" case and assembly
Yup, looks like you can even buy just the chassis. A steal at only $799. (But a $50-100 discount is available if you act now! Operators are standing by!)
 

nukemaster

Titan
Moderator

I feel your pain on bluray playback sometimes. I had power DVD 11 and it worked very well, but I recently switched to 14 for my computer and the software bogs down trying to build a media library and the artist search does not even work. Running 2 screens one at 1920 x 1200 and the other at 1920 x 1080 fully removes the menu and cuts the bottom of the screen off when using the media center version of the software. If I use the normal one, it stretches 16:9 content to the 16:10 display even when you tell it do always maintain aspect ratio. To add to this on my onboard audio I have NO volume control from the program(even my remote tried to use power dvd and not Windows volume) when playing bluray unless I use exclusive mode(having to leave the software to adjust volume is a joke). On DVD's the volume works, but only controls the program and not the computer. This leaves you with a VERY broken experience. In all fairness I used a slightly different hardware config with version 11, but I know on this one media center integration worked right.

So I have to ensure the second screen is disabled when I want to watch movies(something I have never had to do on any software.). If anyone has screen calibration and swaps monitors back and forth as well as using both together at times may notice that Windows messes up the calibration(remove it or reverse it sometimes). So yeah for a single display Media Center, I think power DVD would be fine if you used exclusive mode. You also gain volume control when you use the TrueTheater option, but I want to just have what the move was released with and no extras.

Outside of bluray Media Center handles the rest fairly well. Shame you need to buy it as an extra and get Windows 8 pro now. Will be sticking to 7 for a long time for my media center pc. I do not rip all my videos to this computer and use the optical drive so for me my specs(128gb ssd for Windows, 1tb for recording TV, 3tb for storage. all powered with my trusty old i5 750 + gtx 650ti) work out just fine.
 

bit_user

Splendid
Ambassador
For a HTPC, it's hard to fathom a need for 32 GB. But for a server or workstation, it's not at all unreasonable.

Please reread the title of the article and look at the model names above the specs. These aren't their HTPC models. And if they offer those displays on any HTPC models, I'm sure you can disable them.
 

bit_user

Splendid
Ambassador
I finally bought an Oppo (used), a year ago, and I've been very happy with it. Just wish it were a bit more snappy. And I hate the remote it comes with.

I'm a big fan of their Source Direct mode, which eliminates all processing. The only processing I use on my TV is the motion smoother, which seems to work much better when all the player's processing is bypassed.

The only feature I've found lacking in my BDP-93 is xvYCC support. But I only have a couple discs that use it, and I can play those in either a cheapy Samsung player or my PS3.

Edit: another benefit of the Oppo is that their HDMI output is bit-perfect. A few years ago, some reviewers started testing HDMI accurancy and found some rather shocking errors in even big-name products. I've never seen a PC graphics card measured, but you've got to wonder whether they implemented the various colorspaces and sample-rate conversions correctly.
 

nukemaster

Titan
Moderator

I doubt it, but I think it would be upto the software. Having a wide gamut monitor does not work in 90% of programs leading to oversaturation(Not that it looks "bad", but it is not right either). As for bit-perfect, I would guess everyone wants to "enhance" the sound, but maybe it is just bad hardware too.

TV's smoothing may well be better because computer screens do not seem to switch refresh to match content. So at 60hz you get skipping on 24fps(23.9something) video. It is not always bad, but does happen. Your TV(I am guessing you have a good one) may be able to detect and adjust, double or triple it for the space for extra frames without skipping.

Thanks for the information.
 

surphninja

Honorable
May 14, 2013
207
0
10,680
0


I reread the title and model names, but if you read the content of the article, he's touting these do-it-all HTPCs. Maybe the displays can be disabled. Maybe the specs are setup to allow you to do absolutely anything with them. Regardless, I'd still argue that the specs are complete overkill for any purpose, and the price-to-performance ratio can't be justified (especially the added cost of an unnecessary and ill-conceived case design). If you have an actual need for 16GB or 32GB of RAM, I can't believe you'd be looking for an over-packed HTPC, and you'd probably be looking for hardware more cost efficient and tailored to your specific need.
 

bit_user

Splendid
Ambassador
First, xvYCC is a well-defined standard that has been incorporated into the Blu-ray and HDMI specs. The fact that Oppo players don't support it is probably just they will not set the correct flag in the HDMI signal. Also, if you use any of the player's processing, it wouldn't handle the extra information correctly.

And in talking about bit-perfect HDMI, I was actually referring to the video channel. Check out this review of a player with not-so-perfect HDMI. The same site also has a review of the Oppo BDP-103:

http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/blu-ray-players/blu-ray-players-reviews/sony-bdp-s790-blu-ray-player/page-4-on-the-bench.html


I have a Panasonic plasma that I think uses 96 Hz for 24 fps content.

As for computer monitors, I'd expect G-Sync and FreeSync displays to support 72 Hz or 96 Hz output, if used with a player program that supported it.
 

nukemaster

Titan
Moderator
Thanks for the link.

I did not even know that normal players like that had such issues with video.

As for variable refresh rate. I sure hope it becomes mainstream even just to play 24fps content at 24 without changing the screen refresh rate manually.
 

bit_user

Splendid
Ambassador
I thought so too, and wasted my time with inferior players for a couple years. Then I finally caved and bought a used BDP-93 on ebay.

One way to think of it is that they're only expensive by blu-ray player standards. But if you think of Oppos as more like HTPCs, which they sort of are, then $500 isn't crazy.

That said, they still don't support some things I can do with a program like VLC or mplayer.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS