With the growth of smart TVs and the ever-increasing feature sets of media players, the idea of a PC specially designed for the living room has lost some of the currency it had a few years ago.
However, there are still some great reasons for wanting a small form factor PC tucked into your entertainment unit.
First and foremost, a good home-theatre PC (or HTPC) can still give you the best option in terms of the breadth of video and audio file formats that can be played, with a wide range of players and codecs all easily found and installed.
Some users stick with an HTPC for easier access to software that disguises your computer's geo-location to get access to overseas streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and BBC iPlayer.
The interface is another big draw card with the HTPC. Rather than putting up with whatever default smart TV or media centre interface your device comes with, an HTPC allows you to choose the software you want, with Plex and XBMC being two very popular options.
The other reason that a lounge room PC might be your kind of thing is for gaming. Thanks to Steam's Big Picture interface, gamers can now easily access their entire Steam-based library of games conveniently from the TV set.
While it may not be exactly what hardcore FPS gamers want, it's a good rival to the console age and certainly makes Steam a very viable platform for some of the indie developers and even more casual-style games. It's also why there are constant rumours about Valve partnering with PC manufacturers to build a small form factor gaming PC: the fabled Steam Box.
We've assembled a list of some pre-built PCs from well-known names, some more DIY-style kits and even just a few PC cases that would look good in the lounge room to show you where to get started.
Revealed at Computex, the VivoPC is a stylish spun-metal case, with an absolute port frenzy happening: three USB 3.0, four USB 2, one HDMI, one VGA, three audio jacks, one SPDIF out and one Ethernet. All in a frame just 56mm high.
Inside, it's powered by Intel and can apparently take a massive 16GB of RAM.
It's rounded out with 802.11ac built in a Bluetooth 4. Strangely, Asus has also included its SonicMaster audio technology and a pair of speakers.
/ Photo: Philip Wong/CNET
Fractal Design Node 304
Antec ISK 300-150 Mini-ITX Case
At 170mm tall, it's not exactly tiny, but the styling of the GD01 case means it would look perfect in any home-theatre setting.
Silverstone designed it to be whisper quiet, with anti-vibration drive mountings and low-noise exhaust fans.
Speaking of drives, the GD01 can pack in six drives, meaning your NAS just got redundant.
Strange name, great concept. Intel is not so humbly calling its tiny PC offering the Next Unit of Computing, or NUC.
It's designed for anywhere you need a small, yet powerful PC — from commercial applications such as digital signage, right through to home entertainment.
The NUC uses third-generation Intel Core processors, but still sports a motherboard only 4 inches square. And thanks to Intel innovations such as Rapid Start and Smart Connect, the NUC is fast to boot up and can be updating email and the like even when in sleep mode.