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The Best HTPC Software for Home Streaming

htpc software
Written by Kelly Houstan

HTPC software is actually short for Home Theater PC Software. This is an important distinction to make, as the vast majority of applications made for PC usage actually. They are meant to be used on a desktop along with a mouse and keyboard and also the user sitting close to the screen. In fact, users sitting far away from the screen and via a non-native interface just like a remote or gamepad may find navigating the average PC application’s interface unwieldy or also even difficult. Just read this article to know all about The Best HTPC Software for Home Streaming. Let’s begin!

HTPC, on the other hand, permits you to make full use of your computer as a media center along with a streamlined UX. This type of software is specifically designed to accommodate alternate control schemes for use in a home entertainment setting as well. Moreover, HTPC allows you in order to stream a wide variety of media files directly from your computer onto your big-screen TV along with ease. You can also even stream from other computers on your home network or from the internet.

Use a VPN

If you’ll be streaming content from the internet, then consider investing in a VPN. VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks, will protect and secure you from third parties snooping into your internet traffic or tracing your location via looking at your IP address. If you’ll be, say, doing a lot of large file downloads or streaming along with Kodi add-ons. Then you may want to consider a VPN to prevent throttling or copyright strikes from your ISP.

While there is a multitude of great VPN services out there and we have a favorite in this area already.

NordVPN

Among privacy buffs and home entertainment aficionados as well. NordVPN has long held a well-deserved reputation as an indispensable tool too. It basically offers secure connections to up to 5,800 servers in 59 countries. That permits you to virtually relocate into different regions of the world in order to access geo-blocked content.

NordVPN even works with sites such as Netflix, which normally block out VPN traffic from accessing international content libraries. It works via a combination of unbreakable 256-bit AES encryption through NordLynx and built-in smart DNS functionality. Unlike VPNs of the past, this incredible level of privacy doesn’t really come at a cost to performance. So you can enjoy buffer-free streams on your HTPC system–even in 4K as well.

What’s more, you can stamp out ISP tracking and also stop them from throttling your streaming traffic. And with NordVPN’s solid no-logging policy, there are absolutely no records of your activity left behind that can be used in order to identify you and put a damper on your media binges as well.

The Best HTPC Software for Home Streaming

Kodi

  • TV Shows library supports
  • Supports all of the main video formats
  • Kodi can also play all your music including mp3, FLAC, wav, and WMA formats
  • Import photos and view them in different styles such as slideshow
  • Support Live TV recording too
  • JSON-RPC based remote interface as well
  • Smartphone and also Tablet Apps
  • Add-Ons for famous web services, applications, and scripts.
  • Works famous backends such as MediaPortal, MythTV, NextPVR, Tvheadend, and much more.
Detail

First up on our list is Kodi actually. If you follow Techgenesis, then you’ll already know that we do a lot of extensive Kodi coverage on this site. Mostly on installing the best repositories and also add-ons for streaming IPTV. However, Kodi isn’t just a streaming box, though. It basically offers incredible versatility to manage and play all kinds of media types just thanks to its open-source architecture.

htpc software

Kodi add-ons developed via 1st and 3rd party developers alike add a truly staggering amount of functionality to the application. A famous example is Trakt, which tracks your viewing habits and syncs them to your Trakt account. So that you can also keep track of what you have and haven’t yet seen on your Kodi machine. (however, sharing this information along with your friends)!

A few add-ons even make it possible in order to play retro games on Kodi. However, Kodi isn’t necessarily meant to be used as a gaming machine. (Although we’ll go over a piece of software that is a bit later). And it’s really cool to see just how flexible Kodi really is as well.

Further | htpc software

However, Kodi has an initial learning curve, that you are in for a great time when you learn how you can add media sources and install add-ons. When you’ve figured out the basics of Kodi, then you’ll be able to customize it. In order to perfectly suit your each and every media-viewing requirement.

Plex

  • Account management
  • Support all format videos and audios as well
  •  iOS, Windows, and also Android Mobile platform support
  • Privacy and security
  • Media Libraries Sharing
  • No Storage Limit
  • Online channels
  • Live TV
  • Plex cloud
  • Mobile and also Cloud Sync
  •  Parental control
  • Audio Fingerprinting
  • Remote Controls
Detail

The purpose of Plex is basically to encourage you in order to run your own media server and use it to its fullest potential. This may sound daunting to many untrained users, however, fortunately, Plex makes it extremely easy. In order to turn your main PC into a media server from that your phone, other PCs in the house. Or also even other PCs across the internet can also stream your media as well.

htpc software

Plex, such as Kodi, also offers add-ons and custom channels. Although Plex is better suited for streaming your own media between the two. But, if you’re a diehard Kodi fan (and really, who isn’t?). Then you’ll be overjoyed to learn that you can access your Plex library via the Plex for Kodi application. Seamless integration makes for an incredible all-in-one media viewing experience that is truly second to none as well.

For most HTPC solutions, we find a combination of Kodi and Plex to be the most powerful and flexible solution as well.

Steam

  • Supported OSes: Windows, OS X, Linux, Steam OS
  • Supported Media: Games (Dependent On OS)
  • Streaming Capable?: Yes

Steam is the most famous PC gaming platform out there, bar none. This is for a multitude of reasons, however, the crux of it is that Valve (the company that runs Steam) has a great reputation in the industry for innovative game titles. Such as Half-Life, Counter-Strike, or Team Fortress as well. Steam makes regular sales at a much lower price than other digital platforms. And due to this, it’s become a staple for any PC gaming enthusiast as well.

htpc software

In more recent years, Steam has also started moving in some interesting new directions. Namely, a Linux-based Steam OS was released in order to encourage the porting of more games to Linux. And to enable a console-like experience for PC gamers as well. With the addition of Steam Big Picture, users can now navigate the whole interface with a gamepad. That permits them to enjoy all of their favorite PC games along with a controller on the couch.

Further | HTPC software

In addition to Big Picture, and there’s also In-Home Streaming. In-Home Streaming permits users in order to stream their games from a host PC onto a weaker “client” PC as well. For instance, if you guys have your gaming PC in your room and a lightweight HTPC in your living room as well. In-Home Streaming will permit you to play all of your games on your HTPC.

But, Steam Big Picture isn’t perfect. Many PC games are handled differently. So not all of them will be immediately compatible along with Big Picture and may need some extra configuration along with a keyboard/mouse setup. In case this comes up, we actually recommend having a Steam Controller or specialized remote handy for these scenarios.

Emby

  • Emby Server automatically converts and streams the media
  • Stream Live TV to any device
  • Web-based tools in order to edit metadata and subtitles
  • Easy DLNA
  • Parental Controls
  • Easily control content access
  • Cloud Sync
  • Chromecast

emby

Emby is a solution that focuses on two things above all actually. Streaming media and ease of use as well. While it isn’t the most powerful or in-depth media streaming solution out there actually. It might just give the friendliest user experience for those who aren’t as comfortable tinkering along with a media server. (Or who may not even know what it is at all as well). Plus, your Emby implementation is compatible across a wide range of platforms. That permits you to bring a tailored media-viewing experience to your laptop, tablet, or smartphone. As well as your living room PC too.

However, we do think a Kodi/Plex implementation would give you the best experience in the long run. (Especially once you learn how those applications work as well). Emby is an ideal HTPC option for less tech-savvy users too.

A Few Control Methods | htpc software

If you guys are getting set up along with HTPC software. Then consider plugging in a Bluetooth dongle and grabbing one of the following peripherals in order to save yourself some headaches.

General Usage: Rii Mini

The Rii Mini pretty much takes a keyboard and touchpad and then makes it handheld for your convenience. If you’re using an HTPC on your couch, then there’s nothing more infuriating as well. Then a popup or an issue arises that needs a mouse or keyboard to work around. Especially when you don’t have either of those things on hand! Rather than having to plug in some clunky extra hardware. When this happens or run to the host PC (if you’re streaming), just have this little guy on hand whenever you need it.

Gaming or General Usage: Steam Controller

The Steam Controller is also another great option, especially if you see yourself playing a lot of games in your living room as well. However, the dual touchpads may be a little strange at first. They’re actually well suited to turn on the user in order to play mouse-centric titles that would otherwise be impossible along with a controller.

Plus, when you get past the initial learning curve, the accuracy of the touchpads in first-person shooters is typically much better. Then that of an analog stick (though not quite as good as a mouse). Especially if you guys are playing multiplayer games as well.

The touchpads on the Steam Controller, alongside all of its configuration options within Steam as well. Make it ideal for easy HTPC usage and gaming as well. If you guys don’t mind getting used to a new gamepad configuration, the Steam Controller is a really great option.

Gaming: Xbox One Controller

If you guys are already a hardcore gamer and you’d prefer to use a familiar gamepad. An Xbox One controller is a great choice for any Windows-based HTPC. Also, note that you’ll need to have Bluetooth or also use a USB wireless adapter. In order to utilize this controller on your HTPC, however.

When the controller is connected, though, you guys will hardly have to do any configuration at all. This is as Windows is already designed along with Xbox controllers in mind. And while you can’t use them for desktop applications as well. It works well within Kodi and Big Picture too. The Xbox One controller is also just a truly solid gamepad overall actually.

Conclusion

Well, That all from my side. If you want to know more about this “HTPC software” article or have any queries. Then feel free to ask me anything in the comments section below.

Have a Good Day!

Also See: How to Tell if CPU is Throttling in Windows – Tutorial

About the author

Kelly Houstan

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