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Feature Friday: Hidden HTPCs

For this week’s Feature Friday, we decided to go a bit different in our theme. Rather than focusing on one setup, we decided to pull together as many setups as we could under a common theme, where the winning entries would receive a Pulse Eight USB CEC Adapter or a TotalMount. (Once again, thanks to Pulse Eight for sponsoring the contest.) With more than three dozen submissions, I believe we fairly successfully accomplished our goal. And with hardly any repeated methods for hiding htpcs and otherwise displaying them in an elegant manner, it has been incredibly difficult to choose a winner. Next time we do something like this, we may need to come up with a better way to narrow entries.

Nevertheless, rules are rules, and a winner must be selected. First, I’d like to toss up some honorable mentions, who almost certainly would win on any other given day.

First up: The XBMC Table by Oscar. Here we have a table that totally folds up so that you might assume it was nothing more than your traditional living room coffee table. But then, when it unfolds, BOOM: XBMC. Inside the table are a projector, a subwoofer, and a screen. An additional screen pulls down from across the room.  (Note: This table was absolutely awesome, but somewhat unqualified for either award. The ATV2 can’t accept the HDMI-CEC Adapter, and the ATV2 is built into the table (and no TV exists), so there’s be no real use for a TotalMount. Nevertheless, we wanted to highlight the amount of craftmanship and ingenuity involved in designing so awesome a table.)
XBMC Table
Next, the XBMC Subwoofer. One of these subwoofers doesn’t put out any sound, but it does have a tiny HTPC surprise for those willing to check it out!
XBMC Subwoofer
Finally, we actually do have XBMC on the PS3… sort of. Martin decided he could fit a Gigabyte mini-ITX motherboard, an SSD, a core i3-530 CPU, and a picoPSU into an old PS3 case. So he did! This may just be my opinion, but the back of his PS3 looks so much better now!
XBMC in PS3
The rest of the entries can be found at the end of this post in our gallery. Pretty much ever single one of them was absolutely fantastic (and occasionally pretty funny).

Now, last but obviously not least, we’d like to congratulate our two winners.

Jonas (user name jolid in the forums) is the winner of the Pulse Eight USB-CEC Adapter for both cleverly hiding his HTPC as well as cleverly displaying it proudly. Jonas took an old Luxor radio, yanked out the innards, and replaced them with an MSI 760GM board, an AMD athlon x2 260 CPU, 3 TBs of harddrive space stuck to the ceiling of the radio using rubber from an old bicycle tire, and two PVR cards hooked to the live-tv plugin in XBMC. To top it all off (and the reason we ultimately decided to give Jonas’s entry first place), the radio still plays music! The PC is hooked to an internal T-Amp, which is, in turn, hooked to the original Luxor radio speaker. And while there’s no way to change the station, the volume dial works.

Radio XBMC

Nice computer, Jonas!

Congrats Jonas!

Renato is the winner of the Pulse-Eight TotalMount, though to be fair, it’s quite possible that he may not actually need it, based on his setup. If you can see it on first glance, you are a better person than me. (Hint, look closely at the receiver.) In addition to his ATV, Renato has a Kenwood 5.1 KRF-V5070D receiver, a Philips LCD 9830/10 TV, and a Netgear ReadyNAS 2x2TB NAS in the basement.
Invisible Apple TV2
Thanks to everyone else who submitted. A few submissions have been left out, either because it was difficult to grab them from their hosting site, because they didn’t quite match the rules, because they were similar to ones already included, or because they were of the htpc in the room, htpc behind the monitor, or htpc directly behind the wall variety (all of which are awesome, but not necessarily unique. My personal apologies for not including every single submission.) For everyone who did not make a submission, take a look through some of the following gallery. I feel like I’ve been inspired to take on about 20 new projects. Anybody have several thousand dollars they can lend me?

Feel free to talk about your favorite setups in the comments and definitely let us know just how stupid we were in picking one winner over another. Believe us, this one is guaranteed to leave us second guessing ourselves over and over again. They really all were that good.

Stay tuned next week for a new (non-contest) Feature Friday.

And remember to keep submitting your setups to natethomas AT xbmc DOT org!