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Fantasy HCPC: Spec recommendations?

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by Easy2BCheesy, Sep 26, 2003.

  1. Easy2BCheesy

    Easy2BCheesy
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    Having been somewhat impressed with the DVI output on my Momitsu V880 DVD player connected to my Pio 433 MXE, I've been thinking about a HCPC that would route through all my video, scaled up to 1024x768. Can someone give me an idea of kit and software needed to do the following:

    1. Play NTSC and PAL DVDs with DVI output, DD5.1 and DTS support
    2. Deinterlace and scale Sky+ output, presumably RGB SCART output converted to YUV via JS Technology box, into the PC
    3. Run any AVI files/MPEG files I might download
    4. Double-up as a web browser and email terminal
    5. Full IR remote control, along with radio keyboard with built-in mouse/trackball
    6. A user-friendly front end to do all the above in one app (though I'd settle for having to switch to Opera to run the web/email)

    Is this possible, or do I want the moon on a stick? :D
     
  2. Mr.D

    Mr.D
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    1. is easy : decent dvd software ( theatertek is my preference). decent soundcard with spdif out : if you need analogue outs then thingk about a better quality card maudio revo is a good bet. No stutters : 1:1 pixel mapping courtesy of powerstrip and its multiregion courtesy of regionkiller and a firmware flash to the dvdrom ( easy to diy)

    2.Component input to the HTPC is trickier: your best bet would be a holo3d card: these support component in, you can also get an RGB in option that will support the scart output ( think it requires BNCs at the holo3d end but its easy enough to get a cable). If you can bear to go down a notch you can get pretty good results with a decent svideo capture card ( Xcapture or pb tv100 are the faves round here I have both and prefer the xcapture). The holo3d is overkill IMO if you just want the odd console or digibox hooked up , You can even go SDI if you are mega picky and have the wonga to get all your sources modified.

    3. pretty straightforward with mediaplayer or alternative I would imagine.

    4 Piece of cake although you might feel you'd benefit from a higher resolution than your plasma supports ( I use 852x480 on my panny ae100 and its a little small for browsing but doable). I use a wireless connection to my main house desktop and use its net connection. I also use Radmin wirelessly from a little laptop I have which allows me to control the htpc without firing up the projector ( handy for tweaking)

    5. Totally doable: Girder is the favoured way of doing this although I use a wireless air mouse and keyboard ( gyration very groovy piece of kit)

    6. I use myHTPC which is freeware and gives me a handful of big buttons to bring up the required apps, dvd player , dcsaler for external sources( consoles/ svhs deck), digitv for digital terrestrial and pvr duties , winamp, nostalgia slideshow and serene screen screensaver for the kids ( virtual aquarium)

    The only thing mine isn't designed to do is play PC games although it could easily with a more recent processor and pokier graphics card. Apart from that it does all the above as well as functions as a PVR using a digitv card. Its even a pretty decent cd player. And I had a lot of fun building it.

    I'd estimate total cost less than a grand and thats including the case (£200) and the digitv card ( £130) which you wouldn't need.
    Holo3d was over £500 last time I checked. Xcapture or TV100 is around £50 or less.

    Remember to budget for an Operating system though ( I use W2K and had a licience from an old desktop)
     
  3. Easy2BCheesy

    Easy2BCheesy
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    Interesting stuff - here's a question though. What offers the superior picture: Sky+ straight into the Pioneer with a JS Technology RGB-VGA box, or S-Video deinterlaced and scaled with the HCPC? My current thinking would be to try the S-Video solution first, as it is obviously far cheaper, then go to Holo3D if I'm not happy...

    And a quick question re myHTPC - once you've selected an app, is it easy to get back to the myHTPC menu? Or are you locked into the chosen app? Can you set each app to start off full-screen once selected? I don't want to maximise everything!
     
  4. Mr.D

    Mr.D
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    I would say the ability to scale to a 1:1 mappable resolution for your display will make a bigger difference than whether you use svideo or RGB. Main benefit of an HTPC is sustom resolutions : deinterlacing is pretty straight forward for film material anyway. Dscaler does a better job of deinterlacing video material than all but the best stand alone boxes. (its bound to be better than whatever the plasma can muster).

    All my apps start fullscreen : mostly its to do with setting them up that way rather than having an option in myHTPC.
    Quitting out of an app drops you back to the myHTPC front-end . No problems. I have a submenu that gives me options to quit out of myHTPC , Eject the dvd drive and shutdown the machine ( which I never use anyway as I like to ensure the machine shuts down cleanly ..probably a little over cautious )
     
  5. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    I used a PCTV Rave card with s-video in and used DScaler to scale the tv image from my vcr tuner. It worked very well I thought. The card is only £30 to £40, and is fine as a starter at least.

    Gary.
     
  6. Easy2BCheesy

    Easy2BCheesy
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    How do these IR remotes work? Are they keyed to letters on the keyboard? Can you use them in multiple apps?
     

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