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HCPC suggestions

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by Todda, Jul 1, 2004.

  1. Todda

    Todda
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    I have been looking into adding a capture card to my current PC that will allow me to watch SKY + through a Sony VW12HT (arrives tomorrow). The reason I want to view SKY via my PC is to allow me to have a split screen to to watch television at the same time as using my PC.

    I have spent a few hours reading through several posts on this site, to try and gain an understanding of the best way to achieve this. Unfortunately, the more I read through the forum, the more I wanted to add further components to my PC.

    By the time I had finished reading, I realised that I would be better off buying a new PC and adding the DVD writer and 120GB hard drive that I currently have.

    I would appretiate some advice on the following:

    In addition to what I have already mentioned above, I would like the PC to be as quiet as possible and look less like a PC. I would also like to use it for recording programs to the hard drive and burning to DVD.

    Should I buy components and build the PC or should I buy a pre built computer?

    Where is the best place to buy from?

    What spec should I be looking at.

    Sorry for the long post. Any advice would be much appretiated.

    Thanks
     
  2. Todda

    Todda
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    I should probably be a bit more specific.

    My current PC set up is:

    Athlon 1800+ XP Processor
    Gigabyte GA-7DX+ M/Board
    2 x PC2100 256 DDR
    120GB 7200RPM Hard Drive
    MX440 64MB Graphics Card
    Sony dru-500 DVD Writer

    I would like to use the computer for:

    Standard usage (eg. internet, software packages, etc.),
    Watching Sky +,
    connecting to reveiver for sound (possibly with 5.1 or 7.1 audio)
    Recording directly from Sky +.

    I would like the PC to be:

    Reletively attractive (Possibly Strata case, although maybe too expensive.)
    As quiet as possible.

    What would I need to change on my current configeration to acheive this?

    Cheers
     
  3. Ian Cox

    Ian Cox
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    As no one else has respond to this thread yet then I will jump in.

    My company (EPC) manufactures a range of HCPC to meet most peoples need. All our systems come with a front end interface so they are easy to use and the whole system is remote controlled. All our systems are very quiet and come in a range of cases and configurations and we are currently giving forum members good pricing on all our systems. Every system that goes out of the door is fully configured so there is no messing about with software and hardware trying to get them to work. On top of all this our flag ship model just earned a best buy award in home cinema choice magazine which is in stores now. If you would like to discuss having a HCPC built for you then either send us a mail or give me a ring. I am not in the office today but I will be back in on Monday.

    If you want to just modify your existing computer then on the whole it is up to the job. I would probably change the following

    Get a radeon graphics card as they provide a better 2D image than your current nvidia card.

    5.1 sound card, something like the M-Audio Revolution will do a pretty good job or the new Creative Labs Audigy 2 ZS is not bad either. There are of course many other superior sound cards but both of these will give a very convincing 5.1/6.1 sound.

    Quiet PSU and fans. Probably one of the hardest hardware parts of a HCPC to get right as many PSU's and fans that say they are quiet are not. Also it is very important to get the flow of air right in the case so it cools the system properly as the fans will be spinning very slowly to keep them quiet.

    Some form of capture card, either a TV tuner card with S-Video or a dedicated card like the sweetspot.

    You might think about changing the processor but it is probably up to the job.

    The hardest thing to get right though is the software and getting it working bug free otherwise you will be getting all sorts of problems and the whole system will become very tiresome as all you want to do is watch a DVD. Also with the software configuration it is the little things that are the hardest to get working and makes all the difference from a system that is a pain to use to a system that is dream to use.

    Hope I have not put you off the whole HCPC route :eek: as when they work they are superb machines to have in your front room as they are capable of so much.
     
  4. Todda

    Todda
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    Ian

    Thanks very much for your advice.

    I read the review of the EPC Fidelity II in Home Cinema Choice and was very impressed. The article played a big part in my decision to upgrade my PC.

    Because I already have a home cinema system, my PC will be used primarily as a computer. Your HCPCs are obviously designed specifically with HC in mind. For that reason, I believe your PCs would be too high end (attract high end costs) for my needs. Do you only sell the listed systems or would your company consider building a part system?

    Will a Radeon Card improve the picture for television and DVD as well as games and Internet?

    Would I be able to take a digital signal for the sound card you mention and pass 5.1 sound to my speakers via a stand alone receiver?

    If I upgraded the processor to faster Athlon, would I have to worry about compatibility with my existing RAM?

    Would I be able to transfer the whole system into a more attractive case and if so which would you suggest?

    Thanks again for the help.
     
  5. Ian Cox

    Ian Cox
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    Yes you are right the system reviewed was our flagship model and attracts a high cost because it is designed for premium audio and visual quality, especially with the sound card we have in that system. All our systems can be used as PCs as well for playing games etc.

    We would be happy to part build a system for you. So we can take the components you have already and then upgrade it to one of our systems. Our front end will then load up automatically when the PC starts to give you all the media functions but when you want to use it as a PC you can then quit the front end.

    We can then advise you on what components you need to add to give a superb HCPC but with our front end so you get the ease of use and system that works well.

    OK as for your more specific questions:

    The radeon will improve DVD and TV image quality and I also prefer the 2D quality on Windows generally over Nvidia but that is a personal preference.

    The soundcard will pass 5.1/6.1 digital over SPDIF coax to your receiver to decode the signal.

    If you do upgrade the processor the fastest one you will be able to get is a AMD XP 2400+ with the RAM that you currently have. Do check the motherboard though that it can support of processor of the speed.

    You can transfer your system into a more attractive case but some of them will only allow micro ATX boards in them. I think yours is a full ATX board? If you would like to talk to us about upgrading your system then we can give you a full range of options on cases and what is possible.
     

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