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Help with software setup for HTPC

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by JackOTrades, Aug 19, 2005.

  1. JackOTrades

    JackOTrades
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    Dear all,

    It's been a long time since I posted but I have been an attentive reader of these forums, even if mostly in other sections.

    I have read as much as possible of what's been said here too, recently, and there is so much good info that my head is spinning and I can't really decide what I need.

    So if you can spare a minute I would greatly appreciate some hints.

    The hardware I have:
    CPU - Athlon 64 3200+ (Skt 939)
    GPU - Asus NVidia Geforce 6600GT (128Mb, 520Mhz)
    512Mb RAM (PC3200)
    Hardrive
    Onboard 7.1 surround sound (via electrical coaxial I/O)

    Panasonic PT-AE700 (has HDMI input, as well as Component and VGA)

    I am running at the moment Windows XP.

    What I want to do with the HTPC:
    a) Be able to play DVDs upscaled to 720p and project them
    b) Watch Freeview channels upscaled to 720p via the projector
    c) Control the above by using a remote control.

    Now my questions are:
    1) What is the software combination I need to perform a) and b) and c)?
    (I've read about MCE, Meedio, etc. they all seem to support remote controls but they have different prices and they seem to have restrictions on which dvdplayers can be used with them... and I am really confused by now)

    2) Depending on the choice of software I will have different options for TV Freeview cards, right? Does Sweetspot work with Freeview or just analog TV?
    Can I use it on XP and if I decide to buy MCE all I need to do is use different drivers? Is this true as well for the Blackgold cards?

    My thinking so far is that I could get something like Showshifter or Meedio and use Theatertek with FFDShow but not sure if I can use a sweetspot card for freeview and how easy it is to use something like Dscaler on this setup.

    Another option I have been thinking about is using MCE2005 with the NVidia codec and the Windows Media Player. I understand that this way I won't be able to use FFDShow but if it does the upscaling it might be a good option. But could I use dscaler with MCE2005 for the freeview images?

    I know this is a lot to ask. You can see I am a bit puzzled here...
    Your help is really highly appreciated.

    Best regards,
    Jack.
     
  2. lisag

    lisag
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    Hi,

    I can answer a few of your questions...

    When you talk about Sweetspot do you mean the Sweetspot MCE DVB-T card? Because that works for freeview within the MCE interface, you may be able to run it using different software, that I don't know.

    The other Sweetspot capture card, I think will capture anything from an external source.

    You can use Theatertek and ffdshow within MCE if you do it via the free My Movies plug in. But... it is a bit of hassle and with your graphics acrd and the Nvidia Pure Video codec you may find the picture quality good enough without ffdshow post processing.

    I don't think I can answer your other questions, someone else on here should be able to help though.

    lisa
     
  3. David PluggedIn

    David PluggedIn
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    Hi Jack

    as Lisa points out, there are 2 main classes of SweetSpot cards. The original SweetSpot Video Processor, which is for running external sources (component,composite,RGB,PDI or SDI) , and the SweetSpot MCE, which is essentially a branded version of the BlackGold card.

    As you want to use Freeview, rather than Sky, your choices are much easier.

    Either SweetSpot MCE + Windows XP + MediaPortal , giving you the cheapest , and most flexible / customisable solution.

    or

    SweetSpot MCE + Windows MCE, giving you the easiest , slickest out of the box solution.

    hope that helps!
     
  4. JackOTrades

    JackOTrades
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    Lisa, David, that is brilliant, thank you very much for clearing it out for me.

    Assuming I am going to use Sweetspot MCE (which I will most certainly given your advice) does any of the above solutions (MCE2005 or MediaPortal) prevents or is better to use dscaler (to upscale the Freeview picture before sending it to the PJ)?

    Or am I making a mistake and I don't even need DScaler for anything?

    Thanks a lot I hope I will be able to retribute in the future your kind, speedy and veru useful assistance.

    Jack
     
  5. David PluggedIn

    David PluggedIn
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    Hi Jack

    no problem :)

    When you are using either MCE or MP then the video card is doing the image scaling for you, as part of setting the desktop resolution to 1280x720 for your projector. Dscaler isnt required unless you want to capture external video sources (which you dont have on your list)

    all the best
     
  6. JackOTrades

    JackOTrades
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    Oh really?! That's fantastic! :)

    Here I was scratching my head for nothing...
    Out of curiosity, I know the MCE2005 does not support having a Freeview card and an analogue capture card. Do you know if Media Portal supports having one DTT and one capture card? (meaning if I get a Sky box in the future I could actually have Sky and Freeview with two tuners).

    Oh is there a remote I can use with Media Portal. I am sure there is. I will do some digging. If there is a recommended one pls let me know.

    Thanks a lot guys! David I will most likely order the MCE from your site, given you have been so helpful that's the least I can do.

    Is there any way of buying MCE2005 on its own (if I go with MediaPortal and later decide to buy MCE)? I know with MCE2004 one would have to buy some hw together with the sw... but I heard that with MCE2005 it might not be the same anymore.

    Again thanks a lot for all your help.
    Jack
     
  7. Kopite4Ever

    Kopite4Ever
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    having a 6series Gfx card and using this exact setup its well worth effort you put into it mate. if you check my profile you will see in HTPC terms my pc spec is fairly similar to your own. ive tested Pio 868, cheapy £50 prog scan players and budget upscaling players and none of them compare to a well setup TT & FFDShow combo IMO. the only way you would beat it is For eg pio 868 + A Lumegen Scaler but your talking a nice ammount of money.
    i dont use MCE personally but you can use the TT&FFDShow combo in MCE via something in the movie's setup but someone else can guide you.

    ive tested using FFDShow and not using it and letting the GFx card do its thing but ultimatly FFDShow for me wins out. it gives a nice define image when setup correctly

    the sticky at the top of the forum is a great help set up by the community. i ended up tweaking FFDShow for a number of hours and now its been running for about 8 months and never had a problem.

    cant really think of anything else to add at the moment :rolleyes:
     
  8. lisag

    lisag
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    Jack - yes you can buy MCE OEM now, scan, amongst others sell the software and the remote hardware kit here

    Kopite, thanks for offering a balanced view of ffdshow and TT, I only tried it briefly but am sure it is worth the effort, many users on here seem to hold it in high regard. On my SD plasma the purevideo stuff is good enough for me, but maybe on HD displays and PJ's the difference is more noticeable.

    lisa
     
  9. JackOTrades

    JackOTrades
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    Thanks for all the useful tips, guys. Its great to read your experiences as I go and try this out myself.

    I am still undecided between MCE and MP... As MP seems to be free I might give it a go to start with. If I want to use TheatreTek with MP and FFDShow to post-process this would be possible, right?

    Kopite4Ever if I do go the TT+FFDShow can I get in touch with you to see what settings you found best? That would be a great starting point.

    Thanks again everyone!
    Jack
     
  10. Kopite4Ever

    Kopite4Ever
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    no problems what so ever mate :thumbsup: i can give you my basic settings and you can tweak or leave as you like :) you will find most FFDshow users will use very similar settings ie i think everyone uses a resize method in FFDSHow called Lanczos. its all worth it in the end ! if/when you start FFDShow + TT just send me a PM :)
     
  11. JackOTrades

    JackOTrades
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    Thanks! Will do!

    Jack
     
  12. JackOTrades

    JackOTrades
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    Kopite4Ever,

    As promised, I am back to nag you a bit.
    I am setting up the htpc now. DVD playback is working fine (is the only thing working at the moment) with the following setup:

    Panasonic PTAE700 (720p) using HDMI input
    Windows XP Pro
    Media Portal 0.1.3.0 (MP)
    MP internal DVD Player
    NVidia Geforce 6600GT using 720p and 60Hz using DVI output
    NVidia PureVideo Decoders
    FFDShow for Postprocessing.

    Could you send me any tips, hints or examples of what is a good setup/starting point for the FFDShow settings?

    (off topic: I am connecting the PC to a AV Amp via SPDIF and although I get DD and DTS working well, any 2 channel audio is being reproduced badly, i hear mostly only the bass and steering effects, always through the 5.1 channels and the voices almost totally disappear. If I play DD or DTS it works like a charm... any idea what might be causing this? Cheers!)

    Thanks!
    Jack
     
  13. Kopite4Ever

    Kopite4Ever
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    hey mate, been busy today so couldnt get back to you sooner. tomorrow i shall PM you details on setup and my settings etc and also how to go about tweaking for the best picture for your own setup :thumbsup:

    regards
     
  14. JackOTrades

    JackOTrades
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    Thanks, no worries, i look forward to hearing from you.

    Cheers,
    Jack
     

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