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How good are HCPCs????

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by jimbo, Oct 29, 2003.

  1. jimbo

    jimbo
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    I have read a lot of posts on this forum about the various peices of kit you should buy to build a HCPC, but if I was to buy all this kit how would it compare to me spending £2,000 at Richer Sounds on something similar? Is HCPC really as good as buying separates that are deigned to do a particular job?
     
  2. buns

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    If you spent the time and same money on a pc...... nothing in richersounds will begin to compare.

    ad
     
  3. loonatic

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    I have a fairly decent HTPC built around a P4 2.4GHz CPU with a Radeon 9700 non-pro video card.

    I have my HS10 PJ connected via DVI using powerstrip to get the correct resolution.

    I have installed most of the popular DVD playback software but find that TheaterTek the best for me. I also have dScaler installed.

    Now I was happy with this setup until I got my new Denon 2900 progressive scan player and an iScan Ultra.

    I now have Sky+ going via the iScan Ultra to my Denon 3803 amplifier with the Denon 2900 connectly directly to the 3803. So for both sources the HS10 is getting a PAL prog-scan image.

    The image quality of the HTPC vs the 2900 is a close call. I think that the colour reproduction is better on the HTPC and possibly a little bit better in terms of detail also. But nothing much in it really.

    The difference between dScaler and the iScan Ultra is much clearer in my view with the Ultra winning hands down.

    So, I would say that IMHO a HTPC can out perform a stand alone DVD player but with the advent of more PAL progressive players the gap is reducing. And if you want to use Sky/Sky+ then the iScan Ultra performs very well.

    When you also factor in usability and resale value then HTPCs don't fare so well at all. Plus if your not really into PCs then all the setting up can be a real pain and frustrating at times.

    I now use my Denon 2900/iScan Ultra in favour of the HTPC which now only gets used for gamming or playing back DVDs which have been ripped for one reason or another.

    Cheers, Lee
     
  4. Jeff

    Jeff
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    It all depends on the display device, even the best progscan DVD player would look crap on my 9" CRT projector.
     
  5. JohnS

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    I also have to disagree wikth Lee somewhat, I recently compared a Arcam DVD27 in both Pal and NTSC progressive into my HS10 against my Theatretek driven HTPC and it didn't come close to the quality of the HTPC.

    I've not seen an iscan ultra but for similar/less money you can buy a secondhand H3D for the HTPC which offers superior hardware deinterlacing for scaling by the of external sources. For video based sources, its better than my Dscaler setup although for film based stuff, theres not much in it.

    The advantage to the HTPC is that the exact components can evolve over time and be replaced in a more cost effective way than dumping an obselete/outdated box.....be it at the expense of some time and effort to get it right.
     
  6. Mr.D

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    With an HTPC you can end up with one box for under £1000 that will give dvd playback quality on suitable displays that blows away anything but the most expensive players ( even then I'd put my money on the HTPC).

    You can get 1:1 pixel matching for just abotu any susitable display device.

    It will deinterlace and scale external sources for the price of a decent capture card better than stand alone implementations costing orders of magnitude more.

    You can personalise the interface to a far greater extent than anything out there.

    You can use it for gaming , internet ...anything that a PC can do.

    You can use it as a PVR that outperforms most other implementations for a fraction of the cost.

    You can use it as a jukebox for music that will give audio quality approaching the highest end standalone audiophile equipment. You can also have it generating beat sensitive imagery for that full on rave effect in your front room.

    You ca rip dvds to the HD and effectively have a video jukebox with as much or as little information about the film as you desire. ( similarly for audio)

    You can make them as quiet as a standalone dvd player.
    You can put it all in a case that looks like a hifi component rather than a PC.

    You can use it with a remote in a similar manner to standalone kit.


    Its flexible , its powerful, its high quality , its comparatively cheap, its great fun to put together and its all in one box.
     
  7. adesonic

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    I have to agree with Mr D, the flexibility and upgradeability you get from an HTPC is second to none, and in terms of picture and sound quality, IMHO only the most expensive seperates can compete - my HTPC is not really fully optimised for the job (it's based on a Sony Vaio desktop) but it still blows me away every time I use it!!!
     
  8. jimbo

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    Thanks for all the responses, it all sounds very interesting. By the way I have a Panasonig 42" plasma so I was just wondering how to get the most out of it. Is there anywhere I can read up on this stuff a bit more, maybe some sort of beginners guide website???
     
  9. adesonic

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    If the PDP has DVI you can connect the HCPC to it via that, if it has VGA then that's the way to go!
     
  10. jaybeegee

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    I have been mulling over going the htpc route for some time to make the most of my sony hs10. the above posts have now convinced me but as theres no way i can build my own pc i need to know what components and spec i would need . ideally it would be my dvd and cd player and pvr and freeview so that all i would have is the htpc, my denon 3803 and the hs10
    cheers for any help

    jay
     
  11. james.miller

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    if its gonna cost you £1000, then it really should be better than all but the best:rolleyes:
     
  12. SeaneyC

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    Mine cost £300 and i'd say it's easily better than DVD players costing the same. Plus you can't convert them to PVRs for £100 (freeview card) high definition devices, or anything even approaching the convenience (yes, HTPC and convenience in the same paragraph!) of a supreme 1 box solution. I don't even have to fool about with my mouse now, as it's all controlled by my pronto and girder. :)
     
  13. Kramer

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    Agree with all that but it doesn't end there. For the uninitiated they can be a nightmare to setup & control. All HCPCs are not equal. Results vary & are influenced as much by the end user as any/all components used.

    I'm an ardent "HCPC'er" but prospective owners should be aware of the pitfalls/shortcomings.

    HCPC/DVI/HS10 = :smashin:
     
  14. Mr.D

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    Build it yourself use it as a way to find out something about computers and end up with something very powerfult that you can tweak to your hearts content.

    First PC I built was a real stomach churning experience.
    4 in and its a breeze these days ( takes some time but its worth it) Never by a prebuilt box again.
     
  15. jimbo

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    Still haven't really had any info on where to start for beginners, is it just a case of trawling this message board for the information or are there any good websites???
     
  16. Mr.D

    Mr.D
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    For the basic build I found a good non HTPC specific way into it was a couple of books.

    Building a PC for Dummies ( very good if you've never built one before and don't really know too much about it)

    PC upgrade and repair bible ( big thick book handy for some of the more advanced issues : networking , OS installation)

    Apart from that I found most of the other information and advice for specific HTPC issues on this site or the AVS forums website. The theatertek and Dscaler websites are handy as well as is the myHTPC website.

    The trickiest thing is deciding which drivers and which versions of software work best together and I just simple went with what seemed to be the best common working configurations by looking at what worked for the largest amount of people.
     

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