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HTPC - I'll soon have Barco800 but aint got a clue with HTPC

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by Phil Hinton, Jun 3, 2001.

  1. Phil Hinton

    Phil Hinton
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    Hi Guys,

    Although i've been a HC nut for over 10yrs, i can safely say i have no clue about HTPC.

    Hopefully i'll soon have a Barco 800 and know to get the best from it I'll need to use a scaler or HTPC.

    My humble home pc has following spec,
    800mhz pent 3 processor,
    64mb sdram,
    20gb HD,
    12x Samsung DVDrom,
    Intel 3d agp graphics,
    power dvd.
    Model is emonster 800dvd.
    Running win me

    So what will i need to get my machine up to scratch, like i say i'm complete novice and have no idea what i need.

    Any help would be apriechiated
    phil.
     
  2. Phil Hinton

    Phil Hinton
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    Jeff,
    Thanks for the reply. The soundcard is a factory fitted thing with no outputs, so i'll have to invest in a new one.

    I guess the main problem i have is, do you use the DVD in the pc, or can you play the standalone dvd player through the pc and use as a scaler(or i'm i on the wrong track completely with this one!?).

    Like i say i have no clue what its all about and although i've started reading up, i'm finding all this 3:2 pull down scaler deinterlacer and other techno babble a bit confusing!

    Any body fancy giving me a beginers master class?
     
  3. Jeff

    Jeff
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    You would definately use the PC's DVD player. For the best results you would use a Radeon based video card and a software DVD player such as WinDVD. Sound card wise I currently use a SB Live 5.1, but as I run Windows XP this isn't a good choice because the DD/DTS spdif (digital out) doesn't work. I have a Terratec EWX 24/96 on order, which promises to be a top HTPC audio card. We shall see. I have been building my own PC's for about 10 years, but building a GOOD HTPC is far from easy. I'm already on my 3rd video card, 2nd HD, 2nd case, 2nd sound card, 3rd PSU in just a few months.

    Good luck

    Jeff
     
  4. ReTrO

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    You could try a GeForce 3 if you can afford it. Ohterwise if choosing a 2 MX go for one of the newer MX400 64mb versions, they are slighty more expensive but faster.

    For sound cards you could try the Hurcules Gamer XP. It has a decent breakout box with co-ax and optical in/out and full 6ch output via. phono's.

    Get atleast 256mb RAM, about £65 at the moment, get CL2 version rather than CL3 because it's faster.


    Rick
     
  5. Jeff

    Jeff
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    First go over to the HTPC forum on www.avscience.com and start reading!

    Your hardware is a good starting point. You should buy a new graphics card. If you don't want to spend too much money an ATI Radeon 32SDR is a good choice. Also buy some more memory, its cheap!. You want to avoid any disk swapping going on during DVD playback. 128Mb might be OK but I'd go for a minimum of 256MB. On the software player front I would also get a copy of WinDVD (you might want to wait for V3.0 to be released.) What sound card do you have and what would you be connecting it to?

    Jeff
     
  6. buns

    buns
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    keep it coming!! I am in a position that i would very much like to build a htpc, but have no idea how. If I can get an idea of the top compontents to buy.....then i will start building! so keep it coming please!

    Adam
     
  7. Boris Blank

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    Adam,
    Software-wise you need either PowerDVD or WinDVD, YxY (which controls the blanking and sizing of the HTPC display including aspect ratio control), Windows Millenium or Win 98 (if using an SB Live card - Win2k won't allow DD/DTS passthru, in other words if you want 5.1 sound don't use Win2K!). Finally you will need PowerStrip which controls the resolution (scaling).

    I second Jeff's advice to go to the AV Science forum, there is a lot more in-depth info available there (although all of it has been covered in some form or other on this forum). The learning curve is fairly short but quite steep although its well worth it - I'd expect you to be up and running in half a day or so and an "expert" after a few days!

    Remember, you will also need a vga to 5 BNC connector from the PC to the Barco - I see no difference in the £15 Maplin's cable from my £40 Belden one (either they are both crap or both good!).

    My 801s requires a negative sync from the VGA card before it displays a picture - PowerStrip will supply this or even the vga card if need be but PowerStrip is cleaner. I use a Radeon DDR card, I also have a Geforce in my "normal" PC and I found the Radeon to have a better display - better colour, better, cleaner image by around 10 - 15% over the GeForce.

    Let us know how you get on.
    Paul
     
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  9. buns

    buns
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    Sorry to butt in on someone elses post........

    but I would be intending to use the likes of the new tosiba projector, I assume that most of this advice still stands? Also, could anyone give me a rough idea of how much I would need to spend to gain the quality playback of a pioneer 737 and the functions of the iscan pro?

    thanks,

    Adam
     
  10. Boris Blank

    Boris Blank
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    Adam,
    I built my HTPC for a total of around £500 - CPU £50 (Celeron 500 running at 900mhz), motherboard £100, video card £120, case £30, HD £110, keyboard & mouse £40, RAM £50 and Soundcard £40 BUT, I used good quality parts in the main and all were branded so it could be done for less. The only part I didn't have was the TV input card (which can take svideo input from say a PS2 or composite input from a Sky box) but the cost for that is only about £30.

    I have a Pioneer 737 and believe me, the HTPC/projector combo display leaves the 737 dead in the water as far as DVDs are concerned. However, the TV input card, from what I understand does not fair quite as well but most users describe it as good (I've not seen one in the flesh so can't comment).

    HTPC can be a bit fiddly but the benefits are HUGE and very cost effective, however it can be a bit fiddly but its well worth the effort!
    Paul

    [ 10-06-2001: Message edited by: PaulB ]

    [ 10-06-2001: Message edited by: PaulB ]
     
  11. Branxx

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    THX 1138,

    You have a very interesting project before you.

    I had a brief look at Barco 808 and see that this is a professional grade projector costing well above £10K. As you admit to be an HC nut I can only assume that you have other bits and pieces to do a justice to Barco: projection screen, 5.1 system, etc. If so than from my own experience you have already spent a LOT of money.

    The reason why I started with this summary is inn order to move the discussion from various peaces of consumer grade PC items where we are arguing if you should spend £50, £80 or £150! The rest of your system is not in that class.

    If I am building a system to match what you have I'll first look at Carillon Audio Systems.
    [​IMG]
    They produce a well designed professional grade PC Audio system. Particularly important is that the noise level from this PC is sub 25dB which is a requirement for sound studios. Secondly, this PC are build for maximum audio quality. Thirdly, it is excellent looking and rack mountable.

    Their web site does not have much information but you can order a catalogue. Turn Key in London sell them. Their basic configuration is P3 866MHz with 128MB memory starts from £1,399, model called 'Sibelius Symphonist' with M-Audio Audiophile card costs £2,999 and models 'Logic Pro Studio' and 'Ultrasampler 160' come M-Audio Delta1010 for £3,299, but you can specify what do you want inside (strangely they have no models with Terratec sound cards). They are not stong on choice of video cards and if ATI Radeon 64 DDR is not available, order the cheapest one and then replace yourself. You should note that PC is build to be silent, however Radeons have a fan on the card.

    Afterwards, you can concentrate on software issues.
    You can find good and up-to-date overview at dtvmax and the most famous AVSForum HTPC FAQ.

    [ 10-06-2001: Message edited by: Branxx ]

    [ 10-06-2001: Message edited by: Branxx ]
     
  12. Alaric

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    Hi there,

    I have a Barco Data 800 and HTPC already and can probably point you in the right direction. The avsforum is a great place to start, particularly the HTPC forum, also recomended www.tawforum.com *Great* place for stuff on the Barco.

    However here's a quick rundown !

    Using a VGA -> 5 BNC cable, the 800 needs a negative synch, this is posible with some graphics cards using the drivers, or using power strip 3. Cable wise, 2 metres (£15-£30) is about the maximum length you can find a ready made cable. I made my own which was fun (!) and is 5m and actualy performs better than the 2m computer shop one

    Graphics cards. I've tried the Geforce, had a dualheaded Mx2 (£100), found in un-modified state to have a lousy fuzzy output on both outputs. I've since switched to a Radeon VE (£90), *MUCH* better output, particularly with the ATI player. Not quite as fast for games though !

    Sound cards, you have a few options. Do you need an Optical or Coaxil digital output (I wouldn't even bother with on board processing and using 5 analogue outputs). You have a couple of cheapish options Soundblaster 5.1 live (£50) for coaxil, guilimot maxisound fortisimo (£35) for optical, or even one of the most esoteric cards (24/96 based - £100+) however these are limited in game support.

    You already mention you have a DVD drive, so long as its reasonably quiet, it'll typicaly do great, you only need a 1x DVD for playback purposes !

    Oh and 64mb....your selling your PC short, particularly with Win ME and a PIII 800....Upgrade it to 128/196 and the os'll be happier....Actualy won't make much odds to DVD/HTPC playback though !

    BTW, when initialy synching the PC/Projector, try a few resolutions, probably starting with 640x480 @ low refresh and moving up, its easier. My BD800 will happily do 1024x768 @ 72hz for 4:3 and produces a great picture (Been watching a lot of farscape recently). I'm still working on an optimal widescreen res, as the VE has a few issues with custom resolutions !

    Should be about it....if you wanna mail me i'll happily try and help.

    cya,
    Lee
     
  13. buns

    buns
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    Nice post, thats the kinda stuff i personally need to know.....

    Adam
     

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