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HTPC - NOW, PROJECTOR - LATER?

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by calibos, Jun 19, 2001.

  1. calibos

    calibos
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    I seek knowledge from you my fellow forum members(Who seem to know more than most HT magazine writers!! :) )

    I plan to get an LCD projector in the next few months when finances allow. Probably the Sony 10HT/11HT or Sanyo PLV60. I will shortly be buying a new PC which will eventually be used to drive the projector. At the moment it looks like I'll be buying a Dell(So that rules out AMD) through a friends fathers business with an order they're putting in(so I dont have to pay VAT :D )

    Anyway, I want the HTPC to be able to give me top notch:

    - DVD playback (Prog Scan, Scaling, line doubling and all that).
    - TV viewing (de-interlacing, Prog scan, scaling.....and all that :) )
    - 'TIVO Like' recording of TV programs
    - Ability to archive programs to CDR/DVDR
    - Games and Internet on a 6ft screen!

    The provisional PC spec. that I have chosen is as follows:

    - 1.7Ghz P4
    - 256mb Rambus Ram
    - 40gb ATA100(7200rpm)
    - 64mb Geforce 3
    - 16x DVD ROM
    - 12x CDRW
    - Turtle Beach Santa Cruz Soundcard
    - WinMe

    Now for the questions:

    1. Do I need more RAM or not (I have seen higher figures recommended on this forum but a dedicated player seems to do just fine with much less)???

    2. Should I just get a basic CD-Rom with the PC now and purchase a new DVD recordable Drive separately?

    3. Has the Santa Cruz got optical or co-axial outputs to connect to my DB930 and does it output DTS. (The DEll site makes no mention of optical,co-axial or sp/dif outputs for that matter in the specs for this card yet mentions AC3(ie DD) output capability??? The other soundcard option was the SB live 1024 but not the SB live 5.1. I'm presuming the former merely outputs and the latter decodes and has 5.1 outputs. Is the Santa Cruz better( it cost a few quid more)

    4. Should I go with Me or Win2000 (on the one hand Win2000 is more secure and stable and I suppose I should have it on one of my machines as I'm studying networking, but on the other hand I'm worried about compatibility with the DVD and Tv/'Tivo' software and I also play a lot of games)
    How about a dual boot with 2000 and my current win98FE???

    5. What is the best Software player, can it be made region free and how much?

    6. What Tv decoder card should I get and how much?

    7. What TV software for that 'de-interlacing' do I need and how much?

    8. What Software will give me that 'TIVO like' capability as seen on the TINY HTPC and how much?


    9. Where do I get the above extra Hardware and Software?

    10. Will someone lend me a few thousand quid? :D

    Thanks in advance, me laddos! Help with any or all of the above questions would be very much appreciated.
     
  2. HT Dude

    HT Dude
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    I did write a massive reply but Shockwave shut down my browser. Another reason to hate it. Private message me your phone number and I'll phone you. It'll be quicker.
     
  3. GarryF

    GarryF
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    Hi there, I only use my HCPC for DVD playback at the moment so don't know the answers to some of your questions but here's some

    1 256 will be fine, it's easy and cheap to add in more at a later date anyways.

    2 I doubt DVD recodable will settle down any time soon with three different systems around. DVD players are cheap anyways and you don't really want the latest fastest most noisey one. The other main factor is you need to get the dribve Multi Region, have a look at http://perso.club-internet.fr/farzeno/firmware/news.htm

    3 There are various arguments relating to sound. a basic SB Live or similar will do for DVD playback, something like http://www.digitalconnection.com/Products/Audio/AP2496.htm
    would be recommended for MP3 etc.

    4 From what I've read Win2000 is starting to get there but you need to be careful depending on your hardware. I use 98SE without problems.

    5 Try WinDVD or PowerDVD. I've only used WinDVD and find it great. You need a free utility program called DVD Genie to make it multi region

    6 Dunno

    7 I've heard of WinTV, dunno if that's what you need.

    8 Dunno

    9 Lots of places

    10 Maybe when I win the lottery :)

    Something to consider is remote control, if you have a pronto you can automate most stuff on the PC with some free software called Girder and a IR reciver called IRMan. Alternatively get an IR keyboard and train the pronto from that.

    The best place I've found for HTPC is www.avsforum.com the FAQ will should tell you everything you need to know (best in class section is good reading) http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/Forum12/HTML/006302.html
     
  4. Jeff

    Jeff
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    Do as much research as you can, the best source is www.avscience.com in the Home Theatre PC forum. As far as HTPCs the tried and tested always works better the the latest and greatest. Work out what is important to YOU, is it DVD playback, 3D gaming, music or something else?. Does the PC need to be very quiet?, where is the best place to put it? Should it be a desktop or a tower? Do you want multiregion?, what are you connecting the sound card to?, does it need to be optical or coax? Do you want front USB ports for easy connection?

    Well thats just a small number of questions that you need to ask yourself.In the mean time here are some answers.

    1) 256MB is enough, but you can never have too much ram (actually you can but I won't get in to that)

    2) Just get a good multiregion capable DVD -rom, DVD ram drive are fine but the media is too expensive to be viable.

    3) I don't know enough about your requirements to say which sound card would best suit you.

    4) Windows 98 SE is probably the best at the moment, Windows 2000 is great if you can get all the drivers that you need to work.

    5) WinDVD 2.64 or PowerDVD 3.0, I have both, but I find WinDVD to be much better on my etup. Use DVD Genie 4 to do the multiregion bit for the software player but your DVD rom must also be multiregion. Both WinDVD and PowerDVD cost $49

    6) One that works with Dscaler, I have an ATI TV wonder card. (£40?)

    7) DScaler (free)

    8) No good Tivo type cards for PAL land yet, WinTV PVR is rubbish IMHO.

    9) My Kryton article has all the links you need. http://www.homecinemachoice.com/articles/techarticles/200105_Kryton/200105_kryton.shtml

    10) No chance

    Jeff
     
  5. Metric

    Metric
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    disagree with point 8, im using a wintv pvr, hardware recording is fine, no drops in frame or quality on 12mbit

    Mike
     
  6. Jeff

    Jeff
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    Mike,

    I stand corrected!, This is good news, you are the first person that I've heared of that has got this working properly. No funny (or not funny) artifacts? If it does what it says on the box I might get one myself.

    Jeff
     
  7. Metric

    Metric
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    Its working fine, i have interference via the rf at the moment but its not the best connection.

    Im happy with it, you cant tell the difference when using the pause system.

    Thanks to another forum member i got a good deal on the card so for the money it isnt bad

    Mike
     
  8. Metric

    Metric
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    I think that the pc becomes an asset of the company, therefore if they go bump they take your pc with them.

    I have a dell 8100 p4 1.7 same spec as yours but the card is a 32mb gts. I got a flat panel with it but the card doesnt have a dvi connection...the sound card is crap, the versajack thing is awful.

    Dell support is appaling, i couldnt get digital from the sound card and requested a 2pin lead from the dvd to the card. After 3 weeks of service number requests and reminder emails i finally got an email about why my cdrw wouldnt play audio cds...

    I later found out you need the audio dongle lead as one half does bitstream and the other pcm. I told dell via email contact, Dell didnt know this and wont send me the cable after 2wks to reply.

    Even though they sold me a digital panel the card doesnt have a digital connection they wont swap the card and let me pay an upgrade to the 64mb which has the dvi.

    I got a wintv pvr card that took 4 days of rebuilds etc to get working. A dell 8100 specific bios revision problem and a dell 8100 specific registry hack were required. Dell support didnt know this either.

    Mike
     
  9. dannyc

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    Why wait to buy a projector when you can get both now! You could get away with a much cheaper PC than the one you are planning on getting. Any fast chip based system with a Radeon, Asus motherboard, IBM deskstar harddrive, Airboard keyboard, ATI TV wonder card, Midiman Audiophile 2496 and 256mb of memory will suffice. You can add a hardware MPEG encoder to that if you want TIVO like facilities. Shop around for the best prices and it should cost you around £1000.

    Then get a cheap used DLP projector like a Davis DL450 or Plus UP1100 (both of which I have used) for under £1500 and you will be amazed by the results, so much so that you might never feel the need to get a Sony VPW11HT after all. There is also a ready upgrade path for you when you are ready with things the Panamorph lens, Greyhawk screen, Pronto remote control etc etc. Just because this stuff is budget compared to a Sony or Seleco doesn't mean the results when properly setup won't make you just as happy! and you will have learned alot and had fun along the way!
     

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