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HTPC: The Future of Home A/V?

Discussion in 'Blu-ray & DVD Players & Recorders' started by Branxx, Jul 28, 2003.

  1. Branxx

    Branxx
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    Recently we have two interesting offers in the classified section. Placebo2 was selling Arcam DV88+ DVD Player and Madders was selling Arcam CD23 player.

    Those are both very good machines and this is where the interesting point comes into place: there are both being replaced by HTPC.

    In Placebo2’s case HTPC offers better the picture quality than DV88+, while in Madders case excellent audio quality from RME DIGI96/8 sound card, combined with the benefits of music library management via HTPC makes Arcam CD23 player a redundant.

    The case that the both items on sale are Arcam is just a coincidence; it could have been any other brand. More important is that HTPC are becoming more readily accepted alternative to traditional equipment, without compromising either audio or video quality.

    Is this the future of home A/V?
     
  2. jmack

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    well ive just bought a arcam dv88+ from the classifieds and sold my philips dvd player so the last couple of days i been dvd player less.

    so i been using my pc pluged into my plasma :p while my pc is not a dedicated htpc its quite high spec/ 2600amd/radeon9700/etc
    and have been very very impressed with the picture and sound is great.
    the arcam will have to go some way to compete with pc,

    its just that the stand alone are so easy to use and quieter.

    i like the control you have over the picture and sound with the pc, you can change just about everything , ie dirrent picture settings for pal/ntsc

    i think if i had a dedicated pc that was quiet and could be run from a remote control and with the adition of dvd-audio/sacd
    that gave great picture and sound
    i would not hesitate to jump ship.
     
  3. nathan_silly

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    Not for me!

    I've been around PC's enough so I know of the problems associated with them (hardware, software, drivers) and I have used software DVD players and region changers- just to use the thing is a pain. And of course I have a DVD-Video player and Processor.

    No way would I use a PC as a source/processor. For example, I do not wish to boot up a PC (wait a minute or so) to play a disc. I also don't like the idea of Windows controlled volume- several times music has blasted out of the PC speakers..be well annoyed if that did the same for my AV speakers!! I wouldn't plug my PC directly into poweramps; again I don't like the idea of software volume control (a application could take control of overall volume and blast out) and windows startup/shutdown sound pop.


    I also don't want to prat around for hours installing Windows, configuring powerstrip, PowerDVD, Girder... and any other problems that crop up.

    I can't understand why large solid state memory formats haven't been used to store the OS & applications - certainly would help reducing noise levels.


    I just want to press eject, pop in a DVD and press play- not mess around to get to that stage.
     
  4. Branxx

    Branxx
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    Nathan (Silly),

    Good points re potential problems with HTPC. I've been dealing with them for a while and found some reasonable simple and good solutions:
    • Boot Up Speed: Given up on that problem and keeping the HTPC always on unless I expect not to use for several days.
    • Volume Control: I am feeding audio (either digitally or analogue) to external A/V always at full volume. External A/V does volume control.
    • Sound Card Directly to Power Amps/Active Speaker: This is tricky especially with M-Audio cards. they have loud pops on power up/down. RME are significant improvement but still not completely silent. This is also the reason why one of my other HTPC based systems is always on, to avoid power up/down cycle.
    • Installing/Configuring HTPC: Common this is fun (unless you do that at work every day).
    • Solid State Memory: Check my thread about BXP. It enables Windows XP to be booted over network, completely removing the need to have HD. One source of noise and electrical distortions removed. Venturcom has a special offer of A/V users until end of this month for only $300. Ideal for your multi-PC equipped house!
     
  5. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    My projector takes as long to get going as the htpc, so it's no major problem for me, and now that I have remote control for DVD playing, it's no different to a standalone machine.

    I've also quietened it down a lot, so it can't be heard from the seating position. If I was going to have it in the lounge, I'd put it in one of the AV like pc cases you can buy.

    I just pop in a DVD and it'll play it.

    I also have the advantage of running any other vobs, DD/DTS/THX demos or trailers that I've downloaded, so that i get a more cinema like experience.

    Gary.
     
  6. skywalker1010

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    Hopefully this is still on topic....but there is a cheap DVI DVD player out over in the States called the Bravo D1.

    This they are talking about has all the picture quality of HTPC in a conventional DVD player casing.

    I am looking for information on the player being imported at the moment.

    My other alternative is the PD-1000 from Projection Systems, Inc. This is a HTPC in a home cinema case, top notch performance as well.

    LMP-PC have something similar.

    Just my tuppence guys.......

    Nick
     
  7. JohnS

    JohnS
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    A while ago I compared a HTPC into AE100 against a PS phillips DVD player and though the differences were small, mostly the PC had the edge.

    Over the last few months, the PC has evolved further and now has improved processing capability, a better graphics card and quieter cooler and PSU and the ae100 had benn replaced by a HS10 akllowing a dvi connection.

    I had the pleasure last week of comparing my setup....HTPC dvi to Sony HS10 at 1368*768 against an arcam DV27 via PS component into the HS10. I expected it to produce quite similar results but for picture quality the DV27 did not come close to the HTPC but did beat it slightly on sound. At the moment I am still using the motherboards onboard coaxial out. (a decent sound card is now my next upgrade). The cost so far of my HTPC £800 which includes a £200 hifi style case. Add the cost of a RME souncard @ £210 and it will beat the DV27 on all counts except some slight usability.
     
  8. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
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    Which case did you go for then John?

    Gary.
     
  9. JohnS

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    My case is the original Dign from the AVS powerbuy.
     
  10. pstables

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    I'm curious as to how a bitstream from a DVD in a PC can sound any different to a bitstream from a DVD player. It's digital - surely it works or it doesn't.

    Paul
     
  11. NicolasB

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    The PC output might well have less jitter, especially if the data is streamed off hard disk.

    It is a point of some contention as to whether this can or can't affect the quality of a Dolby Digital or DTS film soundtrack, but it certainly can have quite a big influence on stereo CD music (which is PCM-encoded).
     
  12. JohnS

    JohnS
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    The bits are bits and its all 0's and 1's has been done to death on this forum and a quick search will turn up lots of information in this regard.

    As far as a PC soundcard is concerned, Windows can unavoidable resample the output before it leaves the machine with certain soundcards and/or the driver that controls that soundcard. A soundcard such as the RME or Revo has its driver written in such a way so that no undesirable resampling occurs and thus produces a far higher quality output. I'm sure Branxx or someone else could give a far more accurate description of whats occurring with PC sound than me.
     

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