Humming n hawing here! Help me out!

Spidermac

Standard Member
Looking for the good community to point me in the right direction. Finally have some cash to splash out on a media player or HTPC build with my preference being Mediaportal as I have tinkered with it in the past. Having two young kids and limited time has me thinking that maybe I should err on the side of a Popcorn Hour C-200 or Tvix Xroid A1 or M6600N Plus (blasphemy I hear you cry to the HTPC world!) :laugh:

My prerequisites are:

1. Awesome picture quality of HD material in the common formats of MKV, ISO, etc.
2. Nice slick interface showing cover art, synopsis for films.
3. Audio passthrough of TrueHD and DTS MA for future Onkyo amp purchase.
4. 24p playback of material.

The main question is, can a well configured HTPC with Mediaportal as the frontend compete or surpass the picture and sound quality of one of these off the shelf hardware solutions mentioned above?

Cheers folks! :thumbsup:
 

WheresMyArtisan

Novice Member
I've never used Mediaportal, but have been using Windows Media Center pretty much since it was launched. It would do what you need, with (IMO) better picture quality than an off the shelf box.

The issue is whether you are a tinkerer or not. HTPCs are not a plug and play solution - they do need some commitment to get things set up initially, and may need some further tinkering occasionally after that. In general use, I would say that Media Center is far, far more user friendly than any off the shelf box I've seen.

Mine gets used mainly for freeview watching and recording. Some relative recently got the latest Humax freeview HD box, and it's nothing like as nice to use.
 

Spidermac

Standard Member
Cheers for replying WheresMyArtisan :smashin: I am a tinkerer at heart but as I say, two young kids now so they kinda hamper the time I have to tinker! lol

Dabbled with ffdshow in the past and have been testing out the lav filters on my laptop install. What are you using on WMC, and can you give any quick setup tips? :) Will trawl the HTPC threads soon I promise :D
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
If you use an xbox 360 as an extender, that would possibly be a fail safe method for the rest of the family to use, if they are non techies. Once your HTPC is set up, and the xbox 360 paired as an extender, it is pretty much plug and play, and you can't mess up the HTPC through it!

The xbox 360 also manages to produce excellent video quality via HDMI, and, unlike 7MC in the main HTPC, can transcode HE-AAC 5.1 audio contained in some Freeview HD broadcasts, to DD 5.1 on the fly.

There are numerous options to building a HTPC, or buying one pre-built. You want to decide on the size and type of case you want, and choose components that are quiet. Actually you didn't mention if you would be using it as a PVR, and if so what type of tv - Freeview, Satellite, Cable?
 

Spidermac

Standard Member
Lisag, won't be using it as a PVR. Purely gonna use it to stream HD content from my main rig, or a server once I get one built. Have been using my PS3 to stream from the rig to the TV but I am growing very weary of the interface :thumbsdow. Not wanting to compromise on picture and sound quality, I wasn't sure whether building an HTPC would be worth the effort compared to an off the shelf box which may have better picture and sound output, e.g the Popcorn and Tvix models out there.
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
won't be using it as a PVR. Purely gonna use it to stream HD content from my main rig, or a server once I get one built. Have been using my PS3 to stream from the rig to the TV but I am growing very weary of the interface :thumbsdow. Not wanting to compromise on picture and sound quality, I wasn't sure whether building an HTPC would be worth the effort compared to an off the shelf box which may have better picture and sound output, e.g the Popcorn and Tvix models out there.

Ah, I have only ever used a HTPC, so can't comment on other streamers. It does seem overkill though, to build an HTPC and not use it to its full capabilities. They are not cheap, and do require a fair amount of tweaking.
 
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WheresMyArtisan

Novice Member
I agree - it sounds like a sledgehammer for a walnut.

Mine does the lot - four freeview tuners, blu rays, music, everything. The lounge just has a screen, amp and a HTPC.

One other possible option you may not have considered - if you have (or can get) Media Center on your main PC then you could use an Xbox360 in the lounge as an extender from the PC. It's a very elegant, neat, user-friendly solution. The user interface is exactly as if you're sitting using Media Center at the PC itself. There's a specific IR remote to navigate the menus etc. The newest versions are also supposed to be much quieter than the older ones.
 

Spidermac

Standard Member
I agree - it sounds like a sledgehammer for a walnut.

Mine does the lot - four freeview tuners, blu rays, music, everything. The lounge just has a screen, amp and a HTPC.

One other possible option you may not have considered - if you have (or can get) Media Center on your main PC then you could use an Xbox360 in the lounge as an extender from the PC. It's a very elegant, neat, user-friendly solution. The user interface is exactly as if you're sitting using Media Center at the PC itself. There's a specific IR remote to navigate the menus etc. The newest versions are also supposed to be much quieter than the older ones.

If I can acquire an Xbox360, can the interface be skinned on it? Excuse the ignorance but I have been a PS3 snob for many years now and don't know the state of play with Xbox360s! lol Last time I owned a 360 was when Battlefield Modern Combat got released for it! :laugh:
 

WheresMyArtisan

Novice Member
You can apply "themes" unofficially to Media Center, and changes made should ripple through to extenders. It certainly does with my extender, which is an old Linksys one.

However, when I tried themes a bit ago, they were all pretty amateurish and not very well tested. For example, I found that some text was invisible. My advice would be don't bother.

If you've got Media Center on your PC, run it. That is exactly what you'll see on the Xbox, not whatever an xbox normally looks like. I'm not suggesting you play games on it - it's being used for its "other" purpose. Once you've got it though, you might end up finding a skip for the PS3. If you can get Media Center to do what you want on your PC then it should (with a few exceptions) do exactly the same on the xbox.

Oh, and Lisag - apologies for re-suggesting what you'd already suggested! I had read your reply previously, then forgot when I replied later.
 

Spidermac

Standard Member
Thanks for your advice guys, my tweaking side has come to the fore again and I may just end up building an HTPC or visiting Graham Myers site :)
 

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