Is HTCP the "one box solution"

safensane

Standard Member
Hi all,
This is my first time on this forum and have been doing a lot of research through numerous arenas to try to get the answer to all my questions before I go ahead and make the jump to buying / having built a HTCP (I aint clever enough to DIY though i'm sure i could get the help here to make it work).
First things first, my current set up.........
Living room - Sony 46" LCD telly with IDTV, Sky+ (not HD), Sony 400 disc (remember them?) CD player, Denon AVR 3802 amp / receiver, into mission FS2 sub and semi flat panel speakers.
Rest of house - signal comes out of back of Sky box to powered splitter in lofdt sendinng signal to 5 other rooms with ability to watch either Sky, recorded sky or the TV's own digital / analogue signal there.

What do i want?
  1. Well a box of tricks that will allow me to put my pictures, videos, films and music in one place to show friends when they come round.
  2. Access to radio (analogue is fine but DAB would be better), digital TV, FTA Sat channels including freesat (and i don't think it can be easily done at the moment) the possibility to get rid of the sky box and put my viewing card into the PC or watch British Eurosport via the same box of tricks at a decent quality i.e not live streaming.
  3. A PVR which is as simple and intuative to use as sky+ including the programming scheduler and series link features.
  4. To get rid of the majority of boxes from under the TV.
  5. A single remote control to select all the above features
As above, I have sought much advice from knowledgable chaps, the internet, media centre buiilders / suppliers websites and the extremely useful sticky link on this very site.

My proposed build at this time (and this changes daily at the moment is:-
  • Case - Thermaltek DH103 case (big fans with low speed and rather shhhhhhh).
  • CPU - Intel quad core 2.66 chipset (7.1 audio, DDR3)
  • RAM - 4GB DDR3 RAM (i know it will only run 3.2, but that is better than 2.0)
  • OS - Vista Home premium with win 7 upgrade (32 bit)
  • Graphics card - ATI4xxx (7.1 audio & 1080p)
  • TV Card - Pinnacle 7010i (if i can find someone with one in stock)
  • Hard drive - 1.5 TB
  • Optical drive - Blue ray / DVD player
  • Wireless card - N
  • Power supply - Zalman 400w Shhhhh
Now before I go and blow next months (and probably the month after that too's) wages on a HTPC can someone please :lease: help with the following..........
Without having to have a degree in computer science and language: -
  • If i go down the HTPC route will i be able to send my analogue signal around the house as I do now?
  • If not what options are open to me to watch recorded TV in the other rooms.
  • Can I get rid of the sky+ box?
  • If i can't get rid of sky+, can I get a controller for it which will work it as if by using it's own remote using the HTPC's remote (I used to have a video recorder which worked the original sky box via an IR sender on the top of the case and could access all sky's channel switching via the VCR)?
  • If neither of the above can i get a remote which will work both sky and the HTPC?
  • What happens with the audio out? do i still need an amp?
  • If I can't get a Pinnacle TV card, what do i go for? wait for the new blackgold or buy the best now and wait for an upgrade (possibly sky / eurosport compatable) in the future?
Sorry to rattle on but I don't want to spend a mint on this and then find it's a white elephant.

By the way have had approved new speakers B&W MT25's - the flat panels stink!
 

Stelph

Active Member
Lot of things that you want the box to do! The simple answer is yes that a HTPC can do all those things, however it isnt that simple to MAKE it do all those things.... :)


  1. Well a box of tricks that will allow me to put my pictures, videos, films and music in one place to show friends when they come round.


  1. Yes a HTPC can do this quite easily, this is usually the main reason why people get a HTCP (to backup and display all their music, films, pictures in one spot, check out Media Browser for Windows Media Center for an example of what it can look like

    [*]Access to radio (analogue is fine but DAB would be better), digital TV, FTA Sat channels including freesat (and i don't think it can be easily done at the moment) the possibility to get rid of the sky box and put my viewing card into the PC or watch British Eurosport via the same box of tricks at a decent quality i.e not live streaming.

    Ok, the first bit is possible with the pinnacle card sure, freesat and freeview no problems. Keeping sky is a bit more technical and unfortunatly I dont have the knowledge to help you with that! I do know it involves getting a PCI CAM slot (for the Sky Card) and then doing so software tweasking ect. Basiclaly its a lot more complicated. Alternativly you could keep the Sky box and use an IR blaster so the HTPC controls the sky box to change channels?

    [*]A PVR which is as simple and intuative to use as sky+ including the programming scheduler and series link features.

    Yep, use windows Media Center and you get a 14 day EPG which is actually more powerful that the sky one! For example you can go to one viewer and view all the movies that are coming up in the week (with full metadata and everything) and set them to record. Also you can set up keywords that the HTPC will search the epg for (e.g. "Heroes" will automatically record all programmes with "Heroes") and it does series link..

    [*]To get rid of the majority of boxes from under the TV.

    Yep, should do that

    [*]A single remote control to select all the above features.

    You can but a Harmony remote? It would then be able to control the HTPC, TV and anything else you had left


    • If i go down the HTPC route will i be able to send my analogue signal around the house as I do now?


    • What do you mean by analogue signal? If you mean the satalite cable then I believe most cards have a loop trough ( i know my compro S350 does) which works like it does with the Sky Box. I.e. sky cable goes in, sky cable comes out. Freeview can also be split i believe


      [*]If not what options are open to me to watch recorded TV in the other rooms.
      Several actually. Do you have a a network at your house? Again, if you are using windows media center then you can buy a media centre extender (or use an xbox 360), or even just get a WD TV as that should be able to read what is recorded on the HTPC.

      [*]Can I get rid of the sky+ box?

      See above, its complicated but possible

      [*]If i can't get rid of sky+, can I get a controller for it which will work it as if by using it's own remote using the HTPC's remote (I used to have a video recorder which worked the original sky box via an IR sender on the top of the case and could access all sky's channel switching via the VCR)?

      A Harmony remote could control the Sky Box and HTPC, and a HTPC can control the sky box by an IR blaster if needed

      [*]If neither of the above can i get a remote which will work both sky and the HTPC?

      As Above
    • What happens with the audio out? do i still need an amp?
      [/QUOTE]

      I think the amp is necessary to run the surround sound speakers, unless you get a motherboard like this one MSI Media Live DIVA 5.1 - 780G motherboard with 100W: Amazon.co.uk: Electronics & Photo. But itd be better to keep the amp...

      [*]If I can't get a Pinnacle TV card, what do i go for? wait for the new blackgold or buy the best now and wait for an upgrade (possibly sky / eurosport compatable) in the future?

      Try and find a Pinnacle, they are cheap and are supposed to be very good!

      Basically take it easy to begin with, if you decide to go this path then go one step at a time (dont diitch everything else till you are happy with how the HTPC works)! You could try getting the HTPC and initially use it as a flim/picture/music database ect and as a replacement to the CD player. Then over time it could replace the sky box when you are happy with how it works

      Good luck!
 

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