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MCE PC Suggestions?

Discussion in 'Microsoft Windows' started by glasgow boy, Oct 5, 2005.

  1. glasgow boy

    glasgow boy
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    I'm looking for some suggestions on which Media Centre PC to buy. :lease:

    I had originally settled on the gorgeous Elonex to sit below the TV beside the Sky box, DVD, etc in my new flat. However the Sky box will now be located in a cupboard and cabled to the Living Room and Bedrooms. So, I'm now looking for a traditional tower style Media Centre PC which will also be hidden away in the same cupboard and cabled to the Living Room and Bedrooms. i.e. it now doesn't need to look pretty and be very quiet!

    I've looked at the HP Media Centers but would greatly welcome any suggestions on brands to look at (or to avoid) or anywhere that would build one to spec?

    The PC would be used to store all my MP3s (played via Sonos system) and also to record TV from the Sky box. I need a large Hard Disk (2 - 300 GB+) and the correct AV connections to link from the Sky box and then onto the Living Room/Bedroom LCD's.
     
  2. OneEleven

    OneEleven
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    Not sure of any tower MCE systems there are, but there are a couple of contributors here that will build to spec or even help you build your own.
    have a look at / speak to www.mediapc.tv or www.gigtek.co.uk
     
  3. geroffme

    geroffme
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    I looked at HP media center PCs. They sell what looks like a perfectly adequate MC PC for £710 (available at Comet, Google it). It's the m7151.uk.

    http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/uk/en/ho/WF06b/35123-35527-39847-39847-39847-12189800-55613277.html

    I costed up a similar system at Scan and came in at £480 without case, PSU and mobo. Add, say, £150 on for those items, and you're up to £630 so it isn't a terrible deal. Buy it from Comet and I guess you get some reassurance of a High Street presence if it goes tits-up.

    Alternatively, and somewhat more appealing, the Glow Lounge do Shuttle based small form factor PCs starting at a reasonable £800.

    http://www.theglowlounge.com/catalog/index.php/cPath/119_124?osCsid=a3c729f86d6d227eeb312a0eb25de9b3

    One thing I noticed on the both these is the use of the ATi X300 vid card. This isn't listed by MS as a 'supported' card (which isn't to say it doesn't work perfectly well). If you do buy a machine with an X300, you might want to check the situation with MC specific drivers (I didn't get that far). The hard drives are a little underwhelming at 160gb as well.

    For what it's worth, I've now decided to build my own. I think I can beat their specs for the same money.

    Ho-hum.
     
  4. Skunkpipe

    Skunkpipe
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    The X300 is approved now IIRC. The onboard integrated version certainly is (it's the only MCE approved integrated gfx ATM)
    Anyway it works fine - drivers available from ati website
     
  5. glasgow boy

    glasgow boy
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    I has a look at the HP's myself online then popped into my local Comet last night (or was it Curry's?).

    The one I looked at was the one with the 250GB HD (the M7181.uk). However the one thing I'm unsure of is whether the Video connections are adequate or not. I want to connect the Sky box (not Sky+) into the PC then from the PC onto a 37" LCD. However the only that I could do this is using Analogue Co-ax from the Sky into the PC then either DVI or S-Video or composite from the PC to the LCD :confused: . The Sky box and PC will be located next to each other in a cupboard and the LCD will be about a 13m cable run away.

    I'm concerned that after buying all this kit, the quality of picture will be crap! :suicide:
     
  6. geroffme

    geroffme
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    I'm no expert on this, but I'm sure you can better the input by running your Sky box into the PVR card using a scart to s-video or composite. That would be better than the RF coax.

    On the out, I'm fairly sure DVI to DVI would give a reasonable quality - be very interested to hear what other say as this is how I intend to set up.
     
  7. Skunkpipe

    Skunkpipe
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    Yup composite from sky - or s-video if you have sky+ or a grundig box.

    DVI will give you the best picture quality. Quality using S-video from your PC to your display is pretty dire TBH
     
  8. glasgow boy

    glasgow boy
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    Looking at different Media Centre PCs in store again this evening and also speaking to PC and TV staff it looks like there 2 main options:

    1) s-video from sky to PC then DVI from the PC to the LCD TV

    or

    2) run a seperate cable direct from Sky to the LCD as well "through the PC".

    If only the Media Centre PC came with better video in/out connections as standard.

    Also, need to make sure that the TV card in the PC is not a digital tuner card.

    Do you get different connections on different Sky boxes (NOT Sky +)?
     
  9. Skunkpipe

    Skunkpipe
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    All sky boxes come with SCART carrying RGB and composite signals.
    Sky+ and (older?) Grundig have s-video as weill.

    unfortunately there is no RGB capture card available that is compatible with MCE...
     
  10. nigelbb

    nigelbb
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    If you are going to spend >700 pounds on a system then don't begrudge paying an extra 30 pounds for an RGB->s-video converter from Maplins. The difference in picture quality is very noticeable.
     
  11. Skunkpipe

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    yup there is that option of course (if not particulary elegant)
     

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