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Media centre set up Lots of help needed

Discussion in 'Microsoft Windows' started by Danny Boy, Jun 17, 2005.

  1. Danny Boy

    Danny Boy
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    This follows a recent query that I posted to which I received a helpful reply, I have read through forums as suggested and whilst some things are clearer, I am left with lots more questions from all of the mystical possibilities alluded to in the various threads that I have read (xbox extensions, what is all that about?). I thought I had it all with my dvd recorder!! As you will see I am clueless, new to this forum stuff and anything more complex then a dvd hooked up to a CRT telly via scart - but am determined to expand my horizons.

    I am sure all of the info that I require is posted somewhere but I have spent hours looking stuff up (risking my marriage due to spending all day at work and most of the night reading up from this site) and am still confused. At risk of annoying people with my ignorance - please help me out with some bespoke advice. You may need to explain things to me like I am a five year old....

    I want to hook up a Media Centre PC (which I havent bought yet but have just ordered logitech z5500 speakers for ) to a plasma that I bought far too hurriedly (Panny TH-50PV30) before discovering this site and which I havent even taken out of the box yet. I gather that to get the best quality I should use the VGA (15 pin Dsub?) connector on the TV although this is on the front of the telly and it would look terrible. On the back of the TV there are three scart inputs and one component video input (three holes marked Y/ PB/ PR - is that right?).

    I gather I can get a graphics card with component out and the connect to either of the scarts or the component video input?

    1) which is best the best option?
    2) what lead should I get (need a long one)

    I have been told that if i connect the pc to anything other than the VGA on the telly the picture will be ok for TV/DVD (but quality wont be the best) but that I wont be able to use the PC as a normal PC (normal applications/games/email/internet browsing etc) through the plasma as the picture will be too bad.

    3) is this right? (surely MCE be viewable through the plasma?)
    4) is there a way round it or will I need a double headed graphics to run a seperate monitor for normal PC functions?
    5) can you reccomend a graphics card?

    Can I record dvd's to the hard drive to reduce clutter in the front room and is the playback quality adversley effected? what software do I need, what spec PC, how much hard disk space is advisable? what else?

    To record one TV channel and watch another I gather I need two analouge tv cards and two sky boxes. (currently have one sky box (not+) and normal ariel plus dvd recorder going in to crt telly) Panny has integrated dvd tuner. Where do I get the second sky box and viewing card from (sky i presume). do I connect them both to the same dish with a y splitter or something?

    Also want to network media pc wirelessly with existing pc (upstairs) what do I need to do so and to share NTL broadband connection between the media PC and the upstairs one. do I need virus/firewall etc on both machines? any reccomendations as to kit?

    Is anyone still reading this?

    Is there any hope for me?

    Should I just stick with the dvd player and obselete hifi?

    do you know who might be able to helo me realise my dreams and build the pc for me and explain how to set it up to someone as clueless as me?

    Please resolve my fustrations. The front room has been gutted (ready to hide wires etc) and I can not re-decorate until I decide what to do (wife currently shouting at me to get off the computer - she's the one that made me buy the plasma in the first place!)

    Thanks in advance for leading me through this by the hand and telling me exactly what I need to do. (other than shoot myself in the head).
     
  2. dekoded

    dekoded
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    Have you considered buying an 'off the shelf' HTPC ?

    (see this recent post:http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=220700 )
    I normally encourage people to build a PC themselves, however, no offence, but I think you may struggle with a self build, particuarly with MCE.

    If you want a box that's as easy to use as pressing play then maybe a HTPC isn't for you, however if you want the best PQ and most diverse bit of kit for a reasonable cost and don't mind lots of tweaking then go for it :thumbsup:

    In fact it was only because I couldn't find a device to do all things I wanted
    (dvd player,divx/xvid/avi player, upscaling, post processing, music jukebox and tv recorder,vga/dv hi-def output with ethernet and wifi) that I felt I had no other option, but I wasn't brave enough to bother with MCE and so use XP PRO and theatertek/ffdshow for dvd/video file playback and MEEDIO for pretty much everything else.

    Although you could hardly call it 'spouse friendly', it's not too difficult to operate!
     
  3. dobbin

    dobbin
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    Danny Boy
    I understand how you feel.
    I have been building PCs for a long time now but I have found challenges installing Win MCE 2005 (and I am still having problems with my Hauppauge TV card!). There just doesn't seem to be the depth of information in any one place. Presumably becasue MCE 2005 is not a user installable operating system, Microsoft have not made much end user information available.
    Although I am no great expert I will try to answer some of your questions as best I can.
    1) As you say the VGA connection is the best to use BUT you don't want a connection on the front of the TV unless you can help it. The next best of your connections is the component phonos. What I suggest is that you purchase a component lead and a VGA lead and try both in your TV and see if there is a massive difference. You could then only connect the VGA if you are going to use the HTPC as a PC and don't care what it looks like while it is in use (unless the component picture is ok). The cables can be purchased from here
    http://www.tvcables.co.uk/

    They have component cables here
    http://www.tvcables.co.uk/cgi-bin/t..._group/se=Video Cables/op=eq.html?id=hP5i4irt

    and VGA cables here
    http://www.tvcables.co.uk/cgi-bin/t.../op=eq/sf=prod_group/se=VGA Cables/op=eq.html

    They also provide almost any other type of TV cable (in several different sizes and quality) that you will require!

    3) Cannot say for certain. Try it and see.
    4) Sorry. Not sure what you mean.
    5) I use the Gigabyte fanless Nvidea 6600GT VIVO see
    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/ProductInfo.asp?WebProductID=164948
    It has all the connections you will need (DVI, VGA and Component) as well as a break out box.
    Recording DVDs to the hard drive - Not legally acceptable however if you have the originals you could ARCHIVE them to your hard drive using a free package such as DVD Decrypter which will copy the relevant files to the hard drive and allow you to play them from there.
    Other useful packages would be DVD Shrink, TheaterTek, Xlobby, Showshifter, Meedio.
    Size of the hard disk required depends on the size of the DVD media that you are archiving. Typically 4 - 9 Gb per film (although I presume that DVDshrink would have some effect on those sizes but I haven't used it yet so I cannot comment yet)
    TV use is more difficult (I haven't got it working yet!). Two analogue TV cards WOULD give you the options you describe. It appears that you want to be able to use 2 Sky receivers. THat is not as easy as a Y splitter unfortunately! You will need upgrade your dish with a quad LNB (??) then get another Sky receiver WITH another Sky card. I think that Sky call this "multi room" and have a package that covers it (including installation). I think that they also charge an extra £10 per month for the second Sky Card AND both digiboxes MUST be connected to the Telephone apparently?
    To network my PCs together I use a D-Lik wireless router (DI-624)

    http://www.dlink.com/products/?pid=6

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos...8-2/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i2_xgl/202-5087852-4736605

    and a D-Link ADSL modem (DSL-300T).

    http://www.microdirect.co.uk/ProductInfo.aspx?ProductID=6602

    THe router has a built in firewall as well as 4 ethernet sockets for connecting via a network RJ45 cable. I find that this works very well. You will also need some form of Wireless card in the remote PCs. FOr the best speed use a 820.11g compatible card.Usually the connections are pretty straightforward and automatic.
    I also have a Freeview box (Netgen I-player) that also has a wireless connection.
    AND A DVD player (KISS DP-1500) with a wireless connection that can play files from my PC (e.g. DivX, Xvid etc.)
    Our local CEDIA registered installer/supplier (North East) builds media center PCs and gives support. Maybe you may have something similar in your area that can set it up, install it and support it.

    Go for it! It is a bit complicated (and expensive) to begin with but once setup you will be sitting pretty and hopefully able to sit back, relax, and enjoy!

    My reply was probably bigger than your post. Sorry!
    If there is anything further I can help you with just shout.
     
  4. Danny Boy

    Danny Boy
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    Thanks very much to the both of you for taking the time to read my ramblings, and thanks for such a detailed response (the length and detail of which is appreciated so no apologies necessary).

    The light at the end of the tunnel is now appearing much less like an oncoming train.

    The legality issue re the DVD's escaped me but I take your point. I have no interest in pirate films and simply want to store the discs themselves away whilst still being able to access the films from hard drive as and when (much like with music cd's really). I am a minimalist at heart on a relentless mission to de-clutter, and my dvd's and CDs aways end up in each other's boxes and have to follow the trail back through the lot to get the one I am after.

    I shall follow your helpful leads. It seems that rolling my sleeves up and learning on the job in the only way forward!
     
  5. Slinkoff

    Slinkoff
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    Take it in stages. First and most important thing is to sort out the connection between PC and TV. By the sounds of things the VGA is out for you (is very odd that it's on the front!). The alternative is VGA-Scart, cable can be made yourself or I think there are few places making these now. Other solution is an ATI graphics card with DVI-Component dongle. This is the solution I use and I get a great picture. The fanless nVidia 6600GT is a solid MCE favourite but I use an ATI Radeon 9600SE because of the dongle and it works fine for me.

    Sort out the connection first and get to know Powerstrip to get a rock solid display at the highest resolution you can manage. That should keep you going for a while ;o)
    After that you can think about TV cards and things.
     

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