1. Join Now

    AVForums.com uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

New to HTPC

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by Steve Chalmers, Dec 14, 2004.

  1. Steve Chalmers

    Steve Chalmers
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    A couple of months ago, I bought a Sim2 Domino30H front projector. This projector has a native resolution of 1280x720 and supports HDMI (DVI compat). At the moment it is connected with a Pioneer 565A dvd, with no progressive scan and no HDMI/DVI. In order to make best use of my projector, I intend to build a new HTPC.

    Would like some suggestions regarding processor and speed, graphics card and sound card. I already did some home work and my current wish list is: P4 3.0 with ATI Radeom 9800 Pro 256Mb and M-Audio Revolution 7.1.

    Am I on right track?

    With regards to software, I am totally confused. I just need to play dvd movies, either from original dvds or from hard disk.

    What software do I need? For sure I need dvd shrink or dvd decrypter to decrypt the original dvd to hd. I would also need powerstrip to configure my pc resolution to 1280x720. What else?

    thanks in advance.

    regards
    Stv
     
  2. owain_thomas

    owain_thomas
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2002
    Messages:
    1,937
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    51
    Location:
    Manchester, England
    Ratings:
    +81
    To play the DVDs I'd recommend zoomplayer and the DScaler DVD codec. this combination is very good value for money (ZP is about $20 IIRC and the DSCaler codec is free). Perhaps more importantly they offer outstanding picture quality. You might want to have a look at something called ffdshow as well, this offers post processing of the DVD picture and with a bit of tweaking can give a pretty stunning picture.

    Another option would be theatertek 2.0, I've not used this myself and it costs a bit more than the above setup but has had some good reviews and may be a bit more user friendly.

    TT 2.0 uses the new nvidia DVD codecs and these are meant to be pretty good, you can buy them on their own for $20 but I'm not sure you could use them with ZP.

    May be worth considering an nvidia 6600 graphics card as these are supposed to be a step up again from the already excellent radeons, again not used these myself so couldn't comment but may be worth a look.

    I use meedio as my media front end and find it very good, worth a look if you want to add functionality like music playing to you HCPC.

    HTH
    Owain
     
  3. KraGorn

    KraGorn
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2003
    Messages:
    4,740
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    68
    Location:
    Warrington
    Ratings:
    +27
    Is the DScaler codec really ready for use yet? I played with it briefly but it wasn't particularly stable for me at the time and the quality wasn't up to the NVidia codecs in terms of clarity IIRC.
     
  4. owain_thomas

    owain_thomas
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2002
    Messages:
    1,937
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    51
    Location:
    Manchester, England
    Ratings:
    +81
    Hi KraGorn,

    I've only just started using the DScaler codecs but they seem to be fine on my system, no stability issues so far. I haven't tried the nvidia codec yet so couldn't give a comparison I'm afraid. To me it seems as good or better than the sonic decoders I used to use.

    Owain
     
  5. Steve Chalmers

    Steve Chalmers
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    so, correct me if i'm mistaken.

    I just need to install windows xp mce 2005, dscaler and zzomplayer and that's it. no more software needed.

    one last thing. what is progressive scan on htpc? do I need some kind of software or hardware on the pc? or is this done automatically with the software mentioned earlier?

    Stv
     
  6. KraGorn

    KraGorn
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2003
    Messages:
    4,740
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    68
    Location:
    Warrington
    Ratings:
    +27
    Maybe I'll have to give them a try again, though I'm perfectly happy with the NVidias at present .. it's certainly encouraging if you're saying they're a match for the Sonics which up till a few months ago were considered the canine's dangly bits :D .. and the price can't be beat.
     
  7. owain_thomas

    owain_thomas
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2002
    Messages:
    1,937
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    51
    Location:
    Manchester, England
    Ratings:
    +81
    hi steve,

    you don't necessarily need to use MCE 2005 - most people with HCPCs at the moment probably don't. simply using XP home or pro (I use pro) would be fine. MCE basically adds a nice front end to the setup, I've never used it myself but I 'd be a bit concerned about whether it was as customisable as something like meedio - also I'm not sure if you can use things like ZP and Dscaler with it, I know you couldn't in the past though MS may have changed this.

    It does have pvr functionality but I don't know how well this implimentation works (does the EPG cover this country?) or whether its even something you're after?

    As for whether you need something other than ZP + DScaler, well, that depends...

    If you have those two (plus maybe ffdshow) installed then you will be able to play DVDs at very high quality through your PJ. The thing which would be lacking would be the ability to say look through images of the covers of all your DVDs and graphically select the one you want, maybe having seen a little detail page with a description/list of actors/etc. This kind of thing is what something like meedio, Xlobby or possibly MCE 2005 would add - like I said I've never used MCE so don't know how it copes with ripped DVDs (or even if it copes with ripped DVDs).

    As for progressive scan you don't need to worry about it, PCs do this as standard, they can do interlaced but its a faff and often frought with difficulties. What I would envisage is that using powerstrip you would feed a 1280x720 prog scan image to your PJ at a scan rate it accepts, this would give you 1:1 pixel mapping (each pixel on your PJ would correspond to one pixel of the PCs display) and theoretically the best possible picture quality on your system.

    The only time you might need to worry about interlaced/prog scan material is if you were to watch a DVD of some video (eg sports), this would need deinterlacing to play properly on your prog scan display, shouldn't be a problem though ffdshow can do this for you and makes a good job of it.

    HTH
    Owain
     
  8. Steve Chalmers

    Steve Chalmers
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    wow !!! that's what I call a very good explanation. my idea with regards to dvd playback is now this

    DVD ---> TT / (ZD+DScaler) ---> FFDSHOW ---> ATI/NVIDIA ---> Projector

    Am i right?

    So, do you prefer ZP+Dscaler as opposed to TT. which graphics card do you prefer Ati 9800 or Nvidia 6600?

    One final note about the sound card - M-Audio 7.1 revo or S/Blaster Audigy Z2 ? I intend to pass the output thru spdif to a Yamaha DSP-A1 amplifier.

    Stv
     
  9. owain_thomas

    owain_thomas
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2002
    Messages:
    1,937
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    51
    Location:
    Manchester, England
    Ratings:
    +81
    Hi Steve,

    Glad it was helpful:)

    That pathway for DVD is spot on, things like MCE, meedio, xlobby are just bells and whistles to be honest, what you describe there will give you a great movie watching experience.

    I have a radeon 9600 which does me fine, you can get a fanless one for £50 now. The 6600 is meant to be the very best graphics card you can get atm in terms of image quality but I've not seen one myself to give a personal recommendation.

    I've got an maudio and would go for that over the soundblaster as it makes a better job of playing CDs than the audigy. If all you want is a digital output to your good qulaity amp then you could get away with a much cheaper soundcard and probably lose nothing in quality, the maudio (or perhaps an RME 9632) would add an upgrade in sound quality if you were using their analogue outs but I've yet to be convinced about an improvement with digital output.

    Owain
     
  10. KraGorn

    KraGorn
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2003
    Messages:
    4,740
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    68
    Location:
    Warrington
    Ratings:
    +27
    I simply caution that ZP and FFDSHOW are not without a learning curve .. for instance, the way ZP uses decoders is highly un-intuitive, be prepared to have to learn on the hoof. :)
     
  11. owain_thomas

    owain_thomas
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2002
    Messages:
    1,937
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    51
    Location:
    Manchester, England
    Ratings:
    +81
    yeah, should have mentioned this! there are some very good guides though, in fact there is a post from avsforum which recently did a very good step by step of using dscaler+ZP+ffdshow, this should be a good starting place, I'll try and find a link...

    Owain
     
  12. owain_thomas

    owain_thomas
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2002
    Messages:
    1,937
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    51
    Location:
    Manchester, England
    Ratings:
    +81
  13. Steve Chalmers

    Steve Chalmers
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    Hi it's me again.

    Yesterday, I tried my exisitng p4 with the domino 30h using the vga port. btw, the video is just a tnt riva 64 (32mb ram). but strangely enough, even on windows desktop, i could notice some blurring and the colors were not vivid.

    Any ideas?

    Happy new year

    Stv
     
  14. KraGorn

    KraGorn
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2003
    Messages:
    4,740
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    68
    Location:
    Warrington
    Ratings:
    +27
    If your desktop resolution isn't the same as the native panel size of the projector you'll get scaling and no matter how good the scaler in the 30H PC-type output will seem blurred.

    I suspect the Riva isn't capable of custom resolutions so I would guess you're running standard 4:3 resolution, which would be 1:1 mapping.
     

Share This Page

Loading...