Newbie HTPC question

2

2k1civic

Guest
Hi everyone. This is my first post and I know very little about the HTPC.

I have a question as to if this would work for setting up a HTPC

If I were to use this http://www4.tomshardware.com/howto/20040227/index.html as the base of my system could I use this: http://www.ramelectronics.net/html/kd-vtca2.htm to take care of the video conversion from VGA to HDTV? I have a Mitsubishi 55" HDTV which supports 540i 540p and 1080i It only has component inputs for HD. Im sorry If i have given too little info but I will be happy to give more if need be.

Thanks
 

.Griff.

Active Member
In essence yes you could but I wouldn't be expecting great graphical features from the MSI. If its for basic video playback then fine but if you're planning to use it for gaming forget it.
 
2

2k1civic

Guest
I dont think Im too concerned with playing pc games on my HDTV i have 4 other pc's for that and I have ps2 and xbox to play on the tv.

I am however concered with using this HTPC as an all in one pc with windows xp media center to watch tv, record tv, play music, dvd's etc... that is the main thing I want to work.
 

KraGorn

Novice Member
Not having HDTV over here then at present that sort of card is pretty redundant it seems to me, but for a US resident it certainly looks interesting.
 

MikeTV

Well-known Member
You don't need no expensive black boxes. To connect your Mits, you just need a standard radeon card (VGA output), a suitable (VGA->RGBHV) cable, and the powerstrip software (for configuring HDTV resolutions).

I have a Mits 55" HDTV too, and that's what I do. In the US, you can even get the cable from BestBuy, or somewhere like that, for about $10. The Mits TV has "line input" connectors, and not BNC connectors, so you may have to get some convertors from radio shack (for about 20 cents each), or just buy the right cable in the first place - someone must sell them.

I use the Radeon 9200, because it has no fan (silent), and is relatively cheap, and has dual vga outputs (for connecting a monitor and HDTV). It supports 540p and 1080i, happily.
 
2

2k1civic

Guest
Originally posted by MikeTV
You don't need no expensive black boxes. To connect your Mits, you just need a standard radeon card (VGA output), a suitable (VGA->RGBHV) cable, and the powerstrip software (for configuring HDTV resolutions).

I have a Mits 55" HDTV too, and that's what I do. In the US, you can even get the cable from BestBuy, or somewhere like that, for about $10. The Mits TV has "line input" connectors, and not BNC connectors, so you may have to get some convertors from radio shack (for about 20 cents each), or just buy the right cable in the first place - someone must sell them.

I use the Radeon 9200, because it has no fan (silent), and is relatively cheap, and has dual vga outputs (for connecting a monitor and HDTV). It supports 540p and 1080i, happily.
Hey thanks for your feedback. What is your opinion on the MSI shuttle pc? Is that a good system to build my HTPC? Also how can I use the HTPC as my video for other than DVD? I use DirecTV Is there a way to send HDTV video from the HTPC to the tv? Im sorry if these are stupid questions but I have searched and can't find the answers.

Also another question.... How many components could the HTPC replace? I still would see a need for the receiver to amplify the audio or am I wrong? I know it would replace the dvd player. But what else can this replace?

Thanks again :)
 

MikeTV

Well-known Member
For high definition TV, I believe you need the latest DirectTV HDTV receiver and service, but I am not too familiar with this. However, you don't need an HTPC for this - an HD satellite receiver should connect directly to the HDTV.

Many people are using shuttle PC's as HTPC's. The only drawback is the space/expandability of a small box. You need to make sure it will support all the cards you need, and that the cards will fit into the tight space. Otherwise I think they make good HTPC's.

The main strengths of the HTPC when used in conjunction with an HDTV is that it makes a great progressive DVD player, and it will scale the image nicely to HDTV resolutions (like 1080i).

Most people output the sound from the HTPC diectly to their audio receiver using a digital connection (SPDIF:coax/optical). The receiver performs all the decoding of the digital stream, and the d/a conversion and amplification. This setup usually gives the best results. PC's don't deal with analogue sound well, unless you are prepared to spend a lot of money on high-end PC audio components (as a general rule).

For PVR/VCR type functionality, a DirectTV DVR/Tivo device might be a better solution. The DirectTivo captures the digital broadcast directly to an internal hard disk, and so the playback quality is very good. The Tivo user interface is also very refined and popular too.

The HTPC is also quite good at scaling analog TV sources. For this you need a TV capture card, and some software like "DScaler". This is something that can be done relatively cheaply. The quality will almost always be inferior to DVD playback, but good results can be achieved using digital cable/satellite TV sources. There are a range of TV capture cards to choose from. The majority will capture traditional antenna/RF (coax cable) TV, composite video (line-input), and s-video sources. Some higher end cards also support analog component capture. The quality differs significantly depending on the type of video source - RF being the weakest, and component sources giving the best results. The price of the different cards reflect this. (eg. if you have a satellite box with an s-video connector, use this to connect to the HTPC instead of the composite video connector, for best results). The picture quality is also highly dependent on teh quality of the original signal - digital satellite should be good, analog via an antenna or VCR will be bad, etc. Garbage in, garbage out :)

Other uses for an HTPC include using it as a media jukebox (eg. playing your CD collection from the hard drive), as a games machine, home automation, and internet surfing on the big screen! But there are many uses really.

Mike.
 
2

2k1civic

Guest
Thanks so much for your invaluable information.
As far as the PVR/VCR setup you didnt really touch on whether or not the HTPC can do this. I like the Tivo but I don't like the price/subscription. Is there a HTPC solution at all? If so why do you recommend the Tivo over it? Is it the ease of use? Interface?

Thanks again
Dave
 

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