Newbie PVR/HTPC advice required

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by Wikkus, Jan 10, 2005.

  1. Wikkus


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    Greetings assembled gurus, :)

    Apologies in advance is this one has been done to death or is in the wrong forum. I'm new to the PVR/HTPC world although I've been in the IT/techie business for nearly 20 years.

    Our home entertainment is currently provided through a TEAC Legacy 700 (LS-800 5.1 speakers, DR-L700 DVD Receiver and A-L700P Power Amp), a Toshiba 36ZD26 TV and a Telewest analogue cable feed. Recording duties go to a cheap and cheerful Sanyo VHS VCR whose model-number I don't recall. This suits our itty-bitty front room (and limited budget) perfectly.

    We've just arranged for Telewest to bring us more up to date and they'll (hopefully) be along this Saturday to upgrade us to their digital service.

    Partly because of this, I'm looking to build a box which would be, primarily, a PVR with a secondary function as a networked music jukebox. I'm absolutely gobsmacked by the bewildering array of kit available and need a bit of a steer as to what would fulfill my needs, particularly in the area of the the TV/DVD componentry.

    I don't intend to play games on this machine (I have a pukka games rig, already) but do want the best picture quality through my CRT TV and a decent amount of storage space with the ability to burn to DVD on occasion (we don't currently have any DVD burning facility).

    I want the thing to not dominate the room and therefore am trying to exclude the full-height PC boxen (like the Accent HT-400) and the cuboid devices like those from Shuttle just wouldn't look right. It's going to replace the VCR so, at worst, it's got to be no bigger than the Sanyo unit it'll replace.

    I currently like the look of the Silverstone LC-02 or LC-04 but if I could go smaller and quieter and still build in enough "oomph" and storage then I'd like that, too (thinking micro-ATX or smaller here...Would the VIA mini-EPIA devices be up to it?).

    Will these smaller machines have enough space inside for all the goodies (see below questions regarding video-, TV-, sound-cards, etc.)?

    What TV card(s) would I need? For instance, the Hauppauge WinTV-350 seems to be a logical choice as it has both hardware encode/decode (although the FM tuner is a bit of a waste for me).

    What video card would I need or would the onboard graphics of most mobos be adequate?

    I may also wish to, at some point, drag stuff off of my Sony HandyCam (a Video8 TRV-110e) for "digitising" althoug this is very much optional.

    Similarly, sound -- do I need a separate sound card (i.e. Audigy2) or is the onboard sound adequate -- bear in mind, amplification duties are to be handled by the TEAC amp and it has a TOS-link doing nothing...

    I'm not intending to have a PC monitor (permanently) attached, either, just the TV -- will this be an issue?

    Lastly (for now), how do I control all this stuff? I'm already sinking under the weight of remotes, so again, there's an opportunity to ditch several for an all-in-one style device. Choices?

    Many thanks in advance,


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