Please recommend a source of *very* basic information

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by Bert Coules, Mar 20, 2002.

  1. Bert Coules

    Bert Coules
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    As a newcomer to the whole home cinema world, I'm naturally interested in exploring all the possible options for a setup.

    If anyone can point me to a source of very basic HCPC information (and I do mean *very* basic!) I'd be most grateful.

    Thanks in advance,

    Bert

    http://www.bertcoules.co.uk
     
  2. jrwood

    jrwood
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    I don't think I can name any particular website. If you want to learn about HTPC or HCPC as people call it then simply do a search on http://www.google.com for say

    +htpc +faq

    or

    +hcpc +faq

    or

    +htpc +guide

    or

    +hcpc +guide

    etc etc

    If you have any questions, then Im sure people can answer them here :).

    James
     
  3. tryingtimes

    tryingtimes
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    It's hard to guage *very* basic but you might like to try this FAQ which has a couple of articles on it that may be of help.

    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?s=&threadid=31225

    If not then why not just post a couple of questions - we'll be glad to help.

    I'll try and cover some basics here. (none of this is exhaustive and it's all off the top of my head)

    HCPC - Home Cinema PC - aka HTPC Home Theater PC

    Why you would do it
    Great picture quality for good price, a hobby, integration of formats into one box, home automation, already got a pc that could do it, you have a projector that can only accept a vga signal.

    Things you can put in
    DVDs, CDs, VCDs, downloaded music and video files, external video sources to name the most common

    What can you get out
    RGB picture signal suitable for monitors/projectors but not for normal tvs (some HDTV and Loewe sets excepted), Stereo analoge (phono plugs or mini-jack) and virtually any digital stream via digital coax or toslink. (you can get s-video and composite out but no real benefits)

    What are the picture benefits
    Scaling - you can increase the resolution of the original dvd (or externa video source) which can either
    Match a native resolution of a projector
    Get rid of visable scan lines on a crt projector
    Reduce aliasing artifacts (smooth or curves and increase percieved detail)

    Picture quality - The ATI Radeon graphics card partnered with the best software like ATI, TheaterTek, and PowerDVD 4 can outperform all but the highest-end standalone players.

    Because the scaling is done in the digital domain this produces better results than normal scalers where the dvd information is converted to analogue by the dvd player and then back to digital by the scaler and then back to analogue again to send to the display device.
    Each conversion results in a loss on information.

    Where can I buy one
    You can build your own to maximise the cost benefits or you can buy ready-made systems from people like Jenz (in the UK and on the boards) or Digital Connection in the states.

    How much does it cost
    ooohh probably about £600 upwards. A good alround self-built HCPC with the minimum of fiddling will cost around £800-£900

    Do I need special parts or will any PC do
    To get the best out of any HCPC you need to be very careful about part selection. Once your ready for this info the FAQ link above has a good link called 'best in class'

    I've run out of time so please ask away - I'll be back on Monday and I'm sure other people will be happy to chip in (aand disagree with everything above:D )

    Hope that helps a little bit
    Regards
    Alex
     
  4. Bert Coules

    Bert Coules
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    Alex, many thanks indeed for your post. Exactly the kind of information I was after. I have two immediate follow-up questions, if I may...

    Do I gather that the projected image from the PC is used as the control screen for the PC, rather than employing a separate monitor?

    Does a PC setup necessitate having a keyboard and/or mouse at the viewing position, or is some form of remote control available?

    I'll certainly take a look at that FAQ link, too.

    Thanks again,

    Bert

    http://www.bertcoules.co.uk
     
  5. Zone

    Zone
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    Coincidence of course but I've been looking at the thread Alex mentioned all day, very informative and the links work a treat, if you are at all interested in HTCP and/or computers in general then take a look and educate yourself..

    Si
     
  6. tryingtimes

    tryingtimes
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    Glad to be of help Bert
    lets see if I can answer your questions
    Yes, you can have dual screens with certain craphics cards but most people manage without. All text is still perfectly readable in the projected image.
    Either/or
    Most people get some kind of remote control. I used an Airboard infra red keyboard and mouse for a while and programmed the keyboard commands into my Marantz RC2000MkII remote. This works fine for a lot of things but didn't cope particularly well for multiple key commands. I then progressed onto a IRMAN infra red receiver and an application called Girder which commands the PC to do pretty much anything from any infra red command.

    Most people tend to use a Pronto remote but I have an aversion to touch screen remotes

    Hope that helps
    Regards
    Alex
     
  7. Bert Coules

    Bert Coules
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    Alex,

    Thanks for the reply. Given the sort of programmable remote you mention, would you say that the experience of using a PC for home cinema can be pretty much transparent? That's to say, with little discernable difference to using a more conventional setup (apart from a possibly enhanced quality,of course.)

    Bert
     
  8. tryingtimes

    tryingtimes
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    Thats correct. I wouldn't say it was easy but loads of people have been there before you:)

    You can get it so that you insert a disc and the region will auto-change, the resolution will be set, the film will start playing (without all the FBI stuff, etc)
    You don't even have to see windows - you can design it as you like or just have it as black until the film starts.
    The control of the playback is exactly like a standalone player except you have a lot more things you can do IF you want.

    Getting TV, Video and uk and import games consoles to all work without control headaches is a little more tricky but it's all possible.

    Alex
     

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