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Total Newb wanting help!!!

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by Emmodd, Mar 27, 2005.

  1. Emmodd

    Emmodd
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    I wanting to build a HTPC for the front room. I want it to be able to record Sky TV (I don't have Sky+), play DVD's (to a good standard to replace my Marantz DVD player), play Divx movies etc, and output at least 5.1 sound. I've seen the Sweetspot Video processor, will this allow me to do what I want? Will I also need showshifter? What else am i likely to need to achieve this? Thanks.
     
  2. MikeTV

    MikeTV
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    I think you should go for it! :)

    Any HTPC you build should be able to play DVD's (as long as it has some software, a dvd-rom drive, and at least a 1gb CPU) .

    The main problem with recording sky is controlling the sky box to change channels at the right time (i.e. sky+/tivo like functionality), which can't be done from a PC, unfortunately. For that, you need sky+. However, if you are happy to set the channel manually before recording, you can record sky with a PC. As an alternative to a PC, you could consider a commerical PVR (~£200?), which would provide much the same function.

    One important issue for HTPC's is your display. What kind of TV/display are you planning to use? And how do you intend to connect it to your TV? There are a number of options: TV-out card (cheap and cheerful), VGA-Scart connection (fiddly), VGA->VGA (if your display allows it?), DVI (the bees knees)?

    The sweetspot will allow you to record sky, but it may be more than you need. A relative cheap TV capture card from PC World might be good enough (eg. the Packard Bell PB-TV100 is common). If you use a cheap TV capture card, then you will only be able to capture s-video signal (not SCART RGBs), which will be of inferior quality to the sweetspot's RGB capability.

    On the audio side, the first decision is whether you plan to go analogue or digital (SPDIF). One advantage of digital is that the audio track fom DVD's is passed straight to your receiver, which decodes the signal itself (and so there is no loss in quality). With analogue sound, it is a different matter altogether, and your sound card is doing the digital/analogue conversion. Although the analogue approach may sound appealing, it is quite difficult (and possibly expensive) to make a PC behave as well as a dedicated piece of hi-fi equipment. Most hi-fi enthusiasts choose the digital approach - it's so much simpler, if you already have a receiver that is capable of digital decoding, and the sound quality is excellent.

    If you can give a bit more information, I may be able to be more specific. There are a wealth of alternatives, and as a warning, in some cases, an HTPC doesn't always the best solution. On the other hand, sometimes an HTPC is the only solution (for example, to allow certain sources to be displayed on particular display devices). It all depends, unfortunately.
     
  3. chrise

    chrise
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    Windows Media Centre Edition will allow you to control a Sky box using a IR blaster or Pacelink. The input is restricted to S video or composite rather than RGB as the TV cards WMC supports do not offer RGB input. The WMC programme guide covers all Sky channels for 14 days.

    Read around the subject which has been covered fully here receently.

    Regards
     
  4. Emmodd

    Emmodd
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    Thanks for that MikeTV and chrise. I've a standard 28" Panasonic widescreen with built in surround ie; satelites wtih no external amp and speakers, be it analogue or digital. Hope to upgrade to LCD or Plasma shortly (girlfriend dependant) but TV and 19" LCD monitor will have to do in the meantime. The main issue for me will be playback of DVD and sound reproduction (will need optical out) rather than recording of SKY. Want this as an option (to enable me to bin the VHS) but quality isn't such an issue with recording. Thanks everyone.
     

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