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Turning PC into a HCPC

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

  1. dUnKle

    dUnKle
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    Ok, im out of space in my room and decided only way to make things better is to get rid of my PC monitor and use the plasma instead - in turn using the PC also as my DVD player

    Could someone help though - I have the following questions and worries

    (1) PC will connect via DVI from an ATI 9800 Pro to an Hitachi 42PD5200 - should I use powerstrip to set a res? and if so what?

    (2) I have a craetive Audigy 2 soundcard - this will need to be connected to my Yamaha 2400 amp - How? What cable do I need? and where can I get it from?

    (3) The PC will be used as main DVD player - how do I go about doing this - is it possible (and Girl friend friendly) ie - when you drop a DVD in the drive will it play automatically like on a normal DVD player?

    (4) How do I get my PC to be multi-region?

    (5) How do I control all this - I have a Harmony H655 remote - can you get an IR reciver etc so I can control all this from armchair? again simple, cheap and easily?

    (6) Do I need special DVD software?

    im sorry for all the questions but know if anyone can help people here can - all I really want is to be able to drop a DVD into PC and let it play

    So thanks in advance

    Also (and its a minor thing) but I have £50 worth of vouchers for Maplin if they can supply any of the stuff

    Thanks
     
  2. MAW

    MAW
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    Hmm, PCs, girlfriends, easy to use, remote control. Those things don't sit comfortably in the same paragraph. It's all technically feasible, best advice is give it a go till you get fed up. The audigy has digital out, so an ordinary RCA75ohm digital interconnect to your amp will work for digital audio. DVD software, they will all work, but AFAIK only theatertek gives you all the tweaks in 1 box, most particularly aspect ratio control for the 16:9 XGA screen you are using. Multi region, both the drive firmware and DVD software need patching. Auto play is the easy bit, it's probably enabled by default, easy to do if not. Plug it together and see what happens. I take it you already have the PC, so can get most of the software bits sorted before you connect the plasma.
     
  3. KraGorn

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    Duncan, some more answers:

    1. Ideally you want to set the desktop resolution to that of your screen, this achieves what's known as 1:1 mapping (1 pixel in the image occupies exactly one pixel on the screen) thereby bypassing the screen's scaler. This is what Powerstrip is for, though depending on the resolution you need the very latest ATI driver may support it, though probably not.

    2. What sort of audio connection can your Yamaha support? Best would be S/PDIF.

    3. DVDs will auto-play with a simple setting in Windows, and possibly int the player software if using something like TheaterTek.

    4. Easiest way to multi-region is with something like AnyDVD or DVD Region Free (both $39.95 IIRC), there are one or two free region-free tools, but these paid-for ones have other neat features like skipping trailers/ads/copyright notices etc. and can go straight to the menu or even the main movie.

    5. Remotes aren't something I know a lot about, I use an ATI Remote Wonder which is wireless though thr majority seem to use URs of which there are several.

    6. By 'special DVD software' I assume for DVD playing. Yes, at the minimum you'll need to buy some DVD decoder to use with Media Player, however dedicated DVD playing software usually is better than Windows Media Player, popular ones are TheaterTek (the one I use), PowerDVD and WinDVD. You'll see mention of ZoomPlayer, this doesn't come with decoders and you'll to buy them separately like you would for Media Player .. the current most popular of these I think are those from nVidia (which DO work with ATI cards as well).

    Think this covers everything. :)
     
  4. MAW

    MAW
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    returning to point 1, I hate to say this as you know my views on Hitachi, but you are on a hiding to nothing with native res. Its for this reason that HCPC folks go for Pioneer in particular, as they do native res at 50Hz on digital. But it will still look fine at XGA, just don't waste your life. I'd go analogue though, as it will accept XGA at 50hz there I believe. Don't forget to get the PC on the web, that's 1/2 the fun with PC based systems.
     
  5. KraGorn

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    Maw, do I take it the Hitachi doesn't like accepting native res. input?
     
  6. dUnKle

    dUnKle
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    eh ?

    MAW I know your comments about Hitachi and they are appreciated as they are always constructed and can no way be considered flames

    As you know though im happy with mine and just doing this as a space saving thing - what res do you recommend I go for ? to get the best from it

    Cheers for all the answers all - ill give it a go

    It can only go wrong
     
  7. dinoprada2003

    dinoprada2003
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    This is the BEST region free software I have ever used, And it enables you to stop splash screens,F.B.I warnings etc etc.........you could of course find someone on A/V forums who uses a particular PC' multi-region dvd player and then ask him/her how to make that model region free via a firmware update as opposed to the link
    below which is a software region free app.



    http://www.dvdidle.com/dvd-region-free.htm

    P.S This article will help you get started with postprocessing I.E better dvd playback :D

    http://htpcnews.com/main.php?id=ffdshowdvd_1
     
  8. MAW

    MAW
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    With the Hitachi you use XGA. Though it's actually 1024 x 1024 it's impossible to address the individual pixels. There is someone on the forums who claims to have done it, but Hitachi themselves say it can't be done. Check back in the Hitachi thread, it was quite early on. Just in case everyone else is wrong, but I think he just said the res was there to select, which is bull**** Xga looks pretty fair, it's an advantage of having so many dots. The more you have, the better the picture on non-native resolutions.
     
  9. dUnKle

    dUnKle
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    MAW - again thanks, but what is XGA

    do I still connect PC via DVI cable ?
     
  10. nwgarratt

    nwgarratt
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    Years ago I was using a PC to play DVD's on a TV and this was before DVD players came down in price. I am now eperimenting with my newest PC and my AE100 projector.

    For basic DVD playing, I find just using WinDVD or PowerDVD to be sufficient. I set my resolution to 1:1 pixel mapping using powerstrip and just play the DVD.

    I have a region 2 locked drive and use Slysoft AnyDVD to make it region free. The latest version is better than the DVD Region Free software.

    Years ago I used a Silitek 1000 remote control off the serial port. I recently found this and got it working with PowerDVD. I use a bit of software called Remote Selector to make the remote work.

    I have Zoom player and FFDShow ready to try out but, don't think I will have much use of it.

    My PC specs is nothing special and was built on a tight budget.
     
  11. dinoprada2003

    dinoprada2003
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  12. lintonmac

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    Duncan

    >again thanks, but what is XGA

    XGA is 1024x768. I THINK you should be able to select this via DVI OR VGA. But it is a PC-type resolution where you will need to set the frequency. As mentioned elsewhere (I think) this should be a multiple of 25Hz (eg 75Hz) for optimum Region2 DVD playback. You may also have to mess around with aspect ratio's - perhaps with some additional shareware to ensure your PC graphics card knows that in this case 1024x768 is 16:9 rather than 4:3.

    What I am finding (and I am new to this as well), is that DVI (rather than VGA) gives you less options because it sort of lets the Hitachi TELL the PC what it can do and because a digital signal is just different (help please anyone). I'm not sure about this next statement, but I'm also wondering when you use something like a 1024x768 output (rather than a 720p output) for instance whether in fact the signal is sent using the analogue components of the DVI cable/input so it is similar to using the vga.

    I am intending to experiment on this with a DVI-based Powerbook and a VGA-based Powerbook, but haven't got round to this yet.

    I am pleased with the Hitachi at 1024x768 with the quick tests I've done with it - its' good at web pages for instance and photos - which an SD-based plasma could not have done as well. What I haven't been able to do is compare VGA with DVI and also compare in more detail with different DVD's (eg what happens with panning, blocking etc)

    Ian
     
  13. nwgarratt

    nwgarratt
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    Actually. it was excellent way to watch DVD's. I bought a DXR2 MPEG2 Decoder card/DVD ROM drive for £200. The cheapest players at the time was £600+. It had a S Video (not S-VHS as that is a recording format) output. I never saw a layer change something that today's DVD players still suffers from.
     
  14. dUnKle

    dUnKle
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    thanks everyone

    my DVD drive is a Pioneer DVD-RW DVR-105 - any idea where I get region free hack for the actuall hardware ?
     
  15. KraGorn

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  16. nwgarratt

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  17. dinoprada2003

    dinoprada2003
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    I never had a decoder card, just dvd via pc and S video out via the gforce, maybe thats why you got a much better pic than me? although diff gforces had diff tv-out and I remember one particular onboard tv out being better than the other, I still have my Sony 525 which back then cost me £500 and the pc's dvd playback via my old phillips 28" wide was like watching through a foogy lens :)
     
  18. nwgarratt

    nwgarratt
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    I also have a Sony 525. It was my first proper DVD player that played everything. My forst DVD player was a Samsung 807 that refused to play The Matrix.

    I have tried using my Gforce4 MX440 card on the TV and it was absolutely rubbish. It only has a compoisite output and not the superior S Video.
     
  19. dUnKle

    dUnKle
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    wow, WOW and WOW

    Just connected the PC up to the plasma via DVI

    Settings are 1024 by 768 @ 75Hz and it looks great

    Even as I type this it looks much chrisper than it did on my 17" LG TFT monitor

    Just have one problem - I followed this guide to use the thing as a HCPC but I only get an image in the middle of the screen

    Black bars not only at top and bottom but also left and right

    Everything else on the PC fills the screen so just can work this out
     

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