Uvem HTPC

Mr.D

Distinguished Member
edward said:
If you can't afford someone else to come around and do it for you and you aren't up to basic self-help on a PC, lisa, I think you might be better off staying away from HTPCs for a while.

I don't think Lisa has any problems maintaining her own PC , don't know why you made that comment.

Personally I enjoy tweaking and upgrading my HTPC and I'm normally quite happy to build other PCs for people for cost ( I won't then give you lifetime support though as some people seem to assume :rolleyes: but I'm quite a happy to make suggestions to troubleshoot problems , kind of redundant to say so as thats precisley what this forum is for of course).

There is nothing magical about building a HTPC over a normal PC. As with anything you find out what you need to know when you need to know it.

Its fun and you can do it in a weekend. The only thing that you really gain from experience is identifying faults quicker ie , I got a DOA graphics card for a friends new built PC ( quadro fx3000 too ...you'd expect that to work when it left the factory!). I was 90% certain the card was dead rather than any other problems ( sticking in a 10quid graphics card proved it to be the case). card went back and I got a replacement within a week (well done scan).

A few years ago I might well have spent a few fretful hours trying to bring it to life. Nowadays my first thought is usually correct.

Using something like Ghost ( I use Acronis Trueimage myself) takes the sting out of tweaking too. ( a fully capable driveimage system should be incorporated into windows if you ask me).

You could also do a dry run and build a really cheap HTPC that will do pretty much everything you require for a few hundred quid. Live with it for a few months and decide if you want to beef it up. The only thing you need a lot of grunt for is ffdshow ( personally not worth it on screens smaller than 42") or state of the art gaming.
 
D

Deleted member 39241

Guest
I was playing devil's advocate and suggesting some reasons why Uvem may be overpriced, I guess if you really can't do it yourself and you want something cutting edge then you have to pay OTT for it.

Personally I would much rather build and maintain my own, and save many £££'s in doing so.

However it won't stay cutting edge for very long, and stating that it doesn't need updating cos it works is a cop out. HTPC technology is rapidly changing and upgrades in hardware, and software are frequent... spending £3k on a machine that will be out of date in a year, is just plain silly.
 
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D

Deleted member 27989

Guest
Lisa, it like with all things in live....If you want the best now, you will take a depreciation hit....It's all just different views and priorities....I don't think that spending £3k on a machine that will be out of date in a year is more silly than spending £1000 on a machine that is already out-of-date now...

@Skunkpipe: If you do more than shifting boxes (don't mean it as nasty as it sounds, just a term many distributors I worked with have used themselves), then yes I would suggest you up your prices. I can't stand it when my staff treats their own time (in my time) as sunk costs...I still have to make the money to pay for it....But the choice you have to make is...Shift boxes or provide a turn-key service....
 
D

Deleted member 39241

Guest
dejongj said:
with all things in live....If you want the best now, you will take a depreciation hit....It's all just different views and priorities....I don't think that spending £3k on a machine that will be out of date in a year is more silly than spending £1000 on a machine that is already out-of-date now...
Er, what? Well here is an idea..... spend a reasonable amount of money building a machine that is up to date now, and has the capacity to take upgrades for a few more years too (without voiding a warranty, and having to get an 'engineer' round to do it for you).
 
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edward

Active Member
Hi Lisa,

I’m not sure I following your reasoning that my “if it ain’t broke there is no need to fix it” position is a cop out. I’ve owned some of my kit for years and have seen no reason to take the lid off – my amp, AV processor, DVD transport and scaler for example. Why would I? If there had been no upgrades available for TheaterTek, I’d have been quite happy – I upgraded simply because it was there and dead easy for me to do myself. No, I don’t feel the need to replace output transistors in my amp. That requires a lot more electronics expertise than I have.

My suggestion that you might not be up to an HTPC yet was based upon something you said. Expecting someone else to come around to install updated drivers and software isn’t really compatible with “skilled enough to maintain a PC at hardware and software level”, now is it? If you think it’s a sensible approach, try playing devil’s advocate with Lexicon over an upgrade to an MC12B AV processor – see how useful that proves to be.

Incidentally, have you looked at what kind of spec you’ll need to run Windows Vista? There is informed talk about it needing 1 – 2 GB or RAM and 3 Gigs of processor. When we reach that point, you might look at the cost of migration and whatever PC you are using next year and then decide for yourself that your HTPC ain’t broke enough to warrant the spend, but that would be a cop out, wouldn’t it?
 
D

Deleted member 39241

Guest
Hello Edward,

Are we having a row?

Firstly, I was not talking about myself when I aked whether Uvem took care of upgrades, I was explaining that a HTPC purchase does not end once it has been installed. So paying over the top for 'excellent service' is only really excellent if it lasts for a few years worth of upgrades.

The advantage with using a PC for home cinema purposes, is that it is very upgradeable. Software and hardware updates are frequent and introduce new and better qualities and features. Unlike an AV amp, you can easily upgrade the software and swap out hardware components, so you do not have to scrap the old model and start again from scratch when technology moves on.

1 or 2 gig or RAM and a 3ghz processor is hardly 'cutting edge', most pc's these days would be that spec, or easily upgraded to that - what are you on about?
 
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BryanKitts

Active Member
edward said:
...I’m not sure I following your reasoning that my “if it ain’t broke there is no need to fix it” position is a cop out. I’ve owned some of my kit for years and have seen no reason to take the lid off – my amp, AV processor, DVD transport and scaler for example...
Most amps aren't connected to the internet, while a lot of HTPCs are. You can argue there's no need to install driver updates, but what about security patches for your OS or browser?
 
D

Deleted member 27989

Guest
When you treat it as a HTPC instead of a PC there is not really that much need for every single patch in my opinion, unless something is broke...

Whole different story when you start browsing the internet, but then again that is not such a great experience on a 10ft interface and using a remote control...Bit like the rubbish experience you get on a mobile phone....

To me it seems that a lot of opinions are valid, but the camps are divided between tinkerers and those that just want to use it as an appliance...I just like to enjoy watching my sources instead of constantly fiddling about.....
 

rhinoman

Well-known Member
I'm slightly confused to how this thread has turned out.

Who is right or wrong, build your own or have it built, is really just about time and money, or the desire to have a quality item or to make a quality item for less money.

All that really matters here is that we all have a great source for dvd, a scaler for external sources, a top end cd player. However we configure or have configured our HTPC is really just a preference.

I think the Uvem represents good value for what it is, a preconfigured unit. Would I buy one? Not a chance because I can fo it myself and enjoy doing it myself.

The other advantage with doing it yourself is not having to commit all in one financial hit. Upgrades can be as and when budget allows.

The thing I like best about HTPC is that it compliments my upgraditis. When upgradeitis hits the change is only a few pounds or worst, a few hundred, not hundreds or thousands.... My HTPC case has seen four motherboards, different processors, more graphics cards, various PSU's. Nothing of which is that hidious in cost. Still the original case I bought though.....maybe thats next.!?
 

edward

Active Member
A row? No I don't think so, lisa, exchange of views perhaps - no more.

Some think we all pay over the odds for AV kit (but we pay it) - the parts in a typical piece of AV kit probably cost between 5 and 10% of retail price. It's too easy to get resentful if you bear this in mind when you walk into a shop. With this in mind, the relative lack of middle-men in the bespoke HTPC sector makes it a lot more appealing to me.

As for the state of kit... I have a Pentium 300 processor here in a file server and it still gives perfectly reasonable service. OK, if it had Gigabit-speed pipes, that would be nice but the CPU certainly doesn't sweat at 100 mbps. There is a web server here that is still using an Athlon 950 and it also provides perfectly adequate service so I've no plans to replace it either. They only changes that have been made to the platforms in either case is the application of service packs bug-fixes. I see this as being quite compatible with the "If it ain't broke" approach.
 
D

duracell

Guest
Well.

I started the thread and having just revisited I am afraid I have to agree wholeheartedly with Lisa and Mr D. In fact, Mr D's comments regarding putting off the inevitable etc, etc are absolutely spot on.

One contributor tried to justify his post with reference to the fact that I was willing to pay £2K for a scaler but not for a HTPC ;-). This is very weak as there is no comparison between the two devices. A scaler is a dedicated piece of kit with one function. It contains dedicated silicon and firmware. It cannot be built, altered, tinkered with or significantly upgraded. It is also a closed market. If you want one, you pay up or do without. :confused:

A HTPC on the other hand is a totally different animal. Building one is certainly within the abilities of no end of individuals. Good god, there is a whole industry out there that revolves around supplying the components and software. We are talking a completely open platform. The hardware is continually being updated and is available off the shelf!! The beauty of this platform is that it is so flexible, powerfull and configurable that it cries out to be experimented with. I would also add that I do not take kindly the throw away remark about Tinkerers :mad: For your information mate I don't tinker, bl**dy patronizing. :nono:

There is a certain amount of enjoyment, and a tremendous sense of achievment to be had when undertaking and completing a project such as a HTPC. The argument that Uvem are the be all and end all is just stuff and nonsense. I haven't had a computer that I've constructed "blue screen" me for years. As long as you use good quality components with a good track record (crucial memory for example) you will not go far wrong! As for PVR, etc, etc, etc, none of this would ever be needed in my case so the argument is meaningless. All I need is to stream some Hi-Def material and play some DVD's and music, Surfing the net on my plasma would also be nice. I don't need to go to Uvem for that. Every component I need is readily available on the net. As for Uvem trying to save you money by suggesting lesser components :rolleyes: have you seen what they charge for them? Most items on their price list (listed as upgrades) can be bought significantly cheaper online. In the case of thier hard drives they are quoting up to 45% over and above typical online prices. :eek:

The only parts of any of the posts seen supporting Uvem so far that are valid, are those trying to justify the cost on the grounds of backup and preconfiguring the more complex boxes requiring X lobby etc. For the average Joe (the majority imho) with the same requirements as myself and reasonable PC constuction skills, you would be daft to go the Uvem route. :oops:

Yes, If you don't want to tinker (oh blast, said it myself now) and want to stay totally ignorant about what goes on in the box, then fine, go throw £3K plus at Uvem. If you want to have a bit of fun and save a significant amount of money then "Do it Yourself"

Regards, Dura. :thumbsup:
 

edward

Active Member
Some good points, duracell.
I'm not sure why Uvem have those prices on their web site - they didn't charge me anything like that for mine. Prices of comodity PC components is dropping so fast that those prices are out of date within weeks of being published.

As for the cost saving biz, they simply advised that I'd get better performance by dropping the CPU power I specified and going for a beefier graphics card than I had in mind. It wasn't really saving money but shuffling it for better effect. I'm not a gamer so works very well.

While we're at it, the starter box they advertise on their web site looks fairly modest but seems to work. I think they use that as the basis for pricing and I just paid the cost of beefier bits I wanted. The cost of building the thing is basically the same regardless of what bits you use - I like this idea a hell of a lot more than a margin on the total hardware cost. Let face it, it doesn't require more effort of skill to use better components (does it?)

What made me go for a pre-built box? I spoke to a couple of people who had done it themselves, know audio very well and have been building their own boxes for years. Both said that it took them months to get rid of things like electronic noise that was having a measurable effect on either sound or image. It was after a chat to one that I decided on that hideously expensive power supply - most I've ever paid for one in any of the other systems is about £60 - and the PC eventually died, leaving me with a spare power supply - which didn't connect to my new ASUS mobo anyway.
 
D

Deleted member 39241

Guest
This thread is getting interesting :)

Edward - if you want to buy an Uvem machine that is fine, but it is not as difficult as you seem to think to build your own. Depends on how you want to prioritise your time and money. Electronic noise? Poppycock :D
 
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edward

Active Member
You're absolutely right, lisa. For me, tinkering (oops) with a PC for fun is not how I want to spend my leisure hours - I do enough of that during work hours. I've even stopped maintaining my own car - something I did for years. Now I prefer to drive it than fix it, so...
 
D

Deleted member 39241

Guest
edward said:
You're absolutely right. For me, tinkering (oops) with a PC for fun is not how I want to spend my leisure hours - I do enough of that during work hours. For the same reason, I've stopped maintaining my own car - something I did for years. Now I prefer to drive it than fix it, so...
Fair enough, I enjoyed the debate :)
 
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bryeden

Active Member
Hi all
I've gone down the UVEM route and ordered a system to be delivered end of this month.
Could I have build the machine cheaper - probably. Was I prepared to spend the time to build & configure - definitely not.
For me there is value in having a system built to my spec and delivered,installed and configured by the man who built it - for others there will be different priorities.
No one is wrong there are just different perspectives.
 
S

Skunkpipe

Guest
bryeden said:
Hi all
I've gone down the UVEM route and ordered a system to be delivered end of this month.
Could I have build the machine cheaper - probably. Was I prepared to spend the time to build & configure - definitely not.
For me there is value in having a system built to my spec and delivered,installed and configured by the man who built it - for others there will be different priorities.
No one is wrong there are just different perspectives.

Which is fair enough comment.
I see no-one answered my question about what do uvem offer over other small specialist suppliers who can offer similar (and better) kit for 1/2 the price and still offer the same 1 to 1 service uvem offer?

And as for the if it aint broke why fix it comment. Yes, there's a lot to be said for that; so why does it need to go in for a rebuild?
I'm genuinly interest what does a 'rebuild' entail, how much does it cost, and is there a reasonable market for this kind of thing?
 
D

Deleted member 27989

Guest
Skunkpipe said:
Which is fair enough comment.
I see no-one answered my question about what do uvem offer over other small specialist suppliers who can offer similar (and better) kit for 1/2 the price and still offer the same 1 to 1 service uvem offer?

Still not an exact answer as only someone who bought from both could provide it. My perception is that the difference would be related to Brand Management, Marketing and clear definition of what Customer the company is after! I think this is where parrallel's can be made with other consumer goods in the AV sector. Mixing box-shifting with turn-key solutions under the same brand does not generally do well.
Part of it may also be the Mercedes-Benz effect. They first conquered the high-end of the market and got a solid stronghold before they started to explore the mass-market. It's one of the mechanismes to create a 'club' that people aspire to belong to...

Just a thought...
 

HiZ

Active Member
HTPC may not be your thing if you don't want photo's, music and digital TV. If its only DVD you want then you can buy a wicked DVD player for a few hundred notes these days.
Surfing the net....sorry if i've missed your display spec in the thread but if your plasma isn't HD (=$$$) then 640x480 or 800x600 is poor for surfing the net. I run 1280x720 on an LCD (not 1:1 cos that doesn't work well with TV-only 60Hz) and its OK and adequate but I wouldn't describe it as fantastic or excelllent.
 
D

Deleted member 39241

Guest
I have a SD plasma, and surf the net from my sofa with my gyration mouse at 1024 x 576 very succesfully...
 

Mr.D

Distinguished Member
I can quite happily surf the net on an 856x480 plasma.
My HTPC also feeds a 1368x768 projector.

DVD playback off an HTPC with a decent software player (Theatertek) and ffdshow running a lanczos2 rescale is one area where you will be very hard-pressed to better the quality any other way.
 

Spy

Well-known Member
The way I see it that, as in any market, there are different segments/tiers.

By UVEM pricing themselves at the top end of the market and offering a bespoke home service, they appeal to a segment of the market,

Other companies, like Media.pc aim at a more reasonable price but without the home service.

Both appeal to different segments of the market. The UVEM segment will be significantly smaller than Media.pc but the profit margins make up the difference.

UVEM may sell 1 a month whereas Media.PC would sell, say 10 a month - no idea what the real numbers will be though, but ratio may be correct

One differentiator though is the level of marketing spend. If UVEM have a good marketing campaign in place or wide distribution network, they could be selling more than media.pc. I would doubt it though as I do not see how they could afford "the person who built it" to also do house visits !
 

edward

Active Member
Skunkpipe said:
Which is fair enough comment.
I see no-one answered my question about what do uvem offer over other small specialist suppliers who can offer similar (and better) kit for 1/2 the price and still offer the same 1 to 1 service uvem offer?
Hi Skunkpipe,
Earlier in this thread i told you what I paid for the stuff in my Uvem. If you think I paid twice the going rate for kit, I'd be grateful for your sourcing another four new 300 GB Seagate SATAs for about £180 (or perferably 400GB Seagate SATA drives for me for £320-ish), I'll drive out to Wokingham and collect them. Alternatively, you could deliver them and I'll show you what I'm talking about.

I'm sure there are plenty who would bite your hand off if you were dishing out RME HDSP 9632 sound cards at £195 a pop. Of course if £195 will buy us a better card, please tell us what it is and why you think it is better.

My cheque book throbs in anticipation.
 

ChrisOH

Novice Member
Hello Duracell,

"One poster here"

I still maintain that UVEM have provided me with a product that I consider to be excellent value for money and that as people will visit this forum and potentially use it to make purchasing decisions, I am going to try to justify my position once again.

If we go back to the beginning of the thread, your original point was that you thought the UVEM product was stunning but you did not understand how given your list of £1000 of components how they could justify a £3k price tag.

In an effort to answer your question I have pointed out along with others that for a not dissimilar amount of money UVEM have supplied a PC equipped with an RME9632 (~£350) soundcard, a Sweetspot RGB capture card (~£200) a Nebula TV card ~£120), WinTV US ~(£100) Gyration mouse and keyboard (~£!00), 4 hard drives, 3 more than your spec so add £240. The case is a Claritas from Stands Unique (no idea). Hopefully this also covers the question about what they are offering over OEMs

By my reckoning this is another £1000 or so giving a component cost of over £2000 (also pointed out elsewhere) even if we discount other apparently knowledgable posters points about your estimates being a little low (something I am not questioning)

There has been a lot of discussion about how much more cheaply you can build a similar product for yourself which, I would accept is as plain as the nose on anyone's face. What we are left with then is the labour involved in building the machine and configuring it, providing after sales support, VAT and a profit margin for UVEM. As someone who already knows how to DIY you said you were prepared to pay £500 for this, some will pay more.

I take my hat off to all of those contributors who build and maintain their own systems and offer their support to others freely but there is also room for people like UVEM who provide support to those of us who don't want the hassle or have the time to learn (as easy as it may be) and want a quality product

I think my point about the scaler is perfectly relevant to an argument about UVEM's value proposition at least partially based on component cost by the way. That said I do of course accept that it is a closed system and you couldn't build one yourself (bit like me and a PC by the way). Incidentally, if you are planning to make a PC, why would you want a scaler anyway?

Chris
 

GrahamMG

Well-known Member
I read all of this with some amusment and both camps have some valid points but why does it always have to end up in a thinly hidden row...... a few facts to level this one are in order.
Firstly, I have built more specialist PC's for broadcast and video duties than most have had hot dinners and a great many things do matter if a quality result is your stated end game. The problem people get into is that no two people's idea of what constitutes a quality result will be the same.

However, to dismiss a person who spends their own money on a £400 sound card (oh and a £6.5k sound card can be purchased these days if your really serious!) as over the top shows a lack of understanding of what makes a really truely good HTPC as does anything less than a 3.4Ghz 775 Intel CPU, a £400 graphics card and other expensive electrically silent PC parts. These things do make a very audiable/viewable difference to the end result if your other kit in the setup are worthy of the expense. This is the main issue really, some people don't have other kit to make a £3k HTPC a worthwhile addition to their systems, other people do, everyone has to understand that one. To make the thing work properly you need to invest a lot of money or an awful amount of time. For those that have families (and others in the house that just want to turn on the HTPC, pick a film and sit back and enjoy), the sense in a £3k plus HTPC has merit. For those that don't have the money, have far more time on their hands or to be fair, just want to dabble in the art that is HTPC nivana then maybe a £3k outlay is not on the cards.
However to attack (and lets face it some of you are attacking a business and people you do not know) UVEM and those like them, is really not worthy of a decent forum such as this site. The UVEM guys work bloody hard doing what they do and make tiny profits (no they don't swan about in Aston's), put in long long hours (I know I've been with them at shows), have a knowledge that is second to none in the industry (even Chord knew who to ask for their HTPC project) and are genuinely nice people who offer far too much free advice for their own good in my opinion. I feel compelled to argue their price point. I would ask you all to sit back and work out how long you have messed around with your HTPC projects, how much you would have been paid at your current employment during that time and then have the front to say that this product is vastly overpriced..... Its a business, nobody does this for free.......... I've worked out what my personal HTPC project has cost in time and materials and it is well into 5 figures.......

I personally have bought 2 UVEM's for my employers and built a great many more HTPC's for special projects using the "put the effort in where it is required and pay for the effort where necessary" rule into force. A top spec UVEM HTPC comforatbly outperforms a £5.5k DVD player (I know I have both) is worthy of being fed into a £40k AV setup (and naturally much less exotic setups) and can be used by my AV phobic wife and 12 year old Son without having to ring me constantly, it never crashes (keep it simple and use it just for HTPC stuff!), is far more reliable than anything else that carries a PC task and is upgradable without having to throw it all away each time a new "bell and whistle" comes out that I must have...... Try that with your Denon/Pioneer/Yamaha of this world.... These things have a place in the home, not everyone's home's admittedly but to quote prices for parts that either cannot be purchased at the price quoted or assume that these are anything less than bespoke built for the purpose they are specced for shows a lack of understanding of what effort, experience and ease of use can bring with an outlay of this order. Almost all manufacturers use UVEM's for shows, demo's and quality sales events where they want the very best out of their AV systems, some astute customers also know what they want and put their hands in their pockets, those people who can't or won't do that are entitled to their opinion (as long as its fair and accurate) but it doesn't make them right.....
Rant over, and no I won't post on this one again, no point, I'm off to watch and listen to the equipment as that is what it does best :cool:
 

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