very basic hcpc questions


Active Member
I don't know too much about computers.

I have a dedicated home theatre (DVD player, amp, speakers and 34 inch 4:3 TV)

I have a reasonable PC that needs to be used primarily as a PC with emphasis on internet and video editing. It will remain in another room.

The PC is a P4, 1.6 GHz, 256 + 512 RAM, 2 X 40 Gig Seagate Barracuda HDD, 32 MB Nvidia, basic sound card.

I am considering connecting a cable from my PC to my amp to play MP3 music and to play edited home videos. I do have the option to burn VCDs which I can play in my DVD player though. I have been told that home videos and DVDs can be converted to MPEG 4 and run on the PC or written on CDR (one movie can fit on one disc!). Video and sound out to the home theatre apparently giving better than VCD quality.

Is this true? My PC would then need cards to output video. What is recommended? Sound could be taken from the sound card but would this then disable my PC active speakers or is there a simple solution to this? Is it recommended that the sound card is changed?

I may in future consider getting a TV card so I can edit my analogue videos. If I do this, can I get a card with video out and therefore obviate the need to change my video card?

Without having to spend a fortune would the end result in terms of picture and sound quality justify costs?

I have read many previous posts but they are rather technical and the emphasis is on ultimate quality because a) their systems are dedicated hcpcs and b) many are using plasma screens or projectors.

I know it's a long post and down to basics but you guys have helped me out a lot in the past and any input would be welcome.


Many points here.

Divx/mpeg4 Yes, it's technically feasible to back up or copy DVD in this format, but why would you want to except for copyright infringement, not recommended here. You could use it to back up VHS tapes so you can store better, I've had a few goes, it's not easy, the encoders are available but don't expect ease of use. Mpeg 2 gives about 40mins per cd. That's easier to do. Software for editing tends to be expensive. Quality is good with all mpeg formats, but with analogue copies, it's garbage in, garbage out. You can't put in what's not there to start with.

TV cards, that's all old tech these days, but you'd be better off IMHO with a tv out video card as well, though results in my experience are not that impressive. To make anything of a PC you want a plasma or projector. Run it with VGA or DVI output.

Sound, here you can undoubtedly amuse yourself with a min. of outlay and effort. You might want a new sound card, creative live or some such, £40 would cover it. You'd get digital out then, and speakers, so you could connect to your amp without losing the pc speakers, or fiddling constantly.

In short, sound is easy and cheap, video is expensive and full of hassle, and unless you have no other hobbies, best avoided! Except if you're going to silence your PC, move it to the room with the AV kit, buy a projector and join the rest of us tech junkies. You know you want to....

An alternative on the sound front might be to get a USB sound 'card' like the Abit, with spdif in/out, connect that to the amp. You'd have to select it as the device to use in control panel wich would disable your speakers, but it takes 15 secs to switch between soundcards like that.

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