Computer Blue ray or Blue ray player? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 37 Old 09-17-2008, 03:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Would having a blue ray drive in my computer with say a Ati All in wonder outputting hdmi looking as good a ps3 or other Blue ray player? Also is the audio output from hdmi from this computer going to be as good as the players?
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post #2 of 37 Old 09-17-2008, 03:15 PM
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Buy a Sony SA and be done with it...
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post #3 of 37 Old 09-17-2008, 04:15 PM
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stand alone, the PC route is a headache and unless you spend way more than what a SA costs you'll still be lacking features.

The right stand alone can flip to native framerate (60p, 24p), bitstream HD audio codecs and will not be prone to stutter now and then.

PC's just can't match that flexiblity (they do load the menu's quickly though).

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post #4 of 37 Old 09-17-2008, 04:49 PM
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SA, for sure. I have a PC BD, and would never wish this disaster (HDCP) on other people. Also, the lack of many HD format audio, the crappy software players, and all the other issues that surround BD right now... Not a chance in he**, buy a SA and be done with it.

Unless you want to rip and work on the BD formats (compress, rip, etc), there's no good reason to have a computer BD instead of SA.

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post #5 of 37 Old 09-17-2008, 06:41 PM
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I actually went from stand alone -> (back to) HTPC.
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post #6 of 37 Old 09-17-2008, 08:11 PM
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I'll offer a contrary opinion, perhaps because I waited just long enough for TMT to be available on Vista x64.

I have found my HPTC BD player to be reliable and flexible. I can play 24p movies by with my Nvidia 9800GX2, although the timings did have to be modified to 23.978 or whatever.

I can also store BD movies on my RAID5 array, as well as SD-DVD. Very nice. TMT is pretty good today.

You should get a modern video card, tho.

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post #7 of 37 Old 09-17-2008, 08:19 PM
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I have no issues with HD DVD or BD playback from any of the systems I built. I use PDVD 7.3 and TMT along with Anydvd HD. All audio is anolog. All fed from two servers with ~20TB. But if all you want to do is put in a Blu Ray movie and watch then go with a SA.

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post #8 of 37 Old 09-17-2008, 08:26 PM
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Buy a standalone player. HTPCs are NOT worth it solely for BD playback. At best they will be the same or slightly worse than a standalone and at worst they will be pieces of junk that serve only to raise your blood pressure and empty your wallet.
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post #9 of 37 Old 09-17-2008, 08:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EastcoastSix13 View Post

Would having a blue ray drive in my computer with say a Ati All in wonder outputting hdmi looking as good a ps3 or other Blue ray player? Also is the audio output from hdmi from this computer going to be as good as the players?

Do a simple search (i.e. don't be lazy)... This question gets asked at least once a week.
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post #10 of 37 Old 09-19-2008, 03:40 PM
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The issue comes down to ease of use, and time on your hands. I built my HTPC before the HD/Blu format wars were over. I then went back and added the LG internal super everything drive and upgraded to PowerDVD 8. I also have a 4tb raid tower to store backup images, using AnyDVD. I am using MyMovies (highly recommend) and after several hours of tweaking each piece of the puzzle, I can say that I am very happy with the outcome. I am using component video to a 720p projector (ugrading to 1080p next week) and I can access the "extra" features of Bluray over the internet, and switch over to IMDB to do quick look ups, and I only have two pieces of equipment, so looks clean (receiver and HTPC).

So, yes it can be done with an HTPC, but if you do not have the time, or do not need or want a full blown computer, then go SA.

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post #11 of 37 Old 09-19-2008, 08:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EastcoastSix13 View Post

Would having a blue ray drive in my computer with say a Ati All in wonder outputting hdmi looking as good a ps3 or other Blue ray player? Also is the audio output from hdmi from this computer going to be as good as the players?

Seems no one has answered you directly so I thought I would. The ATi "All in Wonder" card would not be sufficient for Blu Ray playback but viable Graphics cards can be obtained as cheaply as $50 IF you have PCI-e slots in your motherboard. Add the $150 for the BD player and your at $200 without the additional things you may well need (memory upgrades, etc).

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post #12 of 37 Old 09-19-2008, 08:28 PM
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It all comes down to two things:

Are you building a HTPC with BR just to watch BR? If so, don't.

But if you are looking for building a HTPC already and want to use it for other stuff aswell it's an option.

The other thing is:

Do you want the new HD-audio streams? If so use SA.
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post #13 of 37 Old 09-20-2008, 04:37 AM
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I built HTPC and I bought Blu-ray drive for it, although I had not panned to initially. I noticed the LiteOn drive came with a silver bezel that matched my Antec case so bought it. Unfortunately, my denon AVR888 is not compatible with the audio stream from the HTPC over HDMI (Denon tech support confirmed this). I'm also using the HTPC as a PC, for the internet, gaming, and to watch over the air HDTV. I'm torn over whether to trade in my Denon for the Onkyo 606. I just need to find out if that will accept audio over HDMI. If not then I'll just grab a toslink cable and stream audio that way.
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post #14 of 37 Old 09-20-2008, 10:32 AM
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I bought a combo drive for $130 just because i have a decent sized HD-DVD library. If I hadn't had any HD-DVDs I probably would have bought a standalone. That said, I've had zero problems playing Blu-Rays and HD-DVDs on my HTPC. 7.1 LCPM and 1080p no stuttering or playback problems.
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post #15 of 37 Old 09-20-2008, 10:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ndabunka View Post

Seems no one has answered you directly so I thought I would. The ATi "All in Wonder" card would not be sufficient for Blu Ray playback but viable Graphics cards can be obtained as cheaply as $50 IF you have PCI-e slots in your motherboard. Add the $150 for the BD player and your at $200 without the additional things you may well need (memory upgrades, etc).

Just an addendum. The new All-in-Wonder HD cards are based on the HD3650, so yes, they should be capable of Blu-ray playback. If you only need it for pure Blu-ray playback, though, a stand-alone would end up being much cheaper and less of a hassle than an HTPC.
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post #16 of 37 Old 09-20-2008, 11:57 AM
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SA, absolutely, without a doubt. Especially if the HD audio streams are at all important to you.

Also, when looking at a HTPC, just figure in the cost of AnyDVDHD, many of us with HD drives need this software package, and it will make you life MUCH easier if you have it. No more HDCP issues (and trust me, there are TONS of issues that surround HDCP) more then make the software worth the price.

Just make sure that you figure that into the cost of your HTPC vs SA player.

If you have an HTPC that up to spec already, adding just the drive and AnyDVDHD is going to be cheaper, and will allow you to rip to your HDD and play on other machines. However, if you just want to stick in a disk and have flawless BD playback, get a SA player. It will save you much headache.

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post #17 of 37 Old 09-20-2008, 02:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjfink View Post

If you have an HTPC that up to spec already, adding just the drive and AnyDVDHD is going to be cheaper,

How so?

PowerDVD or Arcsoft (TMT) = $90-100
AnyDVD HD = 79 = ~$115
Lite-on BD drive = $120

That's around $300, if the rest of your PC is up to spec.

Sony BDP-S300 can be had for $200 with free shipping and prices are dropping like a rock as we speak. The newer S350 can be had for less than $300.

Not to mention, standalones actually work whereas PowerDVD and Arcsoft TMT are both steaming piles of manure.

Anyone buying an HTPC just for BD playback is a fool.
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post #18 of 37 Old 09-20-2008, 03:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nm88 View Post

How so?

PowerDVD or Arcsoft (TMT) = $90-100
AnyDVD HD = 79€ = ~$115
Lite-on BD drive = $120

That's around $300, if the rest of your PC is up to spec.

Sony BDP-S300 can be had for $200 with free shipping and prices are dropping like a rock as we speak. The newer S350 can be had for less than $300.

Not to mention, standalones actually work whereas PowerDVD and Arcsoft TMT are both steaming piles of manure.

Anyone buying an HTPC just for BD playback is a fool.

Well, first off these estimates are wrong because this thread is a comparison of BD PLAYERS, not Home theater HD storage accessible systems. Sure, those storage/retrival issues might be nice but a regular BD player can't do that so that point is mute. Besides, most BD players come with the player software already included (i.e. PowerDVD). Therefore, you can through out that additional $215 (100+115) in costs.

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post #19 of 37 Old 09-20-2008, 03:19 PM
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That's true, but most of the included BD players aren't able to output lossless audio (or are limited to 2.0 channels) which is pretty much worthless for most of us in the HTPC space. Not many people want to watch their BD format as 2.0.

Even if you get a software package that works (and has full quality audio) AnyDVDHD is, in most environments, going to quickly become a necessity. Do a search for HDCP, take a look at all the problems people are having with copy protection from a HTPC using a HD format (HD-DVD or BD). I have a BD drive in my HTPC, and, depending on the direction of the wind, I can sometimes get HDCP to sync everything up correctly. However, it would be unuseable to most people without AnyDVDHD, it's just too hard to get the stupid copy protection to "behave" and work as it's supposed to. And, if your thinking of using EDID caching devices; again, AnyDVDHD is going to become even more necessary. Not saying that it WON'T work, I did get mine to work without it. It's just VERY touchy (switching inputs was a killer for me, that would always take down the HDCP and require a computer reboot to fix it).



Quote:
Originally Posted by ndabunka View Post

Well, first off these estimates are wrong because this thread is a comparison of BD PLAYERS, not Home theater HD storage accessible systems. Sure, those storage/retrival issues might be nice but a regular BD player can't do that so that point is mute. Besides, most BD players come with the player software already included (i.e. PowerDVD). Therefore, you can through out that additional $215 (100+115) in costs.


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post #20 of 37 Old 09-20-2008, 04:15 PM
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If all you want is BD playback, buy a PS3. You get an excellent BD player and very good SD DVD player and a gaming console thrown in for free (when compared to similar quality BD players).

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post #21 of 37 Old 09-20-2008, 08:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ndabunka View Post

Well, first off these estimates are wrong because this thread is a comparison of BD PLAYERS, not Home theater HD storage accessible systems.

The comparison is how much it will cost to get an otherwise fully-up-to-spec HTPC able to play BDs, versus buying a standalone.

The OP and 99.999% of BD watchers couldn't care less about wasting their time ripping BDs and building giant media servers, so it's irrelevant.

All we want is to stick the disc in and have it play without issues or quality problems.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ndabunka View Post

Besides, most BD players come with the player software already included (i.e. PowerDVD). Therefore, you can through out that additional $215 (100+115) in costs.

You mean BD drives now come with AnyDVD HD? Don't think so.

And the PowerDVD they come with is a crippled version, as mentioned.
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post #22 of 37 Old 09-20-2008, 10:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by karakas View Post

It all comes down to two things:

Are you building a HTPC with BR just to watch BR? If so, don't.

But if you are looking for building a HTPC already and want to use it for other stuff aswell it's an option.

The other thing is:

Do you want the new HD-audio streams? If so use SA.

This. I have a BR player in my HTPC but I also use my PC to play a lot of games on my TV. If that weren't the case, I would definitely just buy a stand alone. And sadly I'm still considering it lol.
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post #23 of 37 Old 09-21-2008, 01:13 AM
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I upgraded my PC with a Lite-on Blu-Ray drive for $130 a few months ago. I've been regretting not getting the PS3 for $299 (if you apply for the Sony credit card) ever since.

The fact that I have to invest in AnyDVDHD chaps my hide. Add that to the fact that the TMT and PowerDVD haven't been exactly friendly with all the disks I've thrown at it makes me even angrier. This DRM stuff is getting ridiculous but seems to have worked well enough to turn even hardcore PC folks away from playing HD content on the PC.

In any event, save yourself the headache and get a standalone if all you want to do is watch movies. Even if you have a fully functional PC, I'm still not convinced adding in a Blu-ray drive is the smartest move. I've felt dumb ever since I added mine.
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post #24 of 37 Old 09-21-2008, 05:15 AM
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Here's the decision tree for "Should I get a BD drive instead of standalone for my HT setup":

Do you want to rip and re-encode BD to other formats?

Yes -> Buy computer BD
No -> Buy SA

If you don't want to rip BD then the computer holds NO advantage over a SA player. It's more expensive (when you add in all the SW/HW that necessary to make it work right), it's buggy, it's difficult to get HD sound, HDCP is a nightmare, it's hard to post-process (and really unnecessary) on the fly... Frankly, the ONLY thing that a computer drive has over a SA is that it can rip the disks (which you can then re-encode into different formats). If you don't want to do this, then, frankly, there's simply no advantage to a computer BD at all. It's going to cost more (after you add all the HW and SW) and not work very well.

BD in an HTPC is for tinkering with the format, not for making a "good" BD player. The PS3 is the best (in many opinions) SA player out there, buy one of them and be done with it. And this is coming from someone who has a BD HTPC, with an ATI 4850 and all my components are pretty much brand new (amp, TV) and HDCP is still a nightmare.

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post #25 of 37 Old 09-21-2008, 05:17 AM
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I would say that with everything that I have read, you are probably best to get a Stand Alone Blue-Ray player and build a less expensive HTPC for other tasks. I have a PS3 and a Stand Alone HTPC.

It seems that getting High Def Audio from a Blue HTPC is a royal pain in the behind. There are driver issues. There are incompatible receiver issues. Player versions to be worried about. In my opnion they can have it.

Personally I love my PS3. When I purchased it it was the only upgradable BR player. With the newer stand alone players coming out, one of those may be better now.

I would also encourage you to build that HTPC, but keep BR our of it. I personally love my HTPC. I record some HDTV shows. I have a bunch of music on it. I also have saved a bunch of my DVDs to it for easy access. With just staying in the Vista user interface it is very easy for my wife to use. You can build a nice HTPC for around $500.

Good Luck in your decision.

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post #26 of 37 Old 09-21-2008, 06:32 AM
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On the issue of picture quality. I have a new build Phenom with the LG combo. At first I had it running to my 40XBR4 via VGA out of a HD3450 (1080p). While it looked "very good", it was NOT as good as the HDMI out of my S1 (or the HDMI out of the A20-if curious). I continued to "attempt" to play and rip blu's using that setup while always watching movies via the S1. I just swapped out the video to a HD3650 with HDMI. The quality is now pretty much even across the board (again using 1080p standard settings). I still fight Power DVD 7 on playing the rips, HDDVD's play OK (only tried 1).

Bottom line, as far as quality goes, you CAN setup a HTPC to match (or beat) a SA, but it usually is not worth the added time (and money) to do so IMO.
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post #27 of 37 Old 09-21-2008, 10:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZenerDiode View Post

I upgraded my PC with a Lite-on Blu-Ray drive for $130 a few months ago. I've been regretting not getting the PS3 for $299 (if you apply for the Sony credit card) ever since.

The fact that I have to invest in AnyDVDHD chaps my hide. Add that to the fact that the TMT and PowerDVD haven't been exactly friendly with all the disks I've thrown at it makes me even angrier. This DRM stuff is getting ridiculous but seems to have worked well enough to turn even hardcore PC folks away from playing HD content on the PC.

In any event, save yourself the headache and get a standalone if all you want to do is watch movies. Even if you have a fully functional PC, I'm still not convinced adding in a Blu-ray drive is the smartest move. I've felt dumb ever since I added mine.

That is almost my exact experience lol. Including feeling dumb

I went out of my way to build an HTPC that was going to be as "future proof" as possible.. I invested considerable time and money into researching and purchasing "the right stuff".

Between Vista crashing, Auzentech canceling their HDMI add-in card, flaky video drivers, lack of HD audio support, mediocre picture quality, some discs that just wouldn't play, the need to constantly upgrade the player software, etc, etc... I went and bought a $400 PS3 and the blu ray quality is superb and the user experience rock solid.

I gave up on the PVR aspects of an HTPC a long time ago (too much hassle trying to get an HD PVR working). So all I am really looking for is a Blu Ray player and an hd capable movie jukebox. I found the HTPC couldn't provide that. The PS3 is a great *disc based* blu ray player, but is lacking as a movie jukebox.

I am probably going to purchase a "Networked Media Tank" .. something like the Popcorn Hour A110. I have 800+ movies and with some of the add ons for the NMTs you can get a decent movie jukebox. For now I am using the PS3 but there are definitely some things lacking when trying to manage and stream a collection of hundreds of movies and where you want HD audio format support.

I think HTPCs need another year or so before they become viable for blu ray playback.

The decision tree should include:
1. Do you want HD audio format support?
YES - buy a PS3 or other SA Blu Ray player
NO - next step in tree

... I know that during certain phases of the moon, with the right amount of garlic mixed with the right number of chickens feet it's possible to get an HTPC to give HD audio support with the right hardware in the mix and the right player software (dependent upon the disc) ... but I found it far to much time requirements in comparison to what can be done with alternatives such as a PS3.

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post #28 of 37 Old 09-21-2008, 03:33 PM
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As others have stated, if you just want to play Blu Ray, buy a stand-alone. It is much cheaper in the long-run, not to mention the potential hassle.

I built a HTPC in February. HD-DVD and Blu-Ray weren't even in my plans at that point. I built it with a E6750, 4 gigs of RAM and 2 500 GB hard drives. The mobo was an EVGA with onboard graphics, HDMI and Optical audio. It plays my music and video libraries, grants access to streaming content, records TV and serves it to 2 extenders and allows me to archive/watch my DVD collection. Does everything I wanted pretty flawlessly.

When the price of the LG hybrid drives got to $150, I bought one, bought a nVidia 8600 GT and bought ArcSoft TotalMedia Theater. That put me back for a total of about $350. There were a ton of "fire sales" on HD-DVDs and I quickly built-up a library of good titles ($250 for about 22 titles, some box sets)

Summary: I wanted an HTPC, built one with upgradeability in mind and it did everything I wanted at the time. Spent another chunk and I was in the HD game. It was worth it to me. Should you decide to go the HTPC route... here is only software I have installed (other than drivers of course):

Vista 32-bit
Arcsoft TotalMedia Theater
MyMovies
VMCNetflix
TVTonic
LifeExtender
AnyDVD

I found that my HDCP issues were solved by display drivers. Computer-->DVI to HDMI adapter-->HDMI cable to Sammy 61" DLP. My audio is optical from the computer to the receiver since I was a dumbass and bought the Onkyo TR505, which only supports pass through via HDMI. If I wasn't ripping movies, I wouldn't need AnyDVD.
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post #29 of 37 Old 09-21-2008, 04:19 PM
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The answer to your question changes with time. A year ago it would have been SA player for sure. Today, the answer is a little nebulous. Next year, HTPC will be solidly in the lead.

As with anything, time, new hardware and software will make the difference.

I will simply point out that you don't have to be interested in re-enconding BD to make use of your HTPC as a media server. It is quite convenient to rip to the HDD in the original BD format, and play back any movie from there without disc juggling.

I built a Blue HTPC a few months ago. I found that the software had just become good enough to work well. So I am quite happy with my HTPC decision versus stand-alone.

I would say if you aren't interested in the media server aspect of the HTPC there is little benefit versus stand-alone. But don't be fooled by all the naysayers. The vast majority of HTPC problems are pretty well worked out. The remaining bug is getting the full 24/96 HD audio out of the HTPC, and this is being resolved as we speak.

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post #30 of 37 Old 09-21-2008, 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted by mjfink View Post

The PS3 is the best (in many opinions) SA player out there, buy one of them and be done with it.

The PS3 is a great option UNLESS you don't have HDMI connections to your receiver / surround processor and TV because it doesn't have 5.1 or 7.1 analog audio outputs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lifespeed View Post

The answer to your question changes with time. A year ago it would have been SA player for sure. Today, the answer is a little nebulous. Next year, HTPC will be solidly in the lead.

Based on how frustrating it still is to get the software players (ArcSoft TMT, and PowerDVD - they both have problems) to work well, I'm not so sure that the answer is nebulous right now. Though I'm not convinced that a perfect SA player option exists yet. If the PS3 had 5.1 or 7.1 analog outputs, it might be that perfect player.

Yes, I'll eventually upgrade my surround processor (Lexicon MC-12B EQ running software version 5.0) and TV (Mitsubishi WS-65909 CRT RPTV) with new HDMI capable gear, but until I do, I need something with component video output and 5.1 analog audio output. I'm holding off to see what Lexicon comes up with for their next generation and waiting to see what happens with the 65" and larger TV market (hoping for a 65+" Kuro). For now I'm living with PowerDVD Ultra 7.3 and ArcSoft TMT, but not really happy with either.
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