Dell Zino HD - New mini HTPC - Page 84 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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Old 12-18-2009, 07:45 PM
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Hey all, trying to purchase a Zino for my parents, would REALLY appreciate any feedback/answers to my questions you can provide.

TV: Samsung 50" Plasma PN50B650
Sound: TV speakers for now, may upgrade to 2.1 eventually

Purchasing this Zino for parents, who want to do the following:

- Play 1080p MKVs
- Record Time Warner Digital Cable Standard/HD channels
- Play Hulu

Proposed Setup:

- Piano Black
- 6850e
- Win 7 Premium
- 3GB
- 4330
- Integrated 2.1 Sound
- Dell 1397 b/g wireless (plan to hardwire Ethernet though)


Questions:

1. Is the integrated 2.1 high definition audio sufficient or do I need to upgrade to the X-Fi option (+$25)?

2. Is 3GB of memory enough? It's (+$40) to upgrade to 4GB.

3. Is the 6850e CPU worth the (+$45) upgrade over the 3250e for what they'll be doing/outputting to?

4. Is the mkv for minimalists approach from hack7mc.com the best route to go for easy MKV support?

5. Is the HDHomerun the best option for a TV tuner to record TW Digital Cable HD with? I did a search on their site and don't see too many of the HD channels my parents get from TW Digital cable on there...looks to be mostly local channels. Is this all the HDHomerun would provide? Where does the whole CableCard come into play?

6. I saw folks like zamansimba showing Zinos with atom processors available. Wouldn't an atom be underpowered for Home Media use?

7. Anyone have an IR receiver recommendation?

8. Am I missing anything else? Any other considerations?
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Old 12-18-2009, 08:00 PM
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Originally Posted by IanCube View Post

Questions:

5. Is the HDHomerun the best option for a TV tuner to record TW Digital Cable HD with? I did a search on their site and don't see too many of the HD channels my parents get from TW Digital cable on there...looks to be mostly local channels. Is this all the HDHomerun would provide? Where does the whole CableCard come into play?

If you require CableCARDs, then the HDHomerun is not for you. It does not take CableCARDs - it's simply clear QAM and Over-the-air cable (aka ATSC).

clear QAM and/or ATSC should give the locals in HD - NBC, ABC, etc. It will NOT give you ESPN, TNT, or anything that's encrypted. It won't record the analog signals that your cable provider delivers either.

Happy owner of an HP PL-4260N that I won from HP in an online sweepstakes!
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Old 12-18-2009, 08:20 PM
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Thanks ewilts, so in order to get the full range of HD channels their Time Warner Digital Cable provides them, we need to go with a CableCard solution?

I read articles like "Normal People Can Now Install CableCARD Tuners On Windows 7 PCs" from Gizmodo, would I just need something like that?
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Old 12-18-2009, 08:26 PM
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More power data on mine here.
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Old 12-18-2009, 08:31 PM
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Originally Posted by JDz View Post

Btw I did install mpc-hc with haali and every one of my rips played with ha. Load averaged around 30%. I have the 6850/4330 rig with 4 gigs of ram. No stutters etc. Just wondering why pwrdvd won't work the same way

JDz,

How is the fan noise? Is it quiet, or can you hear it when it is under load.
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Old 12-18-2009, 08:35 PM
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LOL, I feel the exact same way (and you sound way more advanced than I am). I was frustrated at first but I realized I would not be returning it so I would give it my best shot. I have had the Zino for 5 days, of which I spent about 15 hours tweaking & 15 minutes enjoying. I think I had my expectations too high.

My main goal was to dump Comcast and save $125/month. It may just be a little longer before I make the move to cancel. But I think in the end it will be ok with the basics (play DVDs, QAM cable TV, Hulu, Netflix, Amazon VOD). I will know in a few days. I bought PlayOn, downloaded XMBC and I am signing up for the cheapest unlimited Netflix. I will try it all over the weekend and see what happens. I was also trying to figure out the ISO thing (I finally decided I may need to convert them all to another file format - big time investment). Oh, the other biggie, I need to make it easy enough to use where my wife doesn't need to push more the a couple of buttons to watch TV or a movie.

It sounds like everyone has a different idea of what they want an HTPC to do. Maybe it's too much. I dream of a world where I order and HTPC, plug it in and it does everything. Thankfully the Zino is priced low enough (with deals) that I think I can get my money's worth out of it no matter what I end up doing with it.

Don't over complicate it. Get to know your HTPC before you wander off into uncharted territory.

I see this all too often. You start reading about things you can do with it once you install this application or this codec, etc. etc. etc. Then people get completely lost, things don't work to their expectation and they blame the HTPC experience saying it is not simple enough.

NONE of that is required to just enjoy an HTPC. Stop trying to do everything you see everyone talking about. Take time to just use default media center functionality first.

All that other stuff can come later once you are more familiar with these different applications.

The HTPC can be a VERY SIMPLE platform to enjoy and it has great functionality out of the box.

Window's media center is perfectly capable of streaming your music, photos, working as a DVR, streaming content from the web when you use it as is.

On my bedroom HTPC, I only have Win 7/media center loaded, Hulu's DT application and Arcsoft's TMT (for blu ray playback). I did update the flash 10.1 beta and the ccc 9.11 drivers as part of the initial set up but that is it. No codec packs, no misc. s/w applications, it is a very simple and minimalist load.

All the movies, music, etc. all sit on my main HTPC. It too is a very simple load and not much more than what is on the Bedroom HTPC. The other stuff I have on that box is AnyDVD for ripping movies to the HDD, 2 x TV Tuners for recording OTA TV, and My Movies for organizing the movie collection.

Between the 2 boxes, I can stream movies, music, photos, TV and everything on the main HTPC to any other PC or HTPC in the house.

There was not a ton of tweaking required, no lengthy set up, very little maintenance, etc.

I believe in the KISS principle, it makes life very easy.

I have no issues with anyone that wants to tweak their boxes to run alternative OS's or GUIs, no issues with adding codecs, etc. but NONE of it is required to enjoy a HTPC experience.

Geez, my wife and kids use our daily, I have to keep it simple and reliable. Down HTPC time makes for a very unhappy household.

When you are first learning to snow ski, you don't go to the top of the mountain and try to tackle the double black diamond runs, that is just asking for trouble.

Regards.
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Old 12-18-2009, 08:43 PM
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Originally Posted by andyd2k View Post

And the bluray disc is pretty hot when removing it from the drive. I'm not sure what to expect here. When playing in my ps3, it's not a prob. Within minutes in this pc it's pretty warm to the touch

The HDD does get very warm, which in turn heats up the ODD. However, I have not seen any issues with playback because of it.

On the other hand, I have had issues with some BD playback on my main HTPC due to Disc/ODD drive incompatability.

I had 2 HTPCs in the house, one with a Pioneer BD drive, the other with an LG drive. I have had cases (on more than 1 occasion) where a movie will play correctly on the LG drive but not on the Pioneer drive. It has forced me to go and find f/w updates for the Pio drive so that it would properly play a BD disc. The issue you are seeing may be an issue with the BD drive in the Zino and not an issue with the entire system per se. It has happened on about 3-4 movies over the past year. Most of the time it was with the Pio drive, but I did have one movie that would not play on the LG drive until I updated f/w.

Just something to think about.

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Old 12-18-2009, 08:44 PM
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Originally Posted by andyd2k View Post

Ok not good - while Star Trek played perfectly I'm getting the exact opposite with Hangover. Anyone here also have Hangover on bluray and have tried playing it? It keeps skipping randomly

Specs

6850
4330
3gb RAM
Win 7 Home Premium

Another weird thing is that I notice when Powerdvd is being used that it disables Aero or whatever its called in Windows 7

EDIT - I'm installing Total Media Center to see if that helps. The disc is fine as it plays back ok on my ps3

So as it is right now, this has to be because of hardware limitations. I just installed TotalMedia on both my main pc and on the Zino...Hangover

Main pc - no stuttering at all
Zino - stutters to the point that I can't watch it

What doesn't make sense is that Star Trek and Dark Knight seem to play just fine. I'm really confused at this point but if I can't address this quickly I will probably call and complain till I get a full refund. While it may stream perfectly, it doesn't seem to handle all blurays well enough. Doesn't matter if it's powerdvd or TotalMedia - pretty much similar results
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Old 12-18-2009, 08:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Java Jack View Post

The HDD does get very warm, which in turn heats up the ODD. However, I have not seen any issues with playback because of it.

On the other hand, I have had issues with some BD playback on my main HTPC due to Disc/ODD drive incompatability.

I had 2 HTPCs in the house, one with a Pioneer BD drive, the other with an LG drive. I have had cases (on more than 1 occasion) where a movie will play correctly on the LG drive but not on the Pioneer drive. It has forced me to go and find f/w updates for the Pio drive so that it would properly play a BD disc. The issue you are seeing may be an issue with the BD drive in the Zino and not an issue with the entire system per se. It has happened on about 3-4 movies over the past year. Most of the time it was with the Pio drive, but I did have one movie that would not play on the LG drive until I updated f/w.

Just something to think about.

Ok thanks Jack! I guess the question is then whether there are firmware updates for the drive? I'll have to check when I get home
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Old 12-18-2009, 08:46 PM
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Originally Posted by andyd2k View Post

Ok not good - while Star Trek played perfectly I'm getting the exact opposite with Hangover. Anyone here also have Hangover on bluray and have tried playing it? It keeps skipping randomly

Specs

6850
4330
3gb RAM
Win 7 Home Premium

Another weird thing is that I notice when Powerdvd is being used that it disables Aero or whatever its called in Windows 7

EDIT - I'm installing Total Media Center to see if that helps. The disc is fine as it plays back ok on my ps3

There is a statement I read not to long ago that some BD's will not play on all Blu-Ray players. I did have luck though with trying different codecs. In other words, some codecs work well with different combinations of hardware so it seems. You just have to find the right codecs for your combination and once you get it right.... don't touch it.
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Old 12-18-2009, 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by andyd2k View Post

Ok thanks Jack! I guess the question is then whether there are firmware updates for the drive? I'll have to check when I get home

And to put some context to it, I go through about 2-4 movies a week. I have Blockbuster Online (similar to netflix) where I get 2 movies out at a time and then unlimited in store exchanges (take the 2 mailed movies and exchange them at a BB store, then BB online mails me 2 more). Furthermore, my daughter just started working at hollywood video and brings home 3 or so movies a couple times a week (though, I generally don't care for most of her selections).

Therefore, the problem has only shown up a total of 3-4 times out of the hundreds of movies we have got over the past year.

And for the record, no, I am not ripping the rentals to my collection. I do use the rentals to pick out movies I want to buy and then add those to the collection though.

Regards.
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Old 12-18-2009, 08:56 PM
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Originally Posted by IanCube View Post

Thanks ewilts, so in order to get the full range of HD channels their Time Warner Digital Cable provides them, we need to go with a CableCard solution?

I read articles like "Normal People Can Now Install CableCARD Tuners On Windows 7 PCs" from Gizmodo, would I just need something like that?

My understanding from reading about the CableCard, was that it is linked to a CableReady computer. In other words, there is a code on the cable ready computer that you have to type in when setting up the cablecard, so they can talk to each other. Then there is a chip you get from your cablecompany to put in the cablecard, which is like $10 a month to use it, and then it replaces the cable box you have now that you of course pay $5 a month for a regular box and $10 a month for a HD box.

I believe it goes something like that. Dell use to sell an XPS cable ready computer but stopped and it all fell through the floor. I don't know if there bringing it back and maybe you don't need a cable ready computer anymore, but the deal between microsoft and the cable companies was still that you would have to get the cable chip from your cable company, and then of course you could use your computer as a DVR so to speak.
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Old 12-18-2009, 08:57 PM
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Originally Posted by rjwilson37 View Post

There is a statement I read not to long ago that some BD's will not play on all Blu-Ray players. I did have luck though with trying different codecs. In other words, some codecs work well with different combinations of hardware so it seems. You just have to find the right codecs for your combination and once you get it right.... don't touch it.

But codecs should not affect bluray playback? It should only be dependent on the software and drive
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Old 12-18-2009, 09:07 PM
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My understanding from reading about the CableCard, was that it is linked to a CableReady computer. In other words, there is a code on the cable ready computer that you have to type in when setting up the cablecard, so they can talk to each other. Then there is a chip you get from your cablecompany to put in the cablecard, which is like $10 a month to use it, and then it replaces the cable box you have now that you of course pay $5 a month for a regular box and $10 a month for a HD box.

I believe it goes something like that. Dell use to sell an XPS cable ready computer but stopped and it all fell through the floor. I don't know if there bringing it back and maybe you don't need a cable ready computer anymore, but the deal between microsoft and the cable companies was still that you would have to get the cable chip from your cable company, and then of course you could use your computer as a DVR so to speak.

The entire world around cablecard has changed in the past couple of months. DCT (Digital Cable Tuners), aka Cable Card Tuners, aka OCUR Tuners, etc. were previously only in the domain of the preconfigured cable card ready systems from OEM manufacuturers. The reasons why could be debated for years so I will not dive into that now.

However, at CEDIA (Sept. of this year), MS announced that they struck a deal with cable labs and now DIY cable card systems are a reality.

Basically, you would need a DCT, Win 7 Home Premium and a PC. You would also need to request a cable card from your cable MSO. You would "pair" the cable card with the DCT and your PC. This would essentially marry the cable card to that specific PC so that the card could not be randomly used on any tuner or PC in the house.

The PC then becomes your cable STB, eliminating the need for a cable co provided STB.

All your subscribed channels would now be available via your PC (it would show up in the 7MC EPG and everything). You could DVR content (some restrictions but for the most part just about everything would work), stream content (again some restrictions), etc. all from your PC (or HTPC).

You would have to rent the cable card for a nominal fee, but it is typically less than the rental fee for cable co STBs.

Regards.
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Old 12-18-2009, 09:20 PM
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The HTPC for making and playing HD MKV, or ISO files seems to be another big expense. You need to purches CloneCD to make an ISO, of course making the ISO takes an hour or so. Then you need the free VirtualCloneDrive software to mount the ISO and then you need the purchased PowerDVD Ultra version which will play ISO files. But... there is a last piece of running AnyDVD HD which is another purchased product in the back ground, so while watching the movie it can get past the copywrite encription. So a $15 dollar BD that you don't want to purchase, you spend $200 dollars on software and at least an hour of your time for each one you rent from Netflix, so you can have it when ever you want to watch. Which most likely, about 95% of us purchase our favorite movies anyway and really never watch all those recordings, but have them just in case. I have like a misc 50 movies in my WMC7 library that I have recorded over the past year and a half. These are like good.. good... favorite types of movies that I don't have on DVD. Do I watch them. Not really... But you never know when I might want to. Crap... I still have 100 movies from my NetFlix queue to watch first.

You really have to be into the deep bowels of this hobbie of making your own MKV's or just doing the easier ISO thing to get a lot out of it. ( in other words... it is fun for you to do this. )

If I really want to watch a movie again, I just put it on my Netflix queue and move it to the top, which is at about 100 movies in it right now that I mentioned above. Who has time to watch all the Netflix 100 movies in your queue, let alone making the MKV's or ISO's. ( again... this is your hobbie or thing you like to do. )

I just want my HTPC to record my televison shows that I can't be there to watch, and maybe a few movies here and there from my cable channels, that I of course can't be there to watch. I want my HTPC to play DVD's and BD's that I get from NetFlix, where I use cucusoft to burn some here and there to MP4's that I can put on PSP's and Ipod's. This is so when I am traveling, I can watch a movie on my PSP during the plane ride. I can have a couple other movies on my PSP as well, to put on the Hotel room TV through a composite cable. Plus, I like the instant watch movies on NetFlix, which play through Windows 7 in pretty close to DVD quality, as well as a 480p or 720p movie or TV show from Hulu. I also like the fact that if work calls or one of my systems text's me with a problem, I can jump on really quick and use RemoteDesktop to get to my work computer and take care of some business really quick without leaving the couch. Another good thing is that if someone being Mother/Father/Daughter/Son, Relative or Friend calls me and asks me a question about something they want to buy, I can pull it up on the internet and say yea or nea if it is a good deal. There is also the ITunes library on this system with all of the household music to listen to or move to and from IPod's. Plus the TV card has an FM tuner to get the local favorite radio stations.

All the stuff I want happens pretty easily on an HTPC system, the Zino being nice and small will work well, especially compared to my current Mini Tower, which is not really mini at all in my mind. I may be doing more with it in the future, but will wait for pretty much one piece of software to make a HD movie file, that can also watch it in HD without a million codecs or hours of work.
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Old 12-18-2009, 09:30 PM
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Thanks for the comments on CableCard, sounds like that is definitely the route to go to ensure they are able to DVR all their Time Warner Digital Cable channels through the PC.

Can anyone else address the other questions I posted earlier? Trying to get this Zino ordered tonight...
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Old 12-18-2009, 09:30 PM
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Thanks for that CableCard info JJ. I figured that would happen sometime, but thought it was still a year or so off.

I signed a deal with the cable company about 3 months ago for a 2 year contract so my price doesn't change. I can add things here and there, but my base price for the Extended Cable service, boxes and the line backer service does not change. I am kind of married to my cable company, because we have nothing else as a choice where I live for HS Internet, Cable Phone, and Digital Cable. Everything is long distance from where I live and the Cell phones reception kind of comes and goes, so your best bet for a phone call is AT&T or Cable Phone.

So basically... I may be getting a cable card option within a year for my Zino HD.
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Old 12-18-2009, 09:31 PM
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Now I'm noticing that even 720p files that average about 8Mb/sec have the same random slow down/stuttering every 10-15 seconds or so. Reinstalling the driver and messing around with the 1520 configuration settings does nothing to fix it. Ridiculous.

Update: I'm not sure why but after upgrading to ccc 9.12, the random stuttering issues while streaming HD files with the 1520 card are now gone. However, when streaming my cable card HD recordings, I have noticed that overlay animations in mc7 are not as silky smooth as they were with the previous version of ccc which came from dell. Nothing serious but noticeable. This is with the 6850e, HD4330, and ccc 9.12.
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Old 12-18-2009, 09:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Java Jack View Post

Don't over complicate it. Get to know your HTPC before you wander off into uncharted territory.

I see this all too often. You start reading about things you can do with it once you install this application or this codec, etc. etc. etc. Then people get completely lost, things don't work to their expectation and they blame the HTPC experience saying it is not simple enough.

NONE of that is required to just enjoy an HTPC. Stop trying to do everything you see everyone talking about. Take time to just use default media center functionality first.

All that other stuff can come later once you are more familiar with these different applications.

The HTPC can be a VERY SIMPLE platform to enjoy and it has great functionality out of the box.

Window's media center is perfectly capable of streaming your music, photos, working as a DVR, streaming content from the web when you use it as is.

On my bedroom HTPC, I only have Win 7/media center loaded, Hulu's DT application and Arcsoft's TMT (for blu ray playback). I did update the flash 10.1 beta and the ccc 9.11 drivers as part of the initial set up but that is it. No codec packs, no misc. s/w applications, it is a very simple and minimalist load.

All the movies, music, etc. all sit on my main HTPC. It too is a very simple load and not much more than what is on the Bedroom HTPC. The other stuff I have on that box is AnyDVD for ripping movies to the HDD, 2 x TV Tuners for recording OTA TV, and My Movies for organizing the movie collection.

Between the 2 boxes, I can stream movies, music, photos, TV and everything on the main HTPC to any other PC or HTPC in the house.

There was not a ton of tweaking required, no lengthy set up, very little maintenance, etc.

I believe in the KISS principle, it makes life very easy.

I have no issues with anyone that wants to tweak their boxes to run alternative OS's or GUIs, no issues with adding codecs, etc. but NONE of it is required to enjoy a HTPC experience.

Geez, my wife and kids use our daily, I have to keep it simple and reliable. Down HTPC time makes for a very unhappy household.

When you are first learning to snow ski, you don't go to the top of the mountain and try to tackle the double black diamond runs, that is just asking for trouble.

Well JJ, I'll speak for myself and say I think you're right. I've tackled all the other devices in the same way...walk before you run...and I always give others that advice when I'm helping them; I need to heed it myself in this case. Now is a tough time of year to try and tackle something new, and labor-intensive such as this...but there's no rush. I think I'm going to hang in there and just try to take one step at a time. Hope to see you over in the noobie thread

CD

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Old 12-18-2009, 09:53 PM
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When you are first learning to snow ski, you don't go to the top of the mountain and try to tackle the double black diamond runs, that is just asking for trouble.

OK, I think I see what you are saying...to my current tweak to do list I need to add: Hulu Desktop, a bluray player, Arcsoft's TMT, AnyDVD, Dual tuners and My Movies. My weekend just got busier!!!! I use my AppleTV for music & photos, so that should save some time.
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Old 12-18-2009, 10:09 PM
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Originally Posted by AlexNC View Post

JDz,

How is the fan noise? Is it quiet, or can you hear it when it is under load.

The little bit I have played it the fan spun up a few times quite loud but most of the time it was very quite imo. I am by no means an expert but my PS3 is terribly loud (can hear it 15' away easily).
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Old 12-18-2009, 10:15 PM
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Going to try and hook it up to my Samsung 52 inch and see what it does.
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Old 12-18-2009, 10:25 PM
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Is there any agreement on which usb sound card is best? I read the SIIG / Turtle Beach posts further back but was wondering if anyone had any thoughts now that we got our zinos. Since I have a denon 4802 and my plasma says it outputs 2 channel stereo I would like something that can output at least 5.1 (or the matrixed forms of 7.1 since that's all mt receiver will do). This would be for downloaded blueray content. Thanks
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Old 12-18-2009, 10:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Java Jack View Post

Don't over complicate it. Get to know your HTPC before you wander off into uncharted territory.

I see this all too often. You start reading about things you can do with it once you install this application or this codec, etc. etc. etc. Then people get completely lost, things don't work to their expectation and they blame the HTPC experience saying it is not simple enough.

NONE of that is required to just enjoy an HTPC. Stop trying to do everything you see everyone talking about. Take time to just use default media center functionality first.

All that other stuff can come later once you are more familiar with these different applications.

The HTPC can be a VERY SIMPLE platform to enjoy and it has great functionality out of the box.

Window's media center is perfectly capable of streaming your music, photos, working as a DVR, streaming content from the web when you use it as is.

On my bedroom HTPC, I only have Win 7/media center loaded, Hulu's DT application and Arcsoft's TMT (for blu ray playback). I did update the flash 10.1 beta and the ccc 9.11 drivers as part of the initial set up but that is it. No codec packs, no misc. s/w applications, it is a very simple and minimalist load.

All the movies, music, etc. all sit on my main HTPC. It too is a very simple load and not much more than what is on the Bedroom HTPC. The other stuff I have on that box is AnyDVD for ripping movies to the HDD, 2 x TV Tuners for recording OTA TV, and My Movies for organizing the movie collection.

Between the 2 boxes, I can stream movies, music, photos, TV and everything on the main HTPC to any other PC or HTPC in the house.

There was not a ton of tweaking required, no lengthy set up, very little maintenance, etc.

I believe in the KISS principle, it makes life very easy.

I have no issues with anyone that wants to tweak their boxes to run alternative OS's or GUIs, no issues with adding codecs, etc. but NONE of it is required to enjoy a HTPC experience.

Geez, my wife and kids use our daily, I have to keep it simple and reliable. Down HTPC time makes for a very unhappy household.

When you are first learning to snow ski, you don't go to the top of the mountain and try to tackle the double black diamond runs, that is just asking for trouble.

Amen, JJ. It seems some people who say they are relatively new to HTPCs are getting very confused and frustrated with their Zinos, because they thought it would do a whole lot of things right out of the box. Most people need to remember that it is just a computer, and that most of the features it has can also be found on other PCs or laptops that aren't marketed as HTPCs. The Zino is small, cute, quiet, and doesn't cost a lot, but it doesn't do anything that special in regards to being a part of a home media center.

If you want to do as me and my family did, and ditch subscription TV, then the Zino offers some great basic options that don't require hours of set up. There are the numerous online streaming sites, Netflix, iTunes, Amazon and others for movies (online and downloads), add a TV tuner and you will be able to get all of the HD over-the-air channels in your area for free with a set of rabbit ears or the old-fashioned outdoor aerial on the roof/in the attic (I live in the SF Bay Area, and there are approximately 50 channels available) and you can record those programs with either WMC or the PVR software that comes with most tuners. For a great source for online streaming sites, use Mike Panic's list: http://www.randomn3ss.com/the-comple...d-movies-from/.
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Old 12-18-2009, 10:47 PM
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My entire blog series is pretty much dedicated to the novice HTPC users.

I try to explain what an HTPC is, what you can do with it, additional h/w that might be useful (keyboards, remotes, etc.), where to find online content, plug in applications to add more functionality yet still remain in the 10' environment, etc.

I explain how I ditched paid tv service and how my family adjusted to the new source of TV.

You might want to go back and view a few of those blogs, they do provide an overview.

An HTPC does NOT need to be complex to be enjoyable. Now, for many it is a hobby just like fixing up cars. Lot's of tweaks you can do if you really want, but no where near necessary if it gets you from point a to point b.

Here are a few in particular that might be worth checking out.

HTPC overview
http://links.amd.com/HTPC1
http://links.amd.com/HTPC2

Online Content sources
http://links.amd.com/OnlineVideo

Plug In applications for Media Center
http://links.amd.com/PlugIn

How I cut the cord
http://links.amd.com/Cordless

My Move to All In
http://links.amd.com/AllIn

Regards.
Java

There are 10 types of people in the world, those that understand binary, and those that don't.

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Old 12-18-2009, 10:54 PM
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Hello Jack thanks for your post, now that I see your blog again I remember that it was what got me interested in the zino to replace my old p4 HTPC. Do you have any suggestions for a usb sound card? Thanks, Jack
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Old 12-18-2009, 11:00 PM
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Too many Jacks.... !!
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Old 12-18-2009, 11:00 PM
 
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If it were me, I would pull it apart a bit and make sure the heatsink is properly seated and screwed down all the way (until the screws stop).

It's unlikely that the CPU's normal idle temp would be 60+ if the heatsink were properly interfaced to the CPU.

The other possiblility is a bad fan and it is not moving enough air across the heatpipe fins.

I would be less concerned about what temp it is reaching under load at the moment and more about what temps are at idle.

It is the high idle temp that is suggesting there is an issue, not the high work load temp.

My guess is that if you figure out the idle temp, you will solve the work load temp issue.

Now, as mentioned, it seems to me to be either the heatsink is not seated or a bad fan.

If heatsink is not seated, the CPU is going to run hotter, the fan is going to spin like crazy trying to cool it back down but it can't because the heatpipe is not drawing the heat out so the fan can cool it down.

If the fan is bad, then it is not spinning correctly (bad bearing or whatever) and making a loud noise and not moving enough air across the heat pipe fins. Therefore, CPU runs hot and the fan keeps trying to spin faster but can't due to a bad bearing or whatever.

Those are the 2 most likely scenarios that I would guess.

As mentioned, no 2 CPUs are going to behave exactly the same, but it is very doubtful you would have 1 CPU that operates at 30C normally and another that operates at 60C normally in the same design.

So if it were mine, I would start with the heatpipe. I think someone else here mentioned that their GPU was overheating due to loose screws not securing the GPU heatpipe fully. It may be something similar with the CPU heatpipe.

Ok, so I opened up my unit and checked all screws. Everything seems tight. There's one heatsink on the system board, which is mounted with two plastic head, spring loaded type screws. Anyone know what that is? Southbridge type chip? In any case, they are loose, and I see no way to tighten them.

Second thing I noticed is that the GPU heat pipe is sort of hanging in air next to the GPU fan. I can push down on it to make it touch the board. Is is supposed to be like this?

Finally, I put humpty dumpty back together, booted and lo and behold, coretemp reported idle temp at 33 deg C ! First time I saw that. Fan was fairly silent as well. I was elated, and figured I've fixed something unknowingly.

Well, unfortunately, after about 15 to 20 minutes, I am back to where I started. Coretemp is back in the 50s at idle, spiking to 70s under load.

I must say, though, that the build quality on this thing doesnt inspire confidence. The black plastic case is very flimsy, especially around the lips near the optical drive, for example. The bottom cover only has two screws, the other two just sort of hang in air.

I am debating whether to just return it to Dell, ask for a replacement, or just try a Dell Studio Slim in exchange. How loud do those get?
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Old 12-18-2009, 11:07 PM
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The HTPC for making and playing HD MKV, or ISO files seems to be another big expense. You need to purches CloneCD to make an ISO, of course making the ISO takes an hour or so. Then you need the free VirtualCloneDrive software to mount the ISO and then you need the purchased PowerDVD Ultra version which will play ISO files. But... there is a last piece of running AnyDVD HD which is another purchased product in the back ground, so while watching the movie it can get past the copywrite encription. So a $15 dollar BD that you don't want to purchase, you spend $200 dollars on software and at least an hour of your time for each one you rent from Netflix, so you can have it when ever you want to watch. Which most likely, about 95% of us purchase our favorite movies anyway and really never watch all those recordings, but have them just in case. I have like a misc 50 movies in my WMC7 library that I have recorded over the past year and a half. These are like good.. good... favorite types of movies that I don't have on DVD. Do I watch them. Not really... But you never know when I might want to. Crap... I still have 100 movies from my NetFlix queue to watch first.

You really have to be into the deep bowels of this hobbie of making your own MKV's or just doing the easier ISO thing to get a lot out of it. ( in other words... it is fun for you to do this. )

If I really want to watch a movie again, I just put it on my Netflix queue and move it to the top, which is at about 100 movies in it right now that I mentioned above. Who has time to watch all the Netflix 100 movies in your queue, let alone making the MKV's or ISO's. ( again... this is your hobbie or thing you like to do. )

I just want my HTPC to record my televison shows that I can't be there to watch, and maybe a few movies here and there from my cable channels, that I of course can't be there to watch. I want my HTPC to play DVD's and BD's that I get from NetFlix, where I use cucusoft to burn some here and there to MP4's that I can put on PSP's and Ipod's. This is so when I am traveling, I can watch a movie on my PSP during the plane ride. I can have a couple other movies on my PSP as well, to put on the Hotel room TV through a composite cable. Plus, I like the instant watch movies on NetFlix, which play through Windows 7 in pretty close to DVD quality, as well as a 480p or 720p movie or TV show from Hulu. I also like the fact that if work calls or one of my systems text's me with a problem, I can jump on really quick and use RemotePC to get to my work computer and take care of some business really quick without leaving the couch. Another good thing is that if someone being Mother/Father/Daughter/Son, Relative or Friend calls me and asks me a question about something they want to buy, I can pull it up on the internet and say yea or nea if it is a good deal. There is also the ITunes library on this system with all of the household music to listen to or move to and from IPod's. Plus the TV card has an FM tuner to get the local favorite radio stations.

All the stuff I want happens pretty easily on an HTPC system, the Zino being nice and small will work well, especially compared to my current Mini Tower, which is not really mini at all in my mind. I may be doing more with it in the future, but will wait for pretty much one piece of software to make a HD movie file, that can also watch it in HD without a million codecs or hours of work.

I personally just use AnyDVD and My Movies. 1 button to rip the movie to the HDD in VOB folders. My Movies will auto add it to the library. It only takes about 20 mins or so per movie on my quad core HTPC. Arcsoft TMT can play it back without issue from inside Media Center. I can stream them over the network to the Zino and playback with TMT there, no problem. It all just works.

I don't bother ripping BDs, only DVDs. DVDs only take up about 5GB per movie and look really good on a 50" plasma. BD's would take up too much space. Sure, you can covert/compress them into MKVs, but that is entirely too much work. The entire process is quite simple.

Once I have seen the movie on BD, if I like it, I buy the DVD and rip to the drive. If I really like it and must have the BD quality, then buy the BD.

I don't re-watch all that many movies so it is no big deal to pop in a BD if I really feel the need.

Regards.
Java

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Old 12-18-2009, 11:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scsnospam View Post

Ok, so I opened up my unit and checked all screws. Everything seems tight. There's one heatsink on the system board, which is mounted with two plastic head, spring loaded type screws. Anyone know what that is? Southbridge type chip? In any case, they are loose, and I see no way to tighten them.

Second thing I noticed is that the GPU heat pipe is sort of hanging in air next to the GPU fan. I can push down on it to make it touch the board. Is is supposed to be like this?

Finally, I put humpty dumpty back together, booted and lo and behold, coretemp reported idle temp at 33 deg C ! First time I saw that. Fan was fairly silent as well. I was elated, and figured I've fixed something unknowingly.

Well, unfortunately, after about 15 to 20 minutes, I am back to where I started. Coretemp is back in the 50s at idle, spiking to 70s under load.

I must say, though, that the build quality on this thing doesnt inspire confidence. The black plastic case is very flimsy, especially around the lips near the optical drive, for example. The bottom cover only has two screws, the other two just sort of hang in air.

I am debating whether to just return it to Dell, ask for a replacement, or just try a Dell Studio Slim in exchange. How loud do those get?

It seems you just confirmed that there is a bad interface somewhere. If it worked correctly for about 15 mins then something is popping loose.

If I am understanding you correctly, you should not be able to push down on the heat pipe and make it touch the board. Once it is screwed down, it should be pretty solid. There should be 4 screws holding it down to the CPU. There should not be any slack that would allow you to push on it elsewhere and make it move.

Regards.
Java

There are 10 types of people in the world, those that understand binary, and those that don't.

AMD@Home Blog: http://links.amd.com/Home
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