HTPC Golden Age? Reducing Component Count - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 186 Old 07-09-2010, 03:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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A few years ago I chucked my CD player after I stored my purchased 30,000 songs on a 750G drive.
Last year I chucked my stand-alone DVD player as I stored my purchased 500 DVDs on a 3TB of storage.
I got tired of the of cable commercials and ratings based techniques (masquerading as news) and chucked the cable box.
Now I've just chucked the stand-alone Blu-ray player!

In return I've just succeeded in reduced my source component count to one!

Now I use a small, quiet, low-power High Definition HTPC system consisting of a Gateway SX2840 Intel i3 upgraded with an internal blu-ray player, and a ATI HD5770 video card. A separate HDHomeRun dual tuner integrated with Windows Media Center 7 streams video to any PC in the house. WMC 7 is also a subscription free DVR. Disc playback is with Power Dvd 10 Ultra 3D combined with the ATI GPU solution, which I find superior to any stand-alone player ( I own the Oppo too). Add in a wireless keyboard/mouse and a hand-held WMC remote and you are good to go!

The bottom line is the component count has been reduced to just one. No need to even switch between HDMI sources anymore. Free unlimited Internet access with no dependencies waiting upon (the short-comings and control) any one company.

A vision become reality!
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post #2 of 186 Old 07-09-2010, 04:55 AM
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Welcome to 5 years ago.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HiFiFun View Post

Free unlimited Internet access with no dependencies waiting upon (the short-comings and control) any one company.

So how did you get your HTPC to just magically plug into the internet on its own? I'd like to get rid of my monthly DSL bill too...

-Suntan
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post #3 of 186 Old 07-09-2010, 05:31 AM
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We too are down to one component, HTPC with OTA is awsome.
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post #4 of 186 Old 07-09-2010, 06:36 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suntan View Post

Welcome to 5 years ago.



So how did you get your HTPC to just magically plug into the internet on its own? I'd like to get rid of my monthly DSL bill too...

-Suntan

Steal from his neighbors?
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post #5 of 186 Old 07-09-2010, 06:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Suntan View Post

Welcome to 5 years ago.

lol

I'm down to one component too, except for the old VCR for the few VHS tapes I like to watch.

One question for the OP: why have a gaming video card when the i3 can handle the A/V duties just fine?
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post #6 of 186 Old 07-09-2010, 06:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiFiFun View Post

Free unlimited Internet access with no dependencies waiting upon (the short-comings and control) any one company.

i want free internet, too
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post #7 of 186 Old 07-09-2010, 08:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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The Intel built-in HD chipset stumbles badly with integration of the HDMI video and audio. While one pc monitor and dvd playback may be adequete, having a two 1080p displays and Blu-ray is simply asking too much.

I already have essential Internet access so dropping all those subscriptions and proprietary gear saves $$$. Everyone needs to ask why are they paying for saturation levels of commercials? It must be conditioning?

I've tried HTPC many times in the past with mediocre success. (There has been much misery in this forum too).
But now each of the hardware and software components mentioned have reached the maturity point to where they are ready for general public use.

Again one small, quiet, low-power yet powerful High Definition HTPC is all you need. I also have a Acer 3610 nettop which (is not powerful) is fine for a dual HDTV DVR. But it is not well suited for Blu-ray image processing or even crappy VHS Hulu.

It was expected that advertising this low-cost fuss-free configuration will lead to controversy, as it eliminates them from the food chain. I'm not claiming to be Al Gore (but I like massages too!), but simply noting the high degree of integration realized.

The consumer vs industry war still goes on as Gateway already removed already removed several features (eSata, SPD/IF and memory) from the nicely equipped SX2840 and replaced it with the 2850. Too much of a good thing?

Then Power Dvd automatically intalls to connect you to the Internet for advertising too. Further Blu-ray Live is just advertising as the excellent article in Home Theater Magazine documents.

The point of this thread is consumers can finally use DIGITAL technology to improve their lifestyle by regaining control of time, budget, convience and be of clearer mind. Hopfully the established publications will pick up on these posts!
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post #8 of 186 Old 07-09-2010, 08:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suntan View Post

So how did you get your HTPC to just magically plug into the internet on its own? I'd like to get rid of my monthly DSL bill too...

Quote:
Originally Posted by cybrsage View Post

Steal from his neighbors?

Quote:
Originally Posted by k2lounge View Post

i want free internet, too

I'll jump on the bandwagon. Please explain your Internet connection situation.
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post #9 of 186 Old 07-09-2010, 08:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiFiFun View Post

I already have essential Internet access so dropping all those subscriptions and proprietary gear saves $$$. Everyone needs to ask why are they paying for saturation levels of commercials? It must be conditioning?

Yes or no, do you pay money for that “essential internet access?” That was what we were joking at. We already know you don’t need a cable bill to watch TV.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HiFiFun View Post

It was expected that advertising this low-cost fuss-free configuration will lead to controversy, as it eliminates them from the food chain.

I'm going to go out on a limb and make a guess that nobody responding to your post works for Cyberlink, or Comcast, or anything like that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HiFiFun View Post

The point of this thread is consumers can finally use DIGITAL technology to improve their lifestyle by regaining control of time, budget, convience and be of clearer mind. Hopfully the established publications will pick up on these posts!

The point of a couple of the responses (at least mine for sure) was that a person could do this years ago. The fact that *you* have finally gotten it to work at acceptable levels has little bearing on the fact that it has been doable for some time.

One last thing, “be of clearer mind?” ...we are still talking about flopping down on the couch and watching TV right?

-Suntan
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post #10 of 186 Old 07-09-2010, 08:58 AM
 
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The integration of all the different parts into one machine was my goal. To be usable, though, this one machine had to be upgradable.

HTIBs have made all in one devices for some time...but they sucked and could not be upgraded. My HTPC was upgraded from a DVD player to a BR player easily enough.

I like the "one remote to rule them all" feature of WMC as well. Easy remote (Microsoft MCE Remote) turns on my TV and operates all the features of the HTPC (except Internet access, which I rarely do). HDMI-CEC has the TV turn on and off the AVR. Volume controls the AVR. Nothing could be sweeter.

Well, almost sweeter. CableCard to the HTPC is about to be my reality once the Ceton tuner arrives. Wife cannot live without her FoodTV, and I jones for my Syfy.


EDIT: Disclaimer, I do work for Verizon, but not in any of their entertainment or phone divisions.
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post #11 of 186 Old 07-09-2010, 10:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cybrsage View Post

The integration of all the different parts into one machine was my goal. To be usable, though, this one machine had to be upgradable.

HTIBs have made all in one devices for some time...but they sucked and could not be upgraded. My HTPC was upgraded from a DVD player to a BR player easily enough.

I like the "one remote to rule them all" feature of WMC as well. Easy remote (Microsoft MCE Remote) turns on my TV and operates all the features of the HTPC (except Internet access, which I rarely do). HDMI-CEC has the TV turn on and off the AVR. Volume controls the AVR. Nothing could be sweeter.

Although going OT here, I have spent the last evening or two pulling the HTPC *out* of the livingroom setup, for mostly the same reasons.

Years back (think GF4 ti 4200) I started with my media PC being my PC in the den that had a hookup to composite connection in the livingroom. It was a general purpose PC that was also used for DVD rip playback. It was a bit of a PITA to control everything and be able to switch between desktop use and remote control use reliably, but it got the job done.

Ever since then, I was of the firm belief that a dedicated PC that was just for HT work (no general purpose use being done on a secondary screen) was a must. Now I'm coming full circle, I'm pulling out the dedicated PC and the HTPC duties will be handled by my general purpose PC in my den, with a media extender replacing it in the livingroom.

With the right extender and a quality universal remote, I can do all the things you point out, except I can also have remote control access to all of my online streaming stuff too (mostly Netflix on demand, then PBS.org, then hulu.)

I guess that's part of the reason I found the initial post kind of funny. HTPCs have been able to do these things for so long, a good deal of people are already moving past thinking of them as a single box that does everything.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cybrsage View Post

EDIT: Disclaimer, I do work for Verizon, but not in any of their entertainment or phone divisions.

Ah, so you're part of the covert NSA branch at Verizon that just spends their days listening to our phone calls...

-Suntan
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post #12 of 186 Old 07-09-2010, 01:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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You would be surprised how many industry pundits are around here and place like Amazon. Do you know why TIVO is no longer being hosted at AVS? Was the steering too much? Did they attempt to make fun when members objected?
I may state the obvious (to you) but I choose not to over-read the forums as it’s way too inefficient. Really all 95% of the people are interested in is quickly assembling a HTPC that works. My brief points are clear and concise unlike these nasty guides or threads which spew-on to no end.

I’ve set up a disturbed network in my new house. None of the new home- owners have done that. Funny there is just now the beginnings of overdue move away from HDMI to cat 5e, which I just paid to run to every room in my new house. Have you discussed that too dude or will you let others speak?
As an example of the war, AT&T comes to connect my new house for Internet usage. I give the technician a RJ-45 coupler to wire the outside box to one room. Instead he clip’s four of the eight wires off of every room’s cable and put them in parallel with the junction box outside.
AT&T did this because they want me to use their inferior legacy router and inferior wireless and not have my own Gigabit network to be able to stream HDTV. They don’t even sell just a modem so I have to pay for features I don’t use. Worse I had to pay $149 for the crummy installation (plus 25% fees and surcharges) as they have a monopoly in the neighborhood.
Now I come here and a few people single out my Internet usage. Again the incremental cost is zero as I conduct business online. AT&T recently raised their rates 40% for consumers that just get the Internet because they just know we will be streaming video “for free”. You may not realize this but we will be able to watch HDTV from most countries throughout the world. I’m ready, but of course you thought of it 5 years ago

So in the end I do pay more for Internet usage, but not for overly simplistic reasons given.

Now excuse me while I go spend five years reading the 20 guides up at the top of this forum. Only then will I be up to speed!
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post #13 of 186 Old 07-09-2010, 01:28 PM
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Are you on drugs?
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post #14 of 186 Old 07-09-2010, 01:38 PM
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Some of those guides ARE really old. The "why is my HTPC ugly..." thread comes to mind.
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post #15 of 186 Old 07-09-2010, 02:50 PM
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I laughed.
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post #16 of 186 Old 07-09-2010, 06:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spivonious View Post

lol

I'm down to one component too, except for the old VCR for the few VHS tapes I like to watch.

One question for the OP: why have a gaming video card when the i3 can handle the A/V duties just fine?

Why have a VCR when a few weekends you can move your tapes onto the hard drive and then sell the VCR (if its worth anything).

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post #17 of 186 Old 07-09-2010, 06:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dj4monie View Post

Why have a VCR when a few weekends you can move your tapes onto the hard drive and then sell the VCR (if its worth anything).

Meh, I'm too lazy for that. Plus I have to use some other inputs on my AVR, right?
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post #18 of 186 Old 07-09-2010, 10:26 PM
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Wow this guy sounds really weird With all of the overly enthusiastic observations of relatively mundane setups along with his paranoid conspiracy theories.
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post #19 of 186 Old 07-10-2010, 08:24 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suntan View Post

Ah, so you’re part of the covert NSA branch at Verizon that just spends their days listening to our phone calls...

-Suntan

(speaking into my wristwatch) We have one who can see...



[/lame They Live reference]
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post #20 of 186 Old 07-10-2010, 08:28 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiFiFun View Post

Free unlimited Internet access with no dependencies waiting upon (the short-comings and control) any one company.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HiFiFun View Post

So in the end I do pay more for Internet usage, but not for overly simplistic reasons given.

HUH?
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post #21 of 186 Old 07-11-2010, 12:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suntan View Post

Welcome to 5 years ago.



So how did you get your HTPC to just magically plug into the internet on its own? I'd like to get rid of my monthly DSL bill too...

-Suntan


Wow... I didn't know you could bitstream HD audio on a PC 5 years ago on this planet!...
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post #22 of 186 Old 07-11-2010, 07:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Unlike most smart phones plans, home Internet plans do not charge by how much data you use. That is, the incremental cost of Internet access is zero. The logical trend is to watch more programming “for free” on the Internet, without subscribing using a proprietary box in each room. However, AT&T realizes this and raised Internet rates greatly.
Almost every H/W and media company is against this freedom: they even want to remove the public OTA broadcast spectrum and make it subscription based. They even feature sub-standard Internet services through the new gear. The push is to keep consumers upgrading gear and subscriptions. Who’s tired of all those wall-warts?
The savvy consumer should try to reduce their component count to the ideal: That is just one largely upgrade proof component. This implication should have enormous effects, both good and bad.
The low power, quiet small footprint Intel i3 system does it all! It does not need to be upgraded for all any High Definition sources. I just ran the PowerDvd Blu-ray advisor and everything passes ok, even for 3D (glasses and display are extra however).
The very latest Mark II version of Power DVD 10 makes watching Wings of Migration a lot like 3D with great depth, sharpness and clarity. It’s a nice 120” virtual window using a JVC projector.
Why are small footprint Intel i3 system hard to purchase? Stores don’t even carry them (Fry’s being the exception). Consumer Reports rates the Gateway i3 SX2840 and the similar Dell 580s(?) tops yet they are not generally available at Best Buy, HP or clubs. Why? The answer is because they are too good of a value. Best Buy says it’s because they are too new a product. Yet you guys claim this all five years ago…
Imagine what would occur if people did not need to constantly purchase new computers and HDTV gear? Is this why the new 2010 HDTVs have actually regressed in performance from 2009 models? Is this why AT&T wires consumers houses with half duplex/speed Ethernet and legacy Wireless G? Just how stupid are average consumers? As someone else pointed out, why is this forum so top heavy with legacy clutter?
Does our economic engine require that we keep on buying gear and subscriptions (to watch commercials)? Upgrading was a valid reason, but the digital technology has advanced (29 years later) to where frequent H/W upgrades are now questionable. Incidentally, it’s been a long torturous ride, as I purchased the first digital Sony CD player in 1981!
So the only digital upgrades I’ll be doing are now replacements, with a 3D display after prices drop and performance improves. That technology is way too new being full of bugs!
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post #23 of 186 Old 07-11-2010, 07:36 AM
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My last holdout is my AV receiver which I use mostly as an interface for sound as well as a plug in for the Wii and Xbox.

HD DVD: 45 SD DVD: 350 BR: 120
PCs: 12, Mame Arcade:1, HD HTPC: 1, WHS Server: 1, HD A3: 2, HD-A30: 1

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post #24 of 186 Old 07-11-2010, 07:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Another great by-product is the reduction of remote controls. I’m down to just two based upon the task I want to do, as compared to what equipment I use (a subtle but important difference).
For Windows Media Center, there is a small wonderful Amazon $15 hand held wireless remote. For typing/surfing I use a $50 combination wireless keyboard mouse. That is it.
The integration of WMC to the audio hardware is remarkable using the Gateway SX2840/ATI 5770 combination, as the audio volume and mute even work through HDMI (this capability does NOT work on the recent Asus 3610 Nettop/Ion DVR).
This improved functionality makes the most basic function of a receiver/AV controller/pre-amp redundant. All-in-all, very impressive new technology to reduce clutter.
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post #25 of 186 Old 07-11-2010, 09:31 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bjmarchini View Post

My last holdout is my AV receiver which I use mostly as an interface for sound as well as a plug in for the Wii and Xbox.

Yeah, I cannot see reducing my AVR to something inside a PC. The heat generated would be death causing, and the reduced component quality would be a killer too.

I will keep my AVR, TV, and Speakers all seperate from the HTPC...but it took on all the other duties so far.


Quote:
Originally Posted by HiFiFun View Post

Another great by-product is the reduction of remote controls. I'm down to just two based upon the task I want to do, as compared to what equipment I use (a subtle but important difference).
For Windows Media Center, there is a small wonderful Amazon $15 hand held wireless remote. For typing/surfing I use a $50 combination wireless keyboard mouse. That is it.

I am happy with remote reduction as well. I use just the Windows Media Center remote and nothing else. Well, not quite true, I have a remote to tun on and off the Buttkicker too.
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post #26 of 186 Old 07-11-2010, 09:33 AM
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good thread.
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post #27 of 186 Old 07-11-2010, 10:33 AM
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I still need a cable box and Slingbox for ESPN. Hopefully, the Ceton can replace the cable box. Wish cable providers offered a la cart pricing and online streaming.

I still need a receiver for the cable box, X-Box/Wii/PS3, and speakers. It would nice if all decoding and switching was done by the PC. You'd still need an amp or powered speakers though. It would be nice if you could control the amp volume on the PC. I suppose you could integrate an amp into the PC too but you'd need to redesign the PC to take the amp heat into account. The ideal: HDMI to amp (more properly a barebones receiver) with volume control then audio-out to speakers and HDMI-out to TV.

Also, it'd be nice if Intel had an integrated 3D solution though I'm sure they're working on it.
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post #28 of 186 Old 07-11-2010, 02:01 PM
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Sounds like a great, efficient setup.

I'm working on the same thing, with the addition of an Xbox 360 that I will use for gaming and the very few DVDs I use.

Do you have any pictures of your setup?
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post #29 of 186 Old 07-11-2010, 04:12 PM
 
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Quote:
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Wish cable providers offered a la cart pricing and online streaming.

A la cart would be fantastic!
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post #30 of 186 Old 07-11-2010, 05:15 PM
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Quote:
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A la cart would be fantastic!

No doubt! I only use one SD channel at this point -- PBS' Sprout for the kid -- so if I could get a plan with only HD channels + 1 SD, I'd do so in a heartbeat!

There are hundreds of channels I will seriously never ever use again, but the idiots at The providers like our money too much -- from 3-digit bills -- to shape their product to suit our actual needs, so we're pretty much screwed...
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