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post #1 of 5 Old 01-04-2013, 11:17 AM - Thread Starter
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Please excuse my ignorance but I have been reading for days/weeks and am no closer to designing/purchasing a new HTPC. I am ready to make this happen as soon as TODAY so I look forward to any advice. First and foremost this will be about a 50/50 split as HTPC and PC. I am hoping to kill ALL birds with 1 stone through this post.
Here's what I'm hoping to accomplish:
1. HD3D playback regardless of screen size, whether Projection or LED/Plasma.
2. MUST be able to extract RAR files without a hiccup, whether its 1 video file or 10.
3. MUST be able to convert Video files to MP4/MKV/AVI, or the like.
4. I'd like to be able to run Directv thru HTPC whether viewing, recording, or controlling, if possible? Seems its not?
5. Now imagine 1-3 happening at the same time - NO HICCUPS!
6. I am sure that due to the knowledge level here, most readers will understand what I'm hoping for and be able to help with any of the finer points of HTPCing I may have missed?

Additionally, this will RUN a theater(unless I'm advised against), which I'm also looking for suggestions about as I'd like this to run like a well oiled machine. So feel free to provide suggestions regarding a potential Receiver, Speaker system or stand alones, etc.
Please keep in mind that I am NOT an expert so any and all questions, comments, or concerns are welcome.

Is the HTPC a possibility for under 2k? Thoughts? Suggestions?
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post #2 of 5 Old 01-04-2013, 11:59 AM
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1. HD3D playback regardless of screen size, whether Projection or LED/Plasma.

You just need an appropriate video card and software. Most of the current cards can do it, as can the Intel integrated HD graphics on the i3 and up series. For bluray 3D you will need Arcsoft TMT5 or PowerDVD

2. MUST be able to extract RAR files without a hiccup, whether its 1 video file or 10.

Any computer should be able to do this anymore. I can't think of any reason a PC wouldn't be able to.

3. MUST be able to convert Video files to MP4/MKV/AVI, or the like.

Any computer can do this, but different people use the word "convert" differently. Remuxing means to take audio and video from one container (for example, an m2ts file on a bluray disc) and put it into another (possibly an mkv file). The audio, video, and subtitles are not touched, so this happens pretty quickly and with little CPU use. Transcoding/encoding/converting/compressing video takes a lot of CPU use. That means fundamentally changing the video and/or audio tracks into something new. This is a place where more CPU will help do this faster.

4. I'd like to be able to run Directv thru HTPC whether viewing, recording, or controlling, if possible? Seems its not?

The easiest way to do this is with a capture device, such as the Hauppauge Colossus or HD-PVR or Avermedia's capture device. You will still need a Directv box that will send it video and audio into the capture device. Your computer will use IR blasters to tell the box what channel to change to record something. While it is not as ideal in many ways as a cable card tuner, your recordings will be 100% DRM free which is something most cable customers cant say.

5. Now imagine 1-3 happening at the same time - NO HICCUPS!

1 and 2 no problem. 3 COULD be a problem, depending on what exactly you are doing.

6. I am sure that due to the knowledge level here, most readers will understand what I'm hoping for and be able to help with any of the finer points of HTPCing I may have missed?

You're on the right track. Keep in mind that since you are using a capture device/satellite service that you will only be able to watch/record one thing at a time. You COULD add more capture devices, but you will also need more satellite boxes too - one for each program you wish to record at once.

My HTPC front end set up
Integration for whole home ATSC, CableCARD, FM radio, Blu-Ray, HD-DVD, DVD, VHS control & capture, video games, and archived & streaming media playback
Mironto's Panasonic plasma black level restoration guide
Restore the initial MLL on a 2009 Panasonic plasma
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post #3 of 5 Old 01-04-2013, 12:15 PM
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my HTPC and Xbox are the only devices connected to my tv. here are the things I do with it to give you a better idea of possibilities. knowing exactly what you want to do will help you pick out the right parts.

-acts as my cable box/dvr
-holds a ripped movie and music library that I can select from
-plays bluray discs, dvds, hd-dvds, cds, and fm radio
-accesses Netflix, HBO Go, Pandora, Crackle, and Amazon Prime
-provides a front end/input for my VCR

your most likely chain given what you said will be this:

Directv box--->HTPC--->receiver--->display (tv or projector)

A PC with the components you desire can definitely be built for under $1000. The main decisions you will need to make are

-exactly how powerful does the cpu need to be? will you be transcoding lots of video on it at times when you plan on watching something?

-will you play computer games or want extra video post processing? this will determine what/if any video card you need (remember - integrated graphics now are more than enough to do 3D video and HD audio)

-how much storage will you need? are you going to want to keep a lot of DVR'd programs? are you going to start saving your entire DVD and bluray collection? figuring this out will determine if you can get away with only one or two hard drives in the PC or if you will need a larger external solution like a JBOD box (just a bunch of drives) or NAS (network attached storage).

My HTPC front end set up
Integration for whole home ATSC, CableCARD, FM radio, Blu-Ray, HD-DVD, DVD, VHS control & capture, video games, and archived & streaming media playback
Mironto's Panasonic plasma black level restoration guide
Restore the initial MLL on a 2009 Panasonic plasma
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post #4 of 5 Old 01-04-2013, 12:42 PM
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You can do the first 3 all at once easily with X79 and an i7 3930K with 32GB RAM, that won't flinch period. You can easily watch 3D video and encode 1080p x264 at the same time as extracting a 50GB .rar set. I'd also recommend a 512GB SSD scratch disk for ripping and encoding to eliminate any HDD/storage bottlenecks. Downside is cost and power use. X79 runs hots and loud (it is 130w TDP). That can be partially fixed if you stuff everything into a full tower case.

Doable within $2K.
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post #5 of 5 Old 01-04-2013, 08:10 PM - Thread Starter
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Wow, thank you all tons! I've learned a bunch and have lots more to research.
So far looks like Avermedia 1080p > the rest 1080i?
Now, back to the "search" button. Thanks ALL again!
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