Why does one go with a HTPC? I'm interested but not sure of the benefits. Thanks for any input! - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 52 Old 01-12-2014, 12:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Why does one go with a HTPC? I'm interested but not sure of the benefits. Thanks for any input!
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post #2 of 52 Old 01-12-2014, 12:26 AM
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Can't tell if serious...
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post #3 of 52 Old 01-12-2014, 01:12 AM
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I wanted an HD DVR. I could have gone with a Tivo but did not want to pay their fees. Plus the HTPC lets me watch Hulu & some other streaming content.
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post #4 of 52 Old 01-12-2014, 01:21 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies and yes I'm serious. I didn't find a thread on benefits of HTPC vs blu ray player etc. I'm more interested in the HTPC for gains in playing blu ray or hd content plus the ability to do 3D. I'm sure I could do some more research to get the answers but wanted to know from those who utilize HTPC the why's for doing so and more specifically for the befefits in blu ray, 3D, HD viewing. Thanks!
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post #5 of 52 Old 01-12-2014, 01:29 AM
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Being able to precisely click where I want on a films time line instead of using fast forward or chapters biggrin.gif. I tend to just watch a bunch of scenes from different movies when I get home and using my search feature, I can find my films way quicker than users with HD based players like the dune. Definitely useful for my viewing habits biggrin.gif

No subwoofer I've heard has been able to produce the bass I've experienced in the Corps!

Must..stop...buying...every bluray release...
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post #6 of 52 Old 01-12-2014, 04:12 AM
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post #7 of 52 Old 01-12-2014, 04:22 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm not too concerned about the customization aspect unless that has an effect on the picture quality. The HTPC does seem like you can have a lot more fun with customizing and making everything easily accessible (media files, streaming, etc.), but does it have the ability to improve PQ over stand alone blu ray players? Can you get rid of letter box bars through software...masking before projecting? Thanks!
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post #8 of 52 Old 01-12-2014, 06:51 AM
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post #9 of 52 Old 01-12-2014, 06:59 AM
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Xbmc has memory zoom functions so you can do some cinescope stuff.
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post #10 of 52 Old 01-12-2014, 08:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

Why would you want to get rid of the letter box bars?

One reason is to maximize image brightness when using a front projector for widescreen movies. Another is to eliminate the faint (but still visible) dark bars from the projected image. Some people hide them by using black curtains at the top and bottom of their screens.

One procedure to eliminate the bars entirely is to scale the image vertically to occupy all of the video signal's (and thus all of the projector's) scanlines, and use an anamorphic lens to stretch the image horizontally to compensate for the resulting distortion. Of course, not all widescreen movies have exactly the same aspect ratio, to this procedure isn't perfect.

Dedicated video processors are available which can do this vertical scaling, and so can some projectors.

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post #11 of 52 Old 01-12-2014, 08:27 AM
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Sure. But if you use the "zoom" feature aren't you losing some of the picture?
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post #12 of 52 Old 01-12-2014, 08:56 AM
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HTPC is a hobby. If you would not enjoy spending time and money building a computer, learning software and keeping up with new technology another solution may be better for you. HTPCs trade complexity for integration of media and sources. It maybe possible to greatly improve picture quality with new free software. It is a good solution if use an antenna for over the air TV and you want to record shows and store them to watch at your convenience.
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post #13 of 52 Old 01-12-2014, 08:59 AM
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negative. scale your display output then do zoom and/or shrink\squeeze in xbmc. hellm you can do it a bit in mpc hc too
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post #14 of 52 Old 01-12-2014, 09:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

Sure. But if you use the "zoom" feature aren't you losing some of the picture?

Only if you zoom in both horizontal and vertical directions. People who have dedicated widescreen (2.39:1) front-projection home theaters scale the video signal itself only in the vertical direction so that all 1080 scanlines are occupied by the image, but the width is still 1920 pixels. This distorts the image vertically so that (for example) people look skinny and tall and circular objects look like vertical ovals. An anamorphic lens is used on the projector to provide a compensating horizontal stretch, making people look normal and circles like circles.

Of course, if one is using such a system to watch a 1.85:1 (16:9) image, its top and bottom will be lost if a compensating "shrink" option isn't available.

One can argue in both cases that zooming and shrinking causes some loss of resolution, but it usually isn't enough to notice.

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post #15 of 52 Old 01-12-2014, 09:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Selden Ball View Post

Only if you zoom in both horizontal and vertical directions. People who have dedicated widescreen (2.39:1) front-projection home theaters scale the video signal itself only in the vertical direction so that all 1080 scanlines are occupied by the image, but the width is still 1920 pixels. This distorts the image vertically so that (for example) people look skinny and tall and circular objects look like vertical ovals. An anamorphic lens is used on the projector to provide a compensating horizontal stretch, making people look normal and circles like circles.

Of course, if one is using such a system to watch a 1.85:1 (16:9) image, its top and bottom will be lost if a compensating "shrink" option isn't available.

One can argue in both cases that zooming and shrinking causes some loss of resolution, but it usually isn't enough to notice.

Oh, that's how you are going to do it. I see now.

Seems like a lot of work to me personally but I get it.
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post #16 of 52 Old 01-12-2014, 09:47 AM
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It only has to be configured once, and can be very effective if you use a dedicated home theater room primarily to watch widescreen movies.

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post #17 of 52 Old 01-12-2014, 09:51 AM
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my htpc theory is that there are three main types

1) primarily a dvr
2) primarily a video library/player
3) someone [like me] who wants a single box to do as many things as possible - dvr, music library, bluray player, Netflix/Pandora/etc

I like not having to change tv or receiver inputs. that's the benefit to me.

the benefit for dvr types is that a Windows Media Center system with extenders is arguably the best whole home dvr. all your recordings in all your rooms. start it one room, finish in another

the benefit for video playback is that a pc is much more configurable than [most] any consumer electronic device. it can be updated to handle newer codecs and containers. you also have options for filters, scalers, decoders, color settings, etc. and of course the amazingly customizable movie jukebox viewers.

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post #18 of 52 Old 01-12-2014, 09:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Selden Ball View Post

It only has to be configured once, and can be very effective if you use a dedicated home theater room primarily to watch widescreen movies.

I have seen the screens that adjust to it. The bars don't bother me personally but like I said I get why you want to do it.
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post #19 of 52 Old 01-12-2014, 09:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pittsoccer33 View Post

my htpc theory is that there are three main types

1) primarily a dvr
2) primarily a video library/player
3) someone [like me] who wants a single box to do as many things as possible - dvr, music library, bluray player, Netflix/Pandora/etc

I like not having to change tv or receiver inputs. that's the benefit to me.

I would add the videophile/audiophile type.

My family and I are more like #3 although lately I have been doing Pandora through my Sonos network.
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post #20 of 52 Old 01-12-2014, 08:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you to all of you for sharing your reasoning for going HTPC. Has anyone noticed an improvement in PQ by using an HTPC versus a standalone blu ray player?

The complexity part of it is an issue since my son and daughter use the theater room for xbox and movies.
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post #21 of 52 Old 01-13-2014, 05:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Selden Ball View Post

One reason is to maximize image brightness when using a front projector for widescreen movies. Another is to eliminate the faint (but still visible) dark bars from the projected image. Some people hide them by using black curtains at the top and bottom of their screens.

There's no way to eliminate the bars without masking or using an anamorphic lens, in fact if you aren't using an anamorphic lens there's nothing you can do to the picture electronically to help (with the exception of blanking for variable aspect ratio movies). This includes increasing the brightness, in a constant image height (CIH) setup, it's the fact that the image is optically stretched that and thus the whole imaging device can be used to draw the picture that increases brightness, not anything done electronically.

FWIW, I'm sure you understand this, but this post wasn't entirely clear that you were talking about using an anamorphic lens the whole time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

Seems like a lot of work to me personally but I get it.

You get a brighter (how much brighter depends on the projector's characteristics, but up to 33% brighter), smoother picture (higher pixel density) with an anamorphic lens than you would zooming.
Quote:
Originally Posted by spent View Post

Thank you to all of you for sharing your reasoning for going HTPC. Has anyone noticed an improvement in PQ by using an HTPC versus a standalone blu ray player?

You won't, there's really nothing to improve. Unless you've got a 4K/UHD TV there's no scaling going on with Blu-ray and that's really where any improvement is going to be. Purely for playing Blu-ray discs, plan on HTPC vs standalone being equal in picture quality with the Standalone being easier and likely more reliable (PC software needs a lot more AACS/BD+ updates than standalones).

See what an anamorphoscopic lens can do, see movies the way they were meant to be seen
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post #22 of 52 Old 01-13-2014, 07:22 AM
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While an HTPC can't produce a more accurate video signal than a properly functioning Blu-ray player, it usually provides more controls for changing the signal's characteristics. They could be used to compensate for defects in the display device, if necessary, e.g. increasing contrast, modifying the gamma, etc.

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post #23 of 52 Old 01-13-2014, 07:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pittsoccer33 View Post

1) primarily a dvr
2) primarily a video library/player
3) someone [like me] who wants a single box to do as many things as possible - dvr, music library, bluray player, Netflix/Pandora/etc

I fall into 2 and 3. I have 2 young children, who are useless at taking care of all of our DVD/Blu Ray's, an HTPC allows them to watch a movie without even having to worry about the disc itself, which in turn means that I don't have to worry about finding Blu Ray's on the floor etc. I also like having one thing to do a bunch of functions.

Number 4 for your list though, which I also partly fall into, and am sure many others here do as well, is I like having something to tinker with, to tweak and spend time trying to get things just right.
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post #24 of 52 Old 01-13-2014, 08:08 AM
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I agree with Postmoderndesign that it's more of a hobby. Me having a HTPC is really just a continuation of my love of computers. It's also a money saving thing. I have never owned a bluray player, I'm all about MKV movies. I'm all about digital music, flac and MP3. I haven't had cable TV in about 10 years. I run everything through the internet. I like streaming, But I prefer a massive collection of high quality music and movies. Setting up my movie collection through XBMC and using the scrapper to get all the covers and the movie details, it's too good and too much fun. I like saving money where I can, but when it comes to my Home Theater equipment, I don't spare the wallet for that part wink.gif It truly is a hobby for me.
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post #25 of 52 Old 01-13-2014, 08:20 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pittsoccer33 View Post

my htpc theory is that there are three main types

1) primarily a dvr
2) primarily a video library/player
3) someone [like me] who wants a single box to do as many things as possible - dvr, music library, bluray player, Netflix/Pandora/etc

I like not having to change tv or receiver inputs. that's the benefit to me.

the benefit for dvr types is that a Windows Media Center system with extenders is arguably the best whole home dvr. all your recordings in all your rooms. start it one room, finish in another

the benefit for video playback is that a pc is much more configurable than [most] any consumer electronic device. it can be updated to handle newer codecs and containers. you also have options for filters, scalers, decoders, color settings, etc. and of course the amazingly customizable movie jukebox viewers.

Agreed. I also love being able to surf through my movie selections and just click on the one I want to watch instead of having to go and get a physical disc. It is the convenience of Netflix Streaming with the quality of a BluRay. smile.gif
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post #26 of 52 Old 01-13-2014, 08:21 AM
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Unless you're using an HTPC as a DVR, you can certainly get by without one for most other streaming purposes. I think it comes down to whether you want the bells and whistles and ease of use you get on a PC versus a dedicated streaming box. Personally, if I didn't use WMC, I would not have an HTPC. Streaming boxes worked fine for my purposes for years before I got a dedicated HTPC.
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post #27 of 52 Old 01-13-2014, 09:18 AM
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There are also those who want to play pc games in the comfort of their living room on their large screen tv instead of being huddled away in a dark and cramped room where their main pc is. biggrin.gif

Of course, that's on top of the dvr, music library, and blu ray player functions.
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post #28 of 52 Old 01-13-2014, 09:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spent View Post

Why does one go with a HTPC? I'm interested but not sure of the benefits. Thanks for any input!

 

I actually refer to my HTPC as a "Media-PC", as I use it to playback and/or interact with all of my media.

 

My Media-PC is a single, fast quiet box that performs the following functions:

 

  • Watch, pause and rewind live TV (a lot of people record live TV also)
  • Stream movies, TV series and documentaries from my Media Server
  • Watch slideshows of pictures (vacation pics, pics of my car, pics of my pets, family pics, etc.)
  • Stream music from my Media Server
  • Stream Netflix and Hulu
  • Stream Pandora
  • Occasionally watch physical BD-ROMs
  • Play Steam-based games
  • Play legacy emulator-based games (currently SNES, Sega Genesis)
  • Customization of the interfaces - any time I'd like, I can change the look of look of everything from Windows 8 to Windows Media Center to Media Browser

 

Also, as  a couple of others have mentioned in this thread, the picture and sound quality you can obtain via an HTPC are outstanding.


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post #29 of 52 Old 01-13-2014, 09:59 AM
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I like having one machine to do everything that I could want...for today and tomorrow.

I continue to get a kick or be annoyed by the set-top box craze. Every time a new brand launches or a new model comes out from an established brand and they add a feature, it's just something I've been able to do on my HTPC for years.

I'd be far too limited if I wasn't able to use my HTPC and had to try to scrape by with set-top boxes, a smart TV, smart receiver, Chromecast, etc.
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post #30 of 52 Old 01-13-2014, 10:41 AM
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I don't want to pay $70/month to rent a whole house DVR and 5 HD boxes. Instead, I pay $5/month to rent a single cableCARD and all 6 TV's in the house get full access to all the channels.

Oh, and all TV's get access to our 1500 movie title library, 10,000 song library, and so much more.
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6 TV's in the house on FiOS and we only pay $4.99/month to connect them all!!! Power to the CableCard and WMC7!!!
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