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post #1 of 56 Old 08-05-2007, 06:10 AM - Thread Starter
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With a lot of people building HTPC's to go HD and then some, I thought it'd be interesting to hear about your setup.

I'll list a couple of specs that would be of interest to include but feel free to talk about how it's used or why you made the choices you made.
  • Spec possibilities:
  • CPU/Memory/Motherboard
  • Drives, storage space
  • Remote
  • Capture Device
  • Video Card
  • Audio
  • Any other cards
  • OS
  • HTPC software
  • Where you get guide data
  • any other software.

Bob
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post #2 of 56 Old 08-05-2007, 09:14 AM
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..and which case form factor?
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post #3 of 56 Old 08-05-2007, 05:15 PM
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I'll start since I just built one to get all my locals in HD:

CPU: Athlon X2 4800, stock voltage/clock
Fan: Thermaltake TR2-R1, cheap and quiet
Mobo: Asus M2NPV-VM MicroATX (using onboard nVidia 6150's component out for video and the SP/DIF bracket for digital sound)
Case: Antec NSK2400 (silver, quiet, well-cooled, looks like a HT component in the cabinet)
HD: Samsung Spinpoint 500GB, quiet and not too hot
DVD/RW: NEC silver-face AD-7170A
RAM: 1GB Kingston PC5300 DDR2 ValueRam
OS/DVR: Linux and Knoppmyth R5F1, using XFS as filesystem for HD recordings partition
Tuners: ATI HDTV Wonder, Kworld ATSC-110, tuning HD and SD local QAM channels on Comcast (no OTA)
Remote: MCE v2 w/USB receiver

Built the whole thing for around $600. I run X in 1080i using stock nVidia 1080i modeline for component and everything works really well with my cheapo Akai plasma. I did have to compensate for overscan in the Mythfrontend GUI, but no biggie. 1080i channels are not as smooth as my TV's tuner due to issues with nVidia Linux driver and (de)interlacing, but perfectly watchable. 720p channels are perfect and SD digital channels (PBS) look better than the Replay's analog channels. But wow, what a difference to be able to DVR all my HD sports and (coming this fall) all of our HD shows.

Took me around a month of research to figure out what to buy using the plentiful Myth online resources, and around a month of weekends (not fulltime) this summer to build/configure and get everything tweaked to my satisfaction. Surprisingly, I spent a lot of time setting up all the keymappings for the remote and also programming my RS-2117 and URC-9910 universal remotes with JP1 for the MCE codes that I wanted. Probably spent almost as much time on this as with building the box, mostly because I didn't know jack about JP1.

Guide data is the big unknown at this point since the free zap2it data is going away soon. Everyone on Myth is waiting for a solution from the devs.

I certainly learned a lot, but I did have some experience starting out. In the real world, I am a Unix sysadmin and network dev. YMMV.
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post #4 of 56 Old 08-07-2007, 12:50 PM - Thread Starter
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With Comcast what do you get on QAM?

Bob
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post #5 of 56 Old 08-07-2007, 01:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Slowbiscuit.

For "ease of install purposes" would it be worth it to put a PATA IDE drive in as the main drive and add the SATA to store the video files? Or is it going to be as much work as a manual install to a SATA drive?

I ask because I'm considering KnoppMyth and also considering a 2 drive setup. One small one for the OS and one large for the data.


Quote:
Originally Posted by slowbiscuit View Post

I'll start since I just built one to get all my locals in HD:

CPU: Athlon X2 4800, stock voltage/clock
Fan: Thermaltake TR2-R1, cheap and quiet
Mobo: Asus M2NPV-VM MicroATX (using onboard nVidia 6150's component out for video and the SP/DIF bracket for digital sound)
Case: Antec NSK2400 (silver, quiet, well-cooled, looks like a HT component in the cabinet)
HD: Samsung Spinpoint 500GB, quiet and not too hot
DVD/RW: NEC silver-face AD-7170A
RAM: 1GB Kingston PC5300 DDR2 ValueRam
OS/DVR: Linux and Knoppmyth R5F1, using XFS as filesystem for HD recordings partition
Tuners: ATI HDTV Wonder, Kworld ATSC-110, tuning HD and SD local QAM channels on Comcast (no OTA)
Remote: MCE v2 w/USB receiver

Built the whole thing for around $600. I run X in 1080i using stock nVidia 1080i modeline for component and everything works really well with my cheapo Akai plasma. I did have to compensate for overscan in the Mythfrontend GUI, but no biggie. 1080i channels are not as smooth as my TV's tuner due to issues with nVidia Linux driver and (de)interlacing, but perfectly watchable. 720p channels are perfect and SD digital channels (PBS) look better than the Replay's analog channels. But wow, what a difference to be able to DVR all my HD sports and (coming this fall) all of our HD shows.

Took me around a month of research to figure out what to buy using the plentiful Myth online resources, and around a month of weekends (not fulltime) this summer to build/configure and get everything tweaked to my satisfaction. Surprisingly, I spent a lot of time setting up all the keymappings for the remote and also programming my RS-2117 and URC-9910 universal remotes with JP1 for the MCE codes that I wanted. Probably spent almost as much time on this as with building the box, mostly because I didn't know jack about JP1.

Guide data is the big unknown at this point since the free zap2it data is going away soon. Everyone on Myth is waiting for a solution from the devs.

I certainly learned a lot, but I did have some experience starting out. In the real world, I am a Unix sysadmin and network dev. YMMV.


Bob
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post #6 of 56 Old 08-07-2007, 05:49 PM
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Server(livingroom)
currently about 450 mpegs and DVD iso.
TV: 52 Mitsubishi's 1080p DLP
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 3200+
Fan: ZALMAN 92mm Cooling Fan
Mobo: MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum
Case: SILVERSTONE SST-LC10S-M Silver Aluminum front panel
HD: 1x Maxtor 300GB SATA (partioned 40 for OS and programs/ the rest for recordings)
2x Western Digital Caviar 300GB 7200 RPM IDE
4x Maxtor 200GB in an old SCSI external case converted to USB
Audio: CHAINTECH AV-710 7.1 Channels PCI(had problems with onboard spdif out cutting out)
Video Card: GIGABYTE Radeon X1600PRO 256MB GDDR2 PCI Express x16 Silent Pipe II
DVD/RW: PLEXTOR 16X DVD±R DVD
RAM: CORSAIR ValueSelect 1GB (2 x 512MB) 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 400 (PC 3200)
Tuners: 2x Hauppauge WinTv-PVR150MCE (s-video from 2 STB)
Adaptec avc-3610 usb dual tuner (direct rf input for expanded basic channels)
Also using firewire to capture unencrypted local HD and Discovery HD programming from the
2 STB. Most other programming is encrypted which then uses the 2 PVR150MCE hooked up with
svideo
OS: XP Pro
HTPC software: GBPVR
Where you get guide data: Zap2It for now
Remote: MCE USB receiver / Logitech Harmony universal remote
--------------------------------------------------------------
Client(bedroom) dont' know the exact specs
TV: 32 LG LCD
Compaq SR1650NX (cheap refurb at Fry's. I think about $300.00)
AMD Athlon 64 3500+,DVDRW,1GB Ram,onboard audio
Video Card: GIGABYTE Radeon X1600PRO 256MB GDDR2 PCI Express x16 Silent Pipe II
Remote: MCE USB receiver and remote(using HIP to control TV power and volume with MCE remote)
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post #7 of 56 Old 08-07-2007, 08:16 PM
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Athlon XP 3200 (copper orb type of heatsink, Tt, or the other big brand name i can't remember right now)
Asus A8N-VM CSM motherbaord (mini ITX)
Mounted in Antec Aria case. SFF very quiet (mounted in cabinet with solid doors)
80 gig pata drive for windoze XP
250 gig pata drive for recordings
Vbox dta 150 OTA HD tuner (x2)
Video: nVidia 6150 onboard (with Purevideo 'bronze' license) driving 42" Panasonic plasma via DVI.
Audio: Onboard to amp via TOSLINK
Remote: USB-UIRT

Software:
SageTV (Hooray)
Eventghost (for IR to actions, think 'free girder') (another Hooray!)
SageTV web server plugin (Hooray)
Commskip (Meh) (still amazes me to think what them ReplayTV folks did)

Future: will add DVarchive, Poopli updater, and WiRNS to this box as it is always on. And 'if you have a replayTV and are not running WiRNS you need to have your head examined' Or so I've read.

Built it mainly just for NFL in HD. Took months of tinkering & evaluating (BeyondTV-No, MediaPortal-No[wanted to love it but CPU to high], Nero crap-No] & reformatting to get it stable & functional. Initially tried to make it my everything box...HD + ReplayTV + XBMC rolled into one. What a pipe dream that was. But as a OTA HD time shifter it kicks major but. The image is just so freaking good. Inspired me to add Samsung SIR-T451 tuner to my main ReplayTV.

Recently arose from the ashes of a lighting strike that killed the PSU.
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post #8 of 56 Old 08-07-2007, 08:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slack View Post

Built it mainly just for NFL in HD.

Amen! Preach it brother!

Bob
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post #9 of 56 Old 08-07-2007, 09:47 PM
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My HTPC:

* MIPS RISC CPU 250MHz, 32MB RAM, Custom motherboard
* Internal 40GB HDD
* Custom JP1 programmable remote
* Capture from cable, air, composite, or S-video, hardware MPEG2 compression.
* Video Card - None
* Stereo audio with S/PDIF capable output
* Low-power consumption switching PS
* OS - VXWorks custom real-time multithreaded thin OS
* Software V511430
* Guide Data- MSN_XMLTV scraper
* any other software - WiRNS

Sorry, couldn't resist.
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post #10 of 56 Old 08-08-2007, 07:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobcrane View Post

Slowbiscuit.

For "ease of install purposes" would it be worth it to put a PATA IDE drive in as the main drive and add the SATA to store the video files? Or is it going to be as much work as a manual install to a SATA drive?

I ask because I'm considering KnoppMyth and also considering a 2 drive setup. One small one for the OS and one large for the data.

I initially installed KM on an old 40GB PATA drive that I had laying around just to test everything out, and thought about keeping it as the boot drive. But in the end I decided to go with the single 500GB Samsung SATA because it's a fast and quiet drive and I didn't want the extra heat with both running.

I had no probs with the KM install to SATA or the resulting performance with everything on one drive. KM creates a separate /myth partition for vids which you could easily move to another drive, but so far I've found no compelling reason to do so.

I switched my X res to 720p due to being picky about my 1080i channel output - it just wasn't smooth enough for my tastes. The nVidia driver and/or the mythfrontend do not handle the 1080 interlaced mode correctly so you always have to enable deinterlacing. What I found was that with 720p and bob deint I get smooth playback for all HD shows, and the 1080i recordings look the same as in 1080i mode to me. I am hard-pressed to tell the diff between my TV's tuner and any HD recordings now.

On Comcast QAM I get all the locals in SD and HD (those that are HD), plus the Weather Channel, WeatherPlus, and a few others that I don't have configured on the box. I only setup the big four plus CW, MyATL, 2 PBS, and TBS. The PBS stations are SD, all others are HD.

Agree with Slack - NFL on HD will rock on Myth this fall. Not to mention Lost, Heroes, Friday Night Lights, ...
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post #11 of 56 Old 08-08-2007, 08:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slowbiscuit View Post

Not to mention Lost, Heroes ...

Amen! Preach it brother!



Side benefit.
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post #12 of 56 Old 08-08-2007, 09:16 AM - Thread Starter
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My TV's a 720p native so that's as far as I'll need to go for now.

Bob
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post #13 of 56 Old 08-08-2007, 09:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slack View Post

Initially tried to make it my everything box...HD + ReplayTV + XBMC rolled into one. What a pipe dream that was.

Mind going into details about this? I'm thinking of building a fairly high-powered system to use as a SageTV/Upconverting DVD/HD-DVD/H.264 streaming box. If it's not going to work, knowing that up front could prove helpful
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post #14 of 56 Old 08-08-2007, 11:22 AM
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That's the nice thing about these HTPC's - if you can get everything that you want (video with or w/o streaming, DVD, Internet radio and MP3's, web, etc.) AND HD in one box, you've got a nice piece of hardware. The biggest drawback is that you cannot easily record all of your cable HD channels. Some are able to do it with firewire on certain cable systems, but that's it unless you lay down way too much money (like $2k) for a dual-tuner Vista CableCard PC.

Plus the best thing about it is that as HDTV's get cheaper and I replace the rest of my old SD sets, I can build/buy cheap PCs for frontends for my existing tuner/server PC.

Honestly, if Tivo delivers multi-room viewing for the S3s, you'll be able to get most if not all of the functionality that you can build with an HTPC network, and you'll be able to get all the channels with CableCard (assuming no SDV or a solution for it from Tivo). But you'll also be paying monthly fees for as long as you keep them, and you're stuck with whatever Tivo decides to put in the software.

I like the flexibility of going with HTPC's for HD and as media servers, but there are always tradeoffs. We're kind of screwed right now for all the HD until some more CE devices enter the market, or we get a cable access solution that is more open.
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post #15 of 56 Old 08-08-2007, 12:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TalkinCat View Post

Mind going into details about this? I'm thinking of building a fairly high-powered system to use as a SageTV/Upconverting DVD/HD-DVD/H.264 streaming box. If it's not going to work, knowing that up front could prove helpful

Adding some hauppauge SD cable cards to the SageTV would get you HD + ReplayTV pretty quickly.


the problem for me was setting the bar too high.
Example in XBMC I can stream my xvid compressed (via AutoGK) favorite movies from my ReadyNAS or my VOBs, or my whole ISO images for that matter, and without interrupting playback I can enable/disable subtitles, or jump to the director's comments track, and back to DTS/DD 5.1 without skipping a beat, and with a nicew OSD.

Try that with SageTV streaming Xvid, or Mediaportal, or TheatreTek, or Nero Showtime, or whatever player you want, and you'll quickly find yourself into a world of filter graphs, and directshow, directsound esoterica so deep and filled with conflicting info your head will spoin. All the while you must keep an I on CPU so that your HD recordings don;t get the herky jerks because you were watching 'Space Balls' while it was recording.

DTS / DD5.1 passthrough can be another problem on some systems (wasn't on mine). But all that crap just works right out of the box with XBMC, along with thyumbnails, wheather, rss feeds, cool visualizations, quicktime movie trailers. etc...

You have to set all that up with some of the other apps.
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post #16 of 56 Old 08-08-2007, 12:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drlava View Post

My HTPC:

* MIPS RISC CPU 250MHz, 32MB RAM, Custom motherboard
* Internal 40GB HDD
* Custom JP1 programmable remote
* Capture from cable, air, composite, or S-video, hardware MPEG2 compression.
* Video Card - None
* Stereo audio with S/PDIF capable output
* Low-power consumption switching PS
* OS - VXWorks custom real-time multithreaded thin OS
* Software V511430
* Guide Data- MSN_XMLTV scraper
* any other software - WiRNS

Sorry, couldn't resist.


You forgot to mention the non-functioning USB port.

It's true - I read it somewhere. I wrote it down, and then I read it.
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post #17 of 56 Old 08-08-2007, 02:41 PM
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Building mine as we speak (found this thread trying to figure out how to create a custom splash screen -- If you can help, PM me).

Moncaso Case w/ 7" TS
Intel E6750 w/ Zalman Cooler
Gigabyte P35-DS3R
1GB Corsair Value Select (x2)
Gigabyte 8500XT 512
WD SATA (3GB/s) 500GB (x4) (Media)
WD SATA (3GB/s) 160GB (OS)

Putting it together will take 30 mins, getting the 7" screen and software configured may last till Xmas '09
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post #18 of 56 Old 08-08-2007, 04:57 PM
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Dayum, that's a beefy rig. What's your DVR app? There's a huge forum here for HTPC's running Windows, not so huge for Linux/Myth.
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post #19 of 56 Old 08-08-2007, 05:09 PM
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slowbiscuit, if you're talking to me, havent decided on software yet, hardware took me long enough, need a break.
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post #20 of 56 Old 08-08-2007, 09:59 PM
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I have completed two identical boxes, one is spare that I could use. They have a gig of ram, a terrabyte of HD, a '3600' amd cpu, zalman cpu fan, and seasonic powersupply. No tuner card yet, can't decide. Will be coming in as regular analog cable, was wonding if a tuner card with a hardware divx encoder would be the way to go. I want to monge on cooking and history channel shows so I have a video recipe box, so to speak, and a nice collection of history junk.

I loosely envision the pc recording the shows and acting as a server and an old regular xbox as the thin client.

haven't decided on an software or tuner card.

input welcome.
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post #21 of 56 Old 08-08-2007, 10:10 PM
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Speaking of liz, she amazed me a few months ago when I was making her a new box.

She went out and picked this case and had it shipped to her house without running it by me first, which concerned me at first. But I think she picked the absolutely best cheap case in the world:




It costs 17.99 plus like $5 shipping. It isn't butt ugly beige, or ghetto gamer. It looks something that would be near a bookshelf, and it's AV black, which means it's possibly the cheapest case that won't look freaky in your living room.

I dropped by geeks.com store and picked up 4 of them for myself and switched over all my puters from butt ugly beige cases... god it was about time.

Most of my MOBOs are mini-atx and this is an atx case, but the good thing is atx cases keep everything an extra 6 inches away from the floor.
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post #22 of 56 Old 08-09-2007, 08:48 PM
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KnoppMyth R5E50
Sempron 2800+ socket 754 (overclocked)
Foxconn mobo
2x air2pc "ebay special" ATSC tuners
250gb SATA HD
1gb RAM (single stick)
PNY / NVidia GeForce 6200 - currently using DVI out to Vizio 37" LCD TV via 2nd HDMI input
remote keyboard w/ built-in pointer (IR based / PS2 connectors)
Memorex DVD-RW drive
Antec NSK-2400 case
zap2it guide info.... soon to be schedules direct
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post #23 of 56 Old 08-10-2007, 08:26 AM
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HTPC:

ASUS P5P mobo
CPU Core Duo 6600 @ 2.6Ghz (slightly OCd)
2GB RAM
XFX Nvidia 8600GTS (PCI-E)
120GB system PATA drive
2TB RAID-5 disk array (8 400GB SATA drives & Adaptec hardware raid controller)
LiteOn DVD drive
SuperMicro rack mount rack with 8 hot-swap SATA drives

Feeds DVI @ 1080P/24hz to a Sharp Z20000 1080 DLP projector
Feeds SP/DIF to a Rotel processor

Software:
Meedio - front end
TheaterTek - DVD playback
DVDShrink/DVDDecrypter - DVD ripper
DVDProfile - catalog DVDs
Girder + USB-UIRT for I/R control
AnyDVD
Reclock
ffdshow
acronis true image

Mostly I keep copies of just the movie portion of my DVD library. I have about 250 DVDs on there now using a bit over 1TB. The Meedio front end lets me browse my DVDs, pick one and immediatly start playing it (no menus, no previews, etc). I also have a Plugin in Meedio that interfaces it to my DVArchive install and my ReplayTVs so I can play shows from my archive or any ReplayTV on the same screen (via VLC as it supports streaming). AnyDVD lets me skip over the annoying intros and things that you aren't allowed to normally skip over when renting a DVD and playing it back. Reclock cleans up video and audio synchronization issues and ffdshow postprocessing lets me take regular DVD output and clean/sharpen it up to look nearly like HDTV stuff (important when blowing SD material to 120" diagnoal -- a standard DVD player looks terrible without some processing at that size).

Anyone who has had a windows based HTPC for a while knows how esy it is to screw it up with a software update, driver update, changes, etc. So I use acronis to make an image of my system before any change (and after any change I deem as a postiive step). With it, even if the main HDD crashes, I can be back up and running in an hour. Before that, if things got "clogged" (registry crap, bad drivers, etc), I'd lose a day reloading windows, all patches, all utilities, programs, settings, etc. This sort of program is worth it's weight in GOLD.

I've tried to move into recording TV directly on it as well, but have had no luck. I've tried using cards capable of tuning digital cable (QAM) and found nearly everything is encrypted. Using firewire to my moto cable box gives about the same -- very few channels that come through unencrpted. And an analog tuner won't do it -- nearly all that I watch is up in the digital area. So until you can get a cablecard capture card (not holding my breath), for now, my ReplayTVs still record the shows (as mentioned, I playback on the Meedio/HTPC box) and my cable company HD-DVR (moto 6412) handles recording HDTV material (it has a passable interface, but being limited to 20 hours of HD material really chaffs me).

Gerry
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post #24 of 56 Old 08-11-2007, 06:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gduprey View Post

HTPC:


Mostly I keep copies of just the movie portion of my DVD library. I have about 250 DVDs on there now using a bit over 1TB. The Meedio front end lets me browse my DVDs, pick one and immediatly start playing it (no menus, no previews, etc).

Gerry

Gerry:

What version of Meedio are you using ? I went online to get a copy and found that Yahoo purchased them about a year ago. The software appears to no longer be available.

Thanks,

RW

RW
And a Helluva an Engineer !
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post #25 of 56 Old 08-11-2007, 07:32 AM
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I think it's 1.38. I purchased it from them about a year and a half before things shutdown. Too bad -- it does everything I want. There is a project to continue development of the platform (you can google it).

Gerry
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post #26 of 56 Old 08-11-2007, 12:58 PM
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This is a 2 year old PC so it's hardly "state of the art" anymore but any means. My baby is the soundcard (LM4562 modded Auzen X-Meridian). Okay to cut & paste your original post...
[*]CPU/Memory/Motherboard
AMD 3500+ (64) with 1GB PC3200 and an Asus A8N-E
..[*]Drives, storage space
3 internal and 1 external totally 1.2TB
..[*]Remote
HP iPaq (my ghetto "RF like" remote)
..[*]Capture Device
None...I just play multimedia content (both SD & HD)
..[*]Video Card
ATI X800 256MB VIVO PCI-X16
Uses HDMI-->DVI to connect to a 42" Toshiba Regza HL67
..[*]Audio
Auzentech X-Meridian with swapped OPAMPs (LM4562) using 6ch analog output to a very old Denon AVR-484
..[*]Any other cards
N/A
..[*]OS
XP SP2
..[*]HTPC software
MediaPortal
..[*]Where you get guide data
It's not used for TV viewing
..[*]any other software.
WinAMP is under it's own separate software in the PDA to remotely execute it (hidden) and brings up the playlist and all the data from winamp into the PDA. I can also execute visualization plugins remotely as well onto the TV

..
I'm fixing to make a post in another thread of photos...I'll link to it once I'm done making it.

EDIT: here
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...4#post11281164
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post #27 of 56 Old 08-12-2007, 03:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Does anyone know if SATA vs PATA or 5400 vs 7200 matters when building an HTPC for high def content?

Bob
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post #28 of 56 Old 08-12-2007, 05:18 PM
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Go SATA/7200 if you can, otherwise PATA/7200. HD content recording/playback along with DB guide updates along with commercial flagging (if you're going Myth) can saturate the drive, so go with the fastest HD you can.
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post #29 of 56 Old 08-25-2007, 05:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Couple of more questions:
what codecs do you guys have installed and why?

Those of you dealing with .ts files (like what come from a firewire/stb setup):
What are you doing for playback

Is anyone timeshifting HD? (as in starting to watch a show you're recording before it finishes recording)

Bob
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post #30 of 56 Old 08-25-2007, 06:11 PM
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I think every HD PVR lets you watch recordings in progress. It's no problem with Myth, and if you have a fast enough box you can set commercial flagging to run after a show starts recording. So it's pretty much like a Replay in that as long as you are 10-15 minutes or so behind, commercial skip works fine.

As far as codecs go, mplayer for Linux comes with pretty much everything. I have not had any problems playing the occasional *ahem* obtained divx/xvid/etc. file with it. Not sure if it includes h.264 support (probably does) but DD 5.1 (AC3), DTS (DVDs), MP3, AAC, are not a problem.
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