Originally Posted by elockett
For those who don't know, the MSI DIVA I mentioned previously and the Maui are synonymous. I have a question about this assertion that we won't see AVR-like AV switching for HTPCs for at least five years. Why? As HTPCs can deliver most media content now from internal devices or the network, I don't see why it would be so difficult to offer two HDMI inputs on a mobo that could support PAVP to satisfy TV and movie content providers. Further, PAVP would be easier to implement for these inputs because as a practical matter, they would really only have to pass encrypted video from the source plus up to 5.1 LPCM or DD (the only audio content external TV tuners and gaming consoles will output for the forseeable future).
Originally Posted by elockett
If you're talking about a component from a traditional consumer electronics company, I generally agree with this as most components are not modular. Conversely, this would not be true for an HTPC where all of its parts are easily upgradeable.
Not really, if you look at the "cheap" computers, they are very non-upgradable. You've got to move up to the Nivues Media type stuff to get an upgradable pre-built HTPC, and those are very expensive.
Further, if you look at the buying population in general, I'm not sure that they would agree that all in one components are not desireable. Quite the contrary; I think that most people would value a system where all media content could be stored, consumed, and even amplified within a single box. To be clear, I'm talking about the general public, not audiophiles.
I don't see a lot of evidence of that. People are happy with their cable company DVRs because cheap, even if they are crappy and not integrated. Most people aren't willing to buy a $200 cheap, decent universal remote let alone a good one, to make their system integrated/automated.
I think the potential of the MSI DIVA/Maui platform has been underestimated by many. If it provided some HDMI inputs as I suggested previously and was properly marketed, I believe it could seriously challenge consumer AV recievers in general.
I think people drastically overestimate HTPCs if they think the public at large will adopt them any time soon.
Now, prepros via HTPC would present a different, though not insurmountable challenge. IMO, most people buy prepros for three reasons:
1: Better sound quality versus AV recievers
2: The ability to use larger and/or different amplifiers (tubes for example)
3: A combination of 1 and 2
MSI offers a 7.1 prepro card to compliment their DIVA amp that satisfies item 2 above. The real question is if a vendor could develop a prepro card that could rival the sound quality of say; Denon's AVP-A1 (which I currently own), Anthem's D2, or Theta's Casablanca III. IMO, the answer is yes because I've read enough posts within the HTPC forum about sound cards with very high quality sound (rivaling high-end DACs via analog out) to suggest that its more of a matter of will than technology.
You know why I have an Anthem AVM20 and will buy another (still hoping to upgrade to a 50V)? Because the Anthem is rock solid functionality and build quality. It's probably litterally bulletproof (what with the 1/4" aluminum faceplate
I've seen nothing to convince me that a PC would work that well. Especially not if it's built on Windows or any other non RTOS. And just so it's clear, it's largely the Anthem software/firmware running on whatever custom, special purpos OS it uses that are the reason I'll buy another Anthem over something much cheaper.
Further, given that the current MSI DIVA 7.1 prepro retails for ~ $160 (mobo and card-and can be had for less), I think a very high performance prepro card-mobo combination could be developed for say, $600 if not less. Add in another $600 for HTPC parts and DIY'ers could have a very nice sounding HTPC prepro for ~ $1200.
With SW that's nowhere near as bulletproof as that of a dedicated prepro.
Mark this up 100% for a vendor and you'd still have a viable competitor to current consumer prepros. Remember this hypothetical HTPC prepro would sound at least as good as say, an Onkyo Pro 886 prepro (if not better) with comperable features plus:
- Internal storage and playback of one's music collection (or NAS-based if so desired)
- Internal DVD/BR playback (or possibly NAS-based if negotiated with content providers)
- Easy Internet radio playback
- Very nice UI for media management
- Equivalent functionality of cable DVR early next year (note I didn't include tuner cost in aforementioned totals)
- Ability to act as media server for future extenders or clients
- Ability to serve as general purpose PC if so desired
Would I personally consider such a product in lieu my trusted Denon AVP for ~2K from a vendor (or substantially less if I built it myself)? In the immortal words of Sarah Pallin: You Betcha!
You know, I spent quite a while chasing the "all in one HTPC" dream and you know what I found? The old axiom, "Jack of all trades, master of none" is as applicable as ever.
The below statements are all IMO:
Preamp? My M-Audio Revolution 7.1 had great sound quality and could drive an amp capably. But the audio software on the PC, from the Revo's driver-based Bass Management and time alignment, player audio decoding, all of it was much flakier and inferior to my bulletproof Anthem. No desire to put audio processing back in a PC.
Audio playback? Ton's of apps exist that play my music collection capably on the PC, but a Squeezebox does it with a better interface (for music) and better form factor.
Blu-ray playback? I never liked PowerDVD and my path down the HTPC BD player reminded me why, even when it worked it was rather flaky, TMT didn't work for me at all for some reason. My Pioneer BDP-51FD has bested it in every way but speed.
General video playback? It's probably closest here, there are a number of good apps out there for playing video in an HT, and I use SageTV, but I use their HD200 extender which plays everything I need it to, and does it easier and with equal or better quality to the HTPC it replaced.
DVR-ing and media storage/management? These are IMO the places where PCs shine, it's what they've been built for from their inception, data storage/management/manipulation. SageTV smokes any standalone DVR in features and overall experience IMO.
Now, is it possible
for somebody to build a PC based system that does everything possible with equal or better quality to competitively priced standalones? Absolutely
I think it's possible, anything is possible with PCs, they're the proof of concept and development tools for most standalone products to begin with.
The problem is, the HTPC market iis far, far, far too small to attract the kind of attention and more importantly money and clout required to get everything in place to do it.
Originally Posted by elockett
IMO, PCs can effectively replicate any of these functions. It's simply a matter of will from the appropriate hardware and software vendors.
Exactly, and I highly doubt anybody is going to "step up to the plate" and do it.
Your point is taken about the lack of hardware and software vendors that currently support PAVP but that capability is coming quickly, especially on the hardware side (existing Asus Xonar, ATI 5xxx cards, 2010 Q1 Intel Clarkedale CPU).
We need PAVP HDMI input devices, which I don't see happening.
Of the software side, I predict (but admittedly can't guarantee) that the usual suspects (Cyberlink and Arcsoft) will support this hardware within months, not years.
If we leave it to them we're SOL. They don't care about the HTPC market one bit. They only care about large OEM contracts.
Further, I don't think it would be too much of a stretch to apply this support to HDMI inputs and again, were talking about PCM and DD only-not HD audio. Moreover, if the audio and video is transmitted through these inputs in encrypted form, I don't see how they would present any more copy risk than any other source that does the same.
Because standalones don't run user software and thus don't pass data over "user accessible" busses.
I think that the greatest challenge to HDMI inputs would come from content providers, as opposed to any hardware or software obstacle. Even here as a vendor I'd have to ask the content providers why a user would want to copy console gaming audio or video? TV content is another matter, but again given how PAVP works, I don't see how HDMI inputs, in and of themselves would present any copy threat.
Have you not noticed that logic is the last thing on these people's minds? HDCP is utterly pointless since you can just grab the perfect, compressed data directly but doesn't mean people are going to stop using HDCP. We can't even get tuners to directly record Satellite TV, how are we going to get all this other stuff to work?