Originally Posted by Clams Canino
Just a remider to some of the newbies that if you wanna go the HTPC route to get that pixel-mapped 480p stuff going you don't need much.
I'm fairly picky.... but not OCD picky like some...
And I'm VERY happy with my little "retired computer dedicated to HTPC" project. For those that bought the 4805 because of a tight budget, there is a way to do a "tight budget HTPC" too.
The ability to store and manipulate movies is well worth it. -W
To elaborate more on my Budget HTPC post from page 19:
The HTPC forum here on AVS has a sticky thread with links to all kinds of great freeware and utilities. Including DVDShrink 3.2 - check it out!
Start with a clean formatted hard disk. Partition it so that the C: drive is about 9gigs - that will handle your windows install and all software. Make the second partion your D: drive and use that to store all your movies. (one big advantage to doing this is that if something gets really hosed- like Windows -you can format the C: drive and re-install , without losing anything you stored.
Ugrade the fresh install with DirectX9c and WMP 10 right off.
Disable the recycle bin on the D: drive, your average movie may not fit it anyway. If you add a second hard disk it's E: , format it as one big drive - no recycle bin.
Your average "main movie" on a DVD is 3.5-6.5 gigs. If you let DVDShrink rip the main movie and compress it (the long way) you can get all your single disk titles to 3.5 - 4.5 gig per movie with minimal quality loss on the bigger ones. I never compress a movie smaller than 4.5 gig. This means for every 100g of hard drive space you can store about 25 movies. Hard disk movies are fast access and easy to manipulate.
If you slam a pair of 250 gig drives in the machine, and subtract 10gig for the OS partition, and 10gig for your CD's ripped to MP3 music collection and you'll have 480 gigs left for movies. Allowing you to store about 120 4g movies on the HTPC.
If you have a good 10/100 network you can store movies (and music) on other boxes and play them right over the network. I have about .75 terrabyte of total network storage.
The Nvidia 77.77 XP drivers have an 848x480 setting built in. Easy place to start. More advanced users can use the free utility "Powerstrip" to change display settings on the fly. Low HP machines outta use the "single display" setting in the Nvidia drivers.... so it don't have to work to make 2 screens at once. I use the Nvidia 5700 card - and don't reccomend using much less of a card.
There are many "gamer" utilities that allow you to shut down unneeded services in Windows XP to allow more horsepower to be used for gaming demands. Weaker machines (<500mhz) benifit a bit from doing this for HTPC too.
The SB Audigy 2zs has direct digital out and a THX optimizer of it's own, I selected it for that reason. But even a cheap SB Live 5.0 will get you going.
For player software: Even WMP10 will play a DVD - or a DVD ripped to disk. If you buy a Sony DVD burner (check out how cheap the old DRU700 series drives are going!) they come with the Nero suite. Nero alows you to burn directly from within DVDshrink 3.2 and the suite has a decent little DVD player included. Other Sony drives come with Power DVD - another decent little player. If you wanna actually buy a player - most here use Theater Tek.
Ebay is a great source for slightly used drives, cards, and parts - as well as good liscenced software. I've never had a real problem in over 400 transactions. The budget HTPC builder is wise to get parts that were "last years big news".
I usually start my tests on the little monitor on the VGA port at 800x600 and then at 1024x768. If you can get the box to play OK there - it won't have any trouble when doing 848x480 over the DVI output for your SP4805.
Star Wars episode IV "A New Hope" has everyhting you need to set up a quick and dirty HTPC and get pretty darn close to spot-on. Use the THX optimiser (change the settings in your software player, not the 4805) and then play the 1st 5 minutes of the movie. During those 1st five minutes you get to see a very video demading scene when that Star Destroyer forces every pixel to move at once. You get great white scenes in the little ship, you get a great dark scene when Leia is feeding the message to R2, you can use Vader to see your blacks, and you can use the side lights and R2's lights to get a good feel for color saturation. If you hear Darth Vader say "You are a part of the Rebel Alliance and a traitor - take her away!" you went TOO FAR and got sucked into watching the movie. Get back to work!