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HP Pavilion Slimline s3330f, is it a good prebuilt htpc? - Page 5

post #121 of 336
Unfortunately, WinDVD8 is a separate purchase.

At first I tried HP's "DVD Play BD/HD-DVD" - the OEM hd disk player - but my results were mixed. Some sd dvds looked pretty damned good, while others were really crap. I tried MPC and WMP and the same results. Therefore, I still had to keep the Oppo in place.

I had almost given up on sd dvd play on the HTPC when I downloaded the trial version of WinDVD8. I haven't looked back since.

If and when there's a dual-format, hi def version of WinDVD, I'll be one of the first to try it out.

Please report what kind of audio you can get from the s3330f via HDMI to your Onkyo. I don't have an HDMI-input receiver, but I'd like to know anyway.
post #122 of 336
Quote:
Originally Posted by kelliot View Post

Got one yesterday at Frye's. Was on sale for $849. I can't seem to get QAM, but I already have an HDHomerun coming.

If anyone is in the market for this PC, Fry's has it this week for 799. Their SF Bay area ad shows it as an s3300f with a SuperMulti-DVD burner. However, at the store, it is definitely the s3330f model with the Blue-Ray/HD-DVD drive. I ended up getting one, darn it.
post #123 of 336
Yeah, I just picked one up also. Now time to go see if it bitstreams. You can't really even get a good combo HD-DVD/BluRay player for this price, not to mention a whole friggin' computer as well! I have a good selection of HD-DVD movies that I don't want to rebuy, and seeing as HD is dust I expect the players (in all forms) will disappear in a year or so making this a pre-emptive move.
post #124 of 336
Quote:
Originally Posted by lgs269 View Post

If anyone is in the market for this PC, Fry's has it this week for 799. Their SF Bay area ad shows it as an s3300f with a SuperMulti-DVD burner. However, at the store, it is definitely the s3330f model with the Blue-Ray/HD-DVD drive. I ended up getting one, darn it.

That is a helluva deal for this pc.
post #125 of 336
Quote:
Originally Posted by Herve View Post

Unfortunately, WinDVD8 is a separate purchase.

At first I tried HP's "DVD Play BD/HD-DVD" - the OEM hd disk player - but my results were mixed. Some sd dvds looked pretty damned good, while others were really crap. I tried MPC and WMP and the same results. Therefore, I still had to keep the Oppo in place.

I had almost given up on sd dvd play on the HTPC when I downloaded the trial version of WinDVD8. I haven't looked back since.

If and when there's a dual-format, hi def version of WinDVD, I'll be one of the first to try it out.

Please report what kind of audio you can get from the s3330f via HDMI to your Onkyo. I don't have an HDMI-input receiver, but I'd like to know anyway.

Herve, does WinDVD integrate into Windows Media Center, or do you have to launch it as a seperate app?
post #126 of 336
Quick HDMI update here.

Only had the thing for a couple hours and have updated both the PDVD software and the nVidia graphics card software. I've played snippets Matrix HD, Serenity HD and Fifth Element SD and I've done them all purely through the HDMI connection. Near as I can tell the unit will NOT pass the HiDef audio codecs over HDMI. If you select the LPCM setting my Onkyo reports only standard PCM and PLIIX On the other hand, selecting the AC3/DTS mode DOES send either DTS or DD to the receiver via HDMI. This is true whether I select Dolby Digital 5.1 or TrueHD on Matrix.

Is the HP downrezzing the HD audio codec to plain ole SD Dolby Digital?
post #127 of 336
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Abulia View Post

Herve, does WinDVD integrate into Windows Media Center, or do you have to launch it as a seperate app?

I launch it as a separate application. I don't know if it's possible to do it through WMC. Sorry.
post #128 of 336
Quote:
Originally Posted by rkhobbit View Post

Looking at the spec of this PC, there is a PCI expansion slot and a PCI-Express slot. I assume that the TV Tuner card is in the PCI slot and the HDMI/DVI graphics card is used in the PCI Express slot? Can someone who owns this unit please confirm?

I really don't need/want a TV Tuner on my HTPC since I already own an HD DVR. I really want to add an esata bracket and exploit esata2 connection on the motherboard so I can install an external sata II drive to support storage of DVD files.

BTW, if anyone is interested here is a link to the motherboard used for the S3330F...

http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/d...629382&lang=fr

I just got my S3330f... The HDMI/DVI card does use the PCI-Express slot and the tuner does use the PCI slot. I removed the tuner card and will replace it with a low profile PCI sata card with 1 internal and 1 external esata port to support downloaded DVD movies from an external E-sata drive (750 GB Seagate FreeAgent Pro). I went for the cheaper card that supports 1.5 Gb/s rate (from www.cooldrives.com). There is a more expensive card that supports 3 Gb/s rate but I opted to not spend the extra money. The PC uses both internal SATA1 and SATA2 connections on the motherboard for the HD and DVD drive, so a PCI SATA card is needed. While I had the PC open, went ahead and unpgraded the memory to 4 GB PC2 5300 DDR.
post #129 of 336
Quote:
Originally Posted by Herve View Post

Unfortunately, WinDVD8 is a separate purchase.

At first I tried HP's "DVD Play BD/HD-DVD" - the OEM hd disk player - but my results were mixed. Some sd dvds looked pretty damned good, while others were really crap. I tried MPC and WMP and the same results. Therefore, I still had to keep the Oppo in place.

I had almost given up on sd dvd play on the HTPC when I downloaded the trial version of WinDVD8. I haven't looked back since.

If and when there's a dual-format, hi def version of WinDVD, I'll be one of the first to try it out.

Please report what kind of audio you can get from the s3330f via HDMI to your Onkyo. I don't have an HDMI-input receiver, but I'd like to know anyway.

I understand, you had issues with the OEM "DVD Play BD/HD-DVD" to play SD DVD's but are you happy with it when playing Blu-ray discs?
post #130 of 336
Quote:
Originally Posted by rkhobbit View Post

While I had the PC open, went ahead and unpgraded the memory to 4 GB PC2 5300 DDR.

Does the machine see all that RAM? At least the 3.x GB that 32 windows will see? I have a S3220N and on the spec sheet, it seems to be listed as a max of 2GB memory, which, if I'm reading it right, so is this machine. I was always curious if I was able to put in 2x2gb
post #131 of 336
Had some more time to play with this unit and have some more observations and questions.

Questions:
I have my S3330f sitting next to my Xbox 360 and they both respond to the power on/power off command, is there a way to change this command on either the HTPC or xBox so they are different?

Does the HTPC output DD or DTS over SPDIF if TrueHD is selected as the audio on an HD movie? It will NOT do this over HDMI. I watched Invasion HD-DVD last night and the sole soundtrack on it is TrueHD. I had a great picture and really crappy sound.

How "off" is the unit when it is turned off with the remote as opposed to shutting down Vista? I notice that there is a constant light glowing on it although it feels cool to the touch and I can't here the hard drive spinning.

Observations:
The machine gets fairly hot and is a bit louder than I like but overall no problems with it during my first full HD movie last night.

I upgraded the Realtek HD-Audio driver to the Feb. 14 2008 version hoping to gain bitstreaming of the HD codec over HDMI, didn't happen.

I upgraded the nVidia driver to the latest version hoping maybe that would give bitstreaming (they are tied together, right?) but that didn't happen either.

I downloaded and installed WinDVD8 Premium (demo) and Herve is correct, it does produce a very nice picture. I noticed that Corel also has a new HD/BD version of WinDVD8, anyone tried it?

My Harmony 880 remote works perfectly with this unit

I have more playing to do and I'm sure I will have more questions and observations but so far this is a sweet little package for $800.
post #132 of 336
Quote:
Originally Posted by amheck View Post

Does the machine see all that RAM? At least the 3.x GB that 32 windows will see? I have a S3220N and on the spec sheet, it seems to be listed as a max of 2GB memory, which, if I'm reading it right, so is this machine. I was always curious if I was able to put in 2x2gb

I did read the motherboard specs and how it may not see all 4 GB of memory for a 32 bit machine... just don't know how to assess what it actually sees? I escaped to the BIOS setup and confirmed that it notes 2096 MB per DIMM slot.
post #133 of 336
Quote:
Originally Posted by Itsdon View Post

Quick HDMI update here.

Only had the thing for a couple hours and have updated both the PDVD software and the nVidia graphics card software. I've played snippets Matrix HD, Serenity HD and Fifth Element SD and I've done them all purely through the HDMI connection. Near as I can tell the unit will NOT pass the HiDef audio codecs over HDMI. If you select the LPCM setting my Onkyo reports only standard PCM and PLIIX On the other hand, selecting the AC3/DTS mode DOES send either DTS or DD to the receiver via HDMI. This is true whether I select Dolby Digital 5.1 or TrueHD on Matrix.

Is the HP downrezzing the HD audio codec to plain ole SD Dolby Digital?

When you say upgraded the PDVD, do you mean the OEM "DVD Play BD/HD-DVD"? If yes, what are the steps to upgrade the PDVD?
post #134 of 336
Quote:
Originally Posted by Itsdon View Post

Had some more time to play with this unit and have some more observations and questions.

Questions:
I have my S3330f sitting next to my Xbox 360 and they both respond to the power on/power off command, is there a way to change this command on either the HTPC or xBox so they are different?

Does the HTPC output DD or DTS over SPDIF if TrueHD is selected as the audio on an HD movie? It will NOT do this over HDMI. I watched Invasion HD-DVD last night and the sole soundtrack on it is TrueHD. I had a great picture and really crappy sound.

How "off" is the unit when it is turned off with the remote as opposed to shutting down Vista? I notice that there is a constant light glowing on it although it feels cool to the touch and I can't here the hard drive spinning.

Observations:
The machine gets fairly hot and is a bit louder than I like but overall no problems with it during my first full HD movie last night.

I upgraded the Realtek HD-Audio driver to the Feb. 14 2008 version hoping to gain bitstreaming of the HD codec over HDMI, didn't happen.

I upgraded the nVidia driver to the latest version hoping maybe that would give bitstreaming (they are tied together, right?) but that didn't happen either.

I downloaded and installed WinDVD8 Premium (demo) and Herve is correct, it does produce a very nice picture. I noticed that Corel also has a new HD/BD version of WinDVD8, anyone tried it?

My Harmony 880 remote works perfectly with this unit

I have more playing to do and I'm sure I will have more questions and observations but so far this is a sweet little package for $800.

I think the HDMI audio issue is worth a "live chat" with an HP "representative".
http://h20180.www2.hp.com/apps/Nav?h...2&h_page=hpcom
I could never figure out if that "rep" is a real person, or not, but I got some questions answered to my satisfaction.

If HDMI sound is crappy, why not try the coax digital with dd 5.1? I think it sounds great through our Denon 5800, Paradigm Studio 100 fronts, center, surrounds and Servo 15 sub.

I have the light on, too, even when the Vista is shut down completely. It does not bother me, so I have not investigated, but it may be the light indicating an ethernet connection.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rkhobbit View Post

I understand, you had issues with the OEM "DVD Play BD/HD-DVD" to play SD DVD's but are you happy with it when playing Blu-ray discs?

To me, this unit's playback of BD and HD-DVD is its greatest achievement. Yes, I love its BD playback.
________________________________________

If any owners of this machine want complete image aspect ratio control - a really good, infinitely-controllable zoom, or maybe the ability to do a constant-height set-up - try out a fantastic program called "YXY Aspect Ratio Controller". Incredibly, it's a freebie here:
http://www.keohi.com/keohiHDTV/htpc/yxy/yxy.html
To my knowledge, no standalone player can do with an image what this HTPC+YXY can.

YXY has a bit of a learning curve, but once you get used to it, you won't want to be without it. If you download it and have any trouble, just post here and I can easily help you out.
post #135 of 336
Quote:
Originally Posted by rkhobbit View Post

I did read the motherboard specs and how it may not see all 4 GB of memory for a 32 bit machine... just don't know how to assess what it actually sees? I escaped to the BIOS setup and confirmed that it notes 2096 MB per DIMM slot.

If you right click on My Computer, then PROPERTIES, my Vista PC with 4x1GB will show 3326MB.

I was just curious, cause HP lists 2GB as the max, and I didn't know if this was related to the BIOS, MB, that they use in the slimlines

from HP's site on the "specs" tab

"Maximum memory expansion
(2x1GB)(3)"

That's good news, cause I'd love to be able to stick 2x2gb in my s3220n
post #136 of 336
Quote:
Originally Posted by Herve View Post

If HDMI sound is crappy, why not try the coax digital with dd 5.1?

It only sounds bad when TrueHD is the source. Basically there are 3 types of sound:

PCM Stereo that my Onkyo matrixes to 6.1 as PLIIx (BAD)
DD & DTS (GOOD)
DD 5.1 & TrueHD etc. (HD codecs) (GREAT)

The S3330f exhibits these behaviors over HDMI:

SD DVD with either DD or DTS = DD or DTS
HD DVD with DD 5.1 = DD
HD DVD with TrueHD = PCM Stereo

Herve, my question basically was - if I hook up a coax SPDIF will I get DD or DD 5.1 when TrueHD is selected? Have you tried a TrueHD movie?

Also, what is the purpose of the LPCM setting as opposed to the AC3/DD setting? I was hoping that the LPCM setting would allow the PC to decode the HiDef audio and send it via HDMI to the Onkyo (as opposed to bitstreaming it). It doesn't (sends it as PCM stereo ) but perhaps that is an HDMI thing, does it do that over SPDIF?
post #137 of 336
Quote:
Originally Posted by amheck View Post

If you right click on My Computer, then PROPERTIES, my Vista PC with 4x1GB will show 3326MB.

I was just curious, cause HP lists 2GB as the max, and I didn't know if this was related to the BIOS, MB, that they use in the slimlines

from HP's site on the "specs" tab

"Maximum memory expansion
(2x1GB)(3)"

That's good news, cause I'd love to be able to stick 2x2gb in my s3220n

Seems a little odd that the S3330f specs say max memory is 2x1GB, yet the motherboard specs (M2N61-AR (Acacia)) state "Supports up to 4 GB* (2 x 2 GB) ... 32 bit PCs cannot address a full 4.0 GB of memory. *Actual available memory may be less." I'll check the properties in Vista when I get home to see if it is at 3326MB.
post #138 of 336
Quote:
Originally Posted by Itsdon View Post

It only sounds bad when TrueHD is the source. Basically there are 3 types of sound:

PCM Stereo that my Onkyo matrixes to 6.1 as PLIIx (BAD)
DD & DTS (GOOD)
DD 5.1 & TrueHD etc. (HD codecs) (GREAT)

The S3330f exhibits these behaviors over HDMI:

SD DVD with either DD or DTS = DD or DTS
HD DVD with DD 5.1 = DD
HD DVD with TrueHD = PCM Stereo

Herve, my question basically was - if I hook up a coax SPDIF will I get DD or DD 5.1 when TrueHD is selected? Have you tried a TrueHD movie?

Also, what is the purpose of the LPCM setting as opposed to the AC3/DD setting? I was hoping that the LPCM setting would allow the PC to decode the HiDef audio and send it via HDMI to the Onkyo (as opposed to bitstreaming it). It doesn't (sends it as PCM stereo ) but perhaps that is an HDMI thing, does it do that over SPDIF?

Honestly, I don't remember if any of the movies I've seen have a TrueHD track. The next time I encounter a disk with TrueHD, I'll select it and see what happens. (Of course, you could try this, too. Just connect to your receiver via digital coax and see what happens.)

Here's a recent article about this subject that may be of interest to you:
http://www.tweaktown.com/articles/13..._pc/index.html
post #139 of 336
Great article, Herve, thanks for posting.

From what I've been able to gather through reading the forums, then, the only way to get TrueHD on this computer is to

a) use a HDMI cable and a HDMI 1.3 capable receiver and
b) upgrade the OEM PowerDVD Ultra to the Retail PowerDVD Ultra

Does this seem right? Has anyone been able to test this and confirm that it works?

(As an aside, CNET just gave the s3330f a great review)
post #140 of 336
Quote:
Originally Posted by amheck View Post

If you right click on My Computer, then PROPERTIES, my Vista PC with 4x1GB will show 3326MB.

I was just curious, cause HP lists 2GB as the max, and I didn't know if this was related to the BIOS, MB, that they use in the slimlines

from HP's site on the "specs" tab

"Maximum memory expansion
(2x1GB)(3)"

That's good news, cause I'd love to be able to stick 2x2gb in my s3220n

Did this and memory was 3,582 MB.
post #141 of 336
Quote:
Originally Posted by lgs269 View Post

If anyone is in the market for this PC, Fry's has it this week for 799. Their SF Bay area ad shows it as an s3300f with a SuperMulti-DVD burner. However, at the store, it is definitely the s3330f model with the Blue-Ray/HD-DVD drive. I ended up getting one, darn it.

Went back and got my $50 refund.
Watched the last two "Pirates of the Caribbean" over the weekend.
Had some problems with seek times. Don't know why.
post #142 of 336
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Abulia View Post

Great article, Herve, thanks for posting.

From what I've been able to gather through reading the forums, then, the only way to get TrueHD on this computer is to

a) use a HDMI cable and a HDMI 1.3 capable receiver and
b) upgrade the OEM PowerDVD Ultra to the Retail PowerDVD Ultra

Does this seem right? Has anyone been able to test this and confirm that it works?

(As an aside, CNET just gave the s3330f a great review)

Nope, tried it tonight with PowerDVD Ultra 7.3, HDMI 1.3 cable and an Onkyo 605. No TrueHD at all, it simply dumbs it down to the worst possible sound - 2 channel PCM. I have updated everything I can think of and simply can not find a way for this thing to output decent sound, it just shouldn't be this hard!

The exact same is true ove SPDIF, I plugged in my Digital Coax cable and got the exact same experience as HDMI.

Perhaps a call to HP is in order. I believe the problem lies with the ALC888s HD Audio Chipset. When I look at the "Supported Formats" my only options are DTS, Dolby Digital, Microsoft Pro Audio WMA. If this card is supporting 7.1, and everything I've read about it says it does, then where are the 7.1 formats it supports?

BTW when it does play Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 it compresses it down to 640kbs, why? HDMI certainly has the capacity, I've bitstreamed TrueHD to my Onkyo from my Toshiba XA2. Seeing TreuHD light up on the display is pretty awesome
post #143 of 336
I really appreciate this thread, as I'm not sophisticated but this PC sure has a lot of capability. I have some questions:

1. I have Comcast and they give the McAfee Security Suite plus updates for free. Are there any issues in removing Norton Security from the PC?

2. I made a mistake in setting the Realtek Audio for HDMI. I set up the graphic control panel for two video outipus and switched my Panny plasma to receive it. I got the BD Blazing Saddles video, but no audio. (I updated the graphic driver, also.) I thnk I did the audio correct, but now I can't play the BD disk. It doesn't do anything. At one point I hit the vista button and it asked if I wanted to update the HP DVD player, but that doesn't actually play HD, does it?

3. I have the control panel set up for Samsung (VGA Monitor)-Panasonic (it recognized my TV immediately) and I resized the picture. But when the console shows on my 720p plasma the picture is fuzzy, not sharp at all. I have the monitor set for 1152x856 (I think that's the number) because on my 17" monitor 1280 is too small. Any ideas to sharpen the image on my TV?

Thanks for any help you can give.

Rich N.
post #144 of 336
Quote:
Originally Posted by raidbuck View Post

I really appreciate this thread, as I'm not sophisticated but this PC sure has a lot of capability. I have some questions:

1. I have Comcast and they give the McAfee Security Suite plus updates for free. Are there any issues in removing Norton Security from the PC?

I removed Norton from my S3330F PC and installed Computer Associates Internet Security software (it is free with my cable ISP). No issues... As a precaution, I would create a restore point before removing the Norton SW and then create another restore point after removing Norton. Make sure you do a full reboot of your PC after removing Norton. If you have issues, there is a Norton Removal tool available from Norton that removes "all" Norton files still resident on the PC after standard Uninstall procedures.
post #145 of 336
You guys might find this interesting: The s3330f's big brother is the HP Pavilion Elite m9060n. It's pretty much the same thing, but in a bigger, more expandable box. It has more RAM, more dedicated video memory, a little bit more hard disk space, and it has a Q6600 instead of an Athlon 64 X2. Buy.com has some reconditioned units for $800.

I'm thinking of pulling the trigger--either that, a new s3330f, or take advantage of a 30%-off deal that's going on until tomorrow at dell.com. (You can configure an Inspiron 530 so that it's similar to an HP s3330f.) Choices, choices.
post #146 of 336
90 day warranty on the HP refurbs.....if that sort of thing matters to you
post #147 of 336
Quote:
Originally Posted by rkhobbit View Post

I removed Norton from my S3330F PC and installed Computer Associates Internet Security software (it is free with my cable ISP). No issues... As a precaution, I would create a restore point before removing the Norton SW and then create another restore point after removing Norton. Make sure you do a full reboot of your PC after removing Norton. If you have issues, there is a Norton Removal tool available from Norton that removes "all" Norton files still resident on the PC after standard Uninstall procedures.

Thanks, I'll check out that removal tool. I had no problems, that I know, in removing Norton and installing McAfee.

Rich N.
post #148 of 336
I personally stay away from all of those security suites. just way to much over head on the machine. MS Defender (spyware) and free Avast or AVG antivirus is a much better solution, IMO.
post #149 of 336
Quote:
Originally Posted by amheck View Post

90 day warranty on the HP refurbs.....if that sort of thing matters to you

Hmmm, I've always built my own computers up to this point, so I haven't dealt with the warranty process for whole consumer-line computers. A 3-year extended warranty for the m9060n brings the total to $860.

The Inspiron 530 deal at dell.com is interesting too: $940 for Q6600/3GB/500GB/ATI HD2400/Blu-ray/2nd DVD-RW drive/TV Tuner/Bluetooth KB+Mouse. It can be reconfigured with less stuff for less money. The coupon code is KT?W?81GW759MK for 30% off anything $1000 or over. The deal ends tomorrow.

Of course these aren't as small and cute as the s3330f, and they probably consume more power.
post #150 of 336
I upgraded the RAM on the S3330f to 4 gigs:

Subjective analysis: significantly less program load time/unload time when going from 2 gigs to 3 gigs, but not very noticeable when going from 3 to 4 gigs. I took it all the way to 4 gigs since a local store had a sale and was inexpensive!

Hope this is of benefit to others! I wish this PC started with 3 gigs; seems like the best bang for the buck! If you plan to do a memory upgrade, the HP website has instructions on how to take the faceplate off, followed by sliding the optical drive forward to expose the memory. Good luck!
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