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Sorry to have to ask this question, but what is an HTPC? I read the HTPC faq, but it seems everyone in that thread already knows what an HTPC is, so didn't give a definition. Is it just a pc w/ some sort of HTPC card? Basically, I'd just like to simply connect my PC to my RCA Scenium HD65W20 to play PC video games on the bigscreen, and also to surf the internet. Any recommendations on the EASIEST way to do this would be appreciated. I can't understand the newbie FAQ, it's all like Japanese to me. I apologize, but I'm just SLOW.
 

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Well, there are others who can give you a much more detailed answer, but HTPC is a Home Theater Personal Computer.


Basically, a good HTPC is a stable PC with high end video and audio peripherals and specialized software designed to take the place of much more expensive equipment commonly used in Home Theaters.


It really can be anything you want, I use mine to run a CRT projector. As to your specific needs, I can't help much being too much of a newbie myself. I will admit though, it takes some time to get the lingo down. I have been lurking for a month and still haven't found direct answers to some of my questions, mostly because I don't know enough to understand the answers.


-nathan
 

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An HTPC replaces or can replace your DVD player, Scaler, Analog & Digital TV Tuner, Off-Air recorder or PVR, and eventually your receiver.


Benefits:


Upgradeable - An HTPC can have software and hardware components upgraded as new technology becomes available. This allows for both less expensive (in most cases) and faster upgrades than the non-HTPC approach of sell the old and buy the new.


DVD Player - A well built HTPC (or even a not so well built one) provides much higher quality DVD playback than standalone components (EG, progressive scan DVD player & Scaler) at a much lower cost. Though debated by some, the only option for better video quality is a progressive scan DVD player and Faroudja 5000 which will set you back in excess of $25,000. Expectations are that the video quality of an HTPC will exceed all other options in the next year or two.


Tuner - With the addition of a Digital TV Tuner such as the HiPix, AccessDTV, or WinTV-HD you can watch off-the-air (OTA) analog broadcasts as well as OTA digital broadcasts. Though most digital broadcasting is still standard def (SD), a significant amount is now hi-def (HD). There are on average 5 HD shows broadcast each day.


PVR - An HTPC allows you to record SD and HD OTA broadcasts to a harddrive. This can be used for time shifting and allow for pause/FF during playback.


Scaler - Outboard devices such as VHS decks and video games benefit from the ability of an HTPC to produce a significantly higher quality video image through scaling. This can be accomplished through the use of software such as dScaler or with hardware such as a HiPix card.


PC - Ability to use normal PC functions such as Word, Excel, Powerpoint (the modern equivilent of a slide projector, now all you need is a digital camera to bore your friends and neighbors for hours on end with your latest vacation), games and Internet on a large screen device.


Receiver/Processor - In the near future you should be able to have your HTPC decode DD/DTS source material and output directly to an amplifier. Today the DD/DTS signal remains in it's digital form and is passed-through to your receiver for decoding utilizing an SP/DIF connection between the HTPC and receiver. The receiver (or processor) decodes the signal which is then passed to either internal (receiver) or external (processor) amps and then on to the speakers.


Drawbacks? - The primary drawback today is that for many people an HTPC is a bit more difficult to use than discreet components. However, with the introduction of software like the TT player and increased experience with remote software and hardware (girder, irman, pronto) the ease-of-use factor is quickly diminishing.


How do you get one? - There are a couple of options:


1 - Build your own (real men and women do!). xcel's excellent 'best in class' post will provide you with a starting point for component selection, although you may want to give it a month or two since some recent product intros (TT, 645 (w/DDR)nforce, etc.) may impact his worthy recommendations.


2 - Purchase a pre-built and tested system from AVS or digital connection.


Hope this helps,


Aslan...




Sorry this got so long
 

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Quote:
Receiver/Processor - In the near future you should be able to have your HTPC decode DD/DTS source material and output directly to an amplifier.
This is one of the things I am confused about. I have been following the the TT player thread which says it doesn't do any of the audio decoding. Are there sound cards that will do this for you? I tried to follow the thread about the new M-audio theater (410?) card to see if it was supposed to do this.


Anyway, any estimates on how soon the near future is or threads/products that I can follow?


Thanks,

-nathan
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by nathan



This is one of the things I am confused about. I have been following the the TT player thread which says it doesn't do any of the audio decoding. Are there sound cards that will do this for you? I tried to follow the thread about the new M-audio theater (410?) card to see if it was supposed to do this.


Anyway, any estimates on how soon the near future is or threads/products that I can follow?


Thanks,

-nathan
Thats right, the TT player will not do audio decoding but the others like WinDVD, PowerDVD can.

Most of the current sound boards only have 2 to 4 channels for output so even you can audio decode, you can't have true Dolby Digital 5.1 or Dolby DTS signals going to your amplifier and speakers. The newer cards will have 6 or 7 channels so they can.
 

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I see. I believe my audigy (which isn't in my HTPC :( ) has 6 channel analog output. But, if I understand correctly, unless the player (using the cards capabilities ) does the decoding it won't be 5.1?


So, there aren't any cards that can take the encoded digital stream like they were going to pass it through, and then decode it instead themselves? Or is this what a software DVD player does for DD5.1? What about AC3?


This is where it gets really hazy for me, especially the differences between how DD5.1 and AC3 are handled, if there are any.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by nathan
I see. I believe my audigy (which isn't in my HTPC :( ) has 6 channel analog output. But, if I understand correctly, unless the player (using the cards capabilities ) does the decoding it won't be 5.1?


That is correct.


So, there aren't any cards that can take the encoded digital stream like they were going to pass it through, and then decode it instead themselves? Not that I know of.


Or is this what a software DVD player does for DD5.1? Yes.

What about AC3?


This is where it gets really hazy for me, especially the differences between how DD5.1 and AC3 are handled, if there are any.
I think DD5.1 and AC3 means the same.
 

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'HTPC' is reminiscent of the 'MPC' of the early nineties.


That term dissapeared when sound and cdrom became ubiqutous, so it should be interesting if this particular attempt at defining a subset of PCs will survive.
 

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Quote:
Receiver/Processor - In the near future you should be able to have your HTPC decode DD/DTS source material and output directly to an amplifier. Today the DD/DTS signal remains in it's digital form and is passed-through to your receiver for decoding utilizing an SP/DIF connection between the HTPC and receiver. The receiver (or processor) decodes the signal which is then passed to either internal (receiver) or external (processor) amps and then on to the speakers.
This is actually kind of blessing for some. I've never encountered a PC sound card that has anywhere near low-noise when compared to something like a good receiver. The PC is an incredibly noisy (radio frequency-wise) environment that an off-board processor is necessary. I like the idea of running a digital line to my receiver where it goes analog only at the absolute last point.


Granted it would be nice to use the PC's processing power to do the decode, but not at the expense of quality. (my perspective, anyhow)


Cheers,

Jake
 
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