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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ever had a situation where the more you read, the less you seemed to understand? I'm there. So I now turn to the experts....



Here is some background:


* I just purchased an Acer Aspire Revo. (The 1600 with the single-core Atom and nVidia Ion Chipset.)


* I then loaded Windows 7 Ultimate 64-Bit on it. I went to the nVidia site and downloaded/installed the latest Video Display drivers, HD Audio (HDMI) drivers and Chipset drivers. I am not specifically sure what these do, but I knew I had to add them.

Have I made any mistakes so far?


* Having enjoyed XP Media Center (2005) for years, I would really like to use Windows 7 Media Center as my media player of choice. Nothing against VLC, Media Player Classic, etc. I just really enjoy the MC interface.


* While most of my media consists of DVD rips in standard format (Audio_TS and Video_TS, etc.) I am beginning to convert those, as well as my blu-ray discs, to .mkv files with the h264 codec.




Now that I have stated that, I will tell you that I am very lost. While I can seem to grasp basic concepts, the true ins-and-outs of the requirements/possibilities elude me.

*Win7 Media Center - I think I understand that, unlike the WinXP I am used to, Win7MC has an inherent h264 decoder, yes? But I thought I read that a 'splitter' is also required but not inluded. Is that true? I think what throws me off is that I have gotten the impression that Win7MC does not play h264 mkvs out of the box. Why would MS included a decoder but not the additional required element?

* CoreAVC - I read an article on Lifehacker last week (which referenced a PCPro article) that talked about playing HD files with a combination of Media Player Classic Home Cinema and the CoreAVC Codec. While MPC-HC is not my media player of choice, I thought I saw upon further reading that CoreAVC works with windows (WMP, WMC), too. Is this true? Is it a superior decoder to the one inherent in Win7MC? I also read that CoreAVC comes with Haali Media Splitter, which would seem handy if an additional splitter is really needed.

*Direct X - Windows needs this, too, for video? I have heard of this forever, but I have no idea what it does, exactly. Furthermore, on the download page, there appeared to many different versions. I had no idea what I was looking at.



My two main questions are these:


1.) Can anyone offer me a basic explanation of how all these softwares work? More importantly, can you clarify of they integrate?


2.) How would you set up this PC so that it would play h264 HD content using Win7MC with minimal CPU usage and smooth playback?


I would very much appreciate any assistance!
 

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The splitter you're thinking of is the Haali Media Splitter and it's actually a combination of a codec pack and an AC3 filter for digital audio. I've used it, I've also used the Shark codec pack along with AC3filter and both seem to work equally well for me, but based on other comments and the ease of set-up I would probably suggest Haali for you.


DirectX is Microsoft's way of communicating with your video card, just get the newest, should be fine.


You might want to look at MediaBrowser for your DVD selection, I use it and it doesn't deviate too terribly from the feel of WMC while adding very nice functionality.
 

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you don't need any external decoders, windows 7 decoders will do it all. You only NEED an mkv splitter, such has haali or divx7 (be careful with divx7 and surround sound) to open the mkv container windows will decode what ever is inside.


if you want to be safe just download the shark7 codec pack (and the 64bit addon) and you will be good to go. It includes the mkv splitter and any other codecs youwould possibly need. If you have any specific questions past that, post them (or search).


you may want also to look into a program such as mediabrowser or mymovies. The video library for 7mc is terrible and these add-ons will solve most problems you are bound to come across playing dvdrips and such...


as far as customization/addons goes:

www.hack7mc.com
 

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mkv is a container. Like a zip file, if you will.

The mkv splitter is a way of opening (splitting) this container to expose the video and audio streams included within.


Usually with mkv (nowadays anyway) it contains a H264 stream, but it doesn't have to. The mkv could just as easily have a mpeg2 stream in it.


Similarly an h264 stream could be used in a different container that MS understands (.ts for example, don't quote me on that but its just an example). So that is why MS has a h264 decoder.

Also, live HD tv is broadcast in h264 so it is needed for that also.



For minimal cpu usage using 7MC internal player i would just install either the haali splitter or the divx tech preview (i've not used this though).

You also have to make sure windows recognises mkv files as videos, so they show up in the UI.


The built in MS h264 decoder uses dxva so compliant files will make use of the Ion graphics card.

For i believe coreavc will also make use of the graphics card for certain non-compliant files also, using a technology called cuda.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Some of this is settling in. I greatly appreciate the info.


What are ffdshow and ffmpeg and how do they fit into this picture? Doesn't VLC use ffmpeg somehow?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by wisenheimer /forum/post/18200231


Some of this is settling in. I greatly appreciate the info.


What are ffdshow and ffmpeg and how do they fit into this picture? Doesn't VLC use ffmpeg somehow?

they are more decoders, ffdshow used to be real popular here before win7 came out because vista and xp didn't have an h.264 decoder. Even in the win 7 beta RC stage a lot of people were still using separate decoders, (i used MPC-HC) becuase the win7 decoder was real buggy. But now win7 has all you need, and it works great, not say you cant switch them, ffdshow does allow scripts to run for frame doubling and such, but really you probably don't need all that plus it requires some decent CPU horsepower.


some people swear by third party decoders, but really win7 does just fine.


Unless you have a specific need for a separate decoder, just stick with the win7 decoder.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for that explanation!


So here's what I'm hearing/thinking: Go with win7MC. Add Haali as win7MC needs a splitter. Avoid CoreAVC, ffdshow and ffmpeg because win7MC's h264 decoder is capable.


Sound about right? Now, let me throw this out.


The main reason I chose to use .mkv as my "container" (see I'm learning) is because it can 1.) hold subtitles and 2.) hold Dolby Digital 5.1 (that is also called AC3, correct?)


In life before win7, I had to use VLC to utilize these (again, because my WinXP MC did not support mkv). VLC allowed me to send Dolby Digital through my SPDIF card to my receiver and also to turn on/off subtitles.

Will win7MC, armed with Haali, be adequate to allow for these conveniences, or will I need to add something to the mix?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by wisenheimer /forum/post/18202462


Thanks for that explanation!


So here's what I'm hearing/thinking: Go with win7MC. Add Haali as win7MC needs a splitter. Avoid CoreAVC, ffdshow and ffmpeg because win7MC's h264 decoder is capable.


Sound about right? Now, let me throw this out.


The main reason I chose to use .mkv as my "container" (see I'm learning) is because it can 1.) hold subtitles and 2.) hold Dolby Digital 5.1 (that is also called AC3, correct?)


In life before win7, I had to use VLC to utilize these (again, because my WinXP MC did not support mkv). VLC allowed me to send Dolby Digital through my SPDIF card to my receiver and also to turn on/off subtitles.

Will win7MC, armed with Haali, be adequate to allow for these conveniences, or will I need to add something to the mix?

there are other containers that can hold that data as well, but mkv is becoming more and more the standard.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I am perfectly happy with the container, but how do I get win7MC to play the subtitles and pass through the Dolby Digital? Do I need to add something else?
 

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Why are you spending time converting your Video_TS folders to MKV? There is nothing to gain doing that and you are probably losing chapter breaks and menus. Also, you can delete the Audio_TS folder if you wish.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
When I use Handbrake to create an h264 mkv, I get the best of all worlds: chapter breaks, subtitles, digital audio and significantly reduced file size. I already have 2TB worth of rips, and I haven't even finished ripping my personal DVD collection. While storage is much cheaper than it used to be, it still is excessive when you consider the mkv files take up 1/3 of the space. I only rip the main movies of my DVDs, so menu loss does not affect me.


I have enjoyed this functionality on WinXP by using VLC on SD files. Now, I am switching to Win7, Win Media Center and HD files. I am unsure about some things (encoders, etc.) hence my questions. My hope is to maintain the mkv functionality in this new environment. Thanks to several on this forum, I am now getting mkvs to play in Media Center; something I have never been able to do before. Now I am hoping to add the subtitle and digital audio features as well. This is the basis for my last question...


Will Win7MC/Haali be enough to utilize subtitles and a Dolby Digital soundtrack, or will I need to add something else?
 

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I built a HTPC for use in the bedroom similar to yours, Zotec Atom 1.6 with Ion graphics. I installed Windows 7 64 bit added Shark 007 and 64 bit add-on, then Media Browser and seat back to enjoy. While it's sluggish in Media Center it's ok for me as I use it to access media not channel surf. It will handle a single digital well but I don't think it would handle more.

I have also been using XBMC on it to play files from a server and find it's much more responsive with the Atom processor then Win 7
 
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