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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Thanks in advance for all your help. I've read several hundred pages of Renex's Guide to building an HTPC thread, but I wanted to check with you all first before I go completely changing my home theater setup.


I have a desktop that I built this February for gaming, and I'm frankly not using it much other than checking my bank account, fooling around on the web, etc. I have a laptop with Win7 which I can easily dust off and repurpose as my main computer.


I want to be able to watch NetFlix (which I currently subscribe to with Blu-Rays delivered), watch Blu-Rays and DVDs and maybe poke around on the internet or play games occasionally. I own about ~100 DVDs and maybe 12 Blu-Rays, but I'd like to load them on my HTPC once, so I never have to get up and fool with finding/loading the physical disc ever again. I guess that's ripping them? And is that legal? I assume it would be since it's for personal use. I'm also going to order the SiliconDust HD HomeRun PRIME so I can do the whole Cable-Card shennanigans so my son can watch his Mickey Mouse shows in HD and Daddy can watch ESPN HD and Mommy can watch TLC/HGTV/Blahblahblah in HD, too (the encrypted HD channels through ComCast).


The PC to be cannibalized has:

Case - Cooler Master Elite 335 ATX (mid-tower)

Mobo - ASUS M4A77TD AMD

CPU - AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition 3.4Ghz 125W

RAM - 4GB (2 x 2GB) G.Skill DDR3 1600

GPU - XFX Radeon HD 5770 1GB w/HDMI out

PSU - 650W Antec EarthWatts

HDD - 750GB Western Digital Caviar Black - 7200rpm

DVD - Samsung DVD Burner

FANS - Lots (CPU, RAM fans, 2x 120mm case, GFX exhaust)


My home theater setup is this:

TV - 46" LED Samsung 6000 series w/120Hz

AV - Samsung Receiver with 5.1ch speakers

BD - Samsung BD3600 Blu-Ray w/WiFi and NetFlix/Blockbuster/Pandora/YouTube

CBL - Cisco RNG-200 HD DVR provided by ComCast cable in VA

REM - Logitech Harmony 880 that I simply LOVE


I really want to replace my cable box for two reasons:

1) I discovered Windows Media Center

2) My HD DVR box sucks - search is broken, the interface is 1980's-ish and limited storage space - and I pay $20/mo for it!!!


I ran a 25' HDMI from my desktop to my TV to test it out and it is BEAUTIFUL. Audio/video work fine, and I've measured to make sure that my tower will fit in my entertainment center. I know the components work, but I'm having trouble figuring out the logistics of being able to replace my HD DVR box with my tower.
  • Is there something special about an HTPC case? Any reasons I should not use my current case?
  • Can a Blu-Ray disc play sideways? Or is that reason alone to buy an HTPC-specific case?
  • Can I purchase JUST an IR receiver? I can't find any on NewEgg that don't come bundled with a remote, but I already have a Logitech Harmony 880 which works flawlessly.
  • Is there anything I need besides a Blu-Ray drive, a TV tuner, and an IR receiver??? I have an iPhone with the TouchMouse app which can serve as keyboard/mouse if need be.
  • I'm putting this HTPC in to get rid of my Comcast HD DVR, but can I also sell my Samsung Blu-Ray player? I figure I won't need it anymore
  • Saving money isn't my priority here - a better GUI and functionality is, but is cannibalizing my tower a smart idea??


Thanks in advance for your replies! - Mitchell
 

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Nothing special about a HTPC case, except for looks. If you are fine with the way your tower looks, or if it will be hidden inside your entertainment center, then no problem using the same case. I think most CD driver should do OK on their side, but some are made for both horizontal and vertical orientation, and have tabs on the tray to help keep the CD from falling out when the tray is open. Not sure about blu-ray drive specifically.


You normally cannot just buy an IR receiver from newegg. Buy a IR/remote bundle, and keep the remote for backup. Or, go to eBay and just buy a receiver (there are always tons listed there, and should be around $10-15).


If you want to do Blu-ray, you need to buy software. There are no real free blu-ray players that just work. You can play videos from blu-ray discs with MPC-HC, but you get no menus. PowerDVD and TotalMedia Theatre are the big two. They both integrate well with 7MC, and I've heard the latest release of TMT 5 is great on that front. If you like the interface and responsiveness of playing blu-rays through your computer, then you can get rid of your dedicated blu-ray player, but some people prefer to just watch blu-rays on their blu-ray players. It's personal preference.


Your specifications are well endowed. Maybe a bit too much. I'm concerned with such a big processor and graphics card, if keeping the tower in an entertainment center, you may have heat problems. It wouldn't hurt to scale back. But if you aren't worried about temperature, fan noise, and energy use, then your current specifications will work for sure. On the other hand, the beefier processor will help when ripping/encoding blu-rays.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Freak1 /forum/post/19569630


I have a Chieftec HTPC case that has Imon IR eye. You want internal eye so you can turn on and off the PC.

Crap. Never really thought about that. I heard people have issues with wake/sleep on their HTPCs so that their favorite shows get recorded when they're asleep or away from the house. Any easy fix?
 

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Because I don't have a SSD, and start up time is still around a minute, I just put my HTPC to sleep. Any MCE remote's on/off button can put the computer to sleep or wake it. If I am going out of town, I can shut down the PC with the remote through the 7MC interface, and then press the on button on the PC tower when I get home to turn the computer on. Having the ability to turn the PC on and off completely via a remote isn't a big deal to most users. I think the issue is that the IR sleep/wake command is the same, so if you are using your harmony remote, and your computer is already on, and you click the HTPC task, it may put your computer to sleep, as the remote has no way of knowing the computer is on or not, and the IR code for wake and sleep is the same. I've only read about this problem, so I don't know the fixes or how significant the problem is. 7MC has no problems (to my knowledge) waking up to record shows, if the computer is just in sleep or hibernation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by andrew c /forum/post/19569720


If you want to do Blu-ray, you need to buy software. There are no real free blu-ray players that just work. You can play videos from blu-ray discs with MPC-HC, but you get no menus. PowerDVD and TotalMedia Theatre are the big two. They both integrate well with 7MC, and I've heard the latest release of TMT 5 is great on that front. If you like the interface and responsiveness of playing blu-rays through your computer, then you can get rid of your dedicated blu-ray player, but some people prefer to just watch blu-rays on their blu-ray players. It's personal preference.

I'm sold on doing everything through 7MC. I want it to feel as if there's not an Operating System hiding behind anything, but that instead I just replaced my HD DVR with something gorgeous. I'd really like for it to seem as if the disc were physically inserted, though. Menus would be nice for getting to any "extras" on a particular disc. I like subtitles... that's my weakness. I would assume that 7MC can play subtitles just as good as my dedicated Samsung Blu-Ray player, right? I'm fine with purchasing software and I might research that a little later once I get all the hardware figured out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by andrew c /forum/post/19569720


Your specifications are well endowed. Maybe a bit too much. I'm concerned with such a big processor and graphics card, if keeping the tower in an entertainment center, you may have heat problems. It wouldn't hurt to scale back. But if you aren't worried about temperature, fan noise, and energy use, then your current specifications will work for sure.

I had heat problems with my laptop, and then I bought a Cooler Master laptop stand thing that has some fans underneath it and raises it off the table a bit. Is there anything like that for a tower/HTPC? I don't want to put the machine flush on a shelf if there's a way for me to raise it up a bit and get even more cooling going on. My PC sounds like an industrial shop-vac trying to suck up styrofoam peanuts... but then again so does my 3 year old son, so I'm not concerned about noise for now. =)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by andrew c /forum/post/19569872


I think the issue is that the IR sleep/wake command is the same, so if you are using your harmony remote, and your computer is already on, and you click the HTPC task, it may put your computer to sleep, as the remote has no way of knowing the computer is on or not, and the IR code for wake and sleep is the same. I've only read about this problem, so I don't know the fixes or how significant the problem is.

I don't think it'll be a big issue. My Samsung receiver is the same way... I just assigned one of the programmable buttons on my Harmony to toggle it on/off. I should be able to do the same for the wake/sleep function of the PC.

Quote:
Originally Posted by andrew c /forum/post/19569872


7MC has no problems (to my knowledge) waking up to record shows, if the computer is just in sleep or hibernation.

Awesome!
 

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With a computer as a movie server all things are possible.


I would suggest you put your new and rented (NetFlix) DVDs into you computer to watch as you please.

A good way to save them is as an iso file (google)


My favorite player is VLC - hard to beat - plays everything. You can even take snap shots as the movie plays.


The computer does not need even need to be near that Samsung TV. Just run a cheap cat 5 cable through your basement or attic for a few dollars.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by DarbyPope /forum/post/19571645


I would suggest you put your new and rented (NetFlix) DVDs into you computer to watch as you please.

A good way to save them is as an iso file (google)


My favorite player is VLC - hard to beat - plays everything. You can even take snap shots as the movie plays.

Is VLC an add-in for Windows 7 Media Center? That's what I'm looking to use. Big fan of it.


I figure I could go ahead and (even tonight) start ripping the DVDs I own onto this computer... but where do I begin? Is there a section of this forum dedicated to that? Or are there any suggestions for free ripping software to convert my DVDs into a format that Windows 7 Media Center will read/play?
 

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I rip all my DVD's with DVDFab HD Decrypter its free and it has worked for every DVD I asked it to rip. I use it to rip in the folder TS format, that way Win7 Media Center can read the files natively. ie: straight from the movies icon in Media center, so it is totaly intergrated.


I also use MyMovies for DVD info, easy to use nice DVD image and reliable movie data, also free.


These are my picks because after 4 years running Media Center first with Vista now Win 7 not 1 software crash! (Hardware yes software no!)
 

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DarbyPope, copying rented movies permanently, as you seem to be suggesting, is illegal. I would not follow DarbyPope's advise on that front. Also, I'm not sure how well VLC's 10' interface is, or how well it works with a remote. It is a stand alone player that is fine if you have a mouse and keyboard.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by andrew c /forum/post/19572365


DarbyPope, copying rented movies permanently, as you seem to be suggesting, is illegal. I would not follow DarbyPope's advise on that front. Also, I'm not sure how well VLC's 10' interface is, or how well it works with a remote. It is a stand alone player that is fine if you have a mouse and keyboard.

I'm not planning on burning any rented anything ever. I'm a Federal employee so that's out of the question. My DVD collection is only 100 because I purchase only my favorite... and since they're my favorites that's why I'd like to have them at my fingertips instead of fumbling around for the physical disc. No worries.


I googled 10' interface and I'm pretty happy with how 7MC looks from my couch. Easy to navigate from even 20' away in the dining room.
 
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