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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,


Well, my Toshiba DVD player is acting up. It will play DVD's for a while then freeze up leaving me with a frozen image that can't be fixed without powering down and back up again. Then the DVD won't play after that. Could this be a heat issue? I've been considering building a PC jukebox, maybe I should consider a HTPC now???


I'm about fed up with the DVD player though. It's 5 years old so I have no problem chucking it if I can't figure out the problem.


What would you recommend? I'm either gonna go HTPC and solve both problems with one solution although it could be a headache or I'm going to need a CD player and DVD player... or maybe a combo unit.


I don't want to spend more than $600 total...either for the HTPC or the stand alone players.


Any suggestions? I've been outta the loop for a while. I know Sony ES makes great CD players but I'm not up to speed on DVD. I have a 5 year old Toshiba CRT projection TV and may upgrade in a year or two to DLP.


Thanks for any advice.


Darren
 

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Do you clean the laser at all, if not I use one bought from Radio Shack it also has audio and video set up, it's called Metaledge RMSP $19.99.:)
 

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If I only had $600, I would definately go with set-top-box(es). And this is coming from someone who's had HTPCs for 3yrs+ and would never, ever go with a STB.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by rbmcgee
If I only had $600, I would definately go with set-top-box(es). And this is coming from someone who's had HTPCs for 3yrs+ and would never, ever go with a STB.
I'm a little confused about your answer. Why are you recommending a stand alone unit rather than a HTPC? I can build an extremely beefy HTPC for $600 bucks. I've built several 2gig boxes for less than that with excellent components. Is there a hidden cost I'm not thinking about for a HTPC?


Thanks.


Darren
 

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Dagmandt,


I do believe an HTPC can be built for $600, it's just not the kind I would build.


My criteria (in order):

1-5 Stability

6 Easy for anyone to use

7 PQ/SQ

8 Silence

9 Functionality (what it actually does)

10 Attractive/illusion (not apparent to the user that they are even operating a PC).


If you feel you can build an acceptable HTPC for $600, go for it. Including the OS, I've got over $300 of HTPC software on my machine. If I were to rebuild my main HTPC today, it would probably cost $2000.


My specifics:

2.4g P4 (ffdshow requirement), 512 ram, intel mobo, 480g seagates (very quiet), 24/96 sound card, 9600 graphics card, coolermaster tower w/ 5 silent fans and fan controllers and foam blocks, silentx PSU, toshiba 1712 DVD-ROM, firewire enclosure, thermalright 900 hs, irman ir receiver, Logitech wireless trackball and keyboard.


If I were limited to $600 (from scratch), I would simply have to give up things that I cannot live without (see criteria) and would turn to a STB.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well, I have a few advantages here. The OS is free. I work for MS. :) I also have connections for hardware at very good prices. I can build what needs to be built minus a monitor for ~$600 easy. I'm just afraid of whether it would be a maintenance nightmare or not. I can always upgrade parts as I go also. I'd love some more advice from your experience though.


What is ffdshow? I'm new :)


Here is what I was thinking...let me know if you have opinions on any of it.


AMD 2400 processor (~2gig)

ASUS A7n8X MB

Seagate 120gig X 2 (for starters)

PC2700 512 DDR

Undecided on case but probably just a standard mid tower (~$60.00)

Undecided on DVD drive

Undecided on sound

Undecided on video (need more research on both)

Will be using quiet fans and Zalman CNPS6000 cpu cooler

( http://www.infotechnow.com/shopping/shopexd.asp?id=1234 )




Darren
 

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What kind of display device are we talking about and what are the available inputs (in case I'm not familiar with it)?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I'll be using my 61" Toshiba CRT. Sorry, I don't remember the model number and I'm at work. I have an Onkyo TX-DS777 receiver I use for my pre/pro. I can go through that or directly to the TV. I have S-video, composite, and component on the tv...it is 5 years old so it doesn't have any of the newer video connections.


Oh... the $600 figure is a wife imposed limit. It can be stretched with proper treatment :) I just need to keep it close.
 

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ffdshow is a post-processing program to manipulate PQ. It allows you to apply various filters to improve/change PQ and allows software scaling. It runs with either zoom player or Theatertek. The tough part is that some of the filters require significantly increased processing power. The minimum acceptable seems to be 2.4 for many/most of the options. My old 1g seriously gagged.


I have no desire to engage in an AMD/Intel war, but the truth is that P4s have been proven stable and are an absolute part of a stable system for me. If you feel you can get perfect stability w/ AMD, that's great. I tried - I can't.


Good choice on HS.


For hard drives, although I use Barracuda Vs, if I did it again today, I would use Samsung 160g w/ 8mb buffer. They don't cost much more, are even quieter and seem to have the reputation of reliable.


For the case: If you don't care about appearence, I would use 2 criteria:

1) Ability to adequately quietly cool (bigger fans, spinning slower are better and quietr than smaller fans spinning faster). Hard drives can get warm. Heat compromises stability.

2) The ability to hold what you need it to hold. Once you understand the relationship between an HTPC and storage space, you will want more hard drives.


As far as OS, you obviously know the answer -> WinXP.


For graphics, ATI can't be beat.


Other things:

I assume you would want to control the HT part of the HTPC via remote. You will need a receiver. I would recommend either irman or USB-UIRT. Both are compatable with Girder (the automation software).


Is that an HDTV? If it is, great. If it's not, I have never seen an HTPC look decent at 640x480i. I currently have one hooked up to a NTSC TV (my old HTPC) and it just doesn't work very well/look very good.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Strange that you have problems with stability and AMD... is this experience for HTPC's only? I have two computers at home that are quite stable and am comfortable with AMD but if you found problems with AMD and HTPC's then I'd have no problem switching to INTEL.


My set isn't a HDTV and I'm not sure when I'll be going HDTV, could be as soon as a year but not sure yet. Are you saying the PC part would look terrible or the picture quality of my video would look bad? Both?


I totally understand the storage issue with HTPC but I have a TiVo I just upgraded so it will handle any recording etc for the time being. I only plan on storing a CD jukebox for now, I'll eventually store some movies etc but that isn't important to me at this time. I can always add storage as long as I buy the proper case.
 

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AMD vs. Intel. I don't think it's just HTPC related. If you've had good luck, by all means.


Well the PC part would clearly look terrible. As far as the video part goes, I may not be the right source. As I said my old HTPC is feeding s-video to my NTSC TV. My friends DVD player feeds s-video to an NTSC TV and looks much better than mine. I've never seen an NTSC TV fed component from an HTPC.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I was afraid the TV would be my barrier. So, minimum connection for HTPC should be DVI then?


I suppose I'm stuck going with a set top box for the DVD then :(
 

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No, the minimum connection is not DVI. The minimum display device is HDTV. You can get unmatched PQ with RGB (VGA), RGBHV, YPrPb (component) or DVI.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Ahhh.. Ok. Gotcha.


Hmmm... now I'm up to $5k if I want a HTPC :) I have my eye on the Samsung DLP sets... Still trying to decide if burn in is an issue and the DLP sets make that a no brainer. Might have to just wait on the HTPC until I get the new set next year. No matter which set I get it wil be HDTV.


Thanks for the advice and talking me through it.


Darren
 

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You're quite welcome and good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by rbmcgee
You're quite welcome and good luck.
Just ordered a Denon DVD-1600, supposed to be quite decent for the price point. This should suffice until I decide to upgrade the TV and build a HTPC.


Darren
 
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