AVS Forum banner
Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 20 of 24 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
315 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Do most people use their HTPC for DVD playback? I wasn't going even think of building a HTPC (can't get a cat5 connection to my TV area - probably a separate thread) until I started to realize that I could replace my CD player, DVD player, and VCR with just one unit.


My "theater" is really just my main living area and I have very limited space to work with. There isn't any room for a tower PC but I could make some shelf space for a horizontal / desktop case if I was able to replace components.


But, when I thought about it, I started to remember all the DVD player threads I've read. If people are buying $500-$800 (yes I know it goes way beyond that price) DVD players for their DLP and HD sets, then how can a PC DVD drive compete?


Do you sacrifice a lot by using a PC DVD drive instead of a player? Do people just use their HTPC for music and Tivo like stuff?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,530 Posts
I now play my DVD's only through the HTPC. My expensive DVD player is retired - it can't compete. The picture quality difference is amazing.


The reason is the DVI connection from the HTPC - creating a fully digital path to the TV. Mid this year, new DVD players are coming out, e.g. Samsung 931, that are expected to provide that digital path and PQ. Until then, all DVD players, expensive or not, cannot compete with HTPC.


Of course, HTPC does a lot more than DVD play. Here is what we use it for:


- HDTV 15% - currently STB - moving to HTPC with PVR functions

- SDTV (usually with black bars) - 25% - same as above

- DVD play 15% - HTPC

- Web browsing and e-mail 15% - HTPC

- Games 15% - HTPC and game boxes

- Music play 10% - HTPC

- Photo slideshows 5% - HTPC
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,260 Posts
Well if you want cheap, then there's not way a HTPC can be as cheap as a basic DVD player. However, a HTPC is a progressive DVD/CD player, media file player, scaler, and computer all rolled into one. Its considered extremely cheap for the stuff that it does. Just a hardware deinterlacer/scaler that matches a HTPC's capabilities/quality alone would cost more than an average HTPC.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
315 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Not arguing - just trying to be clear.


So a $50 DVD drive can compete or beat an $800 Denon (or whatever) DVD player just because of the DVI connection? Then what happens when Samsung and others come out with the DVI connection DVD players? Does this mean that all the extra junk (yea - I'm technical) they put into an $800 DVD player is a waste? Is an $80 DVD player the same as a $50 DVD drive?


The reason I ask is because ever since I got my DLP people tell me I need to upgrade my DVD player. This makes me think that chips in the newer DVD players are needed to feed a TV with high definition capability. But, that's not what I'm hearing from the HTPC group so far.


Thanks for the good info. Keep it coming!!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,260 Posts
The problem is that you're comparing the entire DVD player, with just the computer DVD-ROM drive. A DVD player is much more than just a DVD-ROM drive. You have the chassis, the power supply, the decoder/filters, the DACs, the UI, etc etc etc...That's why it costs $800 rather than $50. The DVD-ROM part is at most the DVD transport part of a standalone DVD player.


FYI, Meridian's flagship DVD players use DVD-ROM drives instead of conventional DVD transports.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,883 Posts
My HTPC is connected with a 5.1 amp using the analogue outs of my Delta410 soundcard.

a) Using Winamp 2.6 with the Asio output plugin I get the ouput of a very high end cd player. I use my HTPC as a Jukebox, as I have ripped my CDs on the hard disk using the .ape format (loseless compression). I use MusicCenter to organize my playlists: it looks awesome and I can virtually create a playlist that will last for days (no need to swap cds or go looking for them)

b) Using MyHTPC I have organized my complete list of DVDs, effectively creating a movies jukebox. You can select by genre 400 dvds and choose one from it's cover, read about the movie and click on play.. upon insertion of the dvd, the movie starts automatically...

c) I browse the internet using my HTPC

d) I keep my favourite movies on hard disk, so when I want to impress the guests, I can play them directly from the hard disk, without looking for the discs (when you have 400, it can take you a while)

e) I use the HTPC as a scaler, feeding my DLP projector

f) I record using a capture card in digital format, instead of recording on a VCR

g) I play Quake on a 6ft by 8ft screen

h) when I play recorded movies, I can convert the stereo soundtrack to 5.1 surround using the CSII plugin of Windows Media Player 9 (If you had the Revo, you would be able to do it even for live broadcast)


Well, if you can find a DVD player that offers all those functions above, give me a shout and we can compare the price ;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
228 Posts
We recently finished the HT. My wife insisted that a DVD player be placed in the theater. The HTPC resides in the equipment closet. So far in the first 2 months the stand alone DVD player has never been used. The HTPC allows so much more. I can watch and record HDTV, Scale standard video with Dscaler and watch DVD movies. Quality components will run the costs up past a good stand alone DVD player but I believe you will get much more out of the HTPC then the stand alone DVD player. The biggest plus to me is the ability to have a custom resolution via Powerstrip for my JVC DILA G11.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
315 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I might have misled you on what I was asking.


I fully agree that a HTPC is more useful than a DVD player - that's a no brainer to me. What I found hard to believe was that the QUALITY of a DVD drive could be the same as a DVD player.


The reason I thought this was because you can find a good DVD player for $80. You can also find tons of people who will tell you that for a good HDTV you need to spend $800 on a DVD player to get the most from the TV.


Using my own caveman logic, I figure that there must be a good reason for a company to make and sell an $800 DVD player - there must be a market and need. If that market and need is the HDTV owner then maybe it's something I should consider. I began to believe that a high quality TV needs a high quality DVD player to make the most of the picture.


So, when I started reading about HTPCs I became very interested in the versatility. But then it occurred to me that it would be a bad idea because of my new found logic - a good TV needs a good (aka expensive) DVD player.


What I ended up asking myself was, how could a $30 DVD drive provide the quality required by a good TV? Obviously the manufacturers of DVD players are putting components into those players that customers either need or want. These components can't be found in a regular DVD drive (at least I don't think they could).


So is it true that I really don't need all those components to go with my good TV? All I need is the DVD drive to play the discs?



Side note - man I'm going to need to research all these new terms to keep up with this idea.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
85 Posts
Pretzel,


I think you are doing an apples and oranges comparison...


You stated a $30 DVD drive vs. an $800 DVD player.


Break it down this way...


That $800 DVD player probably has a "DVD drive" that costs about $30.


That $30 DVD drive in the HTPC... HTPC costs above $500.


The drive itself costs about the same in either setup. The whole "player" also costs about the same.


It's not the drive in and of itself... it's what is wrapped around it.


Yes, a "good" DVD player will be a better fit for your new TV rather than a Wal-mart throw-down special. However, you get into a diminishing returns situation. A good DVD player with progressive scan will give you everything you need. The purists would argue that the super high-end DVD player (insert brand/model) is MUCH better. The fact that you are even asking a question about this whole thing probably puts you in the same company as I... can't tell the difference.


A properly setup HTPC will do the same. About the same price point as well.


The question really is how much do you want to spend both in time and money?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,260 Posts
Correct, its not just the DVD transport that matters here, its the rest of the stuff. The MPEG decoder(with that comes the capabilities/features), the power supply, the DACs, etc etc etc. A $50 DVD player has a cheap power supply, bargain bin MPEG decoder(no progressive scan, no nothing, it just decodes MPEG-2 that's it), and basically cheap everything, even the DVD transport is probably like $5-10. An $800 uses more expensive parts, but the DVD transport doesn't make up a sizable percentage of the cost of manufacturing. In fact, there are only that many DVD transport manufacturers around(Sony and Philips comes to mind). The rest of the DVD player manufacturers often just buy the transports from the handful of companies producing them. Rarely will a DVD player manufacturer manufacture and use their own transports. Its like making their own DACs when they can buy perfectly good ones from Burr Brown, Crystal Semiconductors, Analog Devices, AKM, etc.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,260 Posts
Pretty much the same, since the data is buffered into a cache in the DVD-ROM drive before sent down a clocked IDE channel over the PCI bus...all data should be 100% identical unless its a faulty unit. The only difference is noise production, speed and media compatibility. Some drives are noisier than others, some are faster than others and some read scratched media better than others.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,213 Posts
I'm just going to second the opinions above by going into a little detail why for certain set ups an HTPC is far superior to a set top DVD player. I have a projector (plv-70) that is 1368x 768. I have a decent Denon DVD player only worth about $500 bucks now...cost more like 700 a year ago, but its getting older. Sure its progressive scan and does look great on my regular TV, but it cannot do the one single thing that can define why you want to play DVDs from your HTPC. I can get perfect 1:1 pixel mapping on my HTPC. By using programs like powerstrip you can force your HTPC to display whatever maximum resolution your monitor allows. Then, you can scale the DVD mpeg2 to fit your entire screen. And, a P4 3.0 cpu doing all the work is going to be far superior to whatever processor they put in my Denon to do all the scaling.


But the bottom line is, I'm not really only using my $50 DVD player in the computer. For this to work well, the video card must support custom resolutions and I use a 9700 pro card. (about $300 street price). And, for good sound output to your receiver, you'll need a good sound card to boot (audigy 2 THX platinum ...street price $200). A good software DVD player like TheaterTek will run $70. And, so you don't suffer from any stuttering or slowdown during the software DVD playback I use a P4 3.0 with a gig or ram (thats overkill). Your set top DVD player is attempting to do all those functions, but you can't customize it for your specific monitor like you can with an HTPC. You tally up all those costs and your way above your standard DVD player.


My advice, if you "enjoy" fiddling and tinkering with computers go the HTPC route. Otherwise, save yourself some time and headache and just get a set top DVD player. The image definitely is better on the HTPC, but if you don't enjoy screwing around with your computer, it probably won't be worth it for you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
315 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Wow, this is great info. I really do appreciate it and I think I understand it now.


Sounds to me like if you wanted to try and compare apples to apples it would be more appropriate to compare the cpu and software of an HTPC to the electronic components of a DVD player. What I didn't realize was that using the cpu and some HT software you can do the same thing that the DVD player hardware components are doing. That would be how a HTPC can produce a high quality image similar to a medium to high priced DVD player.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,260 Posts
Well the CPU is a general purpose processor. Clock for clock, its a lot slower than a dedicated DSP/processor, but it runs at such a high speed that it doesn't really matter. Also, due to its generality, you can program it to do a LOT more things than you could with a dedicated chip/DSP.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,102 Posts
When there is talk of a regular STB DVD player, it is best to know what deinterlacing chip is in it (if it is a progressive one). It is also good to know if your display device has a good scaler and deinterlacer. If so, then you might not need to use a HTPC for DVD playing.

That said, the HTPC is the ultimate if you know your way around a PC in case there are problems. Also, the picture from the HTPC can be adjusted and tweaked on the PC, which is more flexible than a STB box. Add DVI and future upgrades (ie, blu-ray drives) and you won't turn back.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
455 Posts
When are the blue ray drives expected? And what about the hdcp, hdmi or whatever encoding that everyone keeps talking about? Any word on software that will come out to allow you to use a non-hdcp dvi input on the projectors?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,102 Posts
Tino, there is no talk of HDCP (used only for HD material which the PC cannot tune in any stations that will use HDCP) for DVD playing, you can already use DVI on the PJ as all DVI connections on PJ's are backwards compatible with non-HDCP DVI.
 
1 - 20 of 24 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top