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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am super close to spending about 400 dollars for an htpc that I hope will last me a long time. However I am a bit skeptical about the picture quality. Does using the svideo output (only option I know of) really give as good of picture quality as say if i bought a tivo or a standalone dvd player. I say this because I have hooked my pc up to my tv in the past and the colors just didnt seem as vibrant. I feel like maybe I'd be losing quality by going with an HTPC since it isn't especially meant for tv output. This computer will only ever be connected to a tv. Is there a specific card I should look into for the best possible output to a standard definition tv.
 

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If your TV can only accept an s-video input, then I'd stick to the TiVo and standalone DVD. One of the great benefits of using a HTPC is that we can output a progressive signal at high resolutions for high resolution display devices. You don't get this with a TV that handles S-video input.
 

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I agree with lawdawg. Using S-video the picture quality from both DVD player/Tivo and HTPC will be similarly poor. An HTPC really starts to shine when it's using high quality digital outputs (DVI or HDMI) or even component.


However, you can always upgrade as you go. If you decide your satisfied with an S-video quality setup then by all means go with the Tivo/player. If you are interested in HD or high-quality DVD playback then consider getting that HTPC knowing you'll have to upgrade to an HDTV sometime in the future. One thing is for certain, once you go to a high-quality setup you'll feel like you're watching TV for the first time! Well, ok not the first time but it's definitely a different experience.
 

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The problem is the crappy s-video output on most video cards. It is not as good as the one built into a tivo/replaytv/dvd player. I used the s-video out on a Radeon 9600 connected to a 27" SD sony wega for a while. I could get an decent picture, but never as crisp as connecting a satellite box or DVD player directly. But then I got the ATI dongle, which converts the DVI output to component. I connect this to the component input on the TV, and use powerstrip for some tweaking, and the picture is great. It's about as good as you can get for SD.
 

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I agree with all the responses to your question as well. It is just not worth the time that you will put into setting the HTPC up to be rewarded with the quality that you will get from s-video. If you TV supports component, then get yourself an ATI 9600XT and the purple ATI dongle, then you will notice an increase in picture quality. By the way, $400 dollars for an HTPC is kinda stretching it - specially if you are trying to do any scaling. To do scaling you need a fast processor and a lot of RAM.


All of the recommendations from the other members and myself also depend on the type of TV you are trying to setup your HTPC with.
 

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There are reasons to go with an HTPC even with an SDTV, but PQ won't be one of them (Music jukebox, DVD Jukebox, customizeability).


That said, you may want to investigate SageTV and the PVR 350 or the Sigma Xcard, the 350 or Xcard should at least equal the PQ of a STB on a SDTV, but you'll want to make sure you understand the limitations of both before you jump in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Here is the system I was considering I figure I could always buy a video card when I get some additional money:

Shuttle SB61G2

P4 3.0C 800 FSB

512 Kingston PC3200

120Gb Seagate SATA HD

Firewire

USB 2

Onboard 5.1 Sound w optical in / out

Onboard Video / LAN

8x DVD +RW

Floppy
 

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S-video is still an OK option if you're not yet ready to make the jump to HDTV and want a simple straight-forward way to send video from your PC to your TV. You just need a card with good s-video picture quality, which you can't assume you'll automatically get with any 'ol video card. I'd go with a Matrox G400 off eBay. When I play HD content either live or recorded from my Fusion II card via overlay from my G400, the SD picture quality is pretty good.
 

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I'm using composite (good old Y/R/W wires) and i'm not satisifed with it although the output (especially for dvd) definately beats a standalone player. I probably spent around $500 total on my HTPC and I think it was worth it, although i've still got more tweaking and setup work to go. Definately going to be excited to see it running on a HDTV via DVI but that might be a year or two.
 

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S video outputs of standard graphic cards seems to be by far inferior to the one provided by stand alone units (DVD Cable Sat receivers etc..) These mostly applies fot ATis while some members in the forum have reported that Nvidias 'seem' to have better S video outputs....

Anyway two years ago I build my first HTPC based on the fact that at that time HTPC was the only affordable means that would provide a completely DIGITAL DVI output to a DVI Projector.... No DVI DVDs at that time.... at affordable price

Now this is not the case but still a decent HTPC is equal to three or four standalone devices with (software) upgrade options and inherent connectivity among them:

My HTPC is a DVD, a PVR, a Sat receiver a TV tuner and finally a ..PC all in one!!!
 
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