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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been following this forum for about a month and have noticed some pretty impressive equipment. I recently upgraded computers and now have a P2/333 sitting around as well as a 1.2 Athlon. My home theater set up only has a 27" direct view TV but a full complement of surround sound, dvd, etc. Also, I don't plan on upgrading the TV for a couple of years.


I can see the benefits of HTPC with a FPTV or high def, but with a standard TV this size, is there a benefit to setting up a HTPC? If so, can someone explain that to me?
 

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I don't think you will see much benefit to a HTPC with a 27" tv. At least when I was using one I thought every dvd looked awesome and I never saw any grain, EE, artifacts. Still looked better than VHS.


I would wait until you do upgrade your display device and by that time there will be major advances in computing power and probably alot cheaper as well even though prices are great right now.
 

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what i like about htpc is it can be so many things.


i cant afford to spend 3k on a new tv or fp/screen... but can affod a few hundered bucks a pop for computer parts. i am using my htpc primarily as an mp3 player. i will however add a dvd player very soon. im going to start trying all the different programs for playing dvd's now.. so when i get a new tv or fp unit... ill be ready. in the meatime.. i about 40gig or music avaliable at the click of a couple buttons. as far as watching movies.. im happy with my current standalone dvd and ld players.


i have a 35in tv now.... and the image is decent enough i can use winamp and a host of other programs now to make a htpc a regualr part of my media system.


im going to try out a scan converter here very shortly.... perhaps i can improve my images a fraction more. i have heard mixed reviews on them.


personally since you already have the sound system.. and a dvd player.. and im guess your happy with that.... a "work in progress" htpc that you already have laying aroound is worth messing around with!
 

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Maybe....


I too am visual-display-challenged, with only a 27inch direct view set, but I thought it was worthwhile. My 10 personal reasons were:


1)I didn't have a standalone DVD player. As a US-based Brit, multiregion support is very important to me, and easy to implement in HTPCs.

2)Networked mp3 jukebox. I have a server in my home office with my favorite CDs already ripped. Now I can play them just as easily in my living room.

3)Gaming. Although not a priority, it is convenient to be able to play the occasional game in the living room. When my son grows older, this may become more important.

4)Web Access. Again, not a priority - for heavy duty web browsing I'll go to the office, but 800x600 is ok for a quick information trip.

5)Streaming net radio to my living room. Especially football (soccer) commentary from my home town's team...

6)Hard disc TV recording. Although it isn't as user-friendly or functional as Tivo yet, it's only a matter of time before the software improves to the point where it is.

7)Networked photo/video album. Again, photos are on the server where they can be made web accessible, and easily backed up.

8)Upgradeability - New functionality can often be added with a software package rather than an expensive hardware change. When hardware upgrades are needed, they tend to be cheaper.

9)The satisfaction gained from the DIY factor.

10)I'm a geek. I like this stuff ;)



Now if all you want to do is play DVDs on a 27inch TV and you have a decent DVD player already then it might not be worth it. But the flexibility of what HTPCs can do is a huge benefit.
 

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If you look around you can find used or refurbished sets that will give you much better picture quality than a standard analog TV, for the same price as a new analog unit.


I found a used Gateway 27" 800x600 monitor, for $300. The geometry on the set leaves something to be desired, and I haven't bothered to see if a repair shop could help, but when you sit this next to a $500 Sony 27" Trinitron, there is no comparison. The gateway xcels:))) in both desktop and text, as well as DVD playback.


There are lots of these types of displays on Ebay and other places. The only thing you need to do is worry about quality upon arrival.
 

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If you like fooling around with PC's there are a lot of things an HTPC is good for even if it doesn't result in a significant picture quality improvement. As chrissss said, an mp3 jukebox with almost unlimited capacity is a great application. Also, consider a PVR application to time shift broadcast tv shows.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Wow. Thanks for so many responses. I have felt for some time that the size of my tv was the weak point, and I am satisfied with the sound I currently have. On the other hand, the new computer was DIY and on a whim I bought to I/Omega PC PVR, and the MP3 jukebox sounds intriguing....


I guess I wont be able to resist at least some portions of the HTPC route.
 

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Well I actually built my HTPC before I had a TV. At the time I just used my roommates 19" :eek: It was pretty funny to watch widescreen movies on that. The picture was about the size of a business envelope... Everyone here has done things in stages and I think an HTPC on a 27" is a good start, especially if you're just recycling hardware anyway. The MP3 player is how I originally got started, it's a LOT better than any CD changer. I'd recommend getting the Sigma Design Hollywood+ DVD decoder card though. TV out on video cards leaves a lot to be desired. It's functional for WinAmp navigation, etc, but to play DVDs on an analog set the HW+ can't be beat, plus it's under $50.


-will
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hepcat - can you route all video out the Hollywood Plus card. For example, can I run Winamp to my television through that instead of having to buy a video card with TV out?
 

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The general rule is this:


If your viewing device can take only s-video or worse, a HTPC will not help you unless you require region free or any benefit an HTPC has apart from its progressive/scaling abilities.


Your viewing device must take either 480p/576p VGA or progressive YPbPr to effectively use a HTPC.


I would even go as far as to say that some TV's that use a processed VGA mode like some Loewe, Grundig sets etc.) will find a HTPC pretty useless.


T.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by SEH
Hepcat - can you route all video out the Hollywood Plus card. For example, can I run Winamp to my television through that instead of having to buy a video card with TV out?
No, it just outputs the DVD video. So you would still need a video card with TV-out for the Winamp stuff.


-will
 

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Before I bought my RCA F38310 for $2999 I had a 32 inch panny, in screen width I had 25.5 inches. A 36 inch JVC would give you a 29.5 inch width using Y-Cr-Cb component 'analog' would also give a better picture if your DVD has component output.


That's what I had planned on doing, until the 38 inch diagonal direct view HDTV came under 3 grand. I had to have it, besides after all the DVD discs I have bought are well over $8,500 now. But if I didn't have the money I would have gone the above route. Check some makes of analog TV's for analog component input. My 38" wide screen has a 34 inch width which is 4.5 inches bigger than a 36 inch analog set.



When dealing with black bars pull the shades or turn off the lights you only see the movie, I have to do the same when watching 2.35:1 ratio movies even on my HDTV I don't see no black bars if I view it the way I told you to my 2¢.
 

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If you have a normal 27" TV, I'd say the decision is a little murky. You aren't going to gain any quality but all the other functionality might be good. I've got a friend that just uses his HTPC to play VCDs and other computer video stuff on a TV.


I like, hmcgrath below, have the Gateway Destination mentioned below. Are you size limited and possibly thinking about upgrading? People with 27" Sony WEGAs bow down before even the simplest of the large computer monitors.

Quote:
Originally posted by hmcgrath
If you look around you can find used or refurbished sets that will give you much better picture quality than a standard analog TV, for the same price as a new analog unit.


I found a used Gateway 27" 800x600 monitor, for $300. The geometry on the set leaves something to be desired, and I haven't bothered to see if a repair shop could help, but when you sit this next to a $500 Sony 27" Trinitron, there is no comparison. The gateway xcels:))) in both desktop and text, as well as DVD playback.


There are lots of these types of displays on Ebay and other places. The only thing you need to do is worry about quality upon arrival.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Namlemez:


At this point, money is the major factor (new baby, wife not working, mortgage, etc.), but I would like to upgrade in the next 12 - 18 months. My TV is showing some shimmer recently, so that may be pushed up to next summer. When the time comes, I expect that I will not exceed a 36" direct view because of the layout of my living room. I should be big enough and hopefully by then, there will be a better selection of HD in that size.


I had not thought about a monitor, and at $300 it may act as a good "band-aid" until I am willing to spend substantially more money. At this point, I am using my hi-fi vcr as the tuner and my DD/DTS receiver for sound, so it would be a painless transition (famous last words).


Overall, it seems like I would enjoy the other aspects of HTPC until the tv catches up.
 
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