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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know it's not optimal and until now I have had a dedicated HTPC.


But times are rough and I must take my other computers to my new business I started.


So I'm wondering how to change my HTPC setup so that it will act as my HTPC and my main computer. I want to do all the normal computer stuff (email, web, development etc) on my main 21" monitor. I also want to play DVD's, HDTV and SDTV on my RPTV via RGB too.


Right now I have a ATI AIW powering my RPTV with a loopback cable through my AccessDTV card for HDTV.


What are my options?


I know some HDTV cards can do both HDTV and scale DVD too. That may be good for me as my RPTV can do a max of 720p via RGB anyway. But I would have to replace my AccessDTV card in that case (no big deal since they seem to have abandoned software updates and support).


But it would be nice if I could have a normal desktop on my RPTV as well as my 21" from the same computer. Sounds like I would need another video card in the machine for that.


Is anyone doing this variation that can point me in the right direction?


Thanks!
 

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Sterling:


I use a Matrox G450, and Matrox G400 with Dual Monitors. My HTPC is set up with the G400 card and a MSI Video/TV capture card.


The Matrox is capable of:

DVD output and TV output automatically to my Sony CRT through RGB inputs

Computer screen is always on my desk monitor with a hot key combo to clone it on my CRT as required.


It works very well, and is not expensive.


Matrox currently sells a G550 which replaces the models that I have, I think it is work looking at.


Hope this helps,


Alan
 

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I also run a Matrox G400 in my HTPC.


First of all, if you plan on playing 3D applications (OpenGL games for example) on your RPTV, then your RPTV must be configured as the primary display (unless you get a Matrox Parhelia).


You can connect your RPTV to the second head and play DVD's or other video files to it via the DVDMax function. You can clone an exact copy of your primary desktop onto your tv display (but video files on first display will be blacked out on second display (no overlay on second display). Also you can extend your desktop to the TV. Take note, however, DVDMax only outputs a 1024x768 progressive signal (which is a problem for me with a Panny ED plasma).


So for me, I run my plasma as my primary display and my lcd monitor as the secondary. My task bar and icons as well as most windows all appear on the secondary display. I can do all of my regular functions on my secondary while playing a DVD to the primary (plasma).


Matrox still has the best implementation of dual (and tripple) monitor support. However, if you plan on playing current 3D games or 3D apps (say anything younger than Half-Life or Q3), you better steer clear of the G400, G450, and G550. In fact the only Matrox option you'll have is the Parhelia but that is very expensive and buggy.


Many people on this board will recommend ATI cards because of their superior gaming performance and decent PQ.


Matrox is set to release info about some cheaper versions of Parhelia cards very soon. If these new cards support overlay on the second and third display (as the current Parhelia does) then these could be very nice, flexible HTPC cards.


BTW, since you plan on using your computer alot, I suggest you try out Ultramon ( http://www.realtimesoft.com/ultramon/ ). This is a very handy program to move windows between displays, set different wallpapers, etc.


Hope this helps.


-IT
 

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I have a dual head grafics car from nVidia. One VGA connector goes to my 17 inch crt monitor, the other goes to the projector. With nView runing, power dvd, WM9, divx player or nDVD is assigned to the second vga port (which is the projector). Works fine. I will soon replace the crt with a small touch screen lcd wired into the sofa, for a big lcd remote.


The other thing I have found useful is to mount hard disks in removable trays. A 2.5 / 3.5 inch hard drive will fit in a tray which slides into a 5.25 inch bay. They are hot swapable and make it very easy to change OSs. Work (apps, os and data) sits on one drive, and the HTPC stuff sits on another. It also is the only practical way I have found to exchange very large data files ( 30 gb or more) between various computers. I can remove the drive, drive to a friend's house, copy off the data, and return home before I will have been able to burn all the dvd-r necessary to transport the data.
 

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I currently use an Radeon 9500 card with the vga connector going to my crt and the dvi connector going to the plasma. The plasma is configured as my main monitor and I have the desktop extended to the other. It's got a few quirks, some good, some not so much. For example, I can be playing a dvd on the plasma while doing my work on the crt. I just have to make sure that the desktop icons of the programs I need have been dragged (drug?) to desktop on the crt. Kinda cool, actually... One problem I've encountered though, is since the plasma is primary I need to have it on to boot up my computer... Not perfect, but just quirky enough to have some benefits with a little bit of inconvienence.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The Radeon 9500 or better sounds like a good scenario.


Is anyone using a dual monitor with those HTPC front end GUI programs? I wonder if there is a list of those programs that work well with dual monitor.


I would prefer to have the desktop be on my 21" monitor instead of the RPTV. Has anyone tried using two desktop instances/sessions/explorer.exe's in XP with dual monitors for HTPC?


Is there an all in one HTDV card that will do HDTV, Scale SDTV from Svideo and DVD from like zoomplayer?
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Ijon_Tichy


Matrox still has the best implementation of dual (and tripple) monitor support. However, if you plan on playing current 3D games or 3D apps (say anything younger than Half-Life or Q3), you better steer clear of the G400, G450, and G550. In fact the only Matrox option you'll have is the Parhelia but that is very expensive and buggy.
I disagree that the Parhelia is buggy, especially with the drivers that were released yesterday...


HUGE boost in OpenGL/2D performance and nearly all bugs taken care of...


Yes, it is expensive, but Matrox is coming out with the P650 and P750 soon...
 
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