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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm sure these questions have been answered in some form, somewhere in this forum, but I've done a fair amount of searching and can't quite find what is required to inspire a $2-3K investment in my PC/entertainment needs.


Suppose I have a ATI Radeon 9200 Pro 128 MB video card connected via DVI to a Toshiba 30HF83. Let's assume that my PC can support the Radeon 9200 Pro and that I am planning to run Win XP Pro on the PC.


I understand that the application Powerstrip will allow me to customize the resolution delivered to the 30HF83, providing a superior DVD experience visually. However, will my desktop and other apps (this arrangement will be for personal computing and web surfing purposes as well, not just HT) be displayed as nicely as they would on say, a quality 19', flat tube, CRT computer monitor connected via VGA? Does the 30HF83 have the display capabilities to function adequately as a PC monitor? Will I have to create custom settings w/ Powerstrip for both DVD viewing and desktop/general PC usage (I am guessing that I will) and if so, will I have to manually switch between resolution settings whenever I want to go from one to the other? I read somewhere that Powerstrip can detect the opening of specific application and change to a resolution preset for that application. Is this accurate and will it be as convenient as it sounds?


One more question. My source for HD transmission will most likely be Comcast HDTV. I've heard that they have DVI ports on their most recent HD receivers but that they are not enabled. Anyone have a clue when this functionality might be delivered? Probably the wrong forum for that, but the broader issue stands...will this significantly complicate the setup I have described? It seems as though the only issue is whether I am willing to manually switch the DVI input to the tv, assuming Comcast delivers the goods wrt to the DVI port. Or buy an expensive DVI switch box.


If there are any sw or hw options that I appear to have missed that would make this setup cheaper and/or easier given my HTPC objectives and price range ($2-2.5k ideally), let me know. Any and all suggestions and opinions are welcomed. Thanks.
 

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Quote:
I understand that the application Powerstrip will allow me to customize the resolution delivered to the 30HF83, providing a superior DVD experience visually. However, will my desktop and other apps (this arrangement will be for personal computing and web surfing purposes as well, not just HT) be displayed as nicely as they would on say, a quality 19', flat tube, CRT computer monitor connected via VGA? Does the 30HF83 have the display capabilities to function adequately as a PC monitor? Will I have to create custom settings w/ Powerstrip for both DVD viewing and desktop/general PC usage (I am guessing that I will) and if so, will I have to manually switch between resolution settings whenever I want to go from one to the other? I read somewhere that Powerstrip can detect the opening of specific application and change to a resolution preset for that application. Is this accurate and will it be as convenient as it sounds?
Excellent questions, especially since I can answer them :D.


1) Yes, Powerstrip will enhance your DVD experience.

2) No, your desktop is not bound to look as sharp/legible as with on a computer monitor. Right off the bat, most TVs will require refresh rates around 60Hz, and a computer monitor can usually beat this with 72-100Hz refresh rates. Then, there's over/under-scan :(. I am not familiar with your HDTV set, but most of them were not designed to be hooked up to a PC. So, if you want primarily computing/desktop functionality, I'd recommend you have a setup with a regular computer monitor also--which most of us try to avoid in a true home theater environment.

3) Custom settings with Powerstrip are recommended to fine-tune and/or optimize display from various applications (DVD player vs. TV viewer, for instance). And, yes! As I finally discovered and tested last night, Powerstrip can automate which profile is activated for which application. Very slick. Check out my recent thread on this topic, where [I mostly talk to myself as] I figure out how to optimize profiles for DVD playback, etc. It should get you pointed in the right direction.

Quote:
One more question. My source for HD transmission will most likely be Comcast HDTV...
Do a search here on integrating HD cable transmission with an HTPC. There was a thread on this topic yesterday. The basic gist is that if you're going to hook up the HD cable box straight to your TV, you only need enough connections (component, DVI, etc.) on your TV to make it happen (on top of those needed for your HTPC). If you want HDTV through your HTPC, however, and especially if you want to record HDTV, cable runs into a couple of road blocks:

1) QAM encoding: no HD PC cards can handle it, though the soon-to-come-out Fusion III will solve this, but...

2) If your HD broadcast is encrypted by the cable company, even a QAM capable HD card won't do you much good (allegedly all major-network material, e.g., the stuff you could get over-the-air, will not be encrypted).

Quote:
If there are any sw or hw options that I appear to have missed that would make this setup cheaper and/or easier given my HTPC objectives and price range ($2-2.5k ideally), let me know.
You haven't told us exactly what you plan to do with your HTPC (record HD, play games, record regular TV, play DVDs), so it's hard to tell what you need. I can tell you, however, that I put together a system to record/play HDTV over-the-air, SDTV over-the-air, play DVDs and surf the web wirelessly for under $1700 when the smoke cleared. Others here have done even better. Here are my specs:


- ABIT NF7-S motherboard (nforce2 onboard sound) w/ XP Athlon 2000+ CPU + 512 MB of RAM

- 160GB + 200GB hard drives

- Pioneer 120s (slotted) DVD-ROM w/ PowerDVD 5.0 software

- Windows XP Professional

- Saphire/Atlantis ATI Radeon 9000 PRO

- MyHD MDP-120 w/ MyHD software

- WinTV PVR-250

- Gyration wireless RF keyboard + mouse

- RCA VHDC-300 (hope to upgrade to the Key Digital KD-VTCA1 by Christmas) + component cable to hook up Desktop/WinTV/DVD to component1 on my HDTV set.

- RGB/VGA break-out cable to hook up MyHD to component2 on my HDTV set.
 

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I have a Radeon 9200 HTPC hooked up to a Samsung HLN507W. My computer AUTOMATICALLY set my video output to the native rez of my TV. 1280x720 and I DON'T have Powerstrip. So just hook everything up without Powerstrip and see what happens. You can really screw things up with Powerstrip if you don't know what you're doing.


Of course, Windows senses that I have a widescreen display and scales everything appropriately.


My 50" TV is set at 60Hz and it looks GORGEOUS. I have never seen another monitor that looks sharper. So I really wouldn't worry about refresh rates.


I say go for it. Sounds like a nice setup.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks...I appreciate the input. I guess what I am trying to figure out is whether or not the tv I am considering is going to display clearly enough as a PC monitor to make the HTPC integration worth it for me. From what I can gather on the specs, it's capable of displaying either 540p or 1080i. Is that going to cut it as a computer monitor?


eswrite...at this point, the only purpose of the integration is to use my tv as a monitor while still being able to do "tv" things with it, such as watching Comcast HDTV and DVDs...all while getting the most out of all three (HDTV,DVD, and general PC usage). I live in a small one bedroom apt and will be the only user, so if I can eliminate the need for a monitor in purchasing a computer, I can afford both a better computer and will feel a lot better about dropping this much cash on a tv, as it will fill two roles. Recording to my computer and gaming aren't priorities right now. I just want to be able to use my tv as a monitor and get sufficient resolution from it in that capacity.


chris5977...it sounds like you have found a solution that works really well, and without any serious tweaking. However, the tv I am considering isn't nearly as nice as the Samsung HLN507W. After some quick research, it looks like the Toshiba 30HF83 can do 540p while the Samsung HLN507W can display full 720p. The clear answer is to go with the Samsung HLN507W...alas my paycheck dictates otherwise. Regardless, thanks for the encouragement. My set (not talking about the tv now ; )) gets bigger every day, and staring at my stereo each night (my girlfriend took her tv with her when she moved out) doesn't hurt either.


Again...thanks for any input.
 

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I am lucky to have such a nice setup. The Samsung is the gold standard for RPTV HTPC setups. Here are some pictures.

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...0&pagenumber=1


I think you are on the right track to a sweet setup. The Toshiba website clearly states that the TV you want ACCEPTS 720p, but it doesn't say that it OUTPUTS 720p. I wouldn't be happy with 540p.

http://www.tacp.toshiba.com/televisi...p?model=30hf83


I would also consider the Monovision monitor, which can be had for a price that is tough to beat and will output 720p. I do not think DVI is important on a CRT display since the monitor will convert your signal back to analog:

https://www.dcpuraty.com/store/Produ...tCode=DM6552SW


Your budget may allow you to get one of the new Panasonic 50" LCD TVs. They are getting rave reviews in the RPTV forum.


Anywho, I know very little about computers and I was able to build my own HTPC. I saved a ton of money and had a good time building it. After reading about all of the tweeks on overclocking and Powerstrip and refresh rate the geeks talk about in here, it really had me intimidated, so I almost didn't do it. Well, I built my own system and it will play any game at the highest settings and will play WM9 HD, so I am happy.
 
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