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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I want to build or buy a new HD HTPC to drive my TV and use as an audio jukebox, storage for my digital picture files, and internet computer (eg to look up movie reviews on IMDB). The mission summary is below:


1 - Record stereo audio from external inputs onto hard drive and burn onto CD (2 RCA analog audio input jacks)

2 - Record family videos from a camera or VCR onto hard drive or burn to DVD (2 RCA analog audio input jacks plus 1 analog video)

3 - Rip CD's I own onto hard drive

4 - Contain a multislot card reader to read camera memory cards

5 - Allow internet access for movie reviews and very modest web searches

6 - I want to drive a 65" Sony RPG HDTV (which has both DVI and component inputs) in either 720p or 1080i.

7 - I want an audio jukebox, but I use WMP10 and that is fine.

8 - I DO NOT WANT gaming, NTSC, ATSC tuners or to watch a DVD on this box. (I will use dedicated boxes for this.)


Thus far I do not see any need for MCE, since XP home does most of this.


BUT - I recognize that in addition to the regular home PC guts I will also need:


A video encoding card - what kind? (I note that Dazzle does not seem to have much resolution)


A video output card for DVI or Component - what kind? (I note that many of the cards I have seen seem designed for gaming and 3D rendering, contain loud fans, and seem like overkill)


Any advice on component choices, ommisions or errors would be appreciated.

Thanks,


Steve
 

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I would recommend J River Media Center for your audio jukebox. This will handle secure ripping and bit-perfect playback of you CDs. They are also working on and improving the handling of photos/jpegs. I am using JRiver to play lossless music files off a Linux server and I (and my wife) are very happy with the results.


You will need a card like the Hauppauge 150 or 500 for video capture, which will also give you PVR ability. Look at SageTV or BeyondTV for more info on PVR. There are also numerous other "capture-only" options available.


I'm not up on the latest video cards, but something like a a Geforce 6600 Fanless would be a good option for a silent video board.


pete
 

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Why would you need to drive a 65 " high def set in either 720 or 1080 if you will not be watching upscaled dvds through it? That's the main reason for doing this, that and playback of HD-PVR type material.


There are lots of video capture cards out there, most will have integrated tuners in them. The Hauppauges, as mentioned, or the MyHD cards are good. There is also fusion.


If you are going to do what you want to do, by your list, you will be like two steps away from DVD and PVR. The upkeep of the system with or without these functions will likely be the same. If you already have the equipment and don't want to just throw it away, there is always ebay. Just re-reading your first post, you want to build or buy a new HD HTPC to drive your TV, drive it with what?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the good responses. I would like to store digital photos and digitized family videos on this box and project them at max resolution on the RPTV. I also want the audio jukebox functions of wmp10 or equivalent to show up in max possible resolution on the RPTV. Also I want web browsing to show up at max resolution. All these argue for 720p or 1080i.


I view this as an HD HTPC because it will be a dedicated part of my stereo and TV setup, not in my offce computer room. It will also be driving a DVI or Component output. It's true that it looks close to a PC thusfar, but just because it doesnt use MCE should not mean that it has to give up its HTPC title.


As to DVD. I have a player and a recorder already. I feel that my next DVD player will be an HD type if/when the standards battle ever gets settled. My guess is it will be a blueray. It's possible that this may be an addition to my hopefully modular HD HTPC. It could be a separate dedicted box also.


Finally, build has the advantage of getting the parts I want, modularity and growth, at the expense of some work to get it all integrated. Buy is easier and may be cheaper, is harder to upgrade, and may come with unwanted parts. Thus the jury is still out on that one.


Hopefully this answered the questions. It was good that you made me defend and clarify my desires.


Thanks,


steve
 

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The hauppauge PVR series cards would be overkill, plus the hardware MPEG2 encoding would get in the way of flexibility. A simple, cheap capture card will do the job.
 

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Steve, I would strongly suggest you look into www.xlobby.com Xlobby is a freeware HT front end that will allow you to visually catagorize your music with CD coverart, plus your pictures, and give you slideshow funtionality. If you ever do decide to run movies off the box, it will allow you to view the dvd covers and have everything available at the click of a button. It's very customizable and easy to configure for use with a remote control. I have both of my computers set up with it, and my wife would never play music off the computer before getting it set up. Now she's all over it. There are quite a few guides in the forum at xlobby on how to set it up.


If you are serious about audio quality, ie you can tell the difference between mp3s and CD's, then you want to look into ripping your CD collection into a lossless format like FLAC, which is also freeware. Using a ripper like EAC, ripping to FLAC, you will have absolutely lossless audio. Rip it to your hard drive in a F:\\music\\artist\\album format, then you will have it set up in xlobby in about 2 minutes. If you do not want to play movies, zoomplayer free edition will play any videos you have, and run ffdshow within ZP you will have it scaled to your TV's resolution.


But do check into xlobby, it will give you everything you want to access your media. As far as capturing video or audio, look for something else, not sure what to recommend. But after you have everything gathered and set up, xlobby will definitely add the "cool" factor to it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks. xlobby looks pretty good. In reviewing their site I got some more ideas and now have some more reasons for the HD HTPC driving the RPTV in addition to IMDB - weather, webcams, and news via the web.


On the audio quality topic, the music I have on the office machine is from ripped cd's, songs I bought from MSN music, and songs I recorded from my old LP's ( e.g old PPM, Baez, and and some jazz). The quality is fine. Being able to burn Cd's to play in my car is important. I think that this says that MP3 is fine, and I don't need a losless scheme that may have trouble playing elsewhere.


So, a key question still is: What is a good audio and video encoding card?


Thanks,


Steve
 
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