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I've been pondering/prepping my HTPC build for quite a while and I thought I had it nailed down with a great deal on the i5 650 that I got for a killer deal at Microcenter. I've got the CPU, a 640 GB Western Digital Black drive, a Harmony One remote, and then my HT setup (Denon receiver, Quad speakers, Panasonic Plasma, Sony Blu-ray player).


My question is, I've been following the dedicated i3, i5, i7 thread and to be honest... I'm getting pretty lost. Is HTPC really as difficult as it seems in that thread? Multiple programs to buy/download, multiple patches, multiple driver/BIOS updates and well, its pretty overwhelming. All I really want to be able to due is watch Hulu and watch my regular DVD collection (that I plan to rip to hard drives). For Blu-ray I'll just be using my stand along player. I have lots of TV shows as well that I have on my hard drive. I would like to be able to bitstream to my Denon and I want to be able to control the entire thing with my Harmony remote.


I had thought I could just put the thing together, install Windows 7 and run either Windows Media Center or Boxee and be done with it; am I missing something? My neighbor says just suck it up and buy a Mac Mini like him, but I'd really like to use what I've got.


So anyway, is HTPC really that tough or does it just seem that way because many here want to push the envelope a little on performance.
 

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In a word.... yes!


If you seek the kind of perfection in playback you get with a stand-alone player, if you notice when colours and black levels are not right and when video judders, if you just want to be able to play the very latest Blu-rays you will find being an HTPC owner/administrator becomes a life-style choice!


There are benefits, and you will find loads of new friends who live and breath keeping up with ever changing players, drivers etc.. etc. but it is not for the fainthearted!
 

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Yes and No.


Generally speaking; Yes for Blu-Ray and No for DVD.

Blu-Ray has additional protection not found on DVDs, hence the problem.

Since you are concerned only with DVD, don't worry about it.

Go ahead and build it.

The problems start when we want to customize our viewing experience.

There are thousands of options and combinations. The flip-side is obvious, when different drivers and software interact they might end up creating some problem.

That is what this (and other) forums are meant for. We all share our experiences and learn from each other.

As simple as DVD storage and playback is, there are numerous choices.

Read up about it and decide what you like.

At its simplest, build your PC, load your OS (Win 7 recommended), backup a few DVDs and get them working (Win7 MC plays DVDs natively, no need of extra drivers/decoders).

Once you have them working, you can get down to customizing with various plug-ins and software.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigjppop /forum/post/18253847



So anyway, is HTPC really that tough or does it just seem that way because many here want to push the envelope a little on performance.

ding ding.


with an htpc you are never satisfied. The problem isn't that we have a problem, its that we aren't happy unless we have a problem.


To be honest i am perfectly happy with the performance on my setup, buts its running too good and I'm getting bored with it, i need to tweak something, i scour this site every day looking for a way to make it better...
 

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Depends what you want out of it. For my Wife's media center PC upstairs all I had to do the other night after a major hardware upgrade was:


install Win7 and update

Install Drivers

Install FFDshow

Install Haali's Media Splitter

Make FFDshow default filter for all formats

Install Media Browser and point to network folders

Run 7MC setup and get TV guide going.


That's all it took to get it running and she's been going on about how awesome it looks and works compared to before when we couldn't watch HD up there due to slowdown.


Now my main HTPC downstairs is another story, constant updates to FFDshow, MPC-HC, Video and audio drivers. Trying out different codecs, renderers, players, all in pursuit of perfection. Just when you think you have it you realize that something isn't quite right. But that's half the fun.
 

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DVDs, music, netflix, hulu are are pretty easy, realistically, you don't even need FFDshow or Haali or anything for just those, though they can help IMHO. For recording/viewing HD television it gets a slight bit more complicated, but BD is when everything goes to hell. The community and some software companies are making leaps and bounds towards getting it to work as well as a standalone, but we're just not there yet.
 

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Its simple to setup. Install win7 and mymovies or media browser (both free for dvd's). use a ripping program anydvd, dvdfab. You'll be good to go. You can decide to run updates and whatever else. All the ffdshow and TMT3 and everything else is just people trying to get a better picture or running bluray. It can take 1-2 hours to set everything up for dvd's. You'll spend about 15 mins ripping a dvd then mymovies automatically monitors your DVD folder and add them to your collection with covers, information, trailers, and anything else you'd like. I have 300 movies and maybe 5 of them mymovies didn't find (mainly because they're old kids movies).
 

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Also if you have a bunch of dvd's i'd suggest having a couple dvd drives. They're only like $30 OEM at microcenter and will save you a lot of time. Also PATA dvd drives are just as good as SATA. So if you have a PATA port i'd get 2 PATA drives and leave your SATA for future HD upgrades.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike_311 /forum/post/18253886


ding ding.


with an htpc you are never satisfied. The problem isn't that we have a problem, its that we aren't happy unless we have a problem.


To be honest i am perfectly happy with the performance on my setup, buts its running too good and I'm getting bored with it, i need to tweak something, i scour this site every day looking for a way to make it better...

Lol serious man its pretty sick. I just built one, and as soon as it got all set up and running smooth, I got bored. At times I think I'm more into messing with them then actually using them for their intended purpose.
 

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It's only as complex as you make it.


If you want perfection so that the HTPC is an appliance rather than a PC...then be prepared to spend a lot of time working at it.


It can also be as simple as just loading up your hard drive with your converted dvd collection and playing them using the file system explorer within one of the popular media center packages.


I'm hoping to make mine more of a hybrid appliance/PC...as right now for what I need done I can't see how I can fully automate what I'm doing for video conversions. I'm a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to making sure everything is the same format with the same naming conventions and such. So if something doesn't fit, I make it fit. I'm looking for as slick an interface as possible.




And BD/HD-DVD is perfectly possible now...I know because I have about 3/4 of my HD collection converted to mp4's. Still working on them...at about 7 hours per movie conversion...it takes a while.


All of my converted movies I play within XBMC...while I use Boxee for online content. Going to look into using Media Portal to try to get a DVR setup for the ClearQAM content I can pull off of my Comcast HSI connection.


My biggest issue right now is the size of my TV...right now it makes it impossible to sit in my recliner to manage all that stuff. Working on resolving that issue in the near future.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by whiteboy714 /forum/post/18254513


Lol serious man its pretty sick. I just built one, and as soon as it got all set up and running smooth, I got bored. At times I think I'm more into messing with them then actually using them for their intended purpose.

+1 to that. I got rid of my satellite too, but I just love tweaking and tinkering and can't get enough of it. Now I'm thinking of upgrading my perfectly good zotac 9300 setup, to a silent i3 setup, with completely passive cooling & SSD. Oh this is an evil hobby!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by whiteboy714 /forum/post/18254513


Lol serious man its pretty sick. I just built one, and as soon as it got all set up and running smooth, I got bored. At times I think I'm more into messing with them then actually using them for their intended purpose.

I agree! I had everything working perfectly so decided to go bluray...Realized my new 5670 didn't work on older 939 board so decided to build a complete new system.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by justinm0424 /forum/post/18254652


I agree! I had everything working perfectly so decided to go bluray...Realized my new 5670 didn't work on older 939 board so decided to build a complete new system.

i just pulled the trigger on bluray this morning. \\


Like i said, everything was running waaay to smoothly..
 

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As a guy in a similar boat as the OP this is a helpful thread. Occasionally folks like me come by these forums thinking about pushing our limits. Reading all the tech talk and seeing all the problems folks are having can be overwhelming. Its very nice to hear that if you just want to do basic stuff, its really not all that hard.


I know the whole perfectionist and tweaking drive. I have similar feelings about other things in my life (like home remodeling). Half the fun is in thinking 'what am I going to do next?'
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wanchope /forum/post/18255186


As a guy in a similar boat as the OP this is a helpful thread. Occasionally folks like me come by these forums thinking about pushing our limits. Reading all the tech talk and seeing all the problems folks are having can be overwhelming. Its very nice to hear that if you just want to do basic stuff, its really not all that hard.


I know the whole perfectionist and tweaking drive. I have similar feelings about other things in my life (like home remodeling). Half the fun is in thinking 'what am I going to do next?'

yeah i have the same remodeling gene...


the problem with htpcs is the ability and accessibility to do all the tweaking, and that's what makes it so fun.


i got my new cellphone and hacked it, but now i cant do anything else to it so its just a boring phone now... but the htpc... oh the possibilities!
 

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The big thing is people post threads about problems they're having and not about my systems working great. I'm very surprised how easy it is to run a HTPC and friends are amazed that i have one click access to over 300 movies. Plus I love how media center looks when playing music. We have a lot of smaller parties (were college students) and strangers can easily grab the keyboard and search for a song with ease. Also almost every party people are pulling up youtube videos and music. Its amazing how we can get perfect quality dvd rips and OTA tv channels. Now with bluray, dolby truHD, DTSHD with perfect lossless audio its endless. The only downside to HTPC's is you have to buy more harddrives when they fillup but even that's simple. My 4 year old has one click access to all her movies using mymovies transcoded to the 360. Parental controls limited the view to only g, pg movies and she can easily use the controller to pick one of her 150 movies. I think it's easier than using a dvd since its setup to go straight to the movie and not the dvd menu. Also we have one click access to everything from our HTPC, 360, Desktop and laptop where everything looks and acts the same. All HTPC's are missing is some form of IPTV where we won't need tv tuners.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike_311 /forum/post/18254734


i just pulled the trigger on bluray this morning. \\


Like i said, everything was running waaay to smoothly..

lol I got mine going with an amd 555 dual core. And I was just at frys looking at the quads since I'm still in the 15 day return period. But I dont need the heat or noise so decided against it.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Servicetech571 /forum/post/18254148


The main seller for us is DVR w/o a monthly bill. HTPC is one of the few options if you don't want to sign up for a $80/mo TV service.

To be fair, I only pay an extra $5(or maybe its closer to $10) a month for my DVR service. I also pay an extra $10 a month for the Dish HD package. I think the base Dish package with no addons is $40 before taxes.

Mike
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmikester1 /forum/post/18255837


To be fair, I only pay an extra $5(or maybe its closer to $10) a month for my DVR service. I also pay an extra $10 a month for the Dish HD package. I think the base Dish package with no addons is $40 before taxes.

Mike

So you're paying around $60 a month. I ditched cable as we really only watched local HD that we record and movies. I then reinvest the $720+ a year on HTPC and computer equipment.


I don't like paying "the man" to watch tv and hoping that the HTPC revolution brings $20 monthly IPTV to our PC's and HTPC's.
 
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