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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey Guys,

I found a deal on the clearance rack for a HP z556 Digital Entertainment Center for 679.99. Wondering if you all think this is a good deal?

I will be goig to my Pio plasma using a DVI to HDMI cable and using the optical 5.1 spdif output on this thing. I want to play some of my DVD collection on it. Does this thing support DTS sound? It will take the place of my xBox 360 as my main Media center machine. Here are some specs on it.

Pentium 4 630 (P) HT 3.0 GHz - 800 MHz Front side bus - Socket 775

512 MB Memory

250 GB SATA 7200RPM (Im addding a 500GB SATA drive on my own)

16x DVD(+/-)R/RW RAM (+/-)R DL LightScribe drive

Wireless LAN 802.11 a/b/g

GeForce 6600 128MB DDR, PCI-E

TV tuner card, HDTV capable

Memory card reader


I now have a conflict as I need to remove a component from my AV rack. One of these 3 have to go...


Pioneer Elite DV59AVi DVD player

Sammy Blu-Ray Player

Tosh HD-A1


Looks like the Pio Elite wil DVD player will have to go if I keep this. I love that thing and it will be ahrd to see it go...


-Evangelo2
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
One more question guys, do you think that this media center PC will be able to play DVDs through DVI to my plasma at my plasmas native resolution (1280*768p) as good as my Pio upconverts disc? Thanks.

-Evangelo2
 

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Greetings ,


I got a z558, which has 1 GB ram, 300 GB Drive + another 300 GB personal media drive for $849. I'd say you got a decent deal.


Can't speak to the pioneer vs. HP on the plasma, I have an RPTV through component, and it looks better than my panasonic.


David
 

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Good deal? Well... It's all outdated hardware, so not really, but you didn't pay a lot so no big deal.


Yes it will do fine to upscale dvd to your display's native res, better than an upscaling player alone if set up properly.


Troy
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by pcCinema /forum/post/0


Good deal? Well... It's all outdated hardware, so not really, but you didn't pay a lot so no big deal.


Yes it will do fine to upscale dvd to your display's native res, better than an upscaling player alone if set up properly.


Troy

Greetings,


One theme I've consistently seen in these forums is that the hardware for an HTPC doesn't have to be the latest and greatest to serve as a media center. My z558 has more than enough horsepower to rip/play dvds, record HD, etc.


I think the OP will be happy with the box, and as you say, it didn't cost much.


David
 

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Here's the AVS syndrome:

If you bought less than the newest/bleeding edge equipment, someone will say it's outdated because they have the newest model and it's the $hitz compared to the old model.

If you buy the newest/bleeding edge equipment, someone will say- you paid too much... you didn't need to buy that high end stuff because they're getting by with the old model and paid much less for it.


So, the deal is.... if it works properly for you, you are happy with what you paid for it.... then it's a good deal
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by replayrob /forum/post/0


Here's the AVS syndrome:

If you bought less than the newest/bleeding edge equipment, someone will say it's outdated because they have the newest model and it's the $hitz compared to the old model.

If you buy the newest/bleeding edge equipment, someone will say- you paid too much... you didn't need to buy that high end stuff because they're getting by with the old model and paid much less for it.


ROTFLMAO! That's a good summary. Way to help us laugh at ourselves.
 

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How are those HP units as far as noise and heat are concerned? I was actually thinking of picking one of those up (the 558) just because it's quick and easy, and the case looks great. But, I'm concerned about the cooling capability of that form factor. Can you pass along your experiences?


Also, are there any free slots on those machines? Thanks!
 

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No free slots. Noise is tolerable. The fan on top will kick in on boot up, and is breifly loud, then quiets back down. Supposedly, it kicks back in when needed, but I've not heard it when i've been watching movies. The PC sits behind me, on a shelf in my built-ins. It's not in a cabinent or anything. The video card is passively cooled.


The DVD player itself is very quiet. I can't tell if it is running.


I've not done any recording of HD / watching video at the same time, so the fan may fire up more if you tax the system, but overall, I've been pleased with the sound level of the z558.
 

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For what it's worth, I think you got a fantastic deal. I have a z555 and love it (other than it runs hot, which is a concern since mine's in a closet). It's a fantastic all-in-one unit with just about anything you could want in a media center. Add a bit more RAM and a USB digital tuner, and you've got a 4-tuner DVR that is quite capable.
 

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Thanks for the replies guys. The unit would be fairly well ventilated in my setup (the small main cabinet is full, so new components go on a shelf in an open rack I have off to the side). I guess the noise would be more of a concern, but from what you describe tgr, it sounds like the static noise isn't that bad - probably in line with my Tivo, which is audible in a quiet room but very livable.


It's just such a great looking package that I'm finding it hard to say no. Plus, I really like the integrated component outputs, although I'd be willing to give the DVI output a shot as well. And as you say valk, with the addition of a USB tuner, you can record just about anything.


I just might have to take the plunge on this one...
 

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I didn't knock it because I feel all superior or have something better, in fact I don't.

I just have a cheapo pentium d 945 hacked together upgraded system.

The reason being outdated matters is that only the fastest stuff handles blue ray/hd-dvd without issues, and you won't be flying through the next generation of games (or even the top current games). What really sucks is you don't have an easily upgradeable system at all. You'll have to replace mobo, ram, cpu, and video card and in that type of case I don't know if that gives you an upgrade path *at all*.


I just upgraded my pc and it's still outdated because I had a budget and that was that...But at least I did build so that I can upgrade any part without having to replace the whole thing or most of it. I bought faster ram to be ready for a core2duo, a mobo that will handle one, a case that is standard...


Maybe none of this matters to you and you have no intention of games or BD/HDHD but there's always something new just around the corner that will require more power. It is a sweet little system with a pretty case though, and the price is good for that type of system.


Troy
 

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He only paid $679.99 and he has a decent PC that looks great in his A/V rack. He already has an HD DVD player AND a Blu-Ray player, so my guess is that he probably just wants other HTPC functions, such as ATSC and NTSC capture and playback, upscaled DVD playback, music playback, viewing pictures, and of course, surfing the web. This PC will do a great job at all those tasks. I think he made a wise purchase.


-Dave
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by kmp14 /forum/post/0


Good deal, I would bump the memory to 1GB...

Bumped it to 1.5 Gig.

Found a sale on 512 memory so I through 2 in there (added the the 2 256 it had originally).


So far it works great. The TOSLink works great and I get DD to my AV Receiver and the image looks pretty good at 720p through HDMI.


I also set up a bunch of shows to record in HD since I already ahve a OTA HD antenna.



Cameron_Peck,

I found it in Microcenter wiht all there clearance PCs.


-Evangelo2
 

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You might want to try the TheaterTek free trial. Although I have not done it, I belive that it will integrate into MCE. Also, the PureVideo decoders will work great with your 6600, and you can run FFDShow with TheaterTek to enhance your upscaling. I also think that you will find that the PureVideo decoders will do a better job with HD OTA. Of course, you can get the PureVideo decoders by themselves for $20, but I am not sure if you can use FFDShow with MCE by itself.


-Dave
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tgr131 /forum/post/0


I got a z558, which has 1 GB ram, 300 GB Drive + another 300 GB personal media drive for $849. I'd say you got a decent deal.


Can't speak to the pioneer vs. HP on the plasma, I have an RPTV through component, and it looks better than my panasonic.


David

wow, David - where did you get such a great deal? Please advise, I'd be interested in a z558!
 

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Great review - thanks tgr! I generally feel the same way as the author about pre-built PCs, but it's hard to pass on this one. And I loved that picture of the HP with the receiver - this thing is definitely built for looks...


The reviewer did mention the fan noise when the top unit kicks in, but like you said earlier, those times are hopefully few and far between. I was also very happy to see the CPU utilization numbers when dealing with HD - plenty of overhead there for routine matters like checking email and browsing AVS.



One more question for you, if you don't mind - how do find the keyboard/trackball combo for non-MCE tasks? I've never been a trackball fan, so I'm considering a Gyration mouse to go along with this. But I'm curious about the performance, since that is a nice all in one solution...


Thanks again.
 
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