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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I dont know if this is the right forum, but I have started my homework for buidling a media PC (MAC?) and wanted some feedback on which operating system offered the most flexibility, stability, and ease of use. Do Windows based systems have better software and hardware options or is everything pretty much cross platform? Is it a preference thing? I have a MAC G4 tower that I could convert into a server, but I want to do this right and build a Windows machine from scratch if necessary. I need to build this with a hi-def tuner card as well.


Any feedback would be most welcomed.
 

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Your best bet is to look at the actual hardware that is available for what you want to do with your HTPC. I myself could care less if the OS is windows/apple/nix/whatever. So start looking at the hardware (tuner cards, video cards, high def optical drivers etc... they will dictate which OS you should use.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Good point. I do need to think more about how I will be using this. I know I need HD capabilities, TIVO-like features (scheduled recordings, searchable TV progamming, live tv, etc), ability to burn to DVD-R, serve up DVD titles with a user friendly catalog program... All this integrated with the internet, my mp3's, pictures, etc. I would also like it to be part of a network in my home for file sharing purposes.


Still seems like I need to be more specific. There are so many hardware/software options and, of course, the massive amount of feedback from this forum!
 

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Since you will want this to work more as appliance (ie everything should be controlled by a remote) you will need to start researching front end software. Off the top of my head: MCE2005, BeyondTV, SageTV, GBPVR, MythTV, see if those offer what you need. I know apple makes an ilife suit but I am unsure if it actually offers PVR type capabilities.


Most of the front ends that I mentioned have specific tuner/video cards that work well with them. So you may want to start your search there.
 

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Usually folks go with what they know. If you are a Mac person I think your options are very limited unless it's a x86 mini turned into a windows box but you'd have to ask in the mac sub forum under this forum.


If you are just as well versed in windows it (as always) has the broadest hardware and software options.


If you know anything about Linux there's MythTV and in the form of KnoppMyth it makes it as easy as can be to set one up. It may work on either mac or pc hardware not just x86, but you'd have to check to be certain in the sub forum for Linux. I'm looking into this option myself right now and even though I've always been a windows person I chose to build a box with common hardware with broad support under either Linux or Windows.


Asking a question like that here in the windows HTPC forum is bound to get more support for Windows though. I would ask in the Mac forum if they even have anything that can compete with any of the MythTV / MCE / Vista MCE/SageTV/BeyondTV etc etc options. Pretty much all of these will do all you ask for, it's just personal preference as to which interface you like best and how much you want to spend on all the software bits needed.


Troy
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Im pretty well versed in both Mac and Windows. Built several Windows 2000 workstations from scratch a few years back, so I dont have weak knees. I think pcCinema is right that my options are more limited on the Mac, which is a shock because Mac's are such elegant, polished multimedia devices. And Im not just talking about the slick finish - the OS interface, the layout of hardware and easy access into the G4/G5 towers, etc. Its almost "too" finished a product to allow for customization at the level of an HTPC (unless Steve Jobs decides to market HTPC's and then they will make the best on the block.)


Thanks for everyone's advice.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by timetodoit /forum/post/14483722


Sorry to digg this but, I have both, and who outputs a better image? A mac? or PC with ffdshow and all those tricks? Is there anything to help the mac like ffdshow?

They are pretty much going to be outputting the same thing. The gfx hardware is basically the only thing that could affect image quality, and both Mac and MS are using the same things now. The main thing for quality is the codecs used and again, they are pretty much the same between the two camps.


Now, if you took the $1,500 or so dollars saved from having to buy a Mac Pro, and invested that into a better display, then the picture quality would clearly go to the MS system.


-Suntan
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by timetodoit /forum/post/14484137


So what codecs should I use in my mac? and settings for those?

I'm really not overly versed in what is available for macs. Your best bet is to ask in the Mac sub-forum. However, with most of the newer formats, and their hardware accelerated decoding, the codecs all produce a lot of the same results for decoding.


-Suntan
 

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As this piqued my interest, I just had a quick look over at the Mac subforum. Apparently Mac doesn't even support BluRay. Is this correct? I just thought you could buy a copy of powere DVD or something for Mac same as you could for Windows.


How could anyone use premiere pro on a mac if they didn't have the option to output to Bluray? Nevermind playback of bluray.


-Suntan
 

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If Blu-ray and/or HD-DVD playback is a must, then you are stuck with Windows for native disk playback with PDVD, TMT or WDVD(either physical original media, or ISO and using AnyDVD HD.) Personally, I would stick with Windows, even on the Mac Mini. I have a number of friends who have mini's that upgraded their CPU to the Intel 2.1Ghz DC chips and are running Vista.
 

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I would recommend windows vista. Here's why...


For DVR functionality you will have the three top DVR applications available to you (Vista Media Center, SageTV, BeyondTV).


You will have the widest range of hardware devices supported (HDHomerun, ATI 650 pro cards, Dvico fusion series, hauppauge HDPVR and HVR/PVR series cards, the latest generation of ATI and Nvidia graphics cards and their HW decoding support for newer media types).


If you are going to be buying a new machine you have the option to get a cablecard capable PC (unfortunately you can't use a cablecard tuner on a DIY machine).


You will have the ability to playback blu-ray movies.


Based on what you want to do it's your best option.
 
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