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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everybody,

For the few months that I have been reading this forum I have seen nothing but RAVE reviews for HTPC. The number of posts stating that the picture quality BLOWS away the Denon 3800 and other high end DVD players has made me more than a little tempted to check it out.

I had built a HTPC with a standard tower case, but the noise was too great and I was actually trying to get it to work for scaling images from DirecTV, which ended up being a bust. Being frustrated, I never really checked out the DVD player functionality of the unit before relegating it back to the computer room.

I had considered getting a Movi or similar device, but the wife absolutely refused to allow the purchase of a 2K DVD player :(

Well, the geniouses at Shuttle (makers of those super quiet, super compact computer systems with everything built in) finally released a unit with an AGP slot! This finally seems like an acceptable solution to me, as I can have something compact and stylish, yet powerful and usefull.

I decided to take the plunge.

Here is a list of the hardware components I am using:

1. Shuttle compact computer for Intel P4/Celeron with built in Avance AC97 sound (w/optical digital out), firewire, USB 2.0, and LAN.

2. Intel Celeron 1.7 GHZ processor running at 400 MHZ FSB

3. 256 MB PC333 DDR RAM

4. Generic 16X DVD drive

5. GeForce 2 Pro w/ 64MB DDR RAM (Detonator 30.81 drivers, which are the most stable)

Software Components:

1. Windows XP Pro SP1

2. Theatertek 1.5

2. Latest version of Powerstrip (running my Geforce at [email protected], the native resolution of my projector)

Home Theater Components:

1. Sharp Z9000 Front Projector (Japanese version) running latest firmware (or at least one that allows me to bypass the internal scaler)

2. Firehawk 110" screen

3. Pioneer Elite 49TX Receiver

4. 7.1 Paradigm speaker setup (Studio 100's, Studio CC, Studio ADP, SAE-25 in walls, PW2200)

I have the HTPC connected via Input 5 on my Sharp using a standard VGA cable (not breakout), and I have used that test pattern that is floating around to achieve pixel perfection. The projector is actually set to Auto-Sync, and seems to do a pretty good job of it.

Here are my problems:

1. The picture is not all that great:

I will say that the picture seemed to have depth, but it wasn't terribly crisp or sharp, and there is definately ghosting. Certainly not better than my Panasonic RP56 DVD player. Occasionally there is combing (like on the 2nd chapter of LOTR where it's panning in the shire) and every so often there is a little split second glitch on the screen that looks like a 2 inch blue line (keep in mind it's a 110" screen). Could this be an issue with my powerstrip timings? I have tried the standard windows timings, the LCD projector timings, and the HDTV timings, all running 1280X720 @ or very near 60HZ. Could this be an issue with my GeForce2? I would be open to trying an ATI card (their 8500 AIW even comes with that cool remote that I was gonna buy anyway), or the Mike Parker Mod. Does anybody have powerstrip settings for the Sharp 9000 with a GeForce?

2. The sound keeps getting out of sync:

This is probably due to the sound card itself or TT. I am going to try a different sound card, but since I only have 1 available PCI slot, I am a little dismayed that a straight optical out is having so many problems. Has anybody used the standard built-in-on-every-motherboard-known-to-man AV97 for sound with TT and had success?

I also have a couple general questions:

1. Should I be using a DVI out? The Sharp itself doesn't have an DVI in, so I'm wondering if that will significantly improve the picture.

2. Assuming I can get this rig working, Is there any degradation in picture or sound quality if I was to backup (my personal legally owned copies of DVDs) to a RAID array on a file server and play them over a 100MB LAN on my HTPC? This feature would be so incredibly great, as I am getting really pressed for space in the DVD portion of the shelf. It would be awesome to store all the boxes elsewhere and use that HD front end that another user made to launch all my DVDs. I could even keep them catagorized then :D

Well, any help will be greatly appreciated. I blew $600 on this HTPC on the promise that it could "be so much more than JUST a DVD player" (listen baby, you can play MSN games on the 110" screen... doesn't that sound nice?). I know that HTPC is supposed to be the best, and I have scoured the forums looking for information, tweaked, adjusted, and glared at the screen till it felt like my eyes were bleeding, but I just can't figure out what I'm doing wrong.

I am open to dropping another few hundred $$$ into this, but I really need some appreciable return on investment or the WAF is going to go to an all time low and further endanger my already fledgling grip on my favorite hobby.

In return for your assitance, I promise to use the knowledge imparted to me to make a Sharp 9000 (and or HD1) HTPC idiot proof guide, complete with screenshots and published on a fast web server and in this forum.


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