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I was thinking of building a HTPC but was wondering if the type of system I am imagining is possible. I used to own a retail computer store that built clones so I am an expert with PCs, but know little about HTPC. I presently own a Harmon DVD50 progressive scan DVD player using component inputs into a Panasonic TH-AE100. I am looking for the following in a HTPC:


1. Ease of use - Basically, I want to assemble a rack mount box that will go in my AV rack and act just like a piece of AV equipment. Assuming the software is stable I imagine one could setup all the various apps to launch at startup and with a few scripts, get the PC to basically autoplay a DVD or CD when inserted without constanty interacting with the GUI. Is this unrealistic?


2. High quality sound - I am looking for a sound card that has a digital audio output and will provide clean sound. I expect a minimal drop in sound quality (as compared to the DVD50) for DVD movies and music CDs. Does the SB Audigy fit the bill? Or is there something better. It doesn't seem like the Audiophile 24/96 offers an IR remote (which I want).


3. High quality video - This part seems to be a given since I will be upgrading from component video to VGA input. It is well documented that the AE100 will produce a much better picture with a VGA input.


The most critical element I think is finding a sound card that has a remote that can control the DVD player on the HTPC. I would then program those functions onto my learning AV remote. I think the SB Audigy can do this but I'm not sure about others? Does anyone have any thoughts on this?


Thanks.
 

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Welcome to a great resource,


You don't have to limit yourself to a sound card that has a remote. There are options out there such as StreamZap or IRman and use your own remote. Girder is a software package that can assign just about any remote signal to a task.


You can get alot of information with the search function and I am sure others will chime in.


As far as a great display with VGA in on the AE100, I am very satisfied with mine and recommend ATI 7500 along with most members of this forum.


I am still setting up and trying to get a nice software interface so am unable to provide much help there.


Good luck,

Mike
 

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Specs for my HTPC:


Mid tower

i440BX chipset w/ATA66 support

PIII 450MHz CPU OC'd to 558MHz

128MB PC133 SDRAM

BusLink 8x DVD-ROM

STB Velocity 4400 AGP TNT (OEM)

Sound Blaster 16 PCI (with digital out)

Maxtor 30GB 7200RPM HD

STB TV Tuner card


Used PowerStrip to get Windows to output 720x480p


Running a stripped down Windows 98 thanks to TweakUI - no startup/shutdown screens, black background, no icons, removed as much glitz as possible, hidden taskbar, use quicklaunch to launch the dollowing progs: PowerDVD, DScaler, CRT convergence grid, Explorer, RunDLL Shutdown. I'm fairly happy with my UI setup.


You can build that for under $400. It is by no means a top-line HTPC but it does the basics well - DVD playback and line doubling via DScaler. I'm very satisfied with it on my Sony VPH-1031Q CRT projector.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by m3tan


The most critical element I think is finding a sound card that has a remote that can control the DVD player on the HTPC. I would then program those functions onto my learning AV remote. I think the SB Audigy can do this but I'm not sure about others? Does anyone have any thoughts on this?
m3tan,


The HTPC will be running an application called a "software DVD player" - like WinDVD or PowerDVD. This program has

control of the DVD player - not the soundcard.


WinDVD and PowerDVD take their commands from the keyboard. For remote control - get a IR wireless keyboard like the

Airboard and others, or an IRMan that plugs into the USB port. You can then get a Pronto, or other learning remote to pass keyboard key sequences to the HTPC.


WinDVD and PowerDVD "think" they are getting commands from the keyboard - but they are really getting commands from a

remote.


Dr. Gregory Greenman

Physicist
 

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Small correction - the IRMan connects with the computer via a serial port (not USB).


If you are serious about this, I would suggest you download Girder from www.girder.nl and start playing with it. Read the getting started section on that website. It is nearly impossible to build an easy to use HTPC without the IRMan/Girder combo.


Ben
 
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