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OK folks - I’ve been lurking and reading almost all the threads about HTPC and have just become more confused! I really want to get started in HTPC! I’m thinking about converting my present PC and starting as simply as possible and then adding more as I learn more. Here’s what I have to start with:

Dell Dimension 4550, P4 - 2.66GHz, 533MHHz system bus, 640MB SDRAM @ 333 Mhz,

60GB HD, 64MB GeForce4 MX Graphics card, 48x/24x/48x CD-RW drive.

Dell 2100MP DLP projector (800 x 600 SVGA native)


I’d like to start with just DVD capabilities. I want an improvement over my stand alone DVD player. It should be IR remote controlled (I want to use my Pronto). I’ll add a HDTV tuner and PVR capabilities later. Here are my questions:

1.What hardware and software will I need?

2. I know I need to add a DVD player and probably a sound card. Will I need to upgrade the graphics card?

3. Is there a HDTV tuner card with the graphics card built in or are these two separate items?

4. I want PVR capabilities someday. Is there a way to record HDTV and standard TV?

5. Will it cost more to add one function at a time than it would to do everything at one time?
 

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Re #2: Users here seem to find ATI cards a bit friendlier to HTPCs. One of the newer Radeons would probably be more ideal.


Re #3: Not to my knowledge. The Fusion will use your graphics card for display. MyHD can loop thru your VGA display, or send its HD output directly to another monitor or HDTV. These HD tuner/decoder cards have to be paired with a graphics adapter.


Re #4: Both the Fusion and MyHD can act as HD PVRs, I believe. Not sure about regular NTSC. Definitely peruse the threads on these for more impressions of their pros and cons.


Re #5: Most of the components you're considering don't appear to be available in a more integrated economical form yet. But perhaps one the HTPC dealers might give you a package discount. Doesn't hurt to ask.
 

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What you have is a good start. GeForce should be OK to start if you are driving a DLP Projector (no Interlaced issues). Projector is not bad, but not spectacular either at 800 by 600 and 3x4 format.


Depending on your techie needs, TheaterTek for non-Techie or Zoom Player for the super tweeker. WinDVD or PowerDVD are not bad either on their own.


There has been speculation that in a year there might be a ATI-AIW with HD. I am not sure of the time line. NTSC still has 5 years of life yet. Currently there are no graphics cards with HD.


MHD does an excelent job of HD pvr. It is a bit of a challenge for SD PVR, especially if you are using the on-board SPDIF, since you have to manually change the audio settings to use a sound card for pvr to work. Fusion is a little bit better since it has no on-board audio. Many user however use seperate tv/capture cards for SD PVR, with and without Hardware MPEG Encoders.


If/when you jump in the PVR pool, you will have to also get a big second hard drive. I have a 120GB for recording to and am constantly running out of space.


Nothing wrong with going slow. Not sure an all in jump would save you that much (maybe shipping). Prices on some things may come down as time goes on. MyHD started at $350 a year ago, now at $250 (close out with new model on the way?).


For Pronto control, go to RemoteCentral.com for lots of prebuilt CCFs.
 
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