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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey,


I have been thinking of building a HTPC for a while and am at the point where I have the list of parts and am ready to do it but am having second thoughts. I have a Tivo with lifetime subscription (series 2) and was planning on using that to offset the cost of the parts that I was going to buy. The more that I think about it, a HTPC might be more of a pain in the rear than it is worth?


Right now I live in an apartment with a crummy TV and no sound system. I don't plan on living here for that long (hopefully less than 6 months) so don't plan on buying a new tv or anything now. I would like to buy a 1080 50" plasma when I get back to NY but don't feel like lugging anything back from chicago.


Here is what I would like to do with a HTPC -


1) Would like to use it as a Tivo like component (record tv)

2) Want to put all of my DVDs in Xvid and use BTV or another front end to play them

3) Would like to play mp3s and internet radio via the computer too


I am really concerned with the reliability with the system and if there will be issues with how the picture looks playing my xvid files. I don't want to go to the trouble of copying my DVDs if the picture is going to look bad. I have done around 75-100 movies as of right now (have over 300) but don't want to waste my time if the quality is going to look poor. I am not a videophile but would like it to look good. Currently I am converting the files to take up about 2 gb with .ac3 audio. I don't want to have to use a program for post processing or what ever it is called.


What are your opinions? I am have read recent threads/posts of people going back to Tivo or just giving up on a HTPC cause they couldn't get the image quality to look good. This is the main reason why I have held off. Any thoughts?



Oh ya, quick question. I would like to use a Turion cpu for the build would this be enough power for the machine? I know some of you are stuck on HUGE power
but I would like to same some electricity too



Thanks for all your help, I hope that the post isn't too jumbled.
 

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Go for it!


Reliability - I have two HTPCs and they generally work. Occasionally they need restarting (maybe twice a month), although this is no more annoying than having to unplug my Sky+ box to reset it when it crashes (which used to be just as regular, if not more, and it took longer to start up again than the HTPCs do).


Quality - I have no complaints about the quality of video coming through a GeForce 7600GT - its noticeably better than the quality from an integrated 6150 on my other HTPC, so just be sure to get a decent graphics card.


Compressing movies? I tried that, (wasted weeks doing it) and never found the quality to be as good as the original DVD. It was also a royal pain trying to do episodic DVDs if you wanted to extract the individual episodes. Plus, MCE doesn't allow fast forward/rewind on MPEG4 files (only the skip back and forward work). In the end, I re-ripped all my DVDs and left them as that, and enabled the 'My DVDs' feature of MCE. Works beautifully. (I had to build a fileserver to store the films though... you'll need a few large hard drives!)


Can't comment on your CPU choice, although I use a Core2Duo chip which works extremely well.
 

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Most modern feature length movies (less the extra's) are 4-6GB on DVD, so compressing them down to 2Gb is quite a bit of compression.

Garbage in = garbage out. Your HTPC isn't going to alter this equation. If you run a ripped DVD file at full bitrate, you are going to get the same exact picture quality from your HTPC as you would from the actual DVD itself. If you get a HD cable tuner device, you'll get pristine picture quality from your HTPC. Start down rezzing/bitrate down sampling that content and you will get lower quality results.

I guess what I'm trying to say is... it's not the HTPC that determines picture quality... it's the content, content, content!



Oh, and yes! You should build your own HTPC, it's an excellent learning experience.



Edit: Most modern feature length movies (less the extra's) are 4-6GB on DVD - not 4-6Mb! Thanks chrisk76
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisk76 /forum/post/0


Which codec did you use to get down to 4-6MB per film? :)


Divx 65




Thanks for the response guys! I have a laptop with a 17 Wide Screen WUXGA 1920 x 1200 screen and the xvid files look damn good running on there.... I would love to put the dvds on my computer as they are on the dvd but I really don't want 5 320+GB HDs
If I can get away with compressing them with good quality I am going to go that route. If not, then so be it.


Question regarding testing the playback of the xvid files. My parents just bought a Samsung Plasma and it has a vga input. I was wondering what the best method for hooking up my laptop to the plasma would be. The laptop has dvi, vga out so I will plan on using the VGA. I was wondering the best way to set the resolution of the laptop to play well when the Plasma is 1360 x 768. Any help would be appreciated. I haven't looked into it yet but figured I would ask.



If I do go with Xvid for the files what is your opinions on the best setup for a front end?


Thanks!
 

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I only have experience of Media Centre, but I really do think it's slick. My wife loves it too, as do guests when they see it.


If you put each xVid film into a folder in your 'My Videos' folder, and download an image of the dvd sleeve (from play.com, amazon etc) and save this as 'folder.jpg' you'll end up with a really cool looking video library, where you have pictures of all the dvd sleeves.


Hope you have fun putting it all together, it can be a real challenge, but well worth the reward. My handy tip if you're going to compress the videos - don't use the DivX codec to playback, as it has an annoying popup icon in the task bar which makes media center lose its 'full screen' focus intermittently - really annoying.
 

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I would like to clear up one point. We arent talking about compressing a raw dvd to 2 gigs but rather using a compression agent like xvid or divx to convert the movie. Much the same as you would convert a CD to a MP3.


Compressing a DVD through the use of DVDShrink or some such really will reduce your picture quality. I have tried it and it really stinks. DVDShrink doesnt use any compression alogorithm.


I have 300 movies now that I have compressed to about 1gig (it varies depending on length) that look quite good using DIVX. I am not an videophile either and I am quite happy with a DIVX encoded avi file.
 
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