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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I keep looking at my cable bill and I'm getting a little tired of throwing money into 2 DVRs that are really just an "ok" solution. I'd really like 3-4 tuners, and multi-room viewing. When that Ceton 4-tuner card was announced I started thinking about building an HTPC again (mainly for DVR purposes). I'm torn between a pc and some sort of media extenders and a Moxi + Moxi Mate system.


I've been contemplating a HTPC for ages, and in the past I always got the impression that they just weren't quite there yet... that there's always something... tweaking or updating or whatnot, and that's what's kept me away until now. I've got the skills, but I just don't have the time or desire to invest in endless troubleshooting and tweaking and upkeep (I get enough of that at work - but I get paid for that!
). Windows 7 media center seems to be a step in the right direction, and if Ceton worked with MS as closely as they say, I'm sure it's a pretty seamless solution.


So what's the general consensus? Have HTPCs gotten to the point where you can get 'em built, get 'em running and not have to worry about them? Or are they still somewhat of an ongoing maintenence project? And does that change when you add in some sort of multi-room option? I can certainly do a HTPC cheaper than a Moxi or TIVO, but there's a lot to be said for something that you buy, plug in, and it just works.

Any insight would be helpful. Thanks!
 

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There's really no maintance other than ripping new dvds and stuff. It does take a little while to setup and get working how you like but any tweaking is only to make it better and nicer. Multiroom solutions can get a little finiky sometimes with it not connecting or something but its rarely an issue. Mainly the time is spend making the audio a little better or something and isn't much of a maintance issue. I have a 360 extender in my 4 year old daughters room that she can easily use for ripped movies, a HTPC in our living room that we watch recorded OTA TV(cut the cable bill) and hulu and listen to music, a laptop for music and sometimes watching movies, and a 2008R2 server that hosts everything and is used as our desktop machine. The only main maintance is updates to windows and mymovies. Mymovies is an amazing piece of software and really allows the multiroom viewing of dvd's with just one click. The only other problems we have is our indoor antenna cutsout every once in a while. Hopefully the ceton cards live up to their expectation and we'll consider cable again but I don't see much of a point.
 

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You will spend a good amount of time tinkering and fixing random bugs that pop up.


If you're not ok with investing the time, I would recommend a stand alone.
 

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The main things that are missing on HTPC's are integrated bluray codecs in media center and extras like IE or other programs built into media center. But these are solved by minimizing media center and opening from the desktop. Oh, also a decent remote looking control for HTPC's are lacking. Many need to use a nice bluetooth keyboard but there are some cool looking keyboard/mouse combos like the new lenovo but they're still a smaller version of a keyboard. There's nothing like an interactive sideshow device with a screen that was promised to come out a few years ago.
 

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OP: Win7 + Media Browser + Shark007 Codec pack (last two are free) = total win for me.


Win7's out-of-the-box DVR guide capabilities are the shiznit. I'm really really impressed with them. Just set to record, put the PC to S3 sleep, it wakes up when it needs to, then goes back to sleep.


I've spent a good month working on my first HTPC, it's been frustrating. But as for up-keep, there really isn't much.

justinm0424

Have you looked into a DIY antenna? I totally dig mine, http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1200448
 

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With me now... setup is a breeze. Installation of Win7+drivers takes 30-60minutes. Installation/Customizing of Media Portal 1.1.0 RC1 and the plugins I want (Moving Pictures - movies, MyTVSeries - tv shows, MyOnlineVideos - youtube browsing etc., HuluDesktop configuation - a link to the HuluDesktop application, SAF Codec pkg - amazing codec/filter setup no configuration necessary and doesn't fill system with junk, with the StreamedMP skin - awesome looking frontend skin) takes 1-2 hours (probably much less for me now that I know exactly what I want). Importing of your media will take a bit of time depending on how much media you have. Other than that it's just user edits.


For me setup has been drastically reduced after the first time. For instance, after initially setting up Moving Pictures (handles my movies for mediaportal) I have exported all my poster and back drop images to each movie folder and also outputted an nfo file with all my custom information in it. This is all done with a handy script that was released recently. Now if for some reason I need to reimport my entire collection... it will easily recall all the images from each movie folder (exactly as I had it before) along with all the movie information that I may or may not have customized after initial setup. This includes sorting orders when browsing your movies (Harry Potters are always out of order for instance because it sorts alphabetically).


The hardest part about an HTPC setup is knowing exactly what you want and what is available to you in order to set it up how you want it. The only thing I haven't explored yet was setting up LiveTV (aka a tuner card) because I honestly don't see the benefit of it for me right now. Also I'm searching for the ultimate remote to handle my setup (my Harmony One isn't cutting it). Other than that I'm golden.
 

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Yupp i built one, it works better than my amplified $50 RCA one i bought but sometimes it messes up. It could be because I used galvanized screws and didn't use washers though, i gotta fix it. I also keep it in my closet and live in an apartment complex about 15miles from the stations.
 

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It depends what type of personality you are. If you are like 95% of us, they can become an addiction that turns into a never ending project. Even when I think I have finished my system, I begin to think of an "upgrade" sooner there after if not before I finish.


HTPCs have gotten much more reliable in my opinion. W7 has taken it really close to being consumer friendly. So if you are the kind of person that does need perfection and doesn't get the tinkering bug, it really isn't that much time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the replies guys. Sounds like it's pretty much what I expected... I can set it up and call it "done" if I want, or I can tinker and upgrade and keep playing with it if I feel the need to. That's encouraging. What's not encouraging is that I'd probably fall into that tinkerer category.



I'd still love to hear from more of you guys... us noobs can use all the info we can get.
 

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If you cruise AVS, you'll be upgrading.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Davinleeds /forum/post/18199737


If you cruise AVS, you'll be upgrading.

No doubt about that.
 

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It took me quite a bit of time to get my system exactly the way I want it, but it was well worth it. Most of the time was spent ripping my DVDs/BDs... but once I had my operating system configured, I made both a clone on another drive and an image on an external drive.


I play strictly MKV files for both DVD/BD rips, but I had to go through the steps of setting up Media Browser, configuring MPC-HC to play the MKVs (w/ FLAC audio), installing the correct codecs, drivers, etc. Depending on what your goals are, you may not have as much "setup" time, but I have reached a point now where I consider it pretty much "finished" and I can just add titles to my collection now. I must say though, I'm already waiting for the price of 2TB drives to fall a bit so I can replace my single 1.5TB storage drive and max out my case with 4TB... then figure out a way to expand my storage space once that is filled... so maybe I'm not "finished" by any stretch.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bjmarchini /forum/post/18199246


It depends what type of personality you are. If you are like 95% of us, they can become an addiction that turns into a never ending project. Even when I think I have finished my system, I begin to think of an "upgrade" sooner there after if not before I finish.

+1. Since we cancelled cable, the HTPC is now the primary source of entertainment meaning it has to be pretty stable. I have low-end test PC's so I that I won't mess up the primary HTPC when I want to try something new.


Quote:
Originally Posted by bjmarchini /forum/post/18199246


HTPCs have gotten much more reliable in my opinion. W7 has taken it really close to being consumer friendly.

Yep, I can attest to this. It took me less than an hour to build an ION-based HTPC and install Windows 7 with all the updates. I think it took another hour to set-up Windows Media Center but that's mostly due to the channel scan. Albeit that ~2hrs was without extra plug-ins such as Media Browser. I just needed to get TV and DVR working quickly before my mom got home.
 

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It's definitely an on-going project for me. I've only had my HTPC for a month now but it's been one hassle after another.


I think I can finally say I've gotten it down to something I can expect to "just work". However, continuing problems with both drivers (ATi) and Windows Media Center itself (my HTPC suffers from the seemingly unsolvable PlayReady stutter bug) make that unbelievable.


I've waited about three years before committing myself to a full-blown HTPC and I have to say, I'm a little disappointed.
 

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I have two HTPCs and am building a 3rd (for no real good reason!!!).


The key to an HTPC, once you get it working as you want, resist all temptation and leave it alone!!! Also, make sure when you build make a backup/image right away so you can always revert back to a clean slate.


W7 x32 + W7MC + HDHomerun + Media Browser + MPC HC + USB IR Receiver + Harmony Remote. Silky smooth, no need to mess around with any codecs. Oh, and add a 5xxx card so you can bitstream.

Using MPC with MediaBrowser/MyMovies
Bitstreaming with MPC
Using MediaBrowser (will update for latest release)
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbone1026 /forum/post/18199974


I have two HTPCs and am building a 3rd (for no real good reason!!!).

The key to an HTPC, once you get it working as you want, resist all temptation and leave it alone!!! Also, make sure when you build make a backup/image right away so you can always revert back to a clean slate.

Easier said than done.



I will say that of all the PCs that I have, I probably tinker with this one the least anymore. I probably think about it the most, but tinker with it the least. Main reason is that it is a pain to take out of the AV cabinet, configure and put back together. My desktop gaming rig get the most abuse. That one went through 3 CPUs in 18 months, 2 GPUs, 3 HDD and am thinking of replacing the GPU again.


But in terms of software, the HTPC gets over tinkered. When we watch a movie, it is usually proceeded with my tinkering with it for 30 minutes until one of my teenagers (usually the daughter) threatens to leave the room unless we start the show. The sad part is that I have noticed that they have been coming with their laptop or DS to keep them occupied until it starts.
 

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The only "tinkering" I have done since I built my most recent HTPC was to add the integrated Netflix add-in and the the hulu desktop add-in. Otherwise as far as problems... I have rebooted the system a couple of times in the 6 months or so since I built it if that counts. My HTPC has had far fewer problems than I have had with my H21 DirecTV tuner box - the DirecTV box needs to be rebooted at least once a month.


7MC out of the box + hulu works flawlessly, I suspect people have trouble mostly because they tinker, not the other way around.
 

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I go through periods of time with minimal upkeep. My server is 4 years old running Sage. Every 2 years or so, I upgrade Sage, load some new plugins, mods, etc. Spend a month getting it back into shape. I'm at the 4 year point, and I'm putting in a couple of months again... maybe 20 hours updating it. Now it looks like a modern HTPC and I'm happy and enjoying it more than ever.
 

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I've found that the best thing to do is to build two HTPCs. One to set up (a few hours) and leave alone. The other to tinker.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by vladd /forum/post/18201507


I've found that the best thing to do is to build two HTPCs. One to set up (a few hours) and leave alone. The other to tinker.

+1

And while you are at it, a couple of "extender/client" boxes to tinker with and watch your stuff.



BB
 
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