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Discussion Starter · #1 ·


Sometimes I think they just want to torture me until I completely lose what is left of my mind.

They created a schizophrenic technology. And called it HTPC.

It makes the most beautiful video images obtainable. But it's also the most unreliable, most stress inducing thing ever imaginable.


My advice to anyone who is trying to make a decision to use a HTPC is this. Don't. Not unless you cut your teeth on an Apple 1 or Altair and have stayed abreast of all the developments in PC technology since.

If, like me, you possess only rudimentary PC knowledge

go with a DVD player instead.

The image quality will never equal what you would have seen with the HTPC. But your mental health is more important. The stress and anxiety which results from problem after problem after problem is not the price you want to pay to see a better picture.


Bob Wood
 

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Bob:


If you'd use a newer computer instead of that Radio Shack Model TRS 80 you might have better luck! http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/biggrin.gif


(now go look in your computer history book!)


I came to the same conclusion and life is too short. This thing is a big enough hassle as it is.


Dan

 

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Bob -


Don't feel bad. I have a 4 year degree in Computer Engineering, have build many of my own PC's over the years, and still absolutely hate HTPC's. Just not worth it - nothing takes you out of the movie experience like


1. screen saver kicking in

2. stuttering

3. combing on video-based dvd's because you forgot to switch to the Cinemaster player

4. computer crash


etc. They do produce beautiful images, but I want to sit down and lose myself in the movie. I can't do that, worrying about the next hiccup.


As I've said before, I prefer a standalone Skyworth with scaling artificacts (that I can't see from where I sit) to an HTPC's issues.


But that's just what works for me.

 

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Yeah I'm in the same boat...I can handle the computer stuff but when it comes to the 'theater' part I'm a noob. I think however that we can all thank Microsoft and thier incredible method of controlling us for our problems. In my opinion, blame Microsoft or Sony and all is well (Sony is actually even MORE evil than Microsoft if you look into it deep enough). With computers, just like anything else, the more you mess with them, the better you get.

-Trouble

(a guy that remembers how cool 300 baud and 16K of RAM was at one time)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Dan,


It's really ironic. I've now used three different PC's to play DVD. The first one was a PII 400 which was my all purpose Internet computer. I added a DVD drive, a Geforce card and WinDVD to it. Except for a little bit of jerkiness during panning it performed very well. Hardly ever experienced crashes, lockups etc.

Then I "upgraded" to a faster general purpose PC (AMD Duron 650). This one was not as reliable. Did not have the stability of the older slower machine.

Then I decided it was time to go all out with a dedicated HTPC. Went with a supposedly very stable MSI motherboard and all the CPU power of an AMD 1.2 Ghz T'bird. Gave it a Radeon card too. This PC has been by far the most troublesome and nerve wracking of all. It never fails to crash before a DVD has half finished.

I'm just about at the end of my rope. I had my blood pressure under control even when half dosing my medication.

Now it's high even when I take the pills daily.


Rick,


I'm glad to see it's not just computer dopes like me who hate the damn things.


What's so discouraging is that I've actually gotten pretty good at addressing problems with my Internet PC. And actually I rarely ever have problems with it.

But trying to get a PC to play DVD's is a whole different ball game. Mysterious problems which have no logical explanation are commonplace. It's just a big old bucket of worms.


Bob




[This message has been edited by RobertWood (edited 09-28-2001).]
 

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I had an Altair, and it wasn't my first. I've designed 2 different motherboards for companies I have worked for over the years.


But these days I buy heavy duty Compaq data center models with the 3 years on-site maintenance... just got so sick and tired of computer problems.


I thought about building an HTPC (for about 5 minutes), but after deciding I'd have to throw about $10,000 of hardware at it just to be sure it would work without glitches...


...went out and got myself a $200 RP56. Never seen an HTPC picture, hope I never do... ignorance is bliss.


-Ted-
 

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Bob, when I switched to a 1Gig Athlon I had a lot of problems with the system locking up for no reason. My old celeron system would run for months without rebooting and the Athlon wouldnt last 3 hours. Finally figured out the problem, HEAT. Spent $30 on a huge heatsink/fan and good quality thermal grease and problems are gone.


Bob H.
 

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The biggest misconception of the HTPC is that ANY PC can be a good HTPC. It's folly to think that everthing works the same, because nature of our beast is that it won't. I can't even begin to tell you of the trials and tribulations the resolutions, and finally redemption. Bob, first suggestion, lose that Athlon and you'll have much better luck. There are nuggets of gold that you have to dig for in the HTPC forum, but success stories have common threads.


Kei Clark

Digital Connection
 

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I guess it all comes down to a matter of trade offs. What's more important? To have a DVD player that never hiccups? Would that be the stand alone DVD player? I don't think so. My Toshiba player has had it's share of glitches. As many as my HTPC? Nope.


Just the other night I was attempting to install a CD burner in my HTPC. Big mistake. I created a stutter in my DVD playback that sent me reeling into thoughts of those thousand or so folks that have posted on the computer forum of having this same problem. I was aghast. http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/frown.gif I've had an excellent playback history ever since putting this PC together. Took me all evening to fix it.


Rather than go into how I fixed the problem, the point is that I created the problem. I think many times problems are created without knowing it. That becomes the HTPCs biggest fallback. Too many variables. Too many unknowns. Too many chances for trouble.


BUT.....there are too many people(including myself)that have had such good success with HTPCs that I just can't agree with a statement like:


"My advice to anyone who is trying to make a decision to use a HTPC is this. Don't."


Ridicules! How am I gonna' run Dilard without a PC? Will a DVD player give me the RKR desktop interface? I think not.


Now, maybe if I was having a neighborhood "drive in" party on the side of my garage full of fun, merriment and Canadian Whiskey, I'm plenty sure I'd just throw in my Toshiba for a player because heck, by the fifth shot...er.....movie, who'd know the difference? http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/biggrin.gif



I spend a lot of time on the computer forum side. I don't post a lot, but I listen a lot. I can't for the life of me see how, with such good advice and knowledge such as xcels highly regarded best in class , that anybody could go wrong. It's all in there. Perfectly laid out with many viable options to get you great HTPC performance. It beffudles me as to why anyone would want a Mega Hz processor or a RAID MB with two hard drives for DVD playback. It just aint' needed.


Stay simple, follow the guidelines and enjoy. http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif


My CUSL2 MB and Intel 800EB has been and is still touted as being extremely stable and at a very good price. I put that into the very solid case by Digital Connection for a truly cool and quiet HTPC.


I wouldn't go back to my Toshiba for true HT performance for all the Whiskey in Canada. http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif


Chris

 

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Stability problems in a new computer today shouldn't even be an issue. However, the only way you can be confident you get a stable computer is if you have good parts.


That means: no $5 mickey mouse powersupply that fluctuates wildly in power output depending on load, no el cheapo memory from the bargain bin under any circumstances. Also, the OS should be Windows 2000 with all the service packs and patches added.


Hell, I have two separate computers that I use with Win 2K and I can't even remember the last time I saw a blue screen.


Also, I have to agree with Chris here above; once you have the system set up for DVD viewing, the less you mess with it from there on the better.


If you do have stability problems now, the steps to try to cure it are: 1, test with other memory chips. If you have several, take out one at a time and see if stability improves using them separately. 2. Download the latest drivers for everything, especially the motherboard bios patches available. 3. Buy a really good powersupply with tons of power from some place like http://www.pcpowercooling.com 4. filter the mains power through a surge suppressor.


Oh yeah, memory size should be 512 MB or so at least, especially since memory is practically free today.


------------------

/Kimmo


[This message has been edited by Kimmo Jaskari (edited 09-29-2001).]
 

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Yes, I'm a female techie and I refuse to use an HTPC also because of reasons 2 and 4.


Quote:
Originally posted by rickforrest:
Bob -


Don't feel bad. I have a 4 year degree in Computer Engineering, have build many of my own PC's over the years, and still absolutely hate HTPC's. Just not worth it - nothing takes you out of the movie experience like


1. screen saver kicking in

2. stuttering

3. combing on video-based dvd's because you forgot to switch to the Cinemaster player

4. computer crash


etc. They do produce beautiful images, but I want to sit down and lose myself in the movie. I can't do that, worrying about the next hiccup.


As I've said before, I prefer a standalone Skyworth with scaling artificacts (that I can't see from where I sit) to an HTPC's issues.


But that's just what works for me.

------------------
My HT


[This message has been edited by pcdoctor (edited 09-29-2001).]
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Oh yeah, Chris, that reminds me. I took that same damn laptop (the one I used to make the drive-in picture) and my LT150 to some friend's the other night. They had been anxious to see Ronin. I spent a half hour getting it all set up. Then we settled back to enjoy the movie. Only the DVD software (which works with the decoder card) would no longer even open. So I was forced to use WinDVD even though the laptop's too slow for it. It then looked like we were watching something Edison created. Objects were stuttering across the screen like an old flicker movie. But my friend's still wanted to watch the movie so we did. Got halfway through the film and then WinDVD just crashed. I spent another half hour trying to figure out why the hardware decoder program

(Margi DVD to Go) would not work. I deleted and uninstalled everything else thinking there was a conflict to no avail.

So HTPC gave me an evening of utter embarassment. First it made me show my friend's a piss poor excuse for a picture,

And if that was not bad enough then it left them hanging halfway through the movie because it wouldn't even show us the second half.

Believe me, I was wishing I still had the Canadian whiskey.


BW




[This message has been edited by RobertWood (edited 09-29-2001).]
 

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dScaler, dScaler, dScaler!!!!!!!


But, you need very good DVD player (no cheapness here) that has good s-video feed.


clopez
 

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I haven't seen so many computerphobes in one spot for a long time. My HTPC is rock soild never crashes and never lets me down ever. Why?

*Strict powersource control

*all high quality components-no cheap memory or bargain cheap parts

*totally dedicated-has operating system and just the programs needed for DVD Playback. Cinemaster by the totally sucks-

*has no modem, has no network card

*has never been on the internet and it never will


I tried a Quadscan Elite to see if I could retire the HTPC. The Quadscan was great but it was no match for the HTPC. In most cases people not using a HTPC for DVD Playback and are using video processors other than very high end products are not realizing the full potential of their projector.


AVScience sells HTPC's that are stable.


Lenny Eckian
 

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I bought an AVS HTPC and couldn't be happier! Sure it cost me more than doing it myself - which, by the way would have been impossible. It must have saved me $1,000,000.00 in frustration. Brian, who set this thing up for me, knows what he's doing and when I upgraded to the Radeon card he talked me through it. I always clean my DVDs before play and, touch wood (not you Robert), watch movie after movie without a glitch!


For me, life is too short for the hassels you guys are discussing.


Cheers,


Grant
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Quote:
I can't for the life of me see how, with such good advice and knowledge such as xcels highly regarded "BEST IN CLASS" that anybody could go wrong.
I just read xcel's "BEST IN CLASS". Here's a quote from it...

Quote:
The real beauty in the low cost arena however is the MSI K7T Pro 2A. It would be very hard to find a cheaper yet more stable VIA chipset board for both support in the way of BIOS updates or its performance per dollar spent.
That's what I'm using.

When I decided to build a dedicated HTPC I did follow those and other recommendations. I didn't just go off half cocked and buy an e-machines off the shelf PC and try to use that.

There are plenty of people recommending both the motherboard and the AMD CPU I bought. I have 256 megs of PC133 and it's not the el cheapo variety. And I have not loaded any junk into the system. Only what is needed for DVD. In short I did follow the suggestions of others. But if anyone thinks that is a guarantee for success with these things you are sadly mistaken.


Bob




[This message has been edited by RobertWood (edited 09-29-2001).]
 

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On topic for the HTPC forum.


First move:


Use the Windows System Configuration Utility under Tools in System Information (Start->Programs->Accesories->System Tools->System Information) to disable all the crap that clever software vendors have automatically starting on boot.


Also, I've found AMD-based systems to be less reliable than Intel-based systems with regard to video stuff. Its not AMD's fault, its just that vendors usually target their products to be solid on Wintel platforms.


------------------

Ken Elliott
 

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Asus CUSL2-C mobo, 800MHZ celeron processor. 256meg ram. 12x toshiba DVD. DMA enebled. ATI 7093 drivers. ATI Radeon LE. Utlra66 10gig HD. Zoltrix Genie TV capture card. 450watt PS. Win98 SE Final.


Cheap like borscht. Runs like deer. extra CRAP and excess speed is UN-NESSESSARY. This is a DVD playback specific machine ONLY. Does it's job beautifully. Has never failed, except on known problem discs. If I need a outboard DVD player, i just watch video sourced DVD's on the Dscaler capture card set-up. done.


Been playing with 'puters since 4k ram, 8" disc, 0megHD, 2MHZ zilog Z-80 TRS 80's were around. Commodore PET machines, etc. I don't spend time on my HTPC. I just use it.


You make compromises in the system, and you will get compromises.


------------------

goosystems.com


Ken Hotte

[email protected]

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