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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Newbie alert! Pardon the rudimentary nature of the following questions but this forum is unbelievably enormous and complex. Before I consider digging in I want to know if HTPC is something for me to consider. Other than saving me from bankruptcy, what does an HTPC do that an HT processor, high quality DVD player, HDTV tuner, Tivo, and a projector with a good scaler do? And vica versa, what can't it do? Finally, can you live with the fan noise 3 feet away in a theater setting?


Mark
 

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Mark,


Let's see -


Can do:

- music jukebox

- CDDB for cds (automatically show name of artist, album, songs, etc)

- automatically begin playing a dvd at the movie start position (bypassing all the warnings, coming attractions, menus, etc) and automatically choosing the correct sound such as DD 5.1/DTS, etc. (TT and ZP)

- Emailing

- Websurfing (I'm typing this now on a 53" HDTV)

- Game playing (you left off xbox, playstation, etc.)

- Upgrade with a simple download or cheap new hardware. Try upgrading/updating a STB.

- record HDTV (can tivo do this yet? I'm not sure/don't care)

- by high quality dvd player, I assume you mean progressive scan.

- more/better remote control options.


Can't do:

- Replace a satellite receiver stb. Especially HD satellite - HDNET.

- Tivo functionality is possible, though nowhere near as elegent - yet. Watch for SageTV - hopefully.

- play vcr tapes - still need a vcr.


"can you live with the fan noise 3 feet away in a theater setting?"


If the HTPC is 3 feet away, that's a mighty small theater. My HTPC is quieter than my vcr and you can make them practically silent.


I've had one for 2+ years and I can't imagine living without it.


Hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
What about audio processing capabilities and sound quality compared to a dedicated processor?
 

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Mark,


Others will/may disagree, but I would recommend passing the decoding capabilities to a good receiver via SPDIF. It's easy, safe and sounds great. Exactly which sound card to use is controversial. I have had tremendous success using the maudio 24/96. If I had to do it again now I'ld probably go for the maudio revolution. I might even try to pass the audio via SPDIF on the motherboard (If I needed a new mobo) just to see for myself how it works.
 

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You can also:

Watch Divx.

Make slideshows with digital photos.

See powerpoint presentations you do at work.

Listen to music, while a audio program generates the corresponding surrealistic picture(like iTunes on a Mac!)
 

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With a HTPC you can:


* stretch your DVD image by a few pixels to exactly fill the screen (many DVDs have a few black or blurry pixels at each side - yes, even LOTR SEE)


* mask off one or two pixel widths at the borders of the DVD image if the transfer has messy edges


* move the vertical position of your 2.35:1 image - I like mine at the bottom of my projector screen, so there is a crisp black border at the bottom and the 'black bar' comes all at the top - but of course if you have electric variable masking then this would not be a problem for you anyway


* take a movie to work with you (or on a train or plane) - if you have a notebook HTPC


* use a 'seek bar' to jump instantly to any point in a movie


* capture video frames from DVD, save them or print them out


* (if you can be bothered to set up RS232 control cables and the right software) control your audio processor / amplifier / projector from the PC, so that a movie starts with a single button press


* (if you have a DV camera) edit your home videos, process them to increase the video quality, and play them back on your projector


* drive your projector using DVI, for a fully digital pathway


* override the DVD function that disables fast forward, stop, next chapter during copyright warning messages (software currently in beta test)


* play DVDs from any region, always, without hassle (you need Region Killer software and you may first need to flash your DVD-ROM drive to be region-free)


What your HTPC can't do:


- work to its best capability without you reading the AVS forum (a lot), downloading Zoom Player, latest drivers, latest software versions, fiddling around with filter graphs and maybe your registry settings; using a remote control adds yet another layer of complexity (although it is possible to buy a ready-made HTPC or pay someone to do the setup for you)


- switch on without several seconds/minutes of boot up time


- make broadcast or cable TV look good on a pj


- offer the same slimline looks and ease of use as a middle or high-end consumer DVD player


- free you from Micro$oft (Linux and Mac DVD solutions are not yet as good quality and as configurable as Wintel)


Some words of warning:

(1) Getting SPDIF (digital audio output) to work on an HTPC can be difficult, depending on your exact hardware/software/operating system configuration, but it is usually possible in the end - read the forum!

(2) You need a 2.4GHz or faster Pentium IV (not Athlon) processor if you intend to use ffdshow for post-processing or for best quality de-interlacing of interlaced source material.
 

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Allow you to fully automate and Macro control every aspect of your HT...


Allow you to create seamless GUI's that link each component application together into one cohesive whole...


Control X10 lighting / screens / coffee maker :) !!!


Monitor whole house security systems...


What they wont do is ever allow you to stop think of ways you can make them and your HT just a little bit better... For some thats a blessing perhaps my girlfriend views it as a curse ;) !!!
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by dlarsen
NEVER crash, hang or need a reboot :D

Dave,


Maybe when the Linux HTPCs are fully functional.


Dr. Gregory Greenman

Physicist:
 

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Run Microsoft Media Center, unless you are a developer. It is now only available on OEM prebuilt PCs.
 

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Gregory,


I'm no fan of Microsoft but honestly, my Windows XP HTPC only gets rebooted when the power is out. With not much stuff installed and only running the same program over and over, I haven't really had a crash in recent memory.
 
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