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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All:


What are the advantages, if any, of using an HTPC with a direct view, medium-sized widescreen HDTV?


I don’t own a projector, but rather own a SONY KD-34XBR2. My video sources include "analog" cable, a Dish 6000, a DVD player, and a Replay box that controls a dedicated Dish 5000. My audio is produced with a Denon 5803 and some B&W speakers.


I can certainly build a dedicated box and park it in my viewing area, but I’m not sure my equipment justifies the time and expense, not to mention the potential introduction of noise.


I have built several PCs that are running in our home office, including a Windows 2000 server, and I have a couple of Ethernet jacks near the home theater system.


I’ve been researching all of the posts here for the past several weeks. I’ve even begun to assemble a list of preferred components.


I just have not pulled the trigger. I could certainly do it for the “fun of it†(I do find tinkering to be fun), but for some reason, I’m looking for more justification than just that.


I guess I need some convincing. What advantages should I consider? What new use options become available?


Thanks!


Joe
 

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1) Better video quality for the price (although the Sweat Equity can begin to even things out until you've built a few)


2) Ability to use the same box to work, surf or play games. (NOTE: If your system is NOT an HDTV, the work and surf thing gets a little problematic)


3) More flexibility (upgradewise) than standalone DVD players or console games.


4) More flexibility (intefacewise) than anything else out there.



Just my top 4.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Quote:
I would not try to convince you at all. Any incentive to go the HTPC route went away, when you bought all those separate boxes to do what I do in one.
Hi e vey:


Please elaborate. Is integration into one box the main reason you dedicated a PC to your home theater?


I'm not wedded to any particular ones of my existing components. But, can I achieve better results or a more useful interface with an HTPC?


As far as I know, the only components of mine that can be replicated in a PC are the DVD player and, to some degree perhaps , the Replay (though certainly not for HDTV signals). I suppose I could do some of the Denon's decoding with a suitable audio card, but I'd still need to amplify the signal to drive my speakers.


Thanks in advance for your further thoughts!


Joe.
 

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For me the main selling points of the HTPC route are integration, configurability and upgradeablilty. I use my HTPC for the following:


TV via TV tuner card

VCR via hardware mpeg capture card

TV guide via Electronic Program Guide software

DVD via software DVD player

Music Jukebox via mp3 player

Photo Album via photo display software

Web surfing


The MP3 playback was my biggest HTPC justifier and is the function I use 80% of the time. There are no CD changer systems that I am aware of that can manage 400+ CDs with the flexibility, functionality and ease of use that I can get from mp3 playback software and do all this at a reasonable price point.


The VCR functionality I'm finding to be quite useful too. No more tape management hassles. (Of course you have a Replay so you've already solved this problem).


I only watch DVDs once or twice a week so this functionality, while nice, was not the "killer app" for me.



Regards

Lester
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hi Lester,


Thanks for the input. I like many of your uses and think I may reconsider my lean. I hope you don't mind a few questions...

Quote:
There are no CD changer systems that I am aware of that can manage 400+ CDs with the flexibility, functionality and ease of use that I can get from mp3 playback software and do all this at a reasonable price point.
That sounds great. What MP3 software are you using for this?

Quote:
VCR via hardware mpeg capture card ... The VCR functionality I'm finding to be quite useful too.
What mpeg capture card? What "VCR" software? Is the interface "easy" for family members to use?

Quote:
TV guide via Electronic Program Guide software
What EPG software?

Quote:
Web surfing
I might like this functionality, but I'm a bit unsure as it may create a "bottleneck" situation for access to the TV as I have two kids.


How do you interface your HTPC to the TV for this purpose? At what resolution can you display the web?


Thanks!


Joe.
 

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I would say that it would cost you a lot more to get the equivalent in standalone units:


- progressive dvd player

- customizable scaler for any display resolution your tv can handle

- hdtv tuner

- hdtv recorder and programming

- mp3 ripper/player

- convert VHS tapes to VCD (via capture card)


Al
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by eetrojan
Hi Lester,


That sounds great. What MP3 software are you using for this?


What mpeg capture card? What "VCR" software? Is the interface "easy" for family members to use?


What EPG software?



I might like this functionality, but I'm a bit unsure as it may create a "bottleneck" situation for access to the TV as I have two kids.


How do you interface your HTPC to the TV for this purpose? At what resolution can you display the web?


Thanks!


Joe.
I use MusicMatch Jukebox ( www.musicmatch.com ) for mp3 playback. However there are lots of other good ones like Media Jukebox ( www.mediajukebox.com ). I like MusicMatch because I can run it full screen and it doesn't have a "Windows" look, i.e. when run full screen it does not look like a PC. Also I found it easy to teach the significant other how to operate it.


I use the Creative Digital VCR as my capture card. It comes with a very easy to use application which lets you schedule and watch recordings via an easy to use OSD (onscreen display) menu. It doesn't have an integrated EPG unfortunately. However, for my purposes I use a separate EPG to check out which shows I want to record.


I use the Gemstar EPG software which came bundled with my ATI card. TitanTV is an alternative those without an ATI card could try.


Cheers

Lester
 

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High Definition Timeshifting, ability to utilize SDI and output DVI to HD monitor.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by eetrojan
...

How do you interface your HTPC to the TV for this purpose? At what resolution can you display the web?


Thanks!


Joe.
Forgto to answer this question...


I use a black 32" computer monitor as my display device, thus avoiding any TV interface issues.



Cheers

Lester
 

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I am also curious about these features. I just discovered this today and am searching and compiling information. I am in the market for a prgressive scan DVD, but like the idea of having everything in one and expandibility with emerging technologies. I also like the fact that it would truly be a multimedia toy...I love toys!


How reliable have these been since it is a PC? Any issues that we should know about?
 

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The hardware is usually reliable. The mixing of software usually is not. Your alternatives are to keep a separate partition or drive dedicated to home theater and rarely add new programs to it, and use your other partition or drive for office programs, web surfing, and gaming. As mentioned in another thread, software developers rarely take into account what someone is going to install in their system other than their own product. The result is usually conflicting drivers, incompatible dlls, and problems upgrading. Once you tweak a good setup, back it up, ghost it, write down your settings and copy it, because you'll probably mess it up when you change or add something.


Al
 

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Also, don't forget that you don't actually have to "build" your own HTPC. You can buy one, preconfigured, from a number of sources, including AVS.
 
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