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Why I built my HTPC.


After wading through all these posts for half a year, I finally built my HTPC a couple months ago. It's been a Godsend ever since. Here is my one-time post on my experience.


I was going for the most powerful, quietest, coolest and affordable combination I could find. Everyone needs to toot their own horn once in awhile, so here it goes. I settled on this hardware:


· ASUS TUSL2-C i815EP chipset mobo with PIII 1.2Ghz Tualatin CPU

· 256MB CAS2 SDRAM

· Avance CI-6004B black desktop case, modified by me. I cut a blowhole for a low speed 90mm fan, replaced PSU fan with slowest I could find (Pabst at 12dB) and use a Zalman Flower cooler (CNPS6000-ALCu) over CPU.

· ATI Radeon 7500 with Zalman ZM17CU heatsink to replace ATI’s HSF.

· Zoltrix Nightingale Pro 6 sound card, with optical out.

· Zoltrix “KBK Modified†Genie TV capture card

· Seagate Barracuda IV EIDE hard drive, 80GB

· 3COM 3C905C-TXM with Wake-on-LAN (I specify this, because I use it!)

· Toshiba SD-M1612 DVD-ROM with slowdown utility

· Lite-On SK-7100 infrared keyboard/mouse


All this is attached to my Hitachi 36SDX01S 36†TV via a VGA cable. Like its brother the RCA MM36110, it supports VGA directly up to 800x600 non-interlaced. It’s basically a big monitor. I also have an audio setup with a B&K Reference 30 at the heart of it. Audio Concepts Emeralds or Sapphire III’s all the way around, with Titan II sub. I use the RF keyboard in conjunction with my B&K remote. It’s not as automated as an all-on-one configurable remote, but I don’t mind using the keyboard and having it near me.


The PC is running Windows 2000 Pro. Software I use regularly on it is TheaterTek, PowerDVD 4.0, Showshifter, WinAMP, Daemon Tools, DVD Decrypter, DVD Region Killer, Virtual VCR, DiVX and whatever games at the moment I want to see on a 36†screen! (jDoom is pretty neat!)


Now that is over with, what do I use it for?! I see that similar question posted on AVS all the time. What do you use an HTPC for? Well........


First and foremost, I use it as a DVD timeshifter. Forgive the inference to things illegal, but far from it. With Daemon Tools, DVD Region Killer and DVD Decrypter, I can copy DVD movies to my hard drive as one big ISO file which allows me to watch it later with TheaterTek. This way, I can return the movie before the 2 days is up. Actually, this kind of scenario would probably work quite well with NetFlix. If any moderator paid attention this far, the file gets deleted after I watched it. :D


Viewing DVD movies out of the Toshiba DVD-ROM. Using the “extras†sometimes contained on DVD (like games) right on our big TV, instead of in the den.


I use PowerDVD for the oddball VCD or SVCD I want to watch, or to check TheaterTek against for calibration.


Surfing the web, visiting IMDB to read the reviews of movies, playing family style adapted games on the TV (board game of LIFE, etc.)


WinAMP for MP3 playback & jukebox, S/PDIF to my audio hardware.


Showshifter for recording TV programs on the HDD, so I don’t need to use my VCR anymore. This is especially neat for me because I have a VPN setup between my DSL at home and Work. I can broadcast the magic packet to “wake-up†my HTPC from a complete shutdown and use PC Anywhere to get in and set a show to record that day if needed. He he he….. If my wife calls and wants something recorded while we’re gone, no problem. So far, I don’t use it for timeshifting live TV, although I have that option.


No HDTV card yet, and none wanted. My analog CableTV provider is actually quite good, and my 36†Tube TV doesn’t quite merit the investment yet.


DiVX movies right on a TV, instead of sitting in front of a 17†monitor. :D Nuff said.


I have dScaler, but only toy with it now. I sometimes use it to deinterlace VHS input through to my TV, but I rarely watch VHS movies anymore. The tuner in my TV is fine for watching cable, although I can certainly see the use of the dScaler combined with a TV Tuner card for a projector setup. That’s in the future for me. Right now, I use the Zoltrix TV Genie for converting VHS tapes to digital, and family 8mm camcorder tapes to DVD-R (another PC does all that. My HTPC just does the capturing since its already connected to the VCR.)

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Those are the big points. I’m sure I will find other uses for it later, and some will change, but it certainly has replaced my Pioneer standalone DVD player in spades. ‘tis well worth the investment and time, especially since I love PC’s so much first and home theater/music second.


-Robert
 

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Nice post. I added this to the test version of the HTPC Meta FAQ in the Post Testing Area (see link "test version" near end of HTPC Meta FAQ), under your username.
 

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No HD??? Why not?
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by ramick
No HD??? Why not?
His original message:
Quote:
No HDTV card yet, and none wanted. My analog CableTV provider is actually quite good, and my 36†Tube TV doesn’t quite merit the investment yet.
 
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