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Discussion Starter #1
I have a few questions about how Blu-Ray computer drives fair to stand alone players.

I'm an IT guy, so I'm pretty technical, and I used to install Home Theaters back about 15+ years ago...so I'm a bit outa date and really not up on HTPC or Home Theaters, but I speak the language.

I have an HTPC I built about 4 years ago, it's working well, but getting a bit long in the tooth. My birthday is coming up mid-November, and my fiance is asking what she should get me...hinting that she could get a component or two for the HTPC.

I'm wondering if Blu-Ray drives upscale regular DVD like an external player would, or is that all based on software....or video card? I really don't know.

Would I be missing anything if I go with a drive rather than a player?

All this said, I don't have a 1080p projector yet...I'm saving up for that, but since 95% of our viewing comes from the HTPC, I figured upgrading the computer in preparation of the HD Projector (and hopefully anamorphic lens!) would be a good first step.

Thoughts? Suggestions?
 

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I'm not a big fan of HTPC's but given that your PC is 4 years old it may have troubles playing HD video from a BluRay drive HD video requires a fair bit of horse power and you may have issues with dropped frames and such.
Can your PC handle the new uncompressed audio formats? BluRay DVDs all have at the very least DD+ or even better TruHD or DTS MA and require the proper hardware to play. You can always simply choose to play just the standard Dolby digital audio but its not the same.
 

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Hi there,

I'd suggest checking out the websites of the various video player softwares. I'm using PowerDVD to playback regular DVDs, and I went to their site when considering adding a BluRay player to my HTPC. They have requirements for processor speed, RAM and video card. My PC appears to be lagging a bit behind their requirements, so I've decided to hold on getting a BluRay player for now. However, once I get around to building a new PC, I will definitely add the BluRay drive.

As for the audio end, Tony's right in that you'll need the right hardware there as well. For me, I will probably ignore the audio end of the BluRay output and stick with the "regular" DD/DTS output via optical. My reasoning is that 1) my preamp doesn't support HDMI audio (and I'm going to keep my preamp; no need to complicate things there) and 2) I'd need an analog output audio card that would support 7.1 out. I may consider that in the future, but as a first cut, I'd be most interested in getting the video part going, because I believe that's where the most improvement will be noticed.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
As I said, I'm planning on upgrading the system. So the question was about Blu-Ray drive vs Blu-Ray player. Not questioning if my HTPC can handle Blu-Ray...because it will if this is the best path for me.

I have 4TB of data online now, so I'm not going to shy away from HTPC anytime soon. I already have memory and motherboard set for an upgrade. So I just need a video card, processor, and Blu-Ray drive.
 

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for the money your going to spend upgrading your pc the only real advantage to having a BluRay drive is the burning capability's if you get a burner. You then have a large capacity backup media device available. You also must have a HDMI connection to the PC in order to get the HD video signal to the display as Component will mot allow for SD movies to be upconverted to 1080p when played using the BluRay player.
Right now the best option I can see is a Sony PS3, you can stream media from your PC and still have the built in BluRay player that is one of the best.
Stand alone is still a better option as you get a far more stable platform for HD movie viewing with all the features.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
That does make sense.

So, a Blu-Ray drive does upconvert SD? Or is there something else in the system that does that? I'm not sure where that fits into the chain yet. I'm still getting caught up in the advances in tech lately.
 

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That does make sense.

So, a Blu-Ray drive does upconvert SD? Or is there something else in the system that does that? I'm not sure where that fits into the chain yet. I'm still getting caught up in the advances in tech lately.
The drive its self will not do the upconversion, you will need software to do that and you will get varying results depending on what you use and I am not sure what software is the best. Upconversion of most SD movies is not allowed over anything other than DVI or HDMI.
Are you sending this to a receiver first or straight to a display? To get TruHD or DTS MA HDMI is the only option as Otto eluded to in his post
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Interesting. I figured that the drives digital audio would be output through the sound cards Optical Out. I didn't imagine they would limit us so much by making it HDMI out only. Or is HDMI for audio a requirement for the newest formats? That rather bites.

Currently I'm running DVI out directly to the projector, and Optical Audio directly to the Receiver.

I have no equipment that is HDCP if that makes a difference as well....but as I said, I'll be upgrading the projector and the video card as soon as budget allows.
 

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Interesting. I figured that the drives digital audio would be output through the sound cards Optical Out. I didn't imagine they would limit us so much by making it HDMI out only. Or is HDMI for audio a requirement for the newest formats? That rather bites.
Yup, its crummy to say the least as it forces everyone to upgrade equipment that otherwise is fine .
HDMI encompasses both audio and video so it does make the connection process simple but at what cost to the consumer. You can still get standard Dolby digital/DTS from BluRay dvds but thats it and if you like the extra dynamics that Uncompressed audio gives you and your speakers can handle it then you will miss out on that totally if just using optical or coaxial.

Currently I'm running DVI out directly to the projector, and Optical Audio directly to the Receiver.

I have no equipment that is HDCP if that makes a difference as well....but as I said, I'll be upgrading the projector and the video card as soon as budget allows.
If your display is not HDCP compliant then you may also have issues as HD video requires there to be a handshake between the display and the player or in allot of cases it will not work.
For example my Projector in not HDCP compliant so when I connected my BluRay player directly to it it would not work at all. but once the HDMI signal went through my receiver and then to the projector everything worked fine.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Ahhh, so your Blu-Ray player sees the Receiver is HDCP and thinks the whole chain is HDCP. Great trick there. I wasn't planning on upgrading my receiver any time soon, but since I'm planning on upgrading my projector sooner rather than later, I don't believe that would be an issue. I'm just waiting on a sale to go through on an all tube guitar amp I built. Then the projector would be an early birthday present to myself. :)

As for the rest of the audio system...I just upgraded to some decent full range mains, and I have a 36" X 36" folded horn. So I have a decent system, but nothing I'd call audiophile. I'd have to try out each format and see what I like the best....but knowing me, I'll hear a difference in the uncompressed formats. I'm one of those people that cringes when I listen to typical MP3s.
 

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After several weeks of research I concluded that HTPC provides the best fit for my needs. I haven't built the unit yet, but below are a few things I learned that might help you evaluate options.

Renethx (AVS Forum) recommends several excellent HTPC builds.
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=940972&page=85

I believe that most decent graphics cards do the HDPC conversion or come with software to do so.

Many of the Radeon cards (like the 4550) come with an HDTV-Out cable (dongle) that provides component out.

Many motherboards come with digital audio output (coaxial, optical, or both) - of course you can use a soundcard too.

Good luck,
Mikie
 

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Discussion Starter #12
After several weeks of research I concluded that HTPC provides the best fit for my needs. I haven't built the unit yet, but below are a few things I learned that might help you evaluate options.

Renethx (AVS Forum) recommends several excellent HTPC builds.
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=940972&page=85

I believe that most decent graphics cards do the HDPC conversion or come with software to do so.

Many of the Radeon cards (like the 4550) come with an HDTV-Out cable (dongle) that provides component out.

Many motherboards come with digital audio output (coaxial, optical, or both) - of course you can use a soundcard too.

Good luck,
Mikie
Thanks for that info. Looks like I'll be reading up some more!
 

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Many of the Radeon cards (like the 4550) come with an HDTV-Out cable (dongle) that provides component out.
Component will not output 1080p, 1080i will be the highest you will be able to use.

Many motherboards come with digital audio output (coaxial, optical, or both) - of course you can use a soundcard too.
Good luck,
Mikie
Again to remind you that Coaxial and optical will not output the new uncompressed audio formats.
 

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I have a blu-ray drive installed in my htpc and it works great.I use Power DVD ultra for playback,the pluses far out way the minuses when you try to compare an HTPC with a Blu-ray drive installed versus a stand alone player.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I have a blu-ray drive installed in my htpc and it works great.I use Power DVD ultra for playback,the pluses far out way the minuses when you try to compare an HTPC with a Blu-ray drive installed versus a stand alone player.
How are you running the sound? And what video card and monitor/TV are you using?
 

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I use the SPDIF out for the audio,my video card is a Nvidia ge-force 8800 series with HDMI output run to a Panasonic Viera 1080p plasma display.At the time I built my HTPC no Video card had the ability to pass the true audio stream via HDMI , so you would have to run a connection from the motherboard to a lead on the video/ Graphics accelerator in order to pass the audio and video via HDMI.During the last couple of months they have began to produce HDMI video cards that will pass the new audio codecs. maybe its just me but I have a stand-alone Blu-ray player with Dolby tru HD and DTS Master audio etc...etc... and besides for the movie soundtracks being a little hotter volume wise I don't see much to write home about. The newer audio codecs might benefit some movie soundtracks more than others,only time will tell......

Can you say Hybrid Video/Audio card
www.asus.com/news_show.aspx?id=11638
 
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