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Is anyone using a computer in their home theatre as their recording and playback device and do you think that they have a place in a modern home theatre?
 

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I came close one time to setting up an HTPC system... but never pulled the trigger to put it together. I figured since I already had everything via separate components I'd just stick with them.

I can see them having a place though and I know lots of people who use them. I would think they would be fairly convenient especially if you play games and watch movies.
 

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Sure, that's the whole point of this forum.

My computer is an HP Pavilion using the Asus A78X motherboard, AMD Athlon XP3000+ running at 2.1 GHz, and 1 GB of memory. OS is Win XP Pro. Graphics adapter is ATI 9500 Pro. Monitor is Samsung SyncMaster 171V LCD. Souncard is a Soundblaster Audigy 2 with a SPDIF feed to the AV amp across the room.

My PVR is Fusion HDTV Gold. I am using it to tune ATSC broadcasts, and of course to record and playback. I have about 76 GB of recorded shows right now, that I will get around to watching when I feel like it. They are recorded as the native transport stream.

I usually pick out the shows I want to record on www.titantv.com. I can click on the red record button, then open the file, and Fusion Agent loads the show data into the record scheduler. At the scheduled time the show is automatically recorded. I can keep the computer in hibernate mode, and the Fusion Agent will wake it up to record the show. Playback is also on Fusion HDTV, unless I change the format of the file to mpeg4 DivX, which I do rarely if i want to compress the file for storage.

For watching DVDs, I use WinDVD 7 for the smoothest 3:2 pulldown, or Cyberlink Power DVD 5, or an old Roxio player, when I want to take stills from the mpeg2 playback. Windows media Player 10 can playback WMV-HD files on DVD or the hard drive. For instance, T2 has a permanent place on the HDD.

HT projector is an InFocus SP5000. AV Amp is a Pioneer driving Polk Audio speakers, and a Bob Carver subwoofer. The subwoofer is equalized by BFD/REW, of course.

I count my PC as a HT component, and probably its most capable. I can watch HDTV right on the computer monitor, or shoot it to the projector. I can't imagine why everybody doesn't have a HT PC.

OK, lest hear it from the rest of the gang. What's yout HTPC like. Or, maybe you would like to put one together. We can help. Just start a thread, and we can all put up our 2 cents.
 

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gsmollin said:
Sure, that's the whole point of this forum...

...I can't imagine why everybody doesn't have a HT PC.

OK, let's hear it from the rest of the gang. What's yout HTPC like. Or, maybe you would like to put one together. We can help. Just start a thread, and we can all put up our 2 cents.
While I'm clear that HTPC's and HT are on a somewhat convergent path, and my understanding of how things work is "pretty good" in both worlds, the tech-specs have, in some cases, passed me by...

I see HTPC's as a potentially great and inexpensive source device for HT. But I get confused with connectivity. For example, I only recently learned that 1080i/p sources can be played on certain computer based DVD drives. Furthermore, certain video cards can handle hi-res video content and some sound cards can provide DD/DTS decoding.

...but here's the rub:

nimrod's like me:

aren't sure about whose DVD drives can output 1080i/p material (ignore CPU processing ability).

aren't sure what video cards can pass the output via component or hdmi/dvi to our video source

aren't sure what sound cards can process the DD/DTS (much less the DD+/etc.) signals in sync with the audio.

Many of us aren't gamers, we just want to enjoy the show.

Three or four representative HTPC systems from guys that know their stuff might be a great start.

Without knowing much about what I'm talking about...Entry level HTPC might be a 2ghz wintel system with 512mb, an ATI midline video card outputting at least 720p through component outputs, and Brandex sound card outputting DD/DTS or better.

Higher end might be a ghz or two more CPU with an appropriately determined amount of ram, high end video card capable of 1080p through HDMI or DVI and a sound card (sep. or integrated) that can handle the latest true HD / DD+ or other sound sources...and be user adjustable on params.

Dodos also want to know what kind of outputs are possible. RCA, SPDIF, optical, hdmi, component, etc.

Treat me like the dope that I am. Feel free to unload luggage (only if you provide answers), I can take it. Be prepared for stupid questions. If noone else can think of any (stupid questions), depend on me. I have lots of them...AVS would close the thread if I started it because bandwidth should not be wasted on imbeciles. I only hang out here because Sonnie and the moderators are down home geniuses and John Mulcahy is an angel for sharing his program.

Y'all get the picture.:R
 

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Well I sho-nuff reckon we do! ... and we got plenty of bandwidth for all kinds of questions. I'm liables to even give a few stupid answers too. :yes: Been there and done that my share of times!

Good points you make too... I feel right at home with you. Hmmm... actually I may still be down the road from ya, cause I don't think I even understand some of what you eluded to.
 

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I have a computer in almost every room in the house but not sure if I'm interested at all in hooking one up in the HT and using it as a dvd player... I'm really not seeing the advantages although doing some of my software development on a 10' screen would be nice
 

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It's not just a DVD player. It's another HT component. Mine is an ATSC/cable tuner, PVR, video editor, file conversion filter, gaming device (that's home theater too), slide show generator, and yes, a DVD, CD, SACD, DVD-A player. I could even respond to forums on the big screen... but I value the pj bulb too much.
 

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I only use my computers to playback music. I use Mac OS X with Apple iTunes, songs encoded in Apple Lossless, and sent over AirPort Express optical out.

My ideal solution is a fanless Mac Mini with a long-cabled 800x600 DVI/USB touch-screen. That way I wouldn't have to leave my seat to manipulate the music, and I also won't have any computer noise annoying me.

I wasn't satisfied with any of the software playback options so far, so I still use a regular DVD player for movies.
 

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The SACD player is outside to box. It requires analog links, because of Sony's paranoid delusions of grandeur about their format. That makes SACD a fringe format for HTPC. DVD-A is a better choice when you're in the record store.
 

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gsmollin said:
... DVD-A is a better choice when you're in the record store.
I agree. Since one of my PC's has a SB Audigy 2ZS Platinum I can play DVD-A's on it and it is even possible to "back up" the DVD-A's to the hard drive ;). More future proof. It might be very easy for a HD DVD player that decodes DD TrueHD (which includes the MLP used in DVD-A's) to have or add DVD-A playback capability. SACD requires a special Sony decode chip for DSD and that ain't going to happen in a Toshiba HD DVD player or a internal PC HD DVD drive.

Bob
 

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Hi There,

JM -
aren't sure about whose DVD drives can output 1080i/p material (ignore CPU processing ability).


It doesn't really work like that. No DVD can output anything but bits, its the graphic card that outputs an image. You can store much more than just an mpeg2 encoded film on a DVD, its more or less a portable storage medium. I have a german HD sampler that is a DVD and i can play that via my DVD drive. The problem essentialy with DVD and HD is similar to DVD and CD's. There isn't enough space on a regular DVD to store a full length HD quality movie.

New HD-DVD drives are out/due on the computer storage side, however due to copy protection i doub't hollywood will release movies capable of playing on them. Ditto for Blue-Ray, a similar but essentialy incompatable disc format (read SACD vs DVD-A, but it will be a long time, if not never 'til we see a dual format drive).

If you can get HD media, then almost any moden graphics card will play it back given a sufficently fast processor. The latest ATI/Nvidia have some hardware help, but you still need a fairly fast processor.


aren't sure what video cards can pass the output via component or hdmi/dvi to our video source


The majority of that is card independant and is down to specs. However all video cards can do analogue RGBHV which could be transcoded to component. Most modern garphics cards have DVI connectors, which are a large computer version of HDMI (not sure they can/do impliment copy protection though)


aren't sure what sound cards can process the DD/DTS (much less the DD+/etc.) signals in sync with the audio.


If you want DD/DTS passthough, ie optical/coaxil spdif connections to plug into a Home theater Amp then there are quite a few cheap options, with many motherboards even having thier own onboard. This is the norm, and easy.

If you want a card that can decode them into analogue outputs to use as a kind of pre-amp, then its posible and good results can be had, but its not a trouble free route. Some of the pro cards can be used M-audio/Lynx/RME are three manufacturers to check.

--

As for PC specs and the analogy of budget and high end, they are a little bit of a misnomer. A very basic PC with a very modest graphics card and DVD rom drive can be an exceptional DVD player and scaler for more or less peanuts.

More money can add funtionality such as a TV card, or a Tivo like recorder and typicaly more space (RAM/Storage) and of course speed, but for use as a HTPC you don't particularly need speed, it generates heat and noise, but a DVD plays back at the same speed....HD content for the moment is another matter as this does suck speed.

I'd say if you have a large screen device then a PC is a very smart move if you can live with the technical aspect, as you will never have a truely idiot friendly plug and works device...however if you can and like fiddling and tweaking, effot can replace huge wads of cash and give astounding performance.

HD stuff, when it finaly breaks may kill the HTPC as hollywood is scared and HDCP is seriously going to bugger up the use of anything but what hollywood aproves.

Cya,
Lee
 

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Alaric said:
...HD stuff, when it finaly breaks may kill the HTPC as hollywood is scared and HDCP is seriously going to bugger up the use of anything but what hollywood aproves...

But Hollywood was thrown a loop when both Sony for the $499 PS3 version and MS for the Xbox 360, HD DVD add on drive, did not implement HDMI interfaces. Millions of 1080i hi def DVD (game) players without any HDCP instead just component outputs. This is very good for HTPCs using a component video output. Looks like we are good till 2012 at least :laugh:.

Bob
 

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I have many PCs and use them for about everything... except HTPC.

The reason is cost- I wanted to set up an HTPC, but the case alone was $300. Then add it motherboard, memory, drives, etc.

A good video card to run it is over $100, if I want to decode OTA HD broadcasts, that's another $120 (ATI HDTV Wonder). Then I'll need wireless keyboard/mouse ($80).

This is just to play movies and watch HDTV- which I'm doing for $200 with an OTA tuner and progressive-scan DVD player.
 

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Does anyone know if any of the pixel processing companies ie HQV, Faroujda are putting their chipsets into graphics cards? I would like to do HTPC but I would want my PC to be a scalar if possible.
 

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kingkip said:
Does anyone know if any of the pixel processing companies ie HQV, Faroujda are putting their chipsets into graphics cards? I would like to do HTPC but I would want my PC to be a scalar if possible.

The scaling and other processing options available in FFDshow are said to be, equal to/or quite a bit better, than the Silicon on Chip (SoC) versions done in specialized hardware. HTPC enthusiasts run FFDshow from within the Zoomplayer or Theatertek media player applications. I routinely scale up 720x480 SD DVDs 3x to 2160x1440 and then let my nVidia 6600GT video card reduce that down to 1920x1080p to match my monitor.

Features

- fast video decompression using optimized MMX, SSE and 3DNow! code
- support for different codecs: XviD and all DIVX versions
- additional support for MSMPEG4v1, MSMPEG4v2, MSMPEG4v3 and H263
- can act as generic postprocessing filter for other decoders like MPEG1 or MPEG2
- image postprocessing for higher playback quality
- automatic quality control: automatically reduces postprocessing level when CPU load is high
- hue, saturation and luminance correction (MMX optimized)
- two sharpening filters: xsharpen and unsharp mask
- blur and temporal smoother
- tray icon with menu and quick access to configuration dialog
- noising with two selectable algorithms
- resizing and aspect ratio changing
- subtitles
- completely free software: ffdshow is distributed under GPL

Web links

ffdshow: http://cutka.szm.sk/ffdshow/ or http://sourceforge.net/projects/ffdshow/
XviD: http://www.xvid.org/
ffmpeg: http://ffmpeg.org/
libmpeg2:http://libmpeg2.sourceforge.net/
mplayer: http://www.mplayerhq.hu/
DVD2AVI: http://arbor.ee.ntu.edu.tw/~jackei/dvd2avi/
xsharpen, unsharp mask, msharpen, hue and saturation code
http://sauron.mordor.net/dgraft/index.html

and
doom9: http://www.doom9.org/
 

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Whoa; those links have some good stuff...

It is probably in one of those- but the one advantage of a HTPC is that I could store and access my movies on disk- which encoders can get the movie *and* soundtrack in proper resolution (I'm not interested in downloading some lame stolen dvds, but rather want to use my own movies). What can do this?
 

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The best place to go for info on tools that let you backup DVDs that you own to a HD or backup DVD is the Doom9 site that I mentioned earlier. It is best to get tools and info from offshore sites. :nono: But I hear that the US Congress is having second thoughts about the whole DMCA fiasco :rant:

Bob
 

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Yeah, I read through the d9 site, but there really wasn't a guide to pointed to what I wanted: ripping my DVDs to disk, compressed, and keeping AC3 audio. I can rip straight to disk as ISO images, but they're rather large (for DVD9 anyway).
 

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After you get them to the HD as a ISO (mount the ISO as a drive letter), or as a set of VOB files, you can then use DVDSHRINK to reauthor the DVD and keep just the main movie and the one desired sound stream you want. That can typically make it around 25% smaller or so than the original.

Bob
 
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