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Now for something completely different - HTPC D-I-Y

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December 13, 2005 7:17:39 PM

I'm going to be building a guide for a do it yourself home theatre PC and i want your expert opinions before i write it

what do i want from you?

Build a HTPC. (not real life). and link me the parts. explain WHY you usd the parts and what bonuses / features and drawbacks those particular parts have.

More about : completely htpc

December 13, 2005 11:12:36 PM

LMAO. I'll get right on that.

-mpjesse
December 14, 2005 12:59:04 PM

Do you really need any special parts? I mean any old Radeon AIW. Use any old 5.1 onboard sound. Use any dinky mobo, preferably with a passive northbridge. Throw in any low-end CPU. Add 512MB of whatever cheap RAM. Add a big-arse hard drive. And snag any old DL DVD+/-RW. Throw it all into a spiffy looking micro ATX case, load WinXP Home or Media Center. Install your various media softwares. Add a wireless keyboard (with built-in mouse) if the remote control isn't good enough for you. That's it.

If you really want to impress people, get a soundcard with Dolby Digital and the likes. Get a modern AIW card. Get a second TV-tuner PCI card for PIP and/or recording while you watch TV. Add a wireless network card so that you can use it as a media storehouse and/or run the internet. Plug it into a decent non-PC audio system. And maybe even add a high-res PC projector pointed at a screen or a specially painted wall instead of connecting it to a HDTV.

Meh. Easy. Am I missing something?
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December 14, 2005 1:26:13 PM

yes phoenix. missed the ENTIRE purpose. build your dream HTPC and lets see what you put in it and WHY
December 14, 2005 4:39:00 PM

After reading Advanced MythTV video processing in the December issue of Linux Journal. I have rethought my concept of HTPC. One of the issues discussed was the deinterlacing methods. To avoid the Jaggies you need to do some serious filtering, Bob being the best. Not to mention post compressing of files for on the road viewing. I would say the fastest processor that you can run quietly (2ghz 64 sweet spot) would be the order of the day.
December 14, 2005 5:57:29 PM

Quote:
yes phoenix. missed the ENTIRE purpose. build your dream HTPC and lets see what you put in it and WHY
Yeah, but you never said dream the first time. And which dream? Because I can dream of a dozen scenarios just off the top of my head.

How great the box is depends on how much money you have to waste on it. And that depends entirely on what you actually want to do with it.

Does it support NTSC? PAL? Anything else?

Is it just an expensive DVD player that can also play DivX video CDs?

Is it meant to actually copy DVDs? Rip them to DivX video CD? Rip them to original format on the hard drive? Rip them to DivX on the hard drive?

Is it meant to download content from the internet?

Is it meant to accept live content feeds from the internet?

What kind of monitor/tv/projector/whatever is it supporting?

Is it supporting multiple simultaneous video/audio outputs?

Will it be receiving analog TV signals from an antenna? Will it be receiving digital TV signals? Will it be receiving high-def signals?

Does the HTPC need to TiVo input signals? If so, how many simultaneous recordings does it need to support?

Does the HTPC need a picture-in-picture feature?

What kinds of and how many different audio/video inputs does it need to support?

What kind of speaker system is it supporting?

Is it going to be placed in a sound-proofed cabinet? Or is the box directly exposed?

Is the HTPC meant to be a content file server for other PCs to access? If so how many different simultaneous connections is it supposed to support and for how much peak bandwidth?

How much storage does the HTPC need?

Does its storage need to be redundant?

Will the HTPC be used to play games? If so, what games?

Will the HTPC be used to stream music to other networked devices?

Will the HTPC be used to broadcast a constantly running short-range FM transmission of music/audio?

Does the HTPC need to recieve AM/FM radio transmissions? Satellite radio transmissions? Internet radio transmissions?

Does the HTPC need to record and encode audio?

Are you getting the impression yet that the actual hardware depends entirely on what the box will actually be used for and how much money is available for parts and software?

Everyone's opinions on exactly what a HTPC is meant to do will be different. And each nifty feature adds on the $$$.
December 15, 2005 1:43:59 PM

you just broke my brain

THANKS!

build for me what you want. keep in mind 2 facts that are absolutely CRITICAL to HTPC's

QUIET!

SMALLER THAN PC
a b à CPUs
December 15, 2005 11:48:44 PM

Whatever you do, remember than an HTPC should be able to replace nearly everything on your audio rack except the amplifier receiver.

That means not just replacing your DVD player, but your game console and TiVO too.

THG is fuxored on their HTPC articles, pretending that anything at all is fast enough, and that we only want to play DiVX. Screwed. Screw 'em back and write something comprehensive
December 16, 2005 1:46:36 AM

Intel D101GGC with ATI integrated chipset

I am an Intel/ATI developer and had this board for several months now. This is the motherboard to get for your digital home. This board sells for under $100

The onboard DVI video is flawless for the appliaction

Combine this with ATI Threater 550, ATI HDTV wonder, ATI remote wonder2, and Kworld DVB-S to build the best home digital media centers imaginable. TIVO on steroids with a pair of 250+ GB drives in RAID

DVB-S still needs time to mature. You would need a Universal LNB and dish pointing equipment/knowledge to change sat/network. Not all channels are available from one source on "Free to Air" satallite signals.

Broadcast HDTV is available in all major cities by all the local channels as well as some networks like, FOX, ABC, NBC, CBS, TNT, UPN and so on. The antenna is bundled in the box, no pointing required. The remote is also included and works with other ATI products and DVD-R devices.

Record and rewind of live tv, recording from a schedule, recording HDTV and so much more is possible with the ATI bundled software. XP Media center edition also works great with remote. Read the link above to see this config is ready to go.

1GB of DDR2, cheap stuff is fine for this application. Ive seen 2GB kit for $129 at Newegg.

low end P4, 800 or 600 series.

I would also suggest RAID 0 hard drives for maximum performance.
December 16, 2005 1:51:41 AM

Oh yea, the real reason I replied to this thread was it was in the wrong section and saw Crashman with 38K+ posts... 8O
a b à CPUs
December 16, 2005 3:45:35 AM

Eh, it's what I do while testing parts. I keep having to attend these test systems every 10 minutes to 1 hour, I get bored watching TV...
December 22, 2005 3:50:30 PM

Quote:
you just broke my brain

THANKS!
No problem. :lol:  It's my speciality.

Quote:
build for me what you want.
That's the problem. What I 'want' depends entirely on how much money I have. And if I have an infinite amount of money for this project, for the ultimate dream machine, then you can guarantee that in the end the PC itself is actually just a small part of the whole experience and will have every expensive bell and whistle known to man.

Where as a much more realistic project would need a little definition. No engineer worth his salt will jump into the thick of things without a decent list of requirements.

Quote:
keep in mind 2 facts that are absolutely CRITICAL to HTPC's

QUIET!

SMALLER THAN PC
And if you think those are absolutely critical to HTPCs then you've obviously only seen amateur setups.

People who actually build small home theaters out of a room will usually put the entire PC (and other electronics) into a soundproof cabinet built into the wall (out of sight, out of hearing) and use an external DVD burner and external IR sensor (or use an RF remote instead of IR). At least that's what I've seen whenever anyone spends this kind of a fortune. And, in fact, some will even go so far as to use a PDA and/or tablet PC as the remote through wireless networking.

In fact I've even seen the actual PC set up in a basement with some long cables once.

But anywho, it's generally only us geeks doing an amateur job and think we can save money or be cool by trying to build our own better TiVo that generally worry so much about small and silent. Pro jobs tend to think big. :mrgreen:
a b à CPUs
December 22, 2005 3:57:58 PM

That smaller than a PC thing is really a joke. A lot of guys with a home theater audio rack system, or an empty rack built into their TV stand, buy those stupid SFF boxes because they're "smaller". Yet a rack is about 18" wide, desiged for 17" components, so a 17x5 case is smaller than an 8x8. Yes, 17" can be less than 8". Hard to believe these guys don't even think about the fact that cubes are 7-8" tall and the width of their rack is FIXED.

Cooler Master has had a design on the market for years that puts full-sized components on a standard micro-ATX board in a 17x5 case.
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
December 22, 2005 3:59:28 PM

It's very easy really. Just build whatever gaming system turns your crank. The only real question is how to get the sound to your speakers. CL flubbed in my opinion with the X-Fi by not having full 7.1 digital encoding for their systems but the DACs are good so analog will be OK for most. Nforce 2 or better is good except you don't get the latest EAX. I think most HDTVs/ projectors etc these days have native support for VGA signaling.
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