htpc system for the newbie

well, i have been toying around for a while about teh idea of a home theater system for my house.

here are some of the things the family/i would use it for.

1. storing media (pictures, movies, ect)
2. watching tv/using it as a dvr
3. burning dvds and possibly hd dvds
4. watching hd dvds and possibly hdtv
5. using it as a data center on our home network
6. converting files from one format to another, and compressing and uncompressing files
7. use a 5.1 or 7.1 sourround sound system.
8. display a quality image on a( kind of big) tv

are these things even possible to do on a computer? i want to make the system easy to use so that my family can use it. also, low power usage is a consern. money is also a consern, also data security.

can anyone recomend any 7.1 sourround sound sustems>? what about 5.1, whats the difference? can anyone recomend any high def diaplays?
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  1. Can these things be done on a computer?

    1. Yes - get a giant 1TB drive (or more if you need it, maybe research NAS)
    2. Yes - research TV tuners www.hdtvtunerinfo.com
    3. Yes - Blu-Ray burners on newegg
    4. Yes - research HDCP (video card, monitor, and player) and HD TV tuners
    5. Yes - research "HTPC extenders"
    6. Yes - research x264, H.264, matroska, DivX, Xvid... shop for quad-cores
    7. Yes - look for motherboards with S/PDIF or a good soundcard like this: Auzen X-Plosion 7.1
    8. Yes - connect with DVI or HDMI for the best picture, avoid component, composite, and S-video

    What's your budget?
  2. To cover the primary points of interest :
    1. Trivial (image browser and movie player applications) and enough storage (disk drives).
    2. You need a TV Tuner Card(I use a very old one and it does basic MPG recording)/USB adapter (not sure how these work).
    3. BLU-RAY burners are still quite expensive, otherwise DVDRW applications like Nero handle this.
    4. PowerDVD 7 or 8 for HD-DVD/BLU-RAY, TV Tuner applications handle the HDTV viewing.
    5. Vista/Media Center file sharing. Or if you want a linux based server it handles that with Samba(NFS/sharing).
    6. Trivial converter applications (AMD 9100e quadcore might be handy with it's 65W power envelope).
    7. Sounds silly but that's what onboard sound is for. If it's not good enough look into an X-Fi card (Xtreme Audio should be good enough).
    8. A 780G chipset with HDMI (via dvi to hdmi adapter or directly).
    If that's not good enough HD 3650 or better with HDMI.

    So everything is possible, yes. It should be easy to use with something like MediaCenter or a linux front end (not sure about those, I quite like the command line). Low power is a matter of component choice, Phenom 9100e and a 780G chipset should be at the top in that area (very recent article on THG about a 65W quadcore). For data security set up linux, but windows offers passworded access to shared files also so it's a personal preference matter.

    7.1 is downward compatible with 5.1. If you have a 7.1 speaker system get a 7.1 card. Easy as that.
    5.1 uses front center, front left & right, rear/side left & right (5) and a subwoofer (.1) speaker setup.
    http://www.thx.com/home/setup/img/51.gif
    7.1 uses 2 left & right rear/side speakers more.
    http://www.thx.com/home/setup/img/71.gif

    EDIT : rwpritchett beat me to it.
  3. lol, thanks for the info guys. i guess the main thing is that we want to be able to use it as a dvr, to record tv. without having to delete it like our crappy tvo. my family is skeptical about hooking up a computer to a tv... dose'nt hdmi have some sort of sound capability?
  4. DVR needs harddrive space. 1TB drives are getting cheap so that's not really an issue, just add another one when you run out of space.

    HDMI has sound capability. You need a SPDIF output on the motherboard and a SPDIF input on the graphics card. I think it's not an issue with AMD 780G chipset boards but check specific boards for details.
  5. i was thinking of an intel setup. becuase of the q6600 being so cheap.
  6. In that case exchange the 780G and 9100e for :
    Q6600
    some P35 or P45(next week) motherboard
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128086
    HD 34x0 (with HDMI) or 9600GT (for audio over DVI)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102728

    EDIT: I'm not sure which HD 3xxx series cards have audio over HDMI. I'm still looking into it.
  7. OK a year later here we are building a great mid range HTPC. Many thanks to this site for the education and help in creating my system.

    http://RoCPuter.com
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