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Any need to build HTCP nowadays?

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December 30, 2010 4:28:28 PM

I've been thinking about the question listed above for a few days now.

I was thinking about giving a c2d E6550 (planned to oc to 3 ghz), gigabyte p35 mobo and 2 gigs of ram, and two 250 gig sata drives to my girl and buy an hd 5450 or gt 220 (whichever was cheaper at that moment) and a tv tuner card to build a htpc for her that would also be used for browsing and ms office.

However I got to thinking "whats the point of building this thing"? Most tuner cards have some kinda glaring flaw such as the remotes that come with them only work from some super short distance like 10 feet or closer, wmp doesnt work with many types of remotes.

Also, the tuner cards still require cable boxes to get all available channels, so it simpler to just get a dvr from your cable provider. As far as media is concerned, the card would not be useful in most cases unless blu rays are actually bought, as it is my understanding that only h264 and mpeg 2 can actually be accelerated by gpus, which doesn't help when lots of my downloads are x264.

I have a ps3 so i got to thinking that if only blu rays benefit from hardware acceleration and its simpler to just get a dvr from the cable company what is the point of building a htpc when I can hook the ps3 to one hdmi port on the av receiver and the dvr/set top box to the other port and just use hdmi output to the tv?

Can anybody tell my why this kinda pc set up is still useful? Other than just building it for fun, what kinda advantages do htpc still offer? I might as well just give her the parts a listed earlier and substute the mentioned gpus with my old x850tx just to allow aero in windows 7.






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a c 84 B Homebuilt system
December 30, 2010 4:48:58 PM

My current machine is essentially an HTPC. It's a more powerful than a typical HTPC (I do use it to game, and I wanted that ability to expand it's gaming potential), but I mainly use it to store and play content from the web. I don't use it as a DVR (mine was free or else I would have), and even then, I don't think I'll ever consider NOT having an HTPC hooked up to my TV.

Yes, the DVR aspect is fairly limited, but these other activities make them worthwhile. Even then, a good TV tuner card would cost around $100. If you had to rent the DVR from the cable or satellite company, you'd likely have to pay $5-10 a month over the cost of the receiver. Given the life of the PC is going to be well over two years, you've save $120-240 on the rental. That's a net savings of $20-140, and that's assuming you only use the PC for two years. It'll likely be even more. Don't forget that DVR space is extremely limited too. If you had a HTPC as your DVR, you could easily copy shows off it's internal drive and save them elsewhere.

You're also forgetting the ability of PCs to stream media from the web and play downloaded content. If you downloaded a movie (legally, of course), you could just play it on the PC. Or say you don't actually care about watching live TV. You could cancel your cable/satellite entirely and watch your shows through Hulu, Netflix or whoever. You have no idea how many times I've been sitting in my living room with friends, and someone mentions some video they saw on the web. Instead of them trying to describe it or saying look at it later, I can just pull it up right there.

I don't really consider BluRay a viable technology right now, but obviously you do. An HTPC (especially one with older parts) can easily be built for a couple hundred dollars. You'd spend more on that for the PS3 (less if you just wanted a BluRay player), and you'd be losing the extra functionality.

The last point I have for the usefulness of an HTPC is the fact that it's a computer. That means it's easy to connect to a network. This allows you to draw media/content from pretty much anywhere (i.e. a desktop or laptop) and play it on the TV. For example, you have some home videos or pictures saved to your desktop or laptop that you want to show people. Instead of everyone having to trek to the computer and huddle around the screen, you can just pull it up in your living room.

The real benefit of the HTPC is that it's multiple devices in one. Obviously, it's a PC, so you've got the ability to do regular PC tasks. It's also a DVR and a DVD (or BluRay) player. Finally, it's an entertainment center. You don't need to plug your iPod into a speaker, you just play your music from the PC.
December 30, 2010 5:12:15 PM

MadAdmiral said:
My current machine is essentially an HTPC. It's a more powerful than a typical HTPC (I do use it to game, and I wanted that ability to expand it's gaming potential), but I mainly use it to store and play content from the web. I don't use it as a DVR (mine was free or else I would have), and even then, I don't think I'll ever consider NOT having an HTPC hooked up to my TV.

Yes, the DVR aspect is fairly limited, but these other activities make them worthwhile. Even then, a good TV tuner card would cost around $100. If you had to rent the DVR from the cable or satellite company, you'd likely have to pay $5-10 a month over the cost of the receiver. Given the life of the PC is going to be well over two years, you've save $120-240 on the rental. That's a net savings of $20-140, and that's assuming you only use the PC for two years. It'll likely be even more. Don't forget that DVR space is extremely limited too. If you had a HTPC as your DVR, you could easily copy shows off it's internal drive and save them elsewhere.

You're also forgetting the ability of PCs to stream media from the web and play downloaded content. If you downloaded a movie (legally, of course), you could just play it on the PC. Or say you don't actually care about watching live TV. You could cancel your cable/satellite entirely and watch your shows through Hulu, Netflix or whoever. You have no idea how many times I've been sitting in my living room with friends, and someone mentions some video they saw on the web. Instead of them trying to describe it or saying look at it later, I can just pull it up right there.

I don't really consider BluRay a viable technology right now, but obviously you do. An HTPC (especially one with older parts) can easily be built for a couple hundred dollars. You'd spend more on that for the PS3 (less if you just wanted a BluRay player), and you'd be losing the extra functionality.

The last point I have for the usefulness of an HTPC is the fact that it's a computer. That means it's easy to connect to a network. This allows you to draw media/content from pretty much anywhere (i.e. a desktop or laptop) and play it on the TV. For example, you have some home videos or pictures saved to your desktop or laptop that you want to show people. Instead of everyone having to trek to the computer and huddle around the screen, you can just pull it up in your living room.

The real benefit of the HTPC is that it's multiple devices in one. Obviously, it's a PC, so you've got the ability to do regular PC tasks. It's also a DVR and a DVD (or BluRay) player. Finally, it's an entertainment center. You don't need to plug your iPod into a speaker, you just play your music from the PC.


^+1.

I use my HTPC too although its slightly more powerful with an i7 and 8gb of ddr3, and a moderate 5770. I have a TV subscription through DirectTV, and The guy that installed the service told me how to hook up your PC to the receiver to record shows onto your HDD. I do that now. Anytime a new movie comes out on Netflix, I watch it through my TV.
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December 30, 2010 5:17:08 PM

MadAdmiral said:
My current machine is essentially an HTPC. It's a more powerful than a typical HTPC (I do use it to game, and I wanted that ability to expand it's gaming potential), but I mainly use it to store and play content from the web. I don't use it as a DVR (mine was free or else I would have), and even then, I don't think I'll ever consider NOT having an HTPC hooked up to my TV.

Yes, the DVR aspect is fairly limited, but these other activities make them worthwhile. Even then, a good TV tuner card would cost around $100. If you had to rent the DVR from the cable or satellite company, you'd likely have to pay $5-10 a month over the cost of the receiver. Given the life of the PC is going to be well over two years, you've save $120-240 on the rental. That's a net savings of $20-140, and that's assuming you only use the PC for two years. It'll likely be even more. Don't forget that DVR space is extremely limited too. If you had a HTPC as your DVR, you could easily copy shows off it's internal drive and save them elsewhere.

You're also forgetting the ability of PCs to stream media from the web and play downloaded content. If you downloaded a movie (legally, of course), you could just play it on the PC. Or say you don't actually care about watching live TV. You could cancel your cable/satellite entirely and watch your shows through Hulu, Netflix or whoever. You have no idea how many times I've been sitting in my living room with friends, and someone mentions some video they saw on the web. Instead of them trying to describe it or saying look at it later, I can just pull it up right there.

I don't really consider BluRay a viable technology right now, but obviously you do. An HTPC (especially one with older parts) can easily be built for a couple hundred dollars. You'd spend more on that for the PS3 (less if you just wanted a BluRay player), and you'd be losing the extra functionality.

The last point I have for the usefulness of an HTPC is the fact that it's a computer. That means it's easy to connect to a network. This allows you to draw media/content from pretty much anywhere (i.e. a desktop or laptop) and play it on the TV. For example, you have some home videos or pictures saved to your desktop or laptop that you want to show people. Instead of everyone having to trek to the computer and huddle around the screen, you can just pull it up in your living room.

The real benefit of the HTPC is that it's multiple devices in one. Obviously, it's a PC, so you've got the ability to do regular PC tasks. It's also a DVR and a DVD (or BluRay) player. Finally, it's an entertainment center. You don't need to plug your iPod into a speaker, you just play your music from the PC.



She has no intention of using it for gaming outside of old school genesis and snes emulators and small games like plants vs zombies so gaming potental is not considered. The figures you mention is based on renting the receiver, nobody i know rents those i just buy stuff like that and incure the lower cost upfront over paying more over renting it.

Using it as a dvr is a HUGE deal and since that is limited that casts more doubt on the need for a htpc. Since the dvr function is limited by so many other factors it really seems to be no use for it in a htpc anymore. Also, I'm giving her a lower powered cpu (although i planned to oc it) and i would need to have a gpu to play blue ray and other 1080p files with confidence of it not having any stuttring.

I care a great deal about watching live tv, so to me not having that function makes a htpc pretty much useless. Ps3s are 300 bucks, you'd be hard pressed to build a computer from scratch, even a low powered one for that price.

If it can't get live tv, i should just not bother to OC the cpu and give her the x850 for windows 7 aero and call it a day as the most important feature cant really be used.
December 30, 2010 5:26:04 PM

amoghthegamer said:
^+1.

I use my HTPC too although its slightly more powerful with an i7 and 8gb of ddr3, and a moderate 5770. I have a TV subscription through DirectTV, and The guy that installed the service told me how to hook up your PC to the receiver to record shows onto your HDD. I do that now. Anytime a new movie comes out on Netflix, I watch it through my TV.


I dont subscribe to netflix and stuff like that for movies, i use a private torrent site which has movies about a week or so before even netflix or retail so no point signing up for that. Live tv is very important to me so I would like to save live tv cause my girl is too impatient to wait for me to dl it form the torrent site later in the night.

How do you get yours shows on the hdd? Do you use a tv tuner card for that?
a c 84 B Homebuilt system
December 30, 2010 5:29:33 PM

I didn't include anything about gaming as a benefit. MY machine has the potential, but it was built for that purpose. I could have easily have left hat out.

As for "buying" the receiver, most places don't offer that choice. You have to rent it from the company, or at least pay for it monthly. Regardless, it's not really a limiting factor. You'd be paying for the service any way, and you'd be paying for the receiver anyway. It's the DVR that's extra.

Again, TV tuners will work just like a DVR once you've introduced the receiver. The HTPC isn't limited in this capacity, just as a regular DVR isn't. If you just had the recording device, you'd still need the receiving device.

As for cost, you can easily build an HTPC for under $350 (excluding the OS). An i3-530/H55 motherboard will run $200 (less once Sandy Bridge is released). 4 GB of RAM (overkill) is only $40. An HDD will cost $50. A case, PSU and optical will run around $100 total. That's $350. That's using all brand new, farily expensive tech. You could easily find some older parts for less. Given that you only really need the GPU, BluRay drive and the TV tuner, you can easily spend only $200 for a functioning HTPC. That's 2/3 the cost of the PS3, and you still have the functionality of a PC.

The point I was making about live TV was that IF YOU WEREN'T SOMEONE WHO WATCHED LIVE TV, you could easily use an HTPC to replace your cable service. You can find pretty much any TV show online legally and free. The only main exceptions to this is that some content would be delayed a day or so, and basically only sports wouldn't be available. It's just an option that enhances the value of the HTPC. It's highly probable that you'd be able to cut down on the price of your current service by supplementing it with online viewing. Having the HTPC or not having the HTPC makes no difference on getting live TV if you're not trying to replace your cable subscription.
January 23, 2011 3:26:19 AM

tical2399 said:
I dont subscribe to netflix and stuff like that for movies, i use a private torrent site which has movies about a week or so before even netflix or retail so no point signing up for that. Live tv is very important to me so I would like to save live tv cause my girl is too impatient to wait for me to dl it form the torrent site later in the night.

How do you get yours shows on the hdd? Do you use a tv tuner card for that?



sorry for the late reply but if you still want know how, here is how I do it. I hooked up a Fantom Green 2TB External HDD into my Receiver. I reset the receiver and it formatted the HDD. I then bought an E-sata card and cable and hooked it up. So the HDD has 2 cables. one usb into the receiver and one e-sata into the PC. So I just DVR whatever I want and its on the HDD and I watch it on my PC anytime or through the receiver, but I will have a copy of that tv show episode forever. But I can only copy over 720p via the USB.
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