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HTPC First Steps

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January 28, 2011 6:19:46 PM

Hey folk, just have a few questions about creating a media hub/htpc.
Basically i have an old computer and want to turn it into a(n) NAS device so my flatmates can watch(stream) my stuff/upload their videos onto it wirelessly.
I want to connect it up to my living room tv, but not make it a server as i dont want it running all the time and also be able to connect to the internet to watch youtube (wink wink) and skype, basically all that pc stuff

So basically a NAS with (wireless) media streaming capabilities and able to access the internet

Any help, pointers or info you give me will be very much appreciated, had a look through the forum but all i could find were new builds.

So, heres what i have:

E8400 Core2Duo 3 Ghz
4GB 1300 Mhz RAM
2x HD4770
1Tb Caviar Black HDD
Wireless card (g)
TV
Windows 7 Media Center (how does it handle exotic formats like .mkv or for that matter .avi? havent used windows media stuff in many many years)

i have a pretty good idea of what to do but if anyone who's got an htpc could give me some advice, a few pointers, maybe some suggestions, im all ears :)  (well, eyes really...)
Also, im still not entirely sure i posted this in the right part of the forum :/ 

cheers guys xxx

More about : htpc steps

January 28, 2011 6:29:19 PM

matt2k said:
Windows 7 Media Center (how does it handle exotic formats like .mkv or for that matter .avi? havent used windows media stuff in many many years)

i have a pretty good idea of what to do but if anyone who's got an htpc could give me some advice, a few pointers, maybe some suggestions, im all ears :)  (well, eyes really...)
Also, im still not entirely sure i posted this in the right part of the forum :/ 

cheers guys xxx
Windows 7 handles all popular codecs, but requires a splitter to play mkv files natively within Media Player or Media Center. You can either just install Haali Media Splitter or a codec pack that includes a splitter (usually Haali or Gabest). Personally, I use Shark007 codec pack and can recommend it. Be aware that if you have 64-bit windows, you need to install both the codec pack and the separate x64 component. If you don't want to play mkv's natively in Windows, you could also just use VLC player or MPC-HC to play the files. (I think XBMC will play mkv's with its own splitter, as well).

Next, I suggest you look into the excellent media front ends that are available to sort and play your archived media from each connected computer. I use Media Browser, but XBMC and MyMovies are good too. All are free.

And lastly, if you are going to stream over wireless, I highly recommend you upgrade to wireless n.

Edit- Here is a link to a thread where I gave some more HTPC sotware pointers. It's a little dated but still good.
January 29, 2011 1:05:56 AM

awesome cheers dude, pretty much exactly what i wanted, any thoughts on media sharing software? im using the standard windows home network at the moment, dont know if theres anything else out there
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January 29, 2011 1:48:19 PM

Well, if you have all of your computers networked properly through Windows 7, there is no other software needed. Just use one of the before-mentioned front ends (Media Browser, XBMC, MyMovies, etc.), point them to your network shares containing your media, and they will be set up.
January 31, 2011 11:58:47 AM

excellent, all i need now is WMC remote and im set i guess.

on another note, is there any way you know of to connect a freeview box & xbox 360 to the computer? Just to make my life easier, which is pretty much the whole point of an htpc. I've had a nosy around but so far all i've seen is tv tuner cards, not really what im looking for.

cheers for the advice/links, jolly good show!
!