I'm in the begining process of building a home theater system and would like to ask the community for suggestions and advise as to the best way to accomplish this feat.... given the following parameters:
1. My reception is intended to be over the air (OTA) and high speed internet (AT&T DSL Extreme 6mb/s).
I intend to use both but currently have no plans to use satellite or cable. I might subscribe to a wireless
provider at some point in the future.
2. I either have or will have the components to build a desk top computer that is set up strictly for this
entertainment project and I would like to be able to record digitally and, if necessary, analog
or from whatever other source that provides the program that I want.
3. First, I want to record the program to a hard drive (sata or equivalent) and then have the option to edit and
burn all or some of the different episodes to a dvd.
4. I would like to integrate the audio into my home speaker system so that I can take advantage of digital
audio as well as HDTV through HDMI connections. Also I would like suggestions to combine the audio
signal with the hdmi video signal into one cable if possible but running a separate audio cable is not a
problem if necessary.
5. Hopefully this will about cover the basic ideas I have planned and perhaps the members can critique`
Presently I plan to use an ASUS M3N78 Pro board with ddr3 memory (2gb or better) AMD quad core
processor 2.5 mhz or so. This board has a built in HDMI output but I am not opposed to adding a video
card (Radeon or ?) if that is a better choice and a Plextor dvd drive and a second drive for multitasking
if need be. Also adding a Haupage card for an input source. I have a HVR 1800 card but have never used
it and there may be better choices so please advise me on this as well. My choice of operating systems is
Windows 7 64 bit professional grade with the Windows media package.
Also, and of considerable importance, is the choice of ancilliary programs to use in conjunction with the
Windows 7 operating system including dvd burning and editing progarms, anti virus, and other programs
on the internet that provide sources for download....i.e. Itunes, Utube,etc.. Also I'm looking for a good
program source that will allow me to watch previous tv episodes. My main complaint with most that I have
seen or used is that even though they are supposedly free, the amount of garbage included before finally
getting to the program is enough to drive one to distraction. I would much rather pay for a service such as
Netflix or whatever and be able to enjoy the show without all the interruptions and time lost trying to access
the program. If I have a major complaint, that is it.....I do not and will not be reconciled to using someones
junk filled presentation simply to gain free access to a simple tv episode or movie. It just isn't worth the
trouble so I will especially appreciate any guidelines that will point me towards a quality site that will
avoid the nusance associated with these problem sites.
This is just an overall and general idea of my plans and I sincerely invite the membership to shoot as many
holes and/or make any suggestions that you feel will improve this system. I am not on a binge to see how
much I can spend but simply want to build a solid home entertainment center that will operate with the
least amount of problems and adjustments. My sole purpose is to enjoy the sight and sound and not
spend an inordinate amount of time constantly tweeking and/or adjusting settings and so forth.
I wish to thank the membership in advance for any ideas and/or suggestions and look forward to creating
a really nice system and will greatly appreciate any and all input.
Just so you have an idea, here's my current setup:
Case - NMediaPC 200BA HTPC Case
Power Supply - PC Power and Cooling 500 watt modular (overkill, but got it on sale).
Motherboard - ASRock 760GM-GS3 MicroATX AM3
CPU - AMD Athlon II X2 240
RAM - G.Skill 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3-1333
Hard Drive 1 - 250GB HDD (don't remember the brand)
Hard Drive 2 - Samsung F3 SpinPoint 1TB HDD (Located in separate system for storage)
Optical Drive - LG Blu-Ray 12x
Graphics card - Sapphire Radeon HD4670
TV Tuner - Ceton Corp InfiniTV4 Quad-Tuner PCI-Ex1
Display 1 - Olevia 232T 32" 720p HDTV
Display 2 - Optoma HD20 1080p Projector
Audio - Onkyo HT-S3200 5.1 HTIB
That said, if you already have the motherboard and CPU, they'll be fine. If not, you may want to consider other options, such as the AMD APU based systems.
2) See my comment above concerning your hardware. If you already have the motherboard/CPU, I'd probably go ahead and get a lower end graphics card for your system. The rest of what you have in mind all seem decent choices.
3) Shouldn't be a problem. There's plenty of freeware options to do pretty much anything you want. The only concern I would mention is DRM. Many cable channels that I subscribe to are protected by DRM. While I can record to show/movie to my hard drive, there's nothing else I can do with it. Again, this is through my cable company. I have no idea if local broadcasts are protected, but I would guess they aren't. Shouldn't be an issue for you, but thought you should, at least, be aware of it.
4) HDMI natively carries both digital Audio and Video signals. If your home speaker system has HDMI inputs, it may be possible to run the HDMI cable from your PC to your home speaker system and then from the speaker system to your HDTV; all via HDMI. If that's not an option, then you'd probably want to utilize the digital audio out from your motherboard to your home receiver (assuming it can accept a digital audio signal).
5) Again, not sure you need a quad-core processor for your system. If you already have it, no problems, but you may want to consider dropping down to a dual-core processor if you don't. That Hauppauge card should work extremely well for your needs; recording OTA broadcasts. As far as other sources, you will be able to install plug-ins into Windows Media Center. The plug-ins are generally free and allow your to start the programs without having to leave Media Center first. Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of experience with these. The only one I use is Netflix.
personally i would use an i7....or if you want better power savings one of the other options from intel. amd really dropped off the board after the amd64 series and hasnt managed to really make a comeback.
for video tv and video only a good integrated card would probably work fine but i always use a dedicated video card. if need be there are dvi to hdmi adapters available. if your videocard supports sound out via dvi then both audio and video will go over this one cable!
you will need a tuner card, but wolf might know more about this. i've never hooked up a tuner to mine but i do have my pc connected to my tv and ht.
there really is no need for a plextor drive. i've owned one in the past and although it worked well the price is just so rediculous for the marginal gains over normal drives. i'd just get a cheap oem drive for $30.
as far as programs go....i trust nothing else but kapersky internet security. its a little more pricey but works flawlessly.
i've used media center before....its a real pain....but i dont know of another option for what you are asking. the only such media i play are dvds/bluerays directly via drive or from a .iso file on an external hard drive. perhaps itunes (or another program) can arrange (non iso) files and tag pictures to them but i haven't done this myself.
Thanks for your suggestions.....now for the fun part.....digesting your analysis and making final choices....i'll keep you posted as I move along on this.....Thanks again so very much for your time and assistance....rocknroller...