I'm not sure if this is the right spot for this but since I was thinking of running Windows 7 Home Premium I thought I would give it a shot.
What I'm looking to do is make essentially a DVD jukebox; iTunes for movies per se. I want to be able to rip all my owned DVDs (which number about 500 or so now) into a system that I can then access the movies in a graphical mode and play them back. That way I can put the discs away and not have to pull them out unless something goes wrong with the digital files. I also would like to be able to play my Blu-Rays and HD-DVDs as well. I have no interest in ripping them (too large) but I want to be able to play the discs, especially my HD-DVDs. I own a copy of Any-DVD HD now.
So my question is can this be done by someone who is pretty new to the whole HTPC scene? I need the system to be very easy to use and remote controlled. I don't need a ton of bells and whistles like being able to record TV or anything. I would like though something that gives me the best quality so when I watch the DVDs on a 41" HDTV using a HDMI cable I get the best picture possible given the source (DVDs, HD-DVD, BR).
So what hardware specs should I be looking for? I'm not really looking to build a gaming rig so if onboard video can do HD then I'm fine with that. If a better card that is passively cooled will do the trick then that's what I want to go with. As long as I can get the quality from my movie watching, that's really all I want.
Easy of use would have to be my #1 priority with quality being a very close second. I didn't know if the Windows 7 Media Center can do everything I want or if I should look for something in a third party HTPC application. Can Win7 MC play Blu-Ray? If not, can I have it load another program like PowerDVD 9 seamlessly?
Thanks for the help with all this. I hate to sound like an idiot with this stuff but I basically am.
I've recently built two HTPCs for my home and use them daily, both with Windows 7 RC on them. Both are identical systems with AMD Athlon X2 due to their lower power consumption, 4gb of RAM [because it was actually cheaper to get 2x2gb than 1x2gb], 640gb internal HDD, and a Hauppauge 2250, and one HTPC has an ATI CableCard tuner for my digital cable channels. I also have a networked 1.5tb Seagate drive that most of my recorded TV is stored on. Both also have nvidia 9400s because the onboard video was struggling with streaming HD content online with Netflix on 42" LCD TVs.
I control almost everything through Media Center, and even the program guides and recordings work flawlessly.
Though significantly larger, I've saved all my DVDs as .iso files and mount them via virtual drives so no discs are actually involved. Each .iso is about 4.5gb, but I find the quality better, and I get all my extra content like deleted scenes and commentary.
Welcome to the HTPC world, btw! There's ton of stuff out there you can do, and I'm a huge fan of having an all-in--one solution for my computer and media needs.