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Topic # 13759 28-May-2007 11:10
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So i'm doing my yearly upgrade of my PC suite, and have decided to set up my PC as a media PC. I have been looking mostly on PriceSpy at different options, but thought I would ask around and see what other people thought. I currently have:

PC1
WIN XP
AMD 3800+ dual core
2GB RAM
Asus SLI mobo
nvidia 7600GT
2 x 200gb seagate sata
1 x 160gb hitachi sata
1x 80gb wd sata

PC2 (most likely going to sell this in my current case when i'm done)
WIN XP
AMD 2600+
1GB RAM
40gb seagate ide

What would you recommend for software/hardware for a conversion with $1K to spend and this current setup considering I will still be using the PC to do work and gaming? In essence i'm looking for the best way to streamline everything and have the maximum amount of functionality with the minimum amount of componentry on a budget.







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  Reply # 72494 28-May-2007 11:20
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Are you wanting a dedicated PC to sit next to your TV primarily to function as a PVR or something that you will use for other things as well?




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  Reply # 72498 28-May-2007 11:37
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If possible, i'll use it for gaming and work also, but i've also been looking at the dedicated media box that DSE has on special at the moment.

The thing is, it would be great to have one PC that does everything and can be a PVR and PC, rather than two seperate units.

i'm running it through a BenQ projector, so the unit will eventually sit on my desktop and doesn't need to be down by a TV.

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  Reply # 72499 28-May-2007 11:42
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ezytiger: If possible, i'll use it for gaming and work also, but i've also been looking at the dedicated media box that DSE has on special at the moment.

The thing is, it would be great to have one PC that does everything and can be a PVR and PC, rather than two seperate units.


Are you going to be the only user of this system?

If not then consider the fact that running as a TV might be a problem while you're also using it for gameplay or work stuff...




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Reply # 72500 28-May-2007 11:43
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Yeah, i'll be the only user.

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  Reply # 72502 28-May-2007 12:02
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ezytiger: If possible, i'll use it for gaming and work also, but i've also been looking at the dedicated media box that DSE has on special at the moment.

The thing is, it would be great to have one PC that does everything and can be a PVR and PC, rather than two seperate units.

i'm running it through a BenQ projector, so the unit will eventually sit on my desktop and doesn't need to be down by a TV.



Most of the so called "Media Centre" PC's on the market are a joke. Having a full size tower PC sitting in your lounge is hardly what I'd call a Media Centre PC and IMHO the reason why people have failed to take the whole concept seriously and incorporate a PC into their home theatre setup.

There are also very differing requirements depending on what you want to use your PC for, obviously to just record TV and play it back on a large screen you only need a moderate spec PC - even something like an old 2GHz P4 or XP2500+ with an NVidia FX5200 is perfectly capable of this and displaying HD content. Obviously if you want to use a PC for gaming as well then you're going to want something a little bit more powerful than this and if you start transcoding video or recording from multiple TV cards then obviously the faster the processor the better it will work.

I'm planning on upgrading my PVR (currently Sempron 2600+ with FX6200 and 512MB RAM) to a Thermaltake Mozart case, Asus M2A motherboard (onboard video + HDMI & component) and probably an AMD 4500+ with 1GB RAM.




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  Reply # 72504 28-May-2007 12:07
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I guess the good thing about the hardware is I can always upgrade single components if I find there is any lag or performance issues. Out of interest sbiddle - what software setup do you have and what TV card are you running it through currently?



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  Reply # 72505 28-May-2007 12:10
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As an aside, i've also been investigating whether or not I should incorporate an XBOX 360 into the whole mix. The problem is there is so many options! So much media hardware goodness - lol.

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  Reply # 72509 28-May-2007 12:39
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sbiddle:


Most of the so called "Media Centre" PC's on the market are a joke. Having a full size tower PC sitting in your lounge is hardly what I'd call a Media Centre PC and IMHO the reason why people have failed to take the whole concept seriously and incorporate a PC into their home theatre setup.




I run an even more modest system which is a Athlon XP 2000+ (1G) with Nvidia 6200 video card (mainly because I wanted a video card to do DVI out and handle my digital display). The thing is in a Shuttle case so it's not a hulking tower sitting in the family room. If I were motivated I would put the PC in the hifi cabinet. No problem with my wife - the Shuttle is very quiet and the whole thing is controlled via a Harmony 880 remote.

Performance is not an issue recording and playing back regular TV (using a PVR250 card) and it can play divx video over the network (connected via a small Wireless A USB device). It won't playback HD content but there is little HD content to speak of and when HD become more readily available, I will likely do an upgrade.  But I suspect I will use a PS3 to play HD content first

Larry




System One: Popcorn Hour A200,  PS3 SuperSlim, NPVR and Plex Server running on Gigabyte Brix (Windows 10 Pro), Sony BDP-S390 BD player, Pioneer AVR, Raspberry Pi running Kodi and Plex, Panasonic 60" 3D plasma, Google Chromecast

System Two: Popcorn Hour A200 ,  Oppo BDP-80 BluRay Player with hardware mode to be region free, Vivitek HD1080P 1080P DLP projector with 100" screen. Harman Kardon HK AVR 254 7.1 receiver, Samsung 4K player, Google Chromecast

 


My Google+ page 

 

 

 

https://plus.google.com/+laurencechiu

 

 


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  Reply # 72516 28-May-2007 13:52
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ezytiger: I guess the good thing about the hardware is I can always upgrade single components if I find there is any lag or performance issues. Out of interest sbiddle - what software setup do you have and what TV card are you running it through currently?


I run a MCE150 and MCE remote using GB-PVR running on Windows XP. Output to my 50" Pioneer plasma is via VGA running at 1280x768.

As for the comments about no HD stuff being available that's true if you're talking about NZ content - finding HD versions of all the latest US shows online isn't particularly difficult.






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  Reply # 72518 28-May-2007 14:10
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sbiddle:
ezytiger: I guess the good thing about the hardware is I can always upgrade single components if I find there is any lag or performance issues. Out of interest sbiddle - what software setup do you have and what TV card are you running it through currently?


I run a MCE150 and MCE remote using GB-PVR running on Windows XP. Output to my 50" Pioneer plasma is via VGA running at 1280x768.

As for the comments about no HD stuff being available that's true if you're talking about NZ content - finding HD versions of all the latest US shows online isn't particularly difficult.







I also run gbpvr but use a USB-UIRT to control the cable box. As for HD content. while most of the US shows originate in HD, the ones that are available online are not really HD (it is pretty hard to have a 43 minute show in HD at 350mb) - they have been reduced in resolution. Occasionaly I come across 700Mb versions which are clearer but they are still not HD. I have purchased some HD content in WMV9HD format and that looks really good but then the 2000+ has some difficulty playing it smoothly.

I have also tried to play some of the 720p QT movie trailers available - the processor struggles to play them. I didn't bother trying the 1080p versions - not worth the download







System One: Popcorn Hour A200,  PS3 SuperSlim, NPVR and Plex Server running on Gigabyte Brix (Windows 10 Pro), Sony BDP-S390 BD player, Pioneer AVR, Raspberry Pi running Kodi and Plex, Panasonic 60" 3D plasma, Google Chromecast

System Two: Popcorn Hour A200 ,  Oppo BDP-80 BluRay Player with hardware mode to be region free, Vivitek HD1080P 1080P DLP projector with 100" screen. Harman Kardon HK AVR 254 7.1 receiver, Samsung 4K player, Google Chromecast

 


My Google+ page 

 

 

 

https://plus.google.com/+laurencechiu

 

 


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  Reply # 72522 28-May-2007 14:36
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lchiu7: I also run gbpvr but use a USB-UIRT to control the cable box. As for HD content. while most of the US shows originate in HD, the ones that are available online are not really HD (it is pretty hard to have a 43 minute show in HD at 350mb) - they have been reduced in resolution. Occasionaly I come across 700Mb versions which are clearer but they are still not HD. I have purchased some HD content in WMV9HD format and that looks really good but then the 2000+ has some difficulty playing it smoothly.

I have also tried to play some of the 720p QT movie trailers available - the processor struggles to play them. I didn't bother trying the 1080p versions - not worth the download





The files I've played were around 1.2GB for an hour. I know this is still very compressed for HD (and certainly no comparision to the WMV9HD trailers) but they were 720 line files and do look substancially better than regular SD files.


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  Reply # 72548 28-May-2007 16:50
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I don't know much about pvr software/hardware.  But my Fav bit of hardware for my home media system is my Video Splitter,
it lets me split one video signal into 4, so I have a clone of my 2nd monitor in different rooms around the house.





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  Reply # 72642 29-May-2007 10:40
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Whatever the setup, it seems like the key to any good pvr from my initial researching is having a hauppage tv card with remote. So another question for you all - What is the cheapest / best hauppage card IYO?

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  Reply # 72681 29-May-2007 14:18
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Depends on how you get your TV. If it's via Sky or TCL or OTA the PVR series are pretty good. If it's via Freeview then the Nova series which can just extract the MPEG2 signal from the satellite and write to your HD. I think the current flavour is the PVR150 cards?

If you're TCL cable there is another option which doesn't even require a capture card but a QAM card and smartcard reader but that's somewhat complex

Larry




System One: Popcorn Hour A200,  PS3 SuperSlim, NPVR and Plex Server running on Gigabyte Brix (Windows 10 Pro), Sony BDP-S390 BD player, Pioneer AVR, Raspberry Pi running Kodi and Plex, Panasonic 60" 3D plasma, Google Chromecast

System Two: Popcorn Hour A200 ,  Oppo BDP-80 BluRay Player with hardware mode to be region free, Vivitek HD1080P 1080P DLP projector with 100" screen. Harman Kardon HK AVR 254 7.1 receiver, Samsung 4K player, Google Chromecast

 


My Google+ page 

 

 

 

https://plus.google.com/+laurencechiu

 

 


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  Reply # 72782 30-May-2007 00:05
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My Microsoft XP MCE PC (and Vista MCE occaisionally on a dual-boot) consists of the following:

Zalman HD160 Case (has mce remote compatible ir receiver integrated)
Zalman CNPS9500 CPU Cooler
Zalman ZM460-APS Power Supply
AMD Athlon64 3200+ CPU
1GB TwinMos DDR-400 Ram
Asus A8N-VM CSM (onboard 6150 Nvidia GPU, onboard DVI, onboard SPDIF)
LG DVD Writer GSA-4167BBK (Dual Layer)
1 x Samsung SP2400C Hdd (200GB - was quietest large drive available at the time)
2 x Seagate ST3300622AS Hdds (300GB)
1 x Hauppauge WinTV PVR500MCE Tv Tuner card (dual analog tuner, MCE remote)
2 x Hauppauge Nova-S-Plus DVBS Tuner card
Nvidia PureVideo MPEG Decoder software (required for XP MCE, not for Vista MCE)

I probably spent lot more money than most on "quiet" components... I hate nosiy fans etc when watching movies.  I also bought the Zalman case as its the same size as my Onkyo amp and integrates nicely and is also not as deep as most ATX cases which is important as the unit it is in is only 50cm deep in total.

I use the DVI to connect to y 42" Plasma and optical SPDIF to feed an Onkyo THX amp.  I'm going to take the PVR500MCE out when I get a chance because i'm only using the DVBS cards now.  The PVR500 is good if you need 2 analog channels as it requires a single antenna and only consumes 1 PCI slot.

I don't play any games but this rig is nice and quiet, and pefect for DVD's, Freeview TV reception and plays all the "hdtv" files ok (350MB, 700MB and 1.2GB).  I've also tried some HD content - the WMV samples and a MariposaHD episode - and they too seem to play just fine.

Therefore..... your current PC is probably sufficient to run as a Media PC with only extra expenditure being the TV card (and perhaps a PVR app).  If you are going to keep it near the television though you are going to want it to be as quiet as possible.  For this reason I like the idea of a "Media Server" and "Media Extender".




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