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22 posts

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# 41235 11-Sep-2009 18:44
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We want to get Freeview and our only option is satellite (DVB-S), we also want to be able to record programs.  A nice to have but not a must have is to be able to browse the internet, view photos and listen to music on an external hard disk that we have.  We were thinking that building a HTPC would cater for all our requirements.  My partner wants to ensure that the picture quality is not compromised.  If we build a HTPC using the Hauppauge HVR-3000 card to view TV (this will be on the main TV in the house) will there be any compromise in the picture quality?  If not, what is the best connection to use between the TV and PC to ensure the best picture quality? Are we better to go for a PVR to ensure a quality picture?  We do have a laptop which we connect to the TV that  caters for the nice to haves.



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  # 255075 11-Sep-2009 19:21
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Hi there

My preference would be towards the HTPC if nothing else because of the scope it has for upgrading to new codecs, formats and play ANY type of media. One can be built or bought fairy cheaply too depending on your level of skill. For example you can build a full sized HTPC or some of the all in one atom-ion 'net-tops' are able to easily cope with H.264 used in Freeview HD or bluray. There is no comprimise in picture quality, in fact there is more ability to tune it to exactly to your needs.

There are various views on the best software but I think most here would agree the media centre built into windows 7 is by far the easiest to get running and keep running. I've always controlled my tv/stereo etc with a logitech harmony and it is the same now that the HTPC has made the DVD player and Freeview box obselete. My partner finds the HTPC setup just as easy to use.

There are heaps of people in this forum with a lot of knowledge on the hardware required - it is reasonably specific (particularly video cards) for bluray/freeview HD but pretty much all recent hardware will support it.

The best connection to your TV is HDMI or DVI - both the same but DVI without the sound signal. This is currently the best signal available - PC, PVR, Bluray or anything. Even low tier graphics hardware supports this as standard now.

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  # 255442 13-Sep-2009 19:56
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Just remember Hauppauge HVR-3000 will only allow you to record one channel i.e if you are watching a DVB-S Channel, you can't watch or record any other channel. The Hauppauge HVR-3000 has three tuner 1 x DVB-S, 1 x DVB-T (HD Digital avail via conventional HF aerial), 1 x DVB -A (Analog) and you can only access one at a time.

If you live in a main centre it's definately worth trying DVB-T Tuner like HVR-2200 that allows you to record one channel and watch another. Maybe you already know this, or have an alternative but it's definately worth considering.

Good luck with HTPC, lots of fun, but it can also be frustrating sometimes.

 
 
 
 


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Master Geek


  # 255443 13-Sep-2009 20:04
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Get a PVR of some sort... setting up an HTPC sux as a hobby. Although I will admit that Windows 7 Media Center is good.

Honestly the amount of tears I've spent on this drives me up the wall... been going over a year now and mostly hate it.



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  # 255532 14-Sep-2009 10:02
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duckquack: Just remember Hauppauge HVR-3000 will only allow you to record one channel i.e if you are watching a DVB-S Channel, you can't watch or record any other channel. The Hauppauge HVR-3000 has three tuner 1 x DVB-S, 1 x DVB-T (HD Digital avail via conventional HF aerial), 1 x DVB -A (Analog) and you can only access one at a time.

If you live in a main centre it's definately worth trying DVB-T Tuner like HVR-2200 that allows you to record one channel and watch another. Maybe you already know this, or have an alternative but it's definately worth considering.

Good luck with HTPC, lots of fun, but it can also be frustrating sometimes.


I was not aware that you could not watch one channel and record anothr with the HVR-3000.  We can only get DVB-S so the HVR-2200 is out.  Is there any cards that can watch and record DVB-S channels?




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  # 255533 14-Sep-2009 10:07
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mattyboy2: Get a PVR of some sort... setting up an HTPC sux as a hobby. Although I will admit that Windows 7 Media Center is good.

Honestly the amount of tears I've spent on this drives me up the wall... been going over a year now and mostly hate it.


Can I ask how much knowledge computer knowledge you had before you started building your HTPC?   What problems have driven you up the wall? 

What are other people's experiences on building their HTPC and how happy are you with the end result?

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  # 255543 14-Sep-2009 10:54
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Man I've homebuilt a few PCs over the last ten years and I work in IT so I'm pretty competent.

Issues - the usual video card hardware issues, getting hardware acceleration to work, but mostly just being pissed off with MediaPortal. I could use it fine but as soon as a flatmate would try they'd hit some button on the remote that they shouldn't have and it would lock up or do something unexpected.

And MediaPortal is way slower than 7mc especially for changing channels and scrolling through the guide.

-Matt

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  # 255544 14-Sep-2009 10:56
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chocaholic:
mattyboy2: Get a PVR of some sort... setting up an HTPC sux as a hobby. Although I will admit that Windows 7 Media Center is good.

Honestly the amount of tears I've spent on this drives me up the wall... been going over a year now and mostly hate it.


Can I ask how much knowledge computer knowledge you had before you started building your HTPC?   What problems have driven you up the wall? 

What are other people's experiences on building their HTPC and how happy are you with the end result?


It's a more a learning curve. Once you understand some basics it's now a very straight forward process, especially if you use Windows 7 which now directly supports DVB-T and DVB-S in NZ.

I rebuilt my entire GB-PVR based system from scratch with new HDD's a few weeks ago. Installing Vista and running the updates was the most time consuming. Once this was done installing GB-PVR and associated codecs, and configuring this exactly how I want it took under 60 minutes.

My system is rock solid and does everything I want.

 
 
 
 




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  # 255548 14-Sep-2009 11:11
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Thanks Matt I do plan to use Windows 7 MC if I go ahead and build a HTPC.


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Master Geek


  # 255804 15-Sep-2009 09:02
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Chocaholic

I had a Sony HDrecorder for a number of years as a PVR for SD TV. Worked great and was rock solid.

I've been using MediaPortal with Freeview HD for nearly 12 months now and have recently handed on the Sony to a friend to move them out of the VCR generation! :-)

The comments about HTPCs being more fickle is absolutely true. If you go down that path... do your homework first and then once it is working ... don't fiddle with it! I have to say that a lot of the issues with getting hardware acceleration to work etc are related to H.264 and Freeview HD so these won't be an issue for you. If you can find a dual DVB-S tuner then this is a feature that is well worth having. I went with Mediaportal at the time because the Media Centre that came with the Vista Ultimate I bought didn't support H.264 and so had to go with third party software. Again... not an issue for you!

Benefits for me of the HTPC over the Sony ...
1/ Smart recording via EPG instead of date/Time recording. Most of the programs I watch regularly are set to record whenever they appear so they just record every time...even if I forget about them. Also.. much easier to browse through the EPG for the next few days and hit 'Record' on the movies you want than muck about setting dates/times.
2/ Dual tuner options allow multiple recording or recording/watching at the same time. It is amazing how often this gets used. There is nothing on for days that you want to watch and then two things at the same time.
3/ Easy options to watch DIVX / Itunes movies/ whatever.. without mucking about with second device.
4/ Less devices - My HTPC is my FreeviewHD tuner, my PVR, my Bluray player, my DVD player, my youtube browser, my ITunes movie watcher, my Divx archive viewer etc... all in one box.

Disadvantages of HTPC over Sony
1/ Less stable and harder to get going - often caused my me tweaking things! :-)
2/ Needs an Internet connection to download EPG
3/ Remotes that come with tuner cards are generally poor and had to replace it with a Phillips RF one to make it work properly.
4/ Can annoy the wife when it doesn't do exactly what was expected!

Summary: PVR will be more stable but less flexible. You won't necessarily miss some of the features of the HTPC unless you go down that path... and then it is hard to go back! :-)

Good Luck

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  # 255812 15-Sep-2009 09:42
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dklong: Summary: PVR will be more stable but less flexible. You won't necessarily miss some of the features of the HTPC unless you go down that path... and then it is hard to go back! :-)

+1 on that entire post.

Do you want to go down the HTPC rabbit hole? It will change your life...










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Geek


  # 255816 15-Sep-2009 09:55
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dklong: Chocaholic

 Dual tuner options allow multiple recording or recording/watching at the same time. It is amazing how often this gets used. There is nothing on for days that you want to watch and then two things at the same time.



It sounds like your dual tuner card does everything that I want ...what are you using in your pc?

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Master Geek


  # 255855 15-Sep-2009 13:37
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Chocaholic

I am using the NovaT-500 but that is for Freeview HD over UHF only. No help for you I'm afraid. I'm not sure about the options in the DVB-S cards unfortunately. I'm sure someone else on here will have tried it though.

Cheers

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Master Geek


  # 255882 15-Sep-2009 15:16
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tonyhughes:
Do you want to go down the HTPC rabbit hole? It will change your life...
Want a TiVo in New Zealand? Register your interest with the official site by visiting my blog for more details.


I agree that getting a PVR of some sort might change your life, but I still say just get an off the shelf solution like a TiVo or mysky or one of the FreeviewHD boxes with a hard drive built in... you'll pay the same and have a box that works, is silent, uses less power, etc.

Disclaimer: I haven't used any off the shelf PVRs, I'm just sick of constantly working on my HTPC as I already said.

-Matt

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  # 255884 15-Sep-2009 15:19
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I've built a HTPC myself.. with a Haupage 2200 DVB-T card... Waiting on Windows 7 to be released for Sale... and for new release of GBPVR to come out (whenever that might be)... The GBPVR new version is probably still in Beta?

I've gone with a HTPC so I'm not restricted to just watching TV... can watch Bluray... or surf the net, chat on Skype or whatever.. all on the 52 inch Samsung.

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  # 255887 15-Sep-2009 15:34
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I went the HTPC way (well a WHS box running the TV Server side of MediaPortal) with two DVB-S tuners so that I can watch TV anywhere in the house I want to.
We can't get Freeview|HD in Whangarei/Northland so never experienced any of the problems most others here have.
Having a central TV Server means that I can be watching TV on my laptop somewhere while the wife is watching something else on the main TV while something else is recording. If someone was staying with us they too could be watching something else again as MediaPortal allows recording/watching of multiple channels on the same mux, so with the two tuners all Freeview DVB-S channels could be recorded/watched at the same time.

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