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Alternative to a SKy+ box...?

Discussion in 'Small Form Factor and Single Board Computers' started by conuk, 4 Jan 2006.

  1. conuk

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 5 Jan 2005

    Posts: 1,443

    Location: Engerland :)

    hmmmm The old man is not the best when it comes to computers... he hates using the video recorder.... the DVD recorders Ive used seemed a little picky with the DVDs you threw at them.... and they would like Sky+...... he also would like to surf the net.... fire off a few emails etc

    Is it possible to make a `tiny` box that would :
    * Record onto hard drive from Sky box / and / or another channel ?
    * Surf the net ... fire off a few emails....
    BUT connect to their old 32" toshiba TV - no LCD/plasma yet... maybe soon though.

    If so - what kind of kit would you recommend?
    Nothing fancy gaming wise would be needed... and cheap as possible really... just a little project I`d like to do for them.
    Any thoughts?
    TIA
     
    Last edited: 4 Jan 2006
  2. Rednut05

    Banned

    Joined: 1 Aug 2005

    Posts: 909

    media centre pc? shuttle size? ment just for that very purpose are they not?
     
  3. conuk

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 5 Jan 2005

    Posts: 1,443

    Location: Engerland :)

    apologies - I meant are they able to connect to the Sky box and record or is it encrypted..... and what is the picture like on the TV - useable or make ya blind ?

    and what would be minimum (ie cheap) to do it... obviously they aint gonna need AMD 64`s.. gig ram etc.

    TIA
     
  4. ajgoodfellow

    Capodecina

    Joined: 24 Dec 2004

    Posts: 11,330

    Location: Shirley, Solihull, UK

    Sky+ costs £199 without subscription so you'd need to build a Media Centre PC really for this amount or less

    AFAIK the signal from the Sky box isn't encrypted (if you use the standard coax) as it's displayed on your TV (not sure on this)

    It'll be tough building a Media Centre PC for this and it won't be as elegant as the Sky+ option

    This is an idea of a spec, £100 more than the Sky+ box though and no XP Media Centre included. You can try free alternatives from Linux

    CP-139-AM AMD Sempron 64 2600+ 1.6GHz (Socket 754) CPU - Retail (CP-139-AM)
    £39.95 £39.95
    MB-124-AS Asus K8V-MX VIA K8M800 Micro ATX (Socket 754) Motherboard (MB-124-AS)
    £34.95 £34.95
    MY-003-OK OcUK Value 256MB PC3200 184pin DDR Memory (MY-003-OK)
    £12.50 £12.50
    GX-015-HT HIS Excalibur ATI Radeon 7000 32MB DDR TV-Out (AGP) - Retail (R7000-TW32D) (GX-015-HT)
    £14.95 £14.95
    HD-023-WD Western Digital Caviar Special Edition 80GB 800JD SATA 8MB Cache - OEM (HD-023-WD)
    £33.75 £33.75
    CD-024-NE NEC ND4550 16x16 DVD±RW Dual Layer ReWriter (Black) - OEM (CD-024-NE)
    £26.50 £26.50
    CA-021-AN Antec Aria Micro ATX Cube Case - 300W PSU (CA-021-AN)
    £59.30 £59.30
    VE-001-LT Leadtek Winfast TV2000 XP Expert (Inc. Remote Control) TV Card - Retail (VE-001-LT)
    £27.95 £27.95
    Subtotal £249.85
    VAT £43.73
    Total £293.58
     
  5. Energize

    Caporegime

    Joined: 12 Mar 2004

    Posts: 28,608

    Location: London

    What size case are you looking at? Slimline like a dvd player, a cuboid shuttle case, or a standard pc case with a cutdown height or one thats designed to look good while lying flat? Any cases that are less than 13cm in height need low profile components, which is something to bear in mind, though there is no problem in getting tv tuners that size, and you will only be needing onboard graphics for dvd resolution anyway.

    As for how it looks on the tv screen, video will look fine on a standard crt tv, but text is a no go, easily readable on lcd screens but looks fuzzy on normal tvs, because a standard tv has a low res, you dont want to be increasing the font size either because then you will be scrolling a lot. 10cm high micro atx slimline(ish) cases are about £30, shuttles are about £100 (socket A) which includes the power supply and motherboard and the standing micro atx cases are £20 upwards. Its also possible to get 5cm high ones, but I wouldn't reccomend that to someone who hasnt had experience building small pcs.

    You may need to spend a fair bit of money £50-60) on quiet cooling and a silent power supply if the noise would bother them, generic crap is usually about 30db, with better stuff being about 20db. Your pc would probably need about a 2.0ghz cpu with 512mb ram, hard drive size depends on how much you want to be able to fit on it (you halve the hdd size to work out how many hours you can fit on it), 80gb will probably be more than sufficent. A decent digital tv tuner will cost about £40 (id reccomend the compro dvb-t 200), and if you want a small case youll need a micro atx motherboard.

    And then theres extra things such as dvd-rws if you want one. You'll need to buy some cables and possibly adaptors to connect it to your pc to your tv. Also youll need a copy of windows media centre edition to be able to use it simply and have a proper home entertainment system look. This costs about £80 on the internet, though of course you may have your other "sources".

    AMD Sempron 64 2600+ 1.6GHz (Socket 754) CPU - Retail
    £39.95
    Abit KV-85 VIA K8M800 Micro ATX (Socket 754) Motherboard
    £39.95
    OcUK Value 512MB PC3200 184pin DDR Memory
    £21.95
    Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 10 NCQ 80GB 6L080M0 SATA 8MB Cache
    £33.95
    Sony DDU1613 DVD-ROM (Silver) - OEM
    £12.50
    Tagan TG330-U01 330W ATX Silent PSU
    £27.95
    Zalman CNPS7000B-ALCU Ultra-Quiet CPU Cooler - Retail
    £15.95
    Compro VideoMate DVB-T200 Digital TV Internal PCI - Retail
    £34.95

    Subtotal £227.15
    VAT £39.76
    Total £266.91

    Your looking at around that price plus, your choice of case (unless it's barebones which will come with the mobo and power supply), and about £10-15 for cabling, depending on what connections your tv has and if you need any adaptors.

    With sky plus you could record of 2 channels at once, but it costs £120 a year for it, and it isnt as featured as a pc is.


    Edit - Is it just me or have multiple posts in this thread dissapeared, ive got subscription emails with replies in but none of them are here? Probably a forum error or something.
     
    Last edited: 6 Jan 2006
  6. ajgoodfellow

    Capodecina

    Joined: 24 Dec 2004

    Posts: 11,330

    Location: Shirley, Solihull, UK

    Yeah, there was a forum crash last night and they lost about 1 and a half days of posts
     
  7. Bug One

    Capodecina

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 10,405

    Location: Sandwich, Kent

    To be honest, nothing you build will rival the simplicity and usefulness of sky+, especially for someone who's not a regular computer user.
     
  8. Energize

    Caporegime

    Joined: 12 Mar 2004

    Posts: 28,608

    Location: London

    Windows media center edition is as simple to use as sky, and does a whole lot more.
     
  9. WJA96

    Capodecina

    Joined: 13 Jul 2005

    Posts: 15,547

    Location: Norfolk, South Scotland

    Yes - but if you read the original post, it says the end user is a 'father' who is not at his best with video recorders - can you honestly see him mastering Win2k5MCE?

    As opposed to Sky+ where you just press and go.
     
  10. Energize

    Caporegime

    Joined: 12 Mar 2004

    Posts: 28,608

    Location: London

    With mce you just press and go, thats why you use a remote control.
     
  11. 1ofaKind

    Hitman

    Joined: 10 Apr 2004

    Posts: 843

    Hey my mum hated VCR's and the such but now we had Sky+ she is a demon. Whizzing around the menus etc.

    If Media Centre Edition is anywhere near as user friendly then I'd have no worries about someone using it.
     
  12. ElectroBlaster

    Soldato

    Joined: 19 Oct 2002

    Posts: 5,153

    Location: The land of Cows n Grass!

    I decided to use my SN45Gv2 as a media centre pc some 24months ago and so far up till now its been nearly pefect at doing the job :)
    We recently got Sky installed (about 3months ago) and I almost immediately hooked the sky box up using the scart out for a near perfect picture as possible for sky's lowsey digital signal.

    The htpc specs are:

    Shuttle SN45Gv2
    Barton 2800 @ stock
    2 x 256 Hynix 3200 ddr
    120gb drive
    Liteon combo writer
    Shuttle Card reader
    Powercolor 9600 AIW - Hooked up to RGB Scart on tv! (@ 100hz scan)
    Audigy 1
    Cordless keyboard + mouse
    XP pro slipstream sp2
    Meedio essentials
    Womble VCR editor (for mpeg editing of recorded video)

    This isnt perfect tho, I cant stop adverts from being recorded, we have no way of programming a tv schedule so I gotta be in to record stuff :(
    Dam this country lol, In the states you can hook the ati software up to an electronic program guide which is free! AFAIK there isnt anything like that over here unless im wrong?