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Benefits of a Home Theatre PC (HTPC)?

Discussion in 'Home Cinema & Hi-Fi' started by Roll, 18 May 2006.

  1. Roll

    Mobster

    Joined: 20 Apr 2004

    Posts: 2,721

    Hello,

    I've been thinking for a while about building a Home Theatre PC but am not sure whether it would be worth it as I've already got freeview, cable TV and a DVD/hard drive recorder.

    Can anyone explain what the benefits of building a HTPC would be. Although I'd quite like to get one it's looking difficult for me to justify spending the money at the moment.

    Thanks for replies :)
     
  2. pinkaardvark

    Soldato

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 6,705

    Location: Cambs

    I have sky + so my HTPC is neither a TV player, tuner or recorder.

    I use mine for

    Upscaling DVD's with FFDshow to get a much better picture on my HDTV.
    Web access to stuff in the living room.
    Storage and playback for my entire music collection.

    And of course you can play games on it although I tend to use my 360 for that.

    Using stuff like google earth on a big 40" high def TV is great fun when the mates are round.

    If you don't think you'll do any of that then a waste of time and money I guess.

    But don't forget a HTPC doesn't have to be a small expensive cube, you can use any old case if you desire. Mine is Just a black coolermaster praetorian case which goes well next to my piano black glass alphason AV stand and black TV.
     
  3. Matt

    Soldato

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 5,661

    Location: Ledbury

    I use mine for:
    - TV (it has 2x Freeview tuners)
    - Recording TV (i very rarely watch anything but recorded TV now)
    - divx/xvid player (i use this all the time)
    - Music (my entire music collection is stored here in a lossless format)
    - Photos
    - Downloading (it's on 24/7, so is used for downloading)

    It is great, i've had it for ~1.5yrs now, and it really is fantastic :) It runs MCE and so looks very cool, and is really easy to use (so anyone can just pick up the remote and use it).
     
  4. Lanz

    Soldato

    Joined: 26 Nov 2002

    Posts: 6,855

    Location: Romford

    Personally if you have all that stuff already, i wouldnt bother spending money on a whole new system, i think alot of people make HTPCs from their old kit.
     
  5. Roll

    Mobster

    Joined: 20 Apr 2004

    Posts: 2,721

    Thanks for the replies Guys.

    Looks like I'll give it a miss for the time being. The kit I've already got should be fine for my needs at present. Maybe when the next upgrade time comes around I'll think about building a HTPC from some of my old stuff :)
     
  6. Snow-Munki

    Capodecina

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 10,047

    Location: At home

    quick question if you don't mind. So when/if i get a new tv that is HDTV.

    I just need to get FFDshow installed on my HTPC and it will then automatically upscale all my DVd's ? Or is that more to that ?
     
  7. Lanz

    Soldato

    Joined: 26 Nov 2002

    Posts: 6,855

    Location: Romford

    I dont think u really need FFDshow now if you have a newer card, like NV 6xxx or 7xxx, ATI X1xxx etc, as Purevideo and AVIVO does it now anyway.
     
  8. Goatboy

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 22 Oct 2003

    Posts: 4,023

    Location: a crappy part of London

    You could use a Voodoo 2 and get an upscaled image.

    Every graphics card upscales DVD to match the resolution of the monitor. ffdshow takes the scaling away from the card and does it instead providing better quality.
     
  9. Tinders

    Soldato

    Joined: 1 Jul 2003

    Posts: 5,267

    Location: There's a voice that keeps on calling me.

    While we are on the topic of HTPC`s, will MCE play vob files and can it handle iso`s by anychance? or do i need to get something like mytheatre?
     
  10. Baddass

    Don

    Joined: 12 Jan 2003

    Posts: 20,036

    Location: UK

    rather than start a new thread, i thought i'd ask a few questions in here. I've recently bought a new HD LCD TV and wanted to set up a HTPC since I watch a lot of DVD's and divx. My current divx ready DVD player won't upscale so thought a HTPC would be a good choice.

    - How is it best to hook the HTPC up to the LCD TV? DVI > HDMI connection perhaps?
    - How much are DVI > HDMI type cables (or however you might connect the two together)?
    - Do i NEED a new graphics card to support upscaling and/or HD content? Could i get away with a budget, but still half decent, card? Does it need anything specific or just the capability of supporting 1920 res over DVI?
    - I was told you might need WMP10, would that just be a substitue to ffdshow i assume?
    - Does it allow upscaling of all DVD's and divx shows then?


    thats it (for now) :)

    cheers
     
  11. chaparral

    Capodecina

    Joined: 27 Nov 2005

    Posts: 21,750

    Please can anyone answer this question for me...

    How important is it that i need to buy a HD LCD/plasma tv that supports 1.1 pixel mapping for a HTPC...??



    As very few HD LCD tvs support this 1.1 pixel mapping and i had my heart set on buying a pioneer 436xde plasma which don't support this..
     
  12. Snow-Munki

    Capodecina

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 10,047

    Location: At home

    been reading up about this a bit,

    can get the cable from ebay pretty cheaply, DVI - HDMI obviously won't carry the sound, i'm going to use the spdif output for that to my amp.

    I'm going to buy ( tomorrow :D ) the MSI K8NGM2-FID only about £55, and has onboard gfx sound and gb lan. Oh and microATX so fits nicely in smallish cases.
     
  13. Snow-Munki

    Capodecina

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 10,047

    Location: At home

    assume it is quite important otherwise text wouldn't look quite right, everything slightly stretched i believe.
     
  14. Baddass

    Don

    Joined: 12 Jan 2003

    Posts: 20,036

    Location: UK

    sounds good. So a DVI > HDMI cable would be the best option then guys? what determines whether a DVD / divx is upscaled then?

    - graphics card need anything specific on it or just 1920 res support over DVI?
    - specific software needed to upscale...WMP10 or fddshow does the trick
    - and then obvioulsy a powerful enough HTPC :)
     
  15. MrM3

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 27 Apr 2003

    Posts: 1,098

    Location: Lost

    - yes DVI-HDMI I got one for about £12 from tvcables.com
    -yes as long as the gfx card can handle the res
    -you PC will automatically upscale when you set the resolution to match the screen software though like ffdshow, powerdvd, theatretek can improve the results.... ffdshow is complicated but can give great results read the classic tutorial here: http://www.htpcnews.com/main.php?id=ffdshowdvd_1
    -yes if you are scaling with ffdshow to 1920 you will need a decent cpu
     
  16. MrM3

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 27 Apr 2003

    Posts: 1,098

    Location: Lost

    It is important to avoid stretching and LCD using its scaler rather that just displaying you PC output.
    My screen is 1366 x 768. I select 1360x768 as the nearest option. So I get three black pixels on either side which I do not notice. But means the screen is not scaling. I have a samsung le40m61 by the way via VGA.

    Do a search in avforums for more indepth discussion in the LCD threads about this.
     
  17. MrM3

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 27 Apr 2003

    Posts: 1,098

    Location: Lost

    yes to vobs... though I do it through the My Movies plugin

    thegreenbutton.com forums is good resource for MCE...
     
  18. Snow-Munki

    Capodecina

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 10,047

    Location: At home

    have you tried using powerstrip and setting a custom res of 1366 * 768 so you don't loose the 6 pixels ?

    Oh, just found this site, could give this a go.

    http://www.eirikso.com/2006/04/06/perfect-adjustment-of-your-lcd/
     
    Last edited: 22 May 2006
  19. MrM3

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 27 Apr 2003

    Posts: 1,098

    Location: Lost

    Thanks for this. I have used powerstrip (and reclock) before but not on this setup and worth a try but...

    The MCE machine is such a basic install I was going to leave it as it worked so well. I normally fiddle with til I break it and the wife is happy so thought I would leave that one. :)

    The MCE machine on the projector gets all the abuse.

    Problem is there is too many things to try.

    Wish i had all my ffdshow time back... it is great but I have spent ages seeing what I could squeeze out the picture.