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Thread: Home Theater PC

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    Default Home Theater PC

    Has anyone here built a home theater PC? I know a lot about PCs, my main question is..... For the money.... can u get more from a home theater PC than if u purchase individual components.
    i think what it comes down to is.... will the picture of a blueray drive on a pc with HDMI out and a soundcard with optical out sound and look as good as a blueray player on a HT receiver?
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    I would build one myself. I don't know if it would compete with a stand alone BR player, but Asus has HDMI in and out cards now at newegg. Spend some time reading the reviews. It is fairly new so drivers may be a pain.
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    This would be a very nice alternative to building one

    http://www.dell.com/content/products...ref=dthp&s=dhs
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    There are some extensive threads on HTPCs on AVSforum.

    I just built a quasi HTPC, essentially a DVD encoding machine, with some parts that will one day find themselves in a true HTPC. But if what you really want is blu-ray playback, I would just get a blu-ray player as the HTPC seems to differentiate itself once you move to video streaming, DVR type functions.

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    I can't stand factory built PC's and all the pre-installed software that comes with them.
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    ok; please help me understand....what exactly does a HTPC do?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ricardo View Post
    ok; please help me understand....what exactly does a HTPC do?
    This is a bit of a simplification, but take your CD player, DVD player, blu-ray player, dvr, cable box, CD library, DVD library and blu-ray library and shove it all into one box the size of an AVR. Some people will combine HTPC with a home server since storage can become an issue. In that case the HTPC takes the place of all the "players" and boxes the sever is the library. Some will even look to get rid of the DVR for the security system and run that to the HTPC/Media Sever and cue up a camera on the TV. You are a bit past the HTPC and are into the media server realm when you start using your i-phone to start your coffee in the morning or control the lights while you are on vacation.:)

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    that dell is a piece of crap.... look at the specs of the system... i could easily build my own for a much better price... and not only would it be a better HTPC... i could easily play a lot of the new games... if i wanted.
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    Quote Originally Posted by polktiger View Post
    This is a bit of a simplification, but take your CD player, DVD player, blu-ray player, dvr, cable box, CD library, DVD library and blu-ray library and shove it all into one box the size of an AVR. Some people will combine HTPC with a home server since storage can become an issue. In that case the HTPC takes the place of all the "players" and boxes the sever is the library. Some will even look to get rid of the DVR for the security system and run that to the HTPC/Media Sever and cue up a camera on the TV. You are a bit past the HTPC and are into the media server realm when you start using your i-phone to start your coffee in the morning or control the lights while you are on vacation.:)
    Thanks. Still don't see the benefit; I guess that makes me an old fart.
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    Okay. here's why i would want one....

    Blueray/hd DVD Drive... $70 dollars (yeah HD DVDs are dead... but if you have some or u can find them super cheap like i can.... its worth it)

    DVR - Ability to burn the things you watch very easily because u have a CD player built into your DVR.... ALSO, You have the ability to have a much larger Hard Drive... or DRIVES... you also have the ability to compress these recorded videos and organize them nicely... and it can do it for you very easily.

    Audio - You can get a Audio Card that does all the decoding you need... including THX for around 70 dollars...

    Browsing - Super easily you can browse the internet on your TV...

    Video Conference - Its very cool on a large TV.

    You can build a great HTPC for around 500 dollars... and think about how much u spend on just a blueray player.... HD player.... Receiver.... DVR.... DVD recorder...... and now think about the space u save and the extras u get from it.
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    I've been thinking about building one. The main reason is to end trasncoding. Right now my video and music libraries are on my desktop PC, Streamed via Xbox360 using either Media Center (Vista x64 Ultimate) or Firefly, Tversity, etc. Everything has to be transcoded, not to mention that the Xbox360 is loud. Not all of my archived DVDs play properly this way and some of my home vids/pics from my older cameras also don't play right.

    If I had my PC connected directly not only could I use it as a HD-DVR, but I could play anything stored on it without transcoding directly via HDMI to the TV.

    I think I will be pursuing this when I start to build out my dedicated media room/HT. I want some DVD selections, specifically kids titles, to be easily started by the sitter or even the kids themselves.

    Also when I want to keep some things I've recorded (local news, etc)onto the rented HD-DVR, I have to pump the video through a composite or S-Video cable to be recorded to standard DVD. Talk about a degradation in PQ.
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    Well, I just don't have any type of media in my PC, or burn DVD's; I guess that's why I don't see the benefit ;)
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    Granted I am not a game player and I am not a power PC user as I used to be. I think the DELL machine that Sherardp mentioned it very good for the price/space and capability. However the price jumps if you want Blue ray and I think you can add a better video card for more money of-course.

    How much money are you going to spend.

    I was able to find the same DELL for about $500 if you catch it in a good day.

    In the past when I used to have all the patients and I used to build my own PC I end up with something that cost 3 times as much and within a year it was as old as any other computer in the market.

    Well of-course this is just my opinion.
    If it was me, I get something even refurbish, and I probably would use as a DVD recorder/music server/pictures server/Internet browser/ and since it has wireless I would not have to worry about having more hubs or access points and so on. A full size computer to gain all the advantages of a power user would be to large for a home theater.
    As far as having a pre-install crap from the PC mfgs. I would just re-install the OS of my choice and just put the software I wanted. - problem solved.

    Well not all the problems.. I was not able to address the Blu-ray play - added cost to have the player.
    Game - it takes too much of a graphics card to get this going - also very expensive.

    good luck...
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    Quote Originally Posted by eloplayspolo View Post
    Okay. here's why i would want one....

    Blueray/hd DVD Drive... $70 dollars (yeah HD DVDs are dead... but if you have some or u can find them super cheap like i can.... its worth it)

    DVR - Ability to burn the things you watch very easily because u have a CD player built into your DVR.... ALSO, You have the ability to have a much larger Hard Drive... or DRIVES... you also have the ability to compress these recorded videos and organize them nicely... and it can do it for you very easily.

    Audio - You can get a Audio Card that does all the decoding you need... including THX for around 70 dollars...

    Browsing - Super easily you can browse the internet on your TV...

    Video Conference - Its very cool on a large TV.

    You can build a great HTPC for around 500 dollars... and think about how much u spend on just a blueray player.... HD player.... Receiver.... DVR.... DVD recorder...... and now think about the space u save and the extras u get from it.

    I think you are being modest for saying 500. The right processor and motherboard for the capabilities you want could easily run 250 or more(I am using quad core processor prices) and we havent started talking about hard drives and good video card, sound card, casing and power supply. For the computer you are trying to building, skimping on those will not give you what you want. I would look into alienware pc's. They may have what you want but they are pricey. They are good though. I think your budget is a bit low to accomplish what you want IMO. But if you need some help and ideas, feel free to ask. I build computers in my spare time, a hobby that I enjoy besides good audio.:D
    Last edited by rdb2001; 12-09-2008 at 09:09 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rdb2001 View Post
    I think you are being modest for saying 500. The right processor and motherboard for the capabilities you want could easily run 250 or more(I am using quad core processor prices) and we havent started talking about hard drives and good video card, sound card, casing and power supply. For the computer you are trying to building, skimping on those will not give you what you want. I would look into alienware pc's. They may have what you want but they are pricey. They are good though. I think your budget is a bit low to accomplish what you want IMO. But if you need some help and ideas, feel free to ask. I build computers in my spare time, a hobby that I enjoy besides good audio.:D
    the fact that u suggested getting an alienware makes me giggle.

    you may build them in your spare time.... but i built them for a living for 3 years.... and ive been building systems for 10.

    im not talking about playing the newest games on it.... and you can still get a card that handles ANY game out for 129 bucks on newegg.

    Processor and motherboard...... frys has combos for 129..... quad core with fast bus speeds and big l2 caches.

    for 500 u can build a MUCH MUCH Better system than the dell.

    as far as drives..... a 500gb 7200rpm drive now costs only 30 dollars. and ddr2.... 4 gigs for 39 dollars.
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    Quote Originally Posted by eloplayspolo View Post
    the fact that u suggested getting an alienware makes me giggle.

    you may build them in your spare time.... but i built them for a living for 3 years.... and ive been building systems for 10.

    im not talking about playing the newest games on it.... and you can still get a card that handles ANY game out for 129 bucks on newegg.

    Processor and motherboard...... frys has combos for 129..... quad core with fast bus speeds and big l2 caches.

    for 500 u can build a MUCH MUCH Better system than the dell.

    as far as drives..... a 500gb 7200rpm drive now costs only 30 dollars. and ddr2.... 4 gigs for 39 dollars.

    I understand that. I would like that link to the frys combo because I am looking at building just a media center pc and I have not seen a combo that price. Not for quad core As for as hard drives, do you think 500 gigs is enough and your prices on that is way less than I have seen it for. Is that a sata drive? With you wanting to store everything on there wouldnt you probably need in the terabytes. Just asking. I never said it wasnt possible to build under 500 but at those prices you seem to find it seems much easier.

    BTW I would never own an alienware too pricey for me, but I have a friend who does, and its a beast. I dunno what your experience with them are but his is nice but it did cost a lot of coin.
    Last edited by rdb2001; 12-09-2008 at 12:09 PM.

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    the frys combos are in the adds all the time... but they are atx form factor....
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    Quote Originally Posted by eloplayspolo View Post
    the frys combos are in the adds all the time... but they are atx form factor....
    I dont have a frys locally and cant find that deal anywhere on the site. I dunno where you get your components but they are out of this world cheaper than any internet site I have been to.

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    The home theater PC sounds like a great idea - we use similar setups all the time in museums as there is a lot of integration between computer interactives and AV systems.........It is the most powerful solution to eliminate components.........

    I am starting to turn my PC into an HT for my 2 channel setup in my office.....
    How does the DAC in a PC's soundcard compare to a receiver or CD player DAC?

    Do you think there will ever be a VHS drive for the PC?
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    Quote Originally Posted by clarknova_666 View Post
    ...
    How does the DAC in a PC's soundcard compare to a receiver or CD player DAC?

    ...
    Every sound card is different, there are the basic sound cards and there are higher end sound cards with the ability to decode the latest audio codecs.
    Same with the DAC subsystems in Receivers, low end, mid-fi and hifi CDPs, as well as stand alone external DACs.
    I think the comparisons are likely to overlap at points.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eloplayspolo View Post
    Audio - You can get a Audio Card that does all the decoding you need... including THX for around 70 dollars...
    FYI, THX isn't something to be decoded. In fact, it's basically nothing at all. It's a certification, and even that definition is dubious.
    If you will it, dude, it is no dream.

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    Quote Originally Posted by clarknova_666 View Post

    I am starting to turn my PC into an HT for my 2 channel setup in my office.....
    How does the DAC in a PC's soundcard compare to a receiver or CD player DAC?
    Obviously, at lot depends on the receiver, cd player and sound card. For 2 channel sound cards you may look at M-Audio. They have solid DACs and regular analog RCAs. If you are looking at surround - I would probably use the DAC in the AVR or Pre-pro. I just don't trust the 1/8" mini jacks on most multichannel sound cards and would prefer to connect using digital coax, optical, or HDMI. (Something about using the same jack I use for a cheap pair of head phones to transmit analog 7.1 signals just doesn't seem right to me.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobman1235 View Post
    FYI, THX isn't something to be decoded. In fact, it's basically nothing at all. It's a certification, and even that definition is dubious.
    Well actually it is something to be decoded, although just mentioning plain THX can lead to confusion. Its called Neural-THX Surround.
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    Ah, my mistake, I had never heard of that. So many people used to get confused with the THX certification thing....
    If you will it, dude, it is no dream.

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    I only know about it since its one of the surround options supported on my Onk 805. I believe XM Radio (not sure about Sirius) provides Neural THX content.
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    Quote Originally Posted by rdb2001 View Post
    I dont have a frys locally and cant find that deal anywhere on the site. I dunno where you get your components but they are out of this world cheaper than any internet site I have been to.
    im sorry you don't know how to shop as well as i do.... i guess... or i must be making up something that i didnt buy to benefit me in some way.
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    Quote Originally Posted by eloplayspolo View Post
    im sorry you don't know how to shop as well as i do.... i guess... or i must be making up something that i didnt buy to benefit me in some way.
    I think you took what I said wrong. All I am saying is share where you get those deals. I havent seen any on all of the major pc internet sites at the prices you listed. Not trying to slight you in any way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rdb2001 View Post
    I think you took what I said wrong. All I am saying is share where you get those deals. I havent seen any on all of the major pc internet sites at the prices you listed. Not trying to slight you in any way.
    my mistake then.

    Good site to buy Cases... cooling... and a lot of geeky PC stuff - www.xoxide.com

    As far as frys... about every 3 weeks u will see a core 2 duo, quad core and phenom mobo processor combo deal that will destroy newegg prices... and i dont think they are online... maybe in-store only.
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    Default How to build a High Definition HTPC

    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=940972

    Jump to page 85 for the updated parts list. Happy reading.

    I'm currently using Vista Ultimate along with Open Media Library on an old front end box that I threw together with spare parts for a front end and Windows Home server backend.

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    very nice link
    2013 Toyota Prius
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