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Mac guy looking for HTPC advice

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Robert Silge, Jan 27, 2008.

  1. Robert Silge

    Robert Silge Active Member

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    I have been a Mac user since college. I am also quite a geek, so I am not totally ignorant of the developments in the PC world. I am ignorant enough however that I need some help here.

    We'll be moving in about 6 months which will necessitate the replacement of our whole HT setup (no basements where we're going). I'm thinking strongly about using a HTPC this go around, as I don't want to pay for a DVR service and like the upgradability. It's too early to buy yet, but I was somewhat tempted by Office Depot's firesale on the HP Pavilion Slimline s3321p.

    What do I need to be looking for? I will be using this to play DVDs, whichever format wins out in HD discs (looking like Blu-Ray), as a DVR, and to serve up our iTunes music and videos. I also have an Xbox 360, but I'm thinking we'll only have one TV so the ability to use it as a media extender is kind of a non-issue. It doesn't have to look like a rack component as I usually hide equipment in cabinets, but I would like it to be quiet. Thanks a lot.
     
  2. Bob_L

    Bob_L Well-Known Member

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    The immediate issue for me with the HP is that, unless they just fail to mention it in the product description, it has only the onboard graphics and no slot for an add-on videocard, which you would need if you're going to have HDCP-compatible video output (necessary for Blu-ray or HD DVD output).
     
  3. Kean-Hock Yeap

    Kean-Hock Yeap Well-Known Member

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  4. bpickell

    bpickell Well-Known Member

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    Since you are a Mac guy I would strongly advise against going back to PC. There is a neat linux media center out there, that blows away anthing Microsoft will ever think of putting out. However it currently does not support HD/Blu-Ray, but I hear that is in the works and should be fixed by summer. They have a commercial version on fiire's web site.. Sorry can't post links yet. also they have full length demo videos of it in action on their website you have to click on downloads and then click on google video, and then their demo video will load.. Well worth the 25 minutes of the video.

    Edit: that is not a typo there really is 2 "i's" in the word fiire.
     
  5. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    It may sound crazy and I know that a lot of people think that Gateway is junk but they have a new model (GM 5664) that has an AMD Phenom Quadcore CPU with 3072MB 667MHz dual-channel DDR2 SDRAM, 1Terrabye of 7200RPM SATA HD space (acutally 2 500G), Blu-ray/HD DVD combo,with DVDR and it is only $1099. The motherboard is an MSI. Video is an ATI 2400XT. The tuner, video and audio cards are removeable so they can be updated. It also has Windows Vista Home Premium. I know that Vista basically sucks but the Media Center that comes with it is cool.

    You can read about it here.

    I just picked up two of them so I will let you know how they work out.

    Parker
     
  6. Robert Silge

    Robert Silge Active Member

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    Another question:

    Do the video cards in these HTPC's accept HD input from anything other than OTA? Can I plug digital cable into them? I highly doubt that they can deal with a satellite feed, is digital cable in the same boat (no place to put the card)? If they can't deal with the signal directly is there any way to have the computer control the output of a cable box or sat receiver and then record that?
     
  7. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    Robert:

    The computer comes with an IR controller for your set top box. The IR transmitter is place directly over the eye of the set top box to control the channel changes. I am not sure but I would think that you take the output from the satellite box and run it through the digital inputs on the card.
     

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