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Big Dreams, Little Know-how


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#1 of 4 trump29

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Posted April 05 2007 - 08:02 AM

Hi all, I've got this great home theater built up in my head, but since I really have no experience with putting this kind of thing together I'm guessing that there is a lot that I don't know that I probably should. So let me tell you the nitty-gritty of what I'm thinking and let you tell me what I need to know. I'll tell you my entire envisioned setup, so some things might not be relevant in this forum, but there might be something in there that you can help me with anyway.

So here we go...

The basic idea is to do everything from my computer. I want to use my computer to watch TV, play video games, surf the Internet, whatever... as well as be able to project from it.

I currently own a 17" flat panel LCD from Dell, and am now interested in purchasing a Dell 2407WFP to set up with the other one as dual monitors so that I can work from one while watching TV on another.

I have a card for hooking the TV up to my computer, but I forget what the actual product is.... it's an ATI... Probably ATI TV Wonder.

I also already have an Ergotron dual-monitor desk mount so that I can arrange my monitors any way I please. I envision swinging my monitor around if I want to watch TV from the couch.

I do need a new computer though, so I'm looking at building one using something like this. I really don't know what kind of computing power I'd need to do all of what I want though, so maybe you could give me a bit of advice on which plan looks good for me, and if you'd change anything on them.

So after I have the computer/monitor thing figured out, I'll need the projector itself. After looking at recommendations from here I found this guy. I didn't look very far though, since choosing a projector seems to be a pretty intimidating task. That projector was also on sale for $250 off the sticker price when I picked it out, though now it isn't. What do you think of that projector? Checking it out on pricegrabber I can get it for $900 shipped.... can I do better for that price?

After the projector I started considering the projection screen. I have a fireplace that my furniture will be located around, so I would really like a projection screen that I can set up right there in front of it, and easily get out of the way too.......... I have to admit total ignorance on screens, so if you have any recommendations, I'd love to hear them. I'm thinking something 90-100" would probably work with the room I have to project based on this though.

Then I realized I'd need a nifty sound system. This is another area where I haven't educated myself very well yet. After reading a bit here I was thinking that I'd go with the 5 speaker thing for surround sound, but I'm totally clueless on how that could be set up with a PC, the costs and requirements.

So what do you think? Do you think this would work out? Do you have any suggestions? Is there something missing in my system that I'm going to have to get? Also, how would you recommend I purchase?... I'm mostly listing Dell products and am thinking I'll bring them this list and say I want a discount since I'm buying so much. I could also get everything off pricegrabber.

One other thing I haven't considered is the cord to the projector. Do they come with pretty long cables, or will I need to purchase a long one?.... and where can you find one if needed?

#2 of 4 Robert_J

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Posted April 05 2007 - 09:25 AM

The PC are a all-in-one source has been used for years. It's called a Home Theater PC (HTPC). Microsoft with their Media Center OS makes it pretty easy to implement. There's a PC section here that should help. Over at AVS Forums, they have a dedicated HTPC section.

That's a nice projector. I use a Panasonic AE900U which is also a 720P, LCD projector. But I use a DIY fixed 103" screen. I haven't seen any DIY options for movable models so get ready to pay a decent price for one.

Surround sound from a PC is as simple as getting a surround sound card. They make both 5.1 and 7.1 models. Most are low level output models only. That means you will need a 5 or 7 channel amp (or multiple stereo/mono amps) to power the speakers. A powered sub will have it's own amp. What's your budget for sound?

Component video, DVI and HDMI cables to the projector come in lengths up to and past 50 feet. With Monster, you would pay $300-$400 for a long HDMI cable. The same quality cable from Blue Jeans or Monoprice will be less than $100. I make my own component video cables so they are basically free.

-Robert

#3 of 4 trump29

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Posted April 10 2007 - 01:48 PM

Thanks for the help!

#4 of 4 joseph westcott

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Posted April 12 2007 - 12:31 PM

HTPCs are an expensive solution and do not perform as well as a good dedicated DVD player. That money could be better spent on individual components, IMO. Takes a very expensive video card and CPU to even get a decent picture and proper software know how to properly implement it.

http://www.hometheat....h&articles=all

http://www.projectorcentral.com/

These two links should help you immensly. The first one had all you could ever want to know about video quality and how to get it on the cheap.

The second link will help you find a front projector that won't break the bank and help you make an educated decision on 720p vs 1080ip