Building HTPC & have questions

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ryan Wright, Sep 15, 2002.

  1. Ryan Wright

    Ryan Wright Screenwriter

    Jul 30, 2000
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    My wife and I were looking at console systems today, and I thought, "Why spend this money on a Gamecube/PS2 when I could simply turn one of my existing computers into a gaming platform on my TV?" I'm no stranger to computers, but making them work well with my TV will be new.

    With that, here are my questions:

    1. Video hardware: My TV is a 16:9 RPTV capable of 1080i max (Toshiba TW65X81), with component inputs. I've got to convert the video signal from the computer into something the TV can accept. I know there are boxes available that do this. Where can I find them, and are there any reviews or other info where I might be able to compare various units?

    2. Video software: Once I've got the unit, how do I setup the computer to feed it a signal appropriate for a variety of tasks? Mainly, I'm going to use this for gaming (especially for MAME and misc console emulators), and surfing the web. I'll probably also feed it Winamp visualization stuff (Geiss, etc). One more question: Would it be possible to use this to read email? I ask because the older composite video converters were virtually useless for any sort of text issues.

    Also, on video, how do you get around aspect ratio issues? I don't want to use my TV in 4:3 mode, yet computers are normally 4:3.

    3. Cool cases: Are there any nice, slim cases available that might make this thing look like an oversized console? Something I could set next to the couch, perhaps, and have it not be immediately recognized as a big ugly computer?

    4. Is there any way to extend the USB bus, say, ~50-60 feet? I may just skip a nice case and put the computer back in my computer room. The idea is there would be a single USB hub sitting under or around the coffee table. Then I'd use USB for everything - gamepads, keyboard, etc. Extending video to the TV is no problem - been there, done that - but I've never tried to extend USB. Are there possibilities here?

    5. Lastly, while I'll probably start with an existing computer, there may be incentive to buy new components here and there. Any recommendations on computer hardware, especially as it relates to this application?

    Thank you!!
  2. John Parris

    John Parris Stunt Coordinator

    Aug 10, 2002
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    Not so sure about the USB question or the converter, but if you have some basic home theater equipment already, CRT Cinema sells some of the most PERFECT cases for HTPC. You can see the cases here:
    As far as hardware goes, a budget and a list of what you already have would be nice...
    My recommendations are usually don't skimp on the graphics board, go over 1Ghz, make sure you go with at least PC-2100 DDR, and keep everything cooled as well as you can in keeping with the maximum noise you want... Athlon XP chips are dropping in price almost daily because of the new one coming out... same with RAM too. The new Radeons are also nice... the 128MB version of the Radeon 9000 is a great board for the money... if you can spend a little more, the new nVideo boards will be out soon and those will probably be AMAZING.
  3. Bill Catherall

    Bill Catherall Screenwriter

    Aug 1, 1997
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    Download PowerStrip to set your custom resolutions and refresh rates.
    (That's all I know. :b I use PowerStrip just to make my video signal look right on my 19" monitor. I was maxed out on the brightness and contrast and it was still dark. PowerStrip has fixed that for me.)

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