HTPC Display help

Discussion in 'Computers' started by HenryP, Jul 16, 2005.

  1. HenryP

    HenryP Auditioning

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    Hi, I am a newbie when it comes to HTPC. I was recently building a new computer and decided I'd like to use it as both a PC and HTPC. I have run into a problem concerning the display on my TV. Unfortunately, this setup is for my dorm room, and I'm on a tight budget and cannot upgrade to an HDTV anytime soon. I have a 20" Samsung flat screen TV, and since the TV doesn't have DVI, I am stuck using S-Video. When I have my VGA monitor connected, everything is crystal clear. But when I have S-Video connected, the image on my TV is blurry. I tried changing the resolution, and while lowering the resolution made the icons larger, they were still blurry (and I wouldn't want to watch my DVDs on a lower resolution anyways). When I put in a DVD, the picture comes in great on the TV. So while it isn't a huge problem, I'd like to be able to navigate through windows on my TV without the blur problem.

    Of course, worst case senario, I can set everything up on my computer monitor, since Windows isn't blurry on the monitor, then watch the dvd over the TV, but it would be convenient if I could just do everything on my TV. Any ideas on how to fix this blur problem?

    Finally, when I tested my audio using the coax S/PDIF out that was built into my motherboard, it would only detect Dolby Pro Logic, and not Dolby Digital 5.1. My guess is that my mobo is just not set up to output 5.1 digitally, so I'm thinking of buying a separate sound card, most likely Chaintech AV710. My question regarding that is: by using the optical out on the Chaintech card, will I get true Dolby Digital 5.1 or will it only output Pro Logic? My other guess as to why I'm not getting Dolby Digital is that maybe the software I am using (WinDVD 5) may not have a Dolby Digital decoder. If that is the case, is there a good DVD playback software that is free or relatively cheap and capable of outputting Dolby Digital and DTS?

    Any help would be appreciated. I'm excited to be jumping over to the HTPC bandwagon. Once I get these couple issues out of the way, I should be good to go (until I can afford to upgrade to HDTV of course [​IMG])
     
  2. Matt Wright

    Matt Wright Stunt Coordinator

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    1. what video card are you using?
    2. About the Pro Logic issue. Unless you play a DVD (or other contnent) that has an AC3 or DTS stream the audio will be 2-channel. You also need to make sure your DVD software is set to S/PDIF output in its' audio properties.
     
  3. Tony Loewen

    Tony Loewen Stunt Coordinator

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    S-video will have a max res of 480, and it will be interlaced, so windows will just not look good through it onto your TV. Some cards are better than others, but without going to a better connection, you will be limited. If your TV has component input, which I will bet it does, you can buy either a vga-to-component or dvi-to-component adapter which, I would suspect, give you the results you are looking for. Mind you, on a 20" tv, you will likely have to make the font size bigger to be able to read anything.

    I would be willing to bet that, yes, your player is either not capable of decoding DD or DTS, or it is not set up to do so. Is there anywhere in windvd that will give you access to audio options for like, 2 channel, 5.1, SPDIF, etc? Digital out settings for your onboard sound that will enable SPDIF or digital out?

    As far as the chaintech, it's what I have and I love it. It will pass anything, and can be set up to output bit-perfect audio, if you are an audiophile or anything.

    DVD playing software, the big ones are theatertek or Zoomplayer pro. TT is about $60, ZP is $20. I have zoomplayer, and I would strongly recommend it. Very customizable and able to use additional filters like ffdshow that are full of all kinds of tweaks and adjustments, resizing options, etc. It is just a shell, so you still need audio and video codecs, you could use the windvd codecs or for video go with an awesome, freeware codec called dscaler5. ZP has a 14 day free trial if you want to check it out, see if it's worth it to you.

    Check out some of the older posts in this forum, or over at avsforum.com in the HTPC section.

    Hope that helps.
     
  4. HenryP

    HenryP Auditioning

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    Thanks for the input. The quality of my video card could certainly be a factor. All I have is an nVidia Geforce FX5200. I already had the card so I figured I'd just throw it in my new PC since it had all of the connections I wanted (VGA, S-Video, and DVI for when I get an HDTV). I have been thinking of upgrading to a Radeon 9800 Pro or a Geforce 6600 GT in the future, so maybe that upgrade will have to come sooner rather than later. But for starters I think I'll give the DVI-to-component adapter a whirl, although like you said, I may be out of luck regardless since I only have a 20 inch TV. I suppose it won't be the end of the world to put the dvd in, get the program running using my VGA monitor, then just turn the monitor off and watch the DVD on my TV.

    And finally, I found the settings on WinDVD to change the output to surround sound (5.1, 6.1, and 7.1) along with the S/PDIF out setting, so all is well on the sound end.

    However, I still may upgrade to the Chaintech sound card since I also plan on putting my music library onto my hard drive and outputting the songs through my home theater, and the Chaintech card will probably give me better sound than my onboard sound.

    Thanks again for the help!
     

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