HTPC overview question

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Andy_A, Feb 25, 2006.

  1. Andy_A

    Andy_A Second Unit

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    Hi all, I just bought an Infocus 4805 and I now have decided that I need to turn my PC into a HTPC. I have some very basic questions that I've not yet found answers to, though. Here's the deal: I have a video card which I think is an ATI Radeon 9600. It has a DVI output (I need to buy a DVI/M1 cable). My PC is a Pentium 3 or 4 which runs at 1400 mhz. I have 768 MB of RAM. I also have a dvd burner and a SoundBlaster soundcard (there are only 3 colored plugs on it, so I don't think it has digital audio out). I mainly just want to watch dvds in the best possible resolution. Here are my questions:

    1. Will I be able to get some software to "pixel map" through DVI directly to the 4805? What is pixel mapping? Is it best to somehow scale the resolution to the best native res. of the projector, which I believe is 800 X 600?

    2. How do I get the 5.1 digital audio from the PC to my Onkyo receiver? There is no fiber optic output on my soundcard. Is one of the outputs some type of digital out? I know I have only 3 plugs on the card, so it is pretty basic. Do they sell a soundcard with a toslink digital output? Right now I have the miniplug to 2 RCA adapter to the Onkyo, but that only carries stereo audio.

    Thanks
     
  2. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    1. The resolution is, I believe, 800x480 which is a 16x9 widescreen resolution. You can set your computer to that resolution using software; the program is called Powerstrip. And yes, setting the computer to use the native resolution of the projector is the point of a HTPC - you let the HTPC do scaling.

    On the other hand, it should be said that the 4805 has built-in scaling/video processing from Faroudja, so it should give a kick-booty image with any plain interlaced DVD player.

    1. There are quite a few options for soundcards with spdif out, ranging from Soundblasters to the likes of sound cards from M-Audio.

    A HTPC gives you lots of options like being able to surf on the projector and play games, but as I said you should get a highly enjoyable DVD image from just about any decent DVD player with the projector having a Faroudja chip in it.
     
  3. Vivek_IVB

    Vivek_IVB Stunt Coordinator

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    I just looked up your projector on the infocus.com site - Your native resolution is 854x480 [EDTV]. Whilst 800x600 is one of the "acceptable resolutions", don't map to 800x600 or else your pic will look stretched out.

    You won't be able to map exactly as vidcards need to output in multiples of 8. You can do 856x480, which is one of the presets in powerstrip.

    Powerstrip, albeit an awesome program, isn't necessarily needed for you; if you download the latest drivers & control panel for that ATI, you'll see that they come with resolution setting software built-in. Before you fork over the whopping $20 for PS, see if the ATI Catalyst s/w works.

    Also, read through your manual to see what input resolutions are acceptable via DVI. It may be that some resolutions are only acceptable via component. You'll bang your head against a wall until you try that alternate conneection if you're using a non-acceptable signal.
     
  4. Andy_A

    Andy_A Second Unit

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    Thanks for the input. I was thinking that the built in Faroudja processing is pretty amazing. I actually have it running s-video right now and frankly cannot believe the picture quality.

    I was also thinking of updating the most current drivers for my video card. It will be interesting to see what it looks like once it is scaled to 480 via the video card and the dvi output.

    I think I recall seeing something on my sound card about spdif, but I'm not sure. If I have only three plugs on it, is is likely to have this? If it does, would I just need a mini plug to RCA adapter for digital audio? Thanks
     
  5. Vivek_IVB

    Vivek_IVB Stunt Coordinator

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    Does it have 3 mini plugs? If so, i'll bet it's L/R, back-left/right, center. Totally analog, none digital.

    Digital is typically either an RCA plug [digital coax] or optical.

    Which card is it?
     
  6. Andy_A

    Andy_A Second Unit

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    I think it is just a 16 bit soundblaster or something. Yes, there are three mini plugs. I know that one is front l/r and one is a mic input. One is something else, so I doubt there is any digital output. Looks like I'll be buying a new soundcard.
     
  7. JasonWW

    JasonWW Agent

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    The Chaintech AV710 has an optical out and runs under $30. They are very popular for their high quality as well as being able to have bitperfect output if you need it. Unless you need something exotic, it should do the job for you.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16829120103
     
  8. Harris_C

    Harris_C Stunt Coordinator

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    If you are using MCE 2005 /w Update Rollup 2 beware their is a problem with the Envy24 chipsets 5.1 channel audio playback whereas when you go from 5.1 to 2 channel and back to 5.1 you are stuck at 2 channel, and have to close Media center to get it working again.
     
  9. Andy_A

    Andy_A Second Unit

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    Thanks, looks like that's the card I'll be buying.

    I'll be using Windows XP. Will this be a problem? I'm not sure I understood the above post. I think it is something about software compatibility. Is this right? Thanks
     
  10. JasonWW

    JasonWW Agent

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    If you don't know what MCE is, then your not using it. It works fine in XP.
     

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