HTPC theory

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Rob Hawkins, Aug 17, 2002.

  1. Rob Hawkins

    Rob Hawkins Auditioning

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    I just inherited a digital front projector, so I have officially begun the downward spiral into the wonderful abyss that is Home Theater.
    After reading, and reading, and reading, I've come to the conclusion that I need a HTPC to feed video to the projector. But how does the PC go about scaling a non-digital signal like that of a composite cable box or VCR input? Or an S-video DVD input? And how does that get to the projector?
    I don't mean literally how does it do it - I believe it works - I just don't know the logistics of how it will function. Will I have to run some sort of program from the Windows desktop before watching a particular source? Something akin to watching a DVD on the computer where you kick off WinDVD or some other program using a mouse and then put it to full screen and kick back to watch it?
    Also, how do I get all of those different video sources into the computer? Do the "video input" cards have a number of different source connections like multiple composite and S-video inputs? If not, how do I get multiple inputs in?
    I already have a test machine built but am waiting to understand a little more about the way this all plays out before finalizing and purchasing the last few hardware pieces, i.e. video cards. Thanks to everybody, in advance, for any input and/or recommendations![​IMG]
     
  2. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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  3. Rob Hawkins

    Rob Hawkins Auditioning

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    I'll hook the PC to the projector via VGA cables, but how do I get the different composite and s-video signals into the PC? If I have a source coming from a cable box, a VCR, and a DVD player; that's three seperate inputs that have to be accounted for. How do they all three get into the PC? What about a camcorder input or a game console? I'm so confused...please help[​IMG]
     
  4. Steve_Ch

    Steve_Ch Supporting Actor

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    Rob, I am by no means to be an expert on this stuff, what I know is a product like the ATI All-in-Wonder (the older line, the 7500, can be had for $150 or under), have input connectors for all these, plus an RF remote control and it only takes one AGP slot. You can go to ATI's website and have a look, www.ati.com.
     
  5. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    1) Most people use an excellent free application called Dscaler. This is an open source PC based scaling engine which does amazing video processing. It is free:
    http://www.dscaler.com/
    2) The one hitch with Dscaler is that you have to use a particular type of input card: any card based on the Brooktree (now Conexant) chipset. DO NOT PLAN TO USE THE ATI INPUT ON THE ALL IN WONDER CARDS AS SUGGESTED ABOVE. These video inputs are mediocre at best, and will not work with Dscaler. You can check the Dscaler FAQ for some specific cards, or just do a search on the AVSforum and start reading. I got an input card from Circuit City for like $35- it's a little blown out on the whites- but for analog cable and a few dreamcast games, it's "good enough".
    If you're looking for top of the line input, a member on AVS does a modification of the WinTV series card that is supposed to provide the very best quality external input. Expect to spend a few hundred bucks to get one however!
    3) Another hitch is that your output card must be AGP, it won't work with a PCI card (it will but you run a serious bandwidth risk to doing decent resolutions).
    4) Some people have started using SDI input cards with Dscaler, and have gotten tehir DVD player or DSS receiver modified to put out a SDI digital output. This is really the cuting edge as far as top quality processing goes- and it won't help you for analog sources like VHS and is not availble for any video game systems.
    -Vince
     
  6. Rob Hawkins

    Rob Hawkins Auditioning

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    So will I have to have 3 seperate input cards to bring three seperate sources in, i.e. one for composite cable box, one for S-Video VCR, and one for composite game console?

    What if I want to make my HTPC my DVD player, how do I get the digital audio signal from the PC to the toslink digital input for DD/DTS decoding by my receiver? Do I use a USB Digital out device like an Xitel toslink to toslink HiFi connection?
     
  7. Rob Hawkins

    Rob Hawkins Auditioning

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    After just reading the DScaler FAQ's I got an answer to the above question of having duplicate cards. I can use my receiver to switch the video sources! Duh!!! Sorry for the oversight on my part! Cool, I'm off to purchase a video input/capture card that supports DScaler tomorrow to give it a try...
     
  8. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    Rob,

    I would HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend you take a trip to Avsforum and look over the FAQ files in their HTPC area, which is super active.

    There are many audio cards which offer SPDIF output that will work with DD and DTS-- the M-Audio series of cards are very popular in HTPC circles. Some Soundblaster cards do it- but I'd suggest spending the extra bucks on a real card.

    The Maudio card is very compatible with Theatertek software, which is the most popular HTPC playback DVD solution-- see my review at the top of this forum.

    -V
     

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