Newbie needs help! Cheapest way to get into HTPC?

chris larralde

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Jan 14, 2001
Messages
187
I'm getting ready to set up a DLP front projector system and am starting to think about a HTPC.

One problem -- I've been a lifetime mac user and don't know or follow much in the PC world. Not only that, but the options seem overwhelming! I've tried running my mac G4 with decent results but there aren't any sound cards that support 5.1/dts. (Apple DVDPlayer is a little buggy as well).

Here are my following questions concerning the cheapest way to get into HTPC (DVD playback only).
2. what are the most cost effective video cards/sound cards that will get the job done without breaking the bank?
3. what dvd software player should I get?
4. how much ram can I get away with?
5. can I use a Pentium II celeron (which I can get for free)?
6. Is Windows 95 okay?
7. Am I just better off using a progressive scan player.

I've tried doing searches but can't find anything that cover ALL my questions. I eagerly await your responses!
regards,
chris
 

Joseph S

Effects Supervisor
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Dec 23, 1999
Messages
2,862
Chris:
Both the Wired ($80 at Other World Computing) and the E4 "CoolDVD" PCI card for Mac can output DTS/DD signals, but you will need a receiver to decode them. They also each utilize hardware decoding and don't use the AppleDVD Player. That being said I still decided to build a PC, because their are no multi-region capabilities for either of the above PCI cards. My Mac gets the daily use and the PC gets a chance to work every few weeks or so on multiregion discs.
 

chris larralde

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Jan 14, 2001
Messages
187
Thanks Joseph!
Just the type of reply I'm looking for! So if I understand correctly, does that mean that the CoolDVD card includes it's own DVDplayer?
Still interested in what's need for a PC based system (kids are sometimes on the mac while I'm watching movies).
regards,
chris
 

Joseph S

Effects Supervisor
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Dec 23, 1999
Messages
2,862
Yes, they both do. I would recommend the Wired Card Kit though since they are at least still in business and updating the drivers. I bought the E4 "CoolDVD" kit in '98 and they went out of business about a year later.
Supposedly Creative has hinted that new Mac OS X capabilities will enable them to do audio decoding with the Mac Soundblaster PCI card and Apple DVD Player(which is region hackable in OS 9), but I'm not holding my breath as it may only work for the G4's with digital audio released since this past January. However, since making the switch to OS X I'm not using either PCI card since there are no drivers for OS X yet.
 

Bill Catherall

Screenwriter
Joined
Aug 1, 1997
Messages
1,560
Just thought I'd also include my interest of knowing the cheapest way to get started. I've built a PC in the past (one year ago) so I know my way around Windows and installing hardware. I'm interested in building a HTPC from scratch (IOW...not using my current computer for parts).
If you were to build a HTPC and you wanted something powerful, but inexpensive, what would your shopping list look like?
------------------
Bill

 

chris larralde

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Jan 14, 2001
Messages
187
Welcome to the quest Bill!
Hopefully we'll get some good input on starting a system from scratch. As much as I love my mac, I have a feeling that a dedicated HTPC will be the better solution. I'm also curious as to how "cheaply" one can be built. Anyone can throw together a good system with a lot of money ... the real challenge will be how to assemble a great system for the LEAST amount of money.
I'm hoping we get some good feedback because I'd hate to throw in the towel and just by a progressive scan DVD player -- that wouldn't be fun or in the spirit of DIY home theater!

regards,
chris
 

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