Why a HTPC?

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Eric_L, Apr 15, 2003.

  1. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

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    Yes, yes, I can guess this topic has been worn out dramatically here. I attempted to do a search on this but the search feature is presently disabled.

    Maybe you all would be kind enough to respond one more time and a mod will be kind enough to 'sticky' this thread.

    I have been told that there would be a dramatic improvement in picture quality with a HTPC. Why is what I don't understand. I have a decent DVD w component out. My front projection DLP has component in. Where is it that the HTPC will improve the picture and how? Is there another way to improve the picture?

    The most noticable trouble is with white text on black backgrounds. It seems to have some shadowing behind the letters and they are a bit blurry. (like during movie credits) The picture seems it could be a bit sharper at times also, thought it may just be me getting used to an 8' wide screen in my living room! [​IMG]

    Any help or insights you could provide would be appreciated.

    Thanks
     
  2. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    Check the FAQ and Primer (link in my sig!), I wrote a decent overview of "WHY HTPC" months ago:

    Using a computer in you home theater: An introduction to HTPC by Vince Maskeeper
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...44#post1155144

    The key here is scaling. DVD at 480 coupled with a high resolution projector (as I mentioned in your other thread, your PJ is 1024x768 native)-- this with digital technology like LCD or DLP means the image has to be scaled to a new resolution to be compatible with the panel of your projector.

    Even at 720x480p from a component cable on progressive DVD player, you projector is resampling the image to 1024x768. The internal circuitry to execute this is often less than stellar. So, an outboard scaling device would give an improvement...

    Now, outboard scalers used to be REALLY expensive- they have come down in price after HTPC got popular. But the bottom line is, a computer with a good video card offers excellent scaling to the native resolution of your projector at a price cheaper than that of a comparable scaler...

    The only shortcoming of Computers are:
    1) It takes some computer knowledge and willing to tweak.
    2) Right now no PC dvd solution offers real cadence detection and deinterlacing of video material in a proper manner. They do wonderful with film sources however (they read flagging in the discs to reassemble 24 frame progressive of the original film source!)- breathtaking really.
    3) Like all computer technology- the latest greatest changes everyday.

    This is a very popular pursuit with anyone interested in highend video and using projection equipment. Check avsforum.com and their HTPC area, you'll find this area of HT is a very active pursuit.

    Now people are using DVD players modded with SDI output (direct digital off mpeg engine) into a capture card and using deinterlacing software with cadence detection-- giving you the best of all worlds...

    It's a wide open world, and video quality for high end and high resolution projectors improves daily!

    In addition to FAQ, See also (will be helpful):
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...hreadid=109727
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...threadid=82153
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...hreadid=111902
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...threadid=94610
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...threadid=76793
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...threadid=72293
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...threadid=45001
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...&threadid=5221
    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...51&perpage=999
    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...77&perpage=999

    -Vince
     
  3. Camp

    Camp Cinematographer

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    Describe your set-up.
    Also, I'd suggest the HTPC forum at AVSforum. That's a serious bunch of people.
     
  4. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

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  5. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

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    Well CRAP! A pox on you! Now I have yet something ELSE to buy that my wife will roll her eyes at me for!

    (smile)

    I just happen to be in the market for a new computer, and the projector is mounted right above my desk/workstation, so the timing couldn't be better.

    I don't suppose you'd save me some time and just tell me what DVD, sound card and video card I'll need? Nah, too simple, eh? You want to see me SUFFER!!!

    (hehe. Sorry, feeling kinda perky tonight.)

    I was already planning on buying a DELL before all this. They feature the following on the computer I was looking at, though a few other options may be available.

    Could you tell me if it'll do the job or is it not to the task? It will be for home theater, editing family movies, and shooting online aliens in real time.

    Video Cards:
    128mb DDR ATI Radeon™ 9700 TX Graphics Card with TV-Out and DVI

    Sound Card
    Sound Blaster* Audigy 2™ sound card with DVD Audio

    DVD
    non-specific brand 16 Max DVD-ROM Drive + 4x DVD+RW/+R Drive w/CD-RW

    Ok, so give it to me straight, what am I missing or comeing up short on?

    I really really appreciate your input, and I'd rather not spend weeks boneing up on this. I plan to spend about $1500 on the PC + Office and Video editing software. (This is the part where you say that is not nearly enough!)

    Thanks
     
  6. Gabriel_Lam

    Gabriel_Lam Screenwriter

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    Excellent video card. Probably more than you need unless you're gaming too. The Audigy 2 doesn't have as high quality sound output as something like the M-Audio revolution.

    You plan on getting a tv tuner or something?
     
  7. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

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    No TV tuner, I live in an area where the signal is poor. I have to use satalite.

    I miss the networks, but I suspect it won't be long before I can get them. I had someone tell me how to fudge a bit on my broadcast area. (hint, your billing address isn't necessarily where you have the decoder) If they don't get networks here soon I will consider that.

    I can switch inputs from RGB to S-video with the remote on my projector to switch from DVD to TV. The TV picture will suffer marginally from the S-Video but I am more interested in DVD for the big screen.

    And, Yes, I plan to game. alot. I enjoy C+C Renegade the most, I was hoping for MOO3 to be fun, but it was disappointing. Some other look good but my present computer chokes on them.


    BTW - does anyone know if that sound card supports optical cables? Are there any that do?
     
  8. Gabriel_Lam

    Gabriel_Lam Screenwriter

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    You can use a capture card. Take the S-video out of your satellite into your HTPC to scale it to the native resolution of your projector. [​IMG]
     
  9. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    I would say if you're unwilling to have a dedicated machine for HTPC (which is the ideal), then at the very least you should setup a dual boot machine. Stability in HTPC is a big issue-- you take for granted when things go a little nuts on PC- but when trying to go 2 hours with uninterrupted smooth video playback, it's best to have a very basic system...

    Adding video editing and gaming to the rig will muck things up a bit. Many guys do have a machine for gaming on the projector-- but usually it's a dual boot machine, or many have even built second machines (since sometimes Nvidia cards are better for gaming while Radeon is better for MPEG hardware accel).

    -V
     
  10. Mathew Shelby

    Mathew Shelby Second Unit

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    I second the M-Audio Revolution. I purchased a Dell and replaced the graphics and sound card and installed myHTPC (www.myhtpc.net). It works like a charm, even for a noobie like me.
     
  11. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

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    Silly me, the PC will come with a video capture card. I forgot about that. DOH! Need it to get my home video into it.

    The revolution is interesting, but I read that apparently it will offload some of the sound processing to the CPU where the Sound Blaster does not.

    I would think this to be a problem. What does it do that makes it better than the SB?
     
  12. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    There si some debate as to whether an SB card product is really able to pass the direct digital stream from the DVD to output without some processing-- as the SB cards, despite passing "digital" info have been found to consistantly sound worse.

    The choice of soundcard starts first with a decision on how you're going to use it. The main 2 popular methodologies are:
    1) Get a card to pass out a digital stream (DTS, DD, PCM) and let the receiver do the decoding.
    2) Get a 6/7 channel card and use software that can act as a "preamp" and pass out multiple channel audio from the software.

    I personally prefer step 1, so I use the Audiophile card, a resonably priced card that is able to work with most popular DVD software well (namely theatertek) and gives a very clean "bit for bit" digital output.

    -Vince
     
  13. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

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    There is no doubt I'll be doing #1 also, but I worry about performance in games. Will the audiophile cause lag and shudders?

    Is the difference in audio noticeable enough that I would regret it if I did go w SB?

    I have a Sherwood RD6108 HT receiver w Infinity EntraOne speakers and a 15" Velodyne sub (my room is very large) It's not exactly an audiophile system. I really couldn't tell the difference when listening to Boston Accoustics and Infinity at the store, so I saved about $700 right at the front and center speakers. Rears are crap, for now.
     

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