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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Is anyone using Windows Media Center in conjunction with a HTPC setup?

What kind of setup did you build? Looking for ideas.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Re: Update

Well, I now have an early stage HTPC setup. I need a real TV, but the HTPC itself is completed.

Here is my box capable of full 1080p playback:
AMD Phenom™ II 3.4Ghz Black Edition
MSI 790FX-GD70 Mother Board
Sapphire Toxic HD ATI Radeon HD 4890
Blu-Ray Player
2 - 1TB Hitachi HDD's
8GB DRR3 (4x2gb) G.Skill

I connected my Spdif optical out to my RCA 5.1 DTS surround and ran a s-video to my TV (It's older, when I upgrade I will use a full hdmi connection)

My two Hanns.G 24inch LCD monitors are connected via DVI to HDMI and support full 1080p playback. Very nice, crisp beautiful monitors.



The great thing is the system can push video to all 3 screens.

I use a plugin called Media Browser: http://www.mediabrowser.tv/
This is a great plugin for WMC in Windows 7 that adds a cover flow effect for browsing all your movies. With WMC and the 2 TB of hard drive space, I am pretty much converting our DVD collection onto the hard drive for ease of use. We can browse the whole collection from the couch with the media center remote, watch trailers, read descriptions without getting up to load a dvd. I should also mention, I am adding TV's shows as well. Every episode of Battlestar, Lost, NCIS. I love bit torrent. Not that I advocate such things.



I'd just like to recommend this website too: http://www.hack7mc.com/
 

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Nice setup. Im getting ready to build my own soon I hope. Curious, about how much was that setup?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Nice setup. Im getting ready to build my own soon I hope. Curious, about how much was that setup?
I spent about $580 and an additional 250 on the screens. NewEgg.com and watch it for deals and free shipping on certain items. My hard drive was 89, the memory was 15% off when I bought it, and the two monitors I ordered each one separately because they came 15% off with free shipping, they where originally 180 and I got them for 153 a piece.

A few things I managed to reuse, like my case I is a Antec LanBoy from 2004. I have been using laptops for the past couple years and had this thing left over from the last PC I ever built. Anyways, because I started a business I needed a real desktop again.

Lifehacker.com has a good write up on building a HTPC, and it can be done pretty cheaply depending on what you want to do. Because I am using my setup to stream movies to my TV and do web design and programming, my box is alittle more powerful than need be for a solely HTPC.
 

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Wildheart,

I've been hearing about HTPC's for years now and never really knew what they do for you. Does this take the place of your DVD and audio receiver?

When you put your dvd's onto your hard drives do you run into issues with copy protection garbage on the disks themselves? How many DVD's can you fit on a 1 TB drive?

So many questions...
 

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Wildheart,

I've been hearing about HTPC's for years now and never really knew what they do for you. Does this take the place of your DVD and audio receiver?

When you put your dvd's onto your hard drives do you run into issues with copy protection garbage on the disks themselves? How many DVD's can you fit on a 1 TB drive?

So many questions...
A dvd is 4.3 gigs or 8.6 if dual layer. So between 110-220 movies roughly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Wildheart,
I've been hearing about HTPC's for years now and never really knew what they do for you. Does this take the place of your DVD and audio receiver?
Yes/No, There are sound cards that can support 5.1, 7.1 and up systems which you can actually power speakers with. I don't have that kind of money. The surround sound system I have, I got for free and works fine. The motherboard that I bought has a optical spdif out, which plugs into my receiver. The computer of course is capable of DTS, Dobly, etc sound processing, but you still gotta connect it to another box. Like I said, the cards that act like a box are big money.

Think of a HTPC as a DVD player/DVR(TiVo) - After I have all my movies on my hard drive I can browse through them and watch them whenever I want. I can record TV to my hard drive just like a DVR. I can browse my music collection or watch a slide show, or maybe watch home videos I've stored on it.

Now we don't have cable or a dish, because life is cheaper without these unneeded things. We actually download most of our favorite TV's shows and with Hulu desktop we can watch a lot of TV shows for free.

Another awesome thing to mention, is NetFlix is built into Windows Media Center in Windows 7. So if you have a netflix account, you can stream movies from netflix to your TV, movies and tv shows. That is freaking awesome.

We are using this yet, but I am thinking of signing up and trying it out.

When you put your dvd's onto your hard drives do you run into issues with copy protection garbage on the disks themselves? How many DVD's can you fit on a 1 TB drive?

So many questions...
A dvd is 4.3 gigs or 8.6 if dual layer. So between 110-220 movies roughly.
Actually, that depends on how you convert and store your DVD's. If you are doing a full back up and want to keep all the extra's and menu's then he is correct.

Me on the other hand, I just wanted the movie only. My DVD's are ripped as .MKV files and take up no more than 700mb the size of a CD.

Now, that was my DVD collection of about 50 movies, I recently started adding high-def movies which do take up between 1-2gigs of space each, for just the movie alone.

I have never run into any DMR issues with any of my DVD's. It's pretty much a non-issue, most dvd-ripping software blows past it with no problems. And a single standard for DMR was never fully adopted.

And something else to think about, depending on how you feel about it, is downloading something you already own. Sometimes it's a lot faster to just set a bunch of stuff to download than to sit around sticking DVD's into your drive all day.

The one thing that does seem to each up HD space fast though are our TV collections. Specially if you want those DVD HD quality.
 

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How is media browser treating you?

I've been debating on putting together a new system to centralize all the media to the entertainment system. I won't be connecting the satellite to a TV tuner for awhile.

What other options did you look at for handling media? I came across Media Portal and Boxee and will be giving them a spin to see if this is something I want to move forward with.
 

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I use a mac mini with two 2 terabyte drives loaded with all my dvd's and the ones that I rent. I use a dvi to hdmi connector to connect to the samsung 50"dlp. the mac mini has an optical audio out and that goes to my denon receiver which powers my mirage unitheater sound bar, mirage sub and 2 mirage bookshelfs for rear stage.

best thing about it is I can control the mac mini from my macbook pro laptop and I have a webcam on the mac mini that I can watch on my iphone so when I'm gone I can see what's going on.

the mac mini is keyboard and mouseless and I can either control the mac mini from my remote for movies or from my laptop or from my iphone.

had it for almost 2 years now and it's great. now I'm just waiting for apple to release the updates to allow bluray playback.
 
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