Advice on new HTPC build
Iím looking to (finally) get a 1080p LCD TV, probably in the 40Ē Ė 42Ē variety. To support this Iím also thinking of building an HTPC, but Iím not sure I understand everything. To put it simply: can I take my cable directly from the wall into an HTPC? Iím not interested in a PVR but basically replacing a receiver with an HTPC. So from the HTPC I will output to the TV and speakers. Will this work? And work well? Or are TV tuner cards just generally pretty sucky?
Many thanks for the help.
Why replace the tuner with an HTPC?
Do you have a surround sound system connected to your tuner?
I don't have a tuner right now. My stereo receiver is has no HDMI outputs or coaxial inputs. My DVD player will not upscale to 1080p and has only S-video out. Maybe I'm off-base here but I figured I would need and HDMI source for the LCD (or I suppose a high enough DVI resolution capable source) and something to convert the coaxial to HDMI or DVI?
Maybe I just need an "Idiots Guide" to HDTV..."
The question is, what is the advantage?
It all depends on the type of TV signal you have. You have a few choices:
1. Digital cable (from Rogers) or satellite service (like Bell): In this case, you need a receiver to get the signal anyway (a set-top box). The cable goes to the set top box, and the box connects to your TV. What would the advantage be to use an HTPC here? TV cards in an HTPC cannot decode the encrypted QAM digital signals sent over the cable - you need the set top box for that anyway. Why connect the cable to the set-top box, set-top to HTPC, and HTPC to TV?
2. OTA (Off the Air) TV: You connect the cable to the TV, and the TV's built-in tuner does the work. In this case there may be a good reason to use an HTPC as a sort of PVR and a mediacenter - all you do is add an ATSC TV tuner to the HTPC.
3. Combination of old analog cable/OTA: In this case an HTPC may be useful, just like option 2 above. I don't even know if you can buy this anymore - Rogers is selling and promoting digital TV.
For playback of movies (DVD and Blueray), internet TV, AVIs, slideshows of pictures, music etc., an HTPC/mediacenter would make sense. But just for TV, maybe not in many cases.
I'll update what i recommend in a second but i know the perfect two boards for HTPC.
The zotac ITX boards are probably the best all in one you'll find right now. With either the the N230 Atom processor (single core with hyper threading at 1.6Ghz) or the N330 Atom processor (dual core with hyper threading at 1.6GHz) with the Nvidia 9400M onboard graphics i've yet to find a better board really.
You can get them in a couple different flavours, one without the power supply included, others do (dc power adapter so no worrying about power supply in the computer case), with or without HDMI, spdif out, just a great and powerful itx board.
Here is what i was originally going to get before the one i got went on sale (this is for a sega genesis mod build which is going to run emulators and be a home theatre pc as well, i also needed the external power supply dc source)
Newegg.ca - ZOTAC IONITX-C-U Intel Atom 230 Mini ITX ION Platform Motherboard/CPU Combo with 90W PSU - Motherboard / CPU / VGA Combo
And this is the one i got
Canada Computers - Motherboards : Zotac IONITX-A-U Intel Atom 330 1.6Ghz Dual Core, nVidia ION GeForce 9400M Graphics w/ DVI + HDMI, DDR2 800Mhz, Wireless 802.11n, 5.1 CH HD Audio (Optical Out), 3x SATA 3.0Gb/s + 1 eSATA, 90W PSU,10x USB 2.0, Mini-IT
Samsung 40" 1080p LCD HDTV (LN40B500)
Intel Pentiumģ Dual-Core Processor E5200 2.50 GHz w/ 2MB Cache
Asus P5QPL-VM EPU w/ DualDDR2 800, 7.1 Audio, GMA 4500, Gigabit Lan, PCI-E
ANTEC New Solution Series NSK2480 Desktop Case w/ EarthWatts 380W Power Supply
Mushkin EM2-6400 Enhanced DDR2 SDRAM, 4GB Dual Pack (2 x 2GB)
Hauppauge WinTV HVR-2250 Dual TV Tuner / Encoder, Media Center Kit w/ Remote
LG Super-Multi 22x DVD Writer, SATA, Black (OEM)
D-Link Xtreme N Desktop PCI Adapter (DWA-552)
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium x64 (64-bit) DVD - OEM
Total - $787.92 (build) + $699.99 (TV) + GST
For "basic cable", just plug the cable into the TV. It will have a coaxial cable input. If you want digital HD cable, you have to buy/rent a HD decoder or PVR from Shaw/Rogers as their signals are encrypted. The only reason for a HDMI cable into the TV is to pass a HD signal.
I built a HTPC box, and then sold it and bought a PS3 instead. It streams .avi's and music from my computer, does slideshows, plays games, and could surf the net with a add-on keyboard. You need to really examine what you want to do, because most HTPC setups won't work in Canada without a separate set-top box.
Yes. Or a component cable. There's enthusiasts out there that swear you get a better HD picture using component cables, but I can't see the difference.
Here's my setup:
with one HDMI cable to
with HDMI cables to
PS3 and HD-PVR
The beauty of HDMI for me is one cable for picture and sound. Before I had patch cables all over, now I'm down to 3 HDMI cables.
Edit: I had very similar parts in my HTPC before I sold it. But don't count on onboard graphics for a HD output. You'll need an ATI HD3450 or similar.
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