Home Theater PCs: Can It Be Done?

Discussion in 'OT Technology' started by honey, Apr 20, 2006.

  1. honey

    honey New Member

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    I was wondering if I could completely do away with all my traditional home theater components and replace them with a HTPC?

    1. Can the HTPC be an amplifier - can I hook my Home Theater speakers up to the PC somehow and still use the speakers for multiple sources, get 5.1-7.1 channel processing, etc.?

    2. Can I watch HDTV from my satellite through the HTPC? I realize I would probably have to keep my satellite box, but this is the exception.

    3. Can I record HDTV while watching live HDTV?

    4. Can I combine all of this with internet functionality, regular computer functionality, etc.?

    TIA for your help
     
  2. chips

    chips ...

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    Yes to all 4 youll need a medacenter PC with a duel HD TV tuner card..
    And you will need your sat settop box to have 2 tuners in it also...
     
  3. MP

    MP New Member

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    u could do that + more w/ a HTPC
     
  4. diranged

    diranged New Member

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    1) Yes -- but you have to buy a high end set of speakers. Its probably better to just get a standard stereo system that accepts TOSLINK audio cables.

    2) No -- you cannot. There is no way to get an HD signal into your computer without using an actual HD tuner card. The existing HD tuner cards do not work with Cable systems -- they only work with Over-the-Air HD broadcasts. You'd need an actual HD antenna on your roof, etc..

    3) If you have two HD tuner cards, then yes.

    4) Yes
     
  5. Grelmar

    Grelmar New Member

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    1) Yes - Get good speakers for your PC or a decent sound card with component audio out, so you can feed your PC sound to your existing sound sytem.

    2) Yes. A satellite tuner card is different from a standard tuner card, but they are available. Hauppauge makes one: http://www.hauppauge.com/html/dvb_s.htm

    3) Yes. You need two tuner cards, or a card with two tuners: http://www.hauppauge.com/pages/products/data_pvr500mce.html

    4) Yes. But if you're going to be watching TV and using the computer for other applications at the same time, you're going to need to get a dual core processor and lots of RAM (1Gig of fast RAM as a minimum, maxing out at 4 Gig would be better).

    Things to think about:

    Get good shielded cabling for your TV signal in and out from the PC. PCs generate a fair bit of radio interference, and if you want a good clean signal, you'll need good cabling.

    Remote Control: If you have a Windows Media Center PC, the remote should work with all the applications you need to make everything go. Windows MCE is not neccessary, though. Third party remotes are available from many different vendors.

    You can make all this work on a vanilla XP machine, with third party software like GB-PVR, which is really good freeware (I use this one), or Media Portal, which is open source. I've found Media Portal a bit flaky. It's still in early development, but in the long haul looks like a good bet.

    If you go with Windows MCE, it will require much less effort on your part, but you'll be DRMed up the wazoo. GB-PVR and Media Portal ignore Macrovision and other DRM schemes, so you'll be able to record more programs, convert VHS tapes to DVD, etc. This is technically illegal in the US, but legal just about everywhere else on the planet.

    Good TV tuners can also receive standard FM radio signals, as well as Digital FM from cable.

    In my experience:
    If you're a linux geek, you can make all this work really well and never have to worry about DRM. I won't even begin to tell you how to set it up, because you're a linux geek and can figure it out for yourself. TiVo is actually linux based.

    For Windows Users:
    Steer clear of Windows MCE. It's bloatfish shit typical of microsoft, and you'll be battling the DRM bug from day one. Go with vanilla XP and take the time to hunt down and install good quality third party hardware and software. In the long run, you'll end up with a better performing, more versatile unit.
     
  6. diranged

    diranged New Member

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    Guys, pay attention.. he wants to do HDTV over satellite. There is NO Satellite OR Cable HD tuner card available in the US yet.

    Just because its called 'digital' TV, doesnt mean its HD.
     
  7. lowfat

    lowfat 24/Mac/SciFi/PC Crew OT Supporter

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    1 - no. Not unless you want to use a set of ampified speakers (i.e. computer speakers), which are pretty much shit. Otherwise you'll still need a reciever.
     
  8. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

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    Yea, uh, guys stop lying to the thread starter... You can *NOT* use the HTPC as an amplifier...
     
  9. NGA WHAT?

    NGA WHAT? New Member

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    In for later!
     

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