Help with choosing Media Centre/Home Theatre - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums
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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old 2008-01-18, 06:03 PM Thread Starter
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Help with choosing Media Centre/Home Theatre

I am new to this forum... I am a memeber of a photography forum and I have leanred a lot from other people's experience and all my questions have been answered.. Now that I am thinking of buying a new home theatre/or media centre I thought I look for a similar forum and here I am..

So this is what I wanna do please let me know if it will work.

I want to buy the Media Centre desktop like HP Media Centre Pavilion AMD Phenom 9500 Quad-Core 2.2GHz Computer (A6352F) to store all my music and videos, then connect it to a speakers for 5.1 surround sound for music and DVD's. And possibly buy an amplifier for better sound for music.

Do you think I will get a good quality out of this? Do I need the amplifier?
I have to mention that I live in a small apartment and I am trying to save some space by doing this.. I don't have room for stack of CD's, CD Player, tuner, DVD player, amplifier etc....

Any suggestion helps
Thanks
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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old 2008-01-18, 11:37 PM
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Will you be using a computer monitor or a big screen TV? I would definitely say yes for the receiver to give you good surround sound. Don't forget that one of the biggest uses of an HTPC is to use as a PVR to record TV. Make sure that your PC has digital sound out via either coax or optical (TOSLINK).

You can rip all of your CDs and DVDs to your hard drives and then store your media somewhere else if space is an issue.

If you are not using your PC for gaming then a QuadCore is likely much more power than you need, unless you will be watching BR/HD DVDs. But then you will also need a strong video card that can handle this as well.
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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old 2008-01-19, 01:44 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Wayne
What do you recommend for Speakers and Receiver (Brand/Model)
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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old 2008-01-19, 01:17 PM
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I have had good experience in the past with Yamaha and Onkyo receivers but I am not an expert. If the receiver will also be used with other components such as a DVD player, digital cable box, game console, etc. than one thing to keep in mind is how many inputs of a certain type you want - i.e. how many HDMI and component. If you want a receiver that does HDMI switching it will likely increase the price.

As far as speakers - I have Mirage speakers for my system. I grew up in the 70s so I am old school when it comes to speakers - good heavy wood speakers are best! If you need a full system you can buy a full 5.1 set of speakers.
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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old 2008-01-19, 08:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalm
I want to buy the Media Centre desktop like HP Media Centre Pavilion AMD Phenom 9500 Quad-Core 2.2GHz Computer (A6352F)
Savage overkill. If you are not intimidated by a custom build, I would seriously recommend that you go that route. A much better overall system with more storage could be built for the same or less.

Matter of fact, you could easily build the following and spend about $1,100 and when you are done, it plays ANYTHING. BluRay, HD-DVD, you name it.
  • LG GGC-H20L BLU-RAY HD-DVD Reader BD-ROM 6X HD DVD-ROM 3X DVD+-RW 16X8X6 DL 4X Black SATA Software
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 750GB SATA2 7200RPM 32MB Cache NCQ 3.5IN Hard Drive
  • Crucial Rendition 1GB PC2-5300 DDR2-667 240PIN DIMM Memory
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium Edition 32BIT DVD OEM
  • AMD Athlon 64 X2 5200+ Dual Core Processor AM2 2.7GHZ 2X512KB 65W 65NM Retail Box
  • Antec Fusion 430 HTPC Desktop mATX Case 1X5.25 2X3.5INT 430W ATX12V Black Silver VFD Volume Control
  • Gigabyte Radeon HD 2600 Pro 600MHZ 512MB 800MHZ GDDR2 PCI-E Dual DVI-I HDCP HDTV Out Video Card
  • Gigabyte GA-MA69GM-S2H 690G mATX AM2 1PCI-E16 1PCI-E4 2PCI HDMI Video Sound GBLAN 1394
  • BTC 9029URF-III MCE Wireless Keyboard for Windows XP Media Center Edition RF 10M Range W/ Trackpoint
  • MCE Infrared Silver Remote Control And Receiver for Windows Vista Home Premium & Ultimate

If you took the Combo drive out and only went DVD and also changed to a 500 GB drive, you can easily knock off $300. So that would put you at $800. $100 less than the HP system and it would be a lot better overall. And it would look a lot better IMHO.

The only thing missing from either the HP system or my build list is a TV tuner card of some kind. With the upcoming release of the Hauppauge Component Video capture device, I would try to hold off as long as I could.
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post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old 2008-01-19, 08:24 PM
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I should note that the custom build list I have above has the ability to connect to every kind of device you can think of. Composite, S-Video, component, VGA, DVI, HDMI, optical surround sound, firewire...

Everything.

After this, practically all you need to add is a TV and a home theater amp and speakers.

And yes, as Wayne stated, you are still better off using a dedicated reciever/amp to process the surround from an optical out on the PC.
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post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old 2008-01-21, 11:58 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks

But how do I build this? I don't know how? Are there places that you can go and ask them to build you costume built computer?
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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old 2008-01-21, 12:13 PM
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infonec built mine for free. Canada Computer wanted a small fee.
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post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old 2008-01-21, 12:35 PM
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Most computer shops will build a PC with exactly the components that you want - they may charge something like a $50 fee for this but that may be worth it to you - it is to me.

However, with an HTPC you will likely still spend lots of time futzing around with things like getting audio working with your receiver, playing with video drivers, video codecs, overscan, resolutions, wireless keyboards, mice, TV tuners, etc. You can get complete turnkey solutions but for those you are talking big money -i.e 10s of thousands for a complete Home Theatre solution.
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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old 2008-01-21, 01:38 PM Thread Starter
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OK So if I don't mind spending a few hundred dollars more, is it better to go with the HP or other media centres or still it will be better to get it costume built?
The question is what options would I get from the costume built that the standard media centre doesn't have? blue ray DVD is not very important to me? Anything else that is essential/useful that I would be missing if I get the HP computer?
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post #11 of 27 (permalink) Old 2008-01-21, 02:19 PM
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I would personally go custom because you can pick exactly what you want. One big issue is case - most of the HP systems look like PCs. But you can get a case that looks like an AV component if you want - check out Silverstone cases for example. You can also customise other add-ins like TV tuner cards, etc. Getting a prepackaged system you often pay through the nose for stuff like upgrading hard drives.
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post #12 of 27 (permalink) Old 2008-01-21, 02:43 PM Thread Starter
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Interesting!! It would be great to have it in a AV component case.. I looked up those cases.. it looks great.. Now here is the question.. it may sound stupid, but I am new to all these... If I do costume made, with the components mentioned above, would I still be able to use it as a computer too? i.e. surfing the net, storing my pictures, using a wireless keyboard etc?
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post #13 of 27 (permalink) Old 2008-01-21, 03:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalm
If I do costume made, with the components mentioned above, would I still be able to use it as a computer too?
Absolutely!

However, it will not be the best looking thing unless you have a MASSIVE TV. Windows at the desktop level is crystal clear on a plasma or LCD but until you get past 60" or plan on sitting less than 10 feet away, reading text is going to make you blind.

BTW, do not confuse what I am saying with how your Media Center software will look. It is designed to be very readable from distances over 10 feet, hence why it is usually referred to as a 10 ft interface. Not because it is taht big but because it can be read from the couch with ease.
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post #14 of 27 (permalink) Old 2008-01-23, 04:01 PM Thread Starter
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OK so after reading all the threads in this forum about HTPC, and asking questions on where to go to get an HTPC built. I came up with the followings at NCIX website. So I picked up the components and they gave me the price of $1500. Which is a lot more than what mentioned above for even less memory storage!

Anyway here are the components, Please advise:


PC ASSEMBLY AND TESTING (PRE-CONFIG OS IF PURCHASED)
1 x AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ Dual Core Processor AM2 2.5GHZ 2X512KB 65W 65NM Retail Box
1 x ASUS M2A-VM HDMI mATX AM2 AMD 690G DDR2 PCI-E16 PCI-E1 2PCI Video HDMI Sound Motherboard
1 x Corsair XMS2 TWIN2X2048-5400C4 2GB 2X1GB PC5400 DDR2-667 CL 4-4-4-12 240PIN Dual Channel Memory
1 x Diamond Viper Radeon HD 2600XT 512MB DDR2 PCI-E Dual DVI-I HDCP HDTV Out Video Card *IR-$10.00*
1 x Nmedia HTPC-200BA Desktop Media Centre Case mATX Black 1X5.25 3X3.5INT LCD Card Reader No PS
1 x Nmedia MP-500 500W ATX Power Supply 20/24PIN W/ 140MM Fan Retail Box
1 x Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 3.5IN 500GB SATA2 8.5MS 7200RPM 32MB Cache NCQ Hard Drive
1 x Samsung SH-S203B Black SATA DVD+RW 20X8X16 DVD-RW 20X6X16 DL 18X/12X INT DVD Writer OEM W/ Vista SW
1 x LG GGC-H20L BLU-RAY HD-DVD Reader BD-ROM 6X HD DVD-ROM 3X DVD+-RW 16X8X6 DL 4X Black SATA Software
1 x Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate Edition 32BIT DVD OEM
1 x Creative Sound Blaster X-FI Xtreme Audio 24BIT Sound Card 7.1 PCI-E X1 OEM
1 x Belkin F5D7000 54G Wireless Network Adapter PCI 54M 2.4G IEEE 802.11G Pnp 64/128 Bit BIT-WEP Wpa
1 x ASUS 16X DVD-ROM Drive SATA Retail Box W/ Black & Beige Faceplates
1 x Hauppauge WINTV-HVR-1600 PCI TV Tuner for Vista MCE NTSC/ATSC Whitebox OEM No Remote
1 x Microsoft Remote Control W/ USB Receiver OEM for Windows XP Media Center Edition (with System Only)
1 x Nx Fusion Premium Experience - Optimal Cabling for Best Airflow & Extended BURN-IN *No Lighting*
1 x Nx Fusion Assembly Charge
1 x Logitech Cordless Desktop Ex 110 Wireless RF Keyboard & Optical Mouse USB/PS2
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post #15 of 27 (permalink) Old 2008-01-23, 04:17 PM
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Not to nitpick but...
  • Vista Ultimate is a total waste of money.
  • With a separate video card, there is no need of an X2 4800. An X2 4000 or 4200 will be fine.
  • Soundcard is not needed. Onboard is fine for a surround sound setup. If you need an optical out, get the Gigabyte mobo I listed above.
  • You do not need a DVD burner AND the BluRay/HD-DVD drive, let alone TWO DVD drives and the combo drive...
  • I assume you need WiFi... Otherwise, WiFi for streaming of HD content is not advised.
  • I never included tuners as they are a personal choice/unique in each build.

You fix most of those items above and you will shave off a couple hundred $$$ easily.
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