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Hello all from NB...

I'm new to HTPC, but very technologically inclined...

I have massive renovation plans for my house. I am switching the current locations of the dining and living rooms. (i.e. the living room will be where my dining room is now).

I'm looking at a 52" Samsung LCD (650 model) 120hz 1080p to go with a nice Onkyo 7.1 surround sound system.

I would like to integrate a HTPC with this in order to play Blu-Ray discs from it (150$ Blu-Ray drive is cheaper than 400$ PS3) and I would like to PC game on the flat panel TV. Also would be nice to play my music from my HD and browse the internet from the couch.

My work PC will be located in my office directly below the future living room. Would be nice for this PC to double as a HTPC. My thoughts would be to run a HDMI cable through my floor and up to my HDMI receiver.

Now, my problem would be to get the details going. How do I get a keyboard and mouse to work from upstairs? I don't think wireless peripherals will work properly through the floor. Would one have to extend a USB cable upstairs and plug in the keyboard wireless receiver up there? Since I will be gaming, I want the mouse and keyboard to be free of delays or inaccuracies.

Also, is it possible to have a remote turn-on setup so that I could turn on the PC from upstairs? I do realise I would have to load discs from downstairs, but that's not a big deal...

Thanks in advance !

Cheers

Jeff
 

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wow! if you want to do all of that you might was well get another pc to set by the tv. i can't imagine running usb cables that far. of course a ps3 will be cheaper, but it won't do any of your tasks quite as well (except blu-ray).

you didn't include your pc specs.
 

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I am with Picard on this one. The maximum USB cord length according to their specs is either 3m or 5m, depending on the device. Further than this, and you will need to use a powered USB hub in the middle. You will also have problems with any accessories working very well, ie keyboard, mouse, remote, etc. HDMI for that distance will also be relatively expensive. Definitely doesn't seem worth the hassle to me.
 

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Generally speaking, HTPC and gaming requirements to a PC are "orthogonal"...
But in your case it might work since the computer is away
(you have to be very picky in terms of audio/video if you plan to play BDs in all its glory).

Try Gyration as keyboard/mouse - works up to 25-30 feet through walls and floors.
I heard some of the bluetooth based kb/mouse combos can do that, too (DiNovo Mini for me does).
Don't know how good they are for gaming...

Maybe you want to put the PC next to your TV and use it in your office "remotely"?
 

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Maybe it is just me but I don't find PC gaming in the living room very comfortable unless the game was designed for a 360 controller. Trying to find a comfortable place to position the keyboard and mouse is difficult and I'd rather game on my PC in the office then in the living room. If you eliminate the gaming requirement getting a second PC just for HTPC use is relatively inexpensive.
 

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Maybe it is just me but I don't find PC gaming in the living room very comfortable
yeah i coudn't agree more. i tried gaming on a 50" dlp for a while, but its just way more comfortable to sit in a nice chair at a desk. plus, sitting 2 feet away from a 22" screen is like sitting 8 feet away from an 88" screen. i always laugh when people brag about gaming on a big screen tv like its somehow better. its pretty horrible. i don't even like playing shooters on my ps3 on a big screen. of course console gamers scoff at the notion of gaming at a desk.
 

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Usually the main use for a HTPC is as a PVR since it is so much more flexible at this than a cable/sat box. Would you be using it as a PVR, would you want HD and what is your source - cable, sat or OTA - OTA likely isn't much of an option in NB?

One option would be to use your office PC as a HTPC and get an extender or an Xbox360 to put by your TV. The only problem with that is I am not sure how easily the Xbox 360 can play BR files but it might be able to play them if you rip them to your hard drive. You best option might be a PS3 or a Xbox360 + a BluRay player.

I have an HTPC and thought that I would want to browse then net on it but have rarely done so.
 

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I use over 30ft of USB extension cable for the keyboard/mouse with no issues.
I tried gaming on my 50" from 10 feet away and get motion sickness within 15 minutes every time!

Another variable to place in the mix when using a computer in another room to provide entertainment is using Remote Desktop from a wireless laptop. I use this to control Audio content from the downstairs HTPC and AVR when playing music through the upstairs speakers.
This probably does not apply to you, but it is always something to keep in mind.
 

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hdmi should be fine, i doubt the signal degrades that fast. i'm guessing if the tv is directly above the pc, you could use a ~12ft cable. usb would prolly be fine as well. if not, you could get usb wireless hub (http://catalog.belkin.com/IWCatProductPage.process?Product_Id=377793).

if you don't game and use VMC, you could drop the mouse/keyboard and just a remote with usb extended cable to control it (or an ir blaster).

heck, i'd even a bluetooth keyboard/mouse combo and see if it can go thru the floor, you might be surprised. or RF. or just get a 6ft usb cable and pin the bt/rf reciever up near the ceiling. the actually distance is not that far, just going the the floor which i doubt is thick.

be creative and i'm sure you can find a way. only think i would be wary about is the hdmi signal. not all hdmi output devices (mobo or vid card) will transmit 7.1 audio. only the newer vid cards (ati 4xxx series and i forget what nvidia cards do) do LCPCM where it will pass all channels uncompressed and not down sampled from 96hz to 48hz (and pass all channels period i believe).
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Hi guys,

sorry that I did not reply after you all chimed in. Very useful information! Thank you kindly...

Based on your thoughts, I'm starting to second guess wanting to game from my living room. Maybe I will give it a try just by simply placing the CPU next to it for a few days to see how I like it.

Also, reference HDMI use... I have an ATI 4830... are you saying that it would be possible for the video card to combine the 7.1 audio and the 1080p video into the HDMI cable... Thus completely bypassing my computer's audio card? I've never heard of that before... Sounds interesting though... I would rather have my Harmon Kardon AVR upstairs process the audio than my sound card...


I've lost a bit of steam on this, I might just abandon ship and buy a standalone Blu-Ray player... they have gotten a lot cheaper lately...

Thanks for all the input and if you have any more comments or suggestions, please keep them coming!

Jeff from NB

Edit : I have no intent of using the PC for PVR use... My plan was to buy the PVR receiver from Bell ExpressVu...
 

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HTPC under the floor of a wall hung HDTV...advice please

Hey Guys,

My request for advice is similar; however, what I am trying to do is get a HTPC and connect it to my Samsung 40" 4062 series LCD that will act as my media (pics, videos, and music) storage device, my SD & HD-PVR, my DVD/Blu-Ray player, and a normal PC computer running Windows, which would enable me to surf the internet etc.

Ideally I wish I could just buy a Media Center PC that would enable me to do all of the above. But from some of the forums I have read, I am starting to think it is not that easy in Cananda (Toronto to be exact). I currently have a PACE 551 HD STD connected to the HDTV via HDMI cable.

In addition to the functionality listed above, I am also hoping to have the HTPC placed in the basement directly below the floor of the wall hung HDTV. Distance from HDTV to HTPC would be about 10'. When I first started looking at Media Center PCs I saw a HP Media Center PC that comes with a remote, wireless KB, and wireless Mouse. I was thinking that I could run the wireless reciever from the HTPC up to sit beneath the HDTV, which would be in the TV viewer's line of sight enabling the wireless KB, mouse and remote to function.

Any suggestions, ideas, product recommendations, and/or comments would be greatly appreciated. My budget is about $1500.

Thanks
Jim
 

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yes that should work fine - you will need to run dvi/hdmi (depending on yer video card), audio, and the IR cable - alternatively, you could get a media center extender device and hide it behind your tv or use a 360...

watch bestbuy.ca or futureshop.ca - they blow-out the HP's for dirt cheap (refurb) - you also may want to hold out for Windoze 7 - it is looking really really good so far...
 

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Thanks.

Will I be able to record Rogers SD and HD channels from the Pace 551 HD STB via HDMI - DVI to my HTPC?

I have seen chats stating that it is not possible to record Rogers because most channels are encrypted. Is that still the case? If its not still the case, does HP offer a Media Center PC that will enable me to record all Rogers channels? or do I need to buy some addtional hardware/software?
 

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You can record the SD and HD output from the Pace over component cable into a Hauppauge HD PVR. You would need 1 of each though for each feed though which can add up. Last I heard, the Hauppauge does not work with VMC currently but I don't know first-hand. It should work with Sage, GBPVR and Beyond though as I understand it.

Encryption only applies before hooking up the set-top so you would not be able to directly connect to the coax. After the set-top there is no more encryption but the signal gets down-graded to 480i(/p maybe too) over S-Video and below which is what most tuners use. The Hauppauge is the only unit currently that allows component for the full 720p/1080i feed from your Pace. No tuners can be hooked up with HDMI/DVI but the component works well enough that it's not needed.

[Edit] PS. You would hook up the audio over optical cable for the digital sound as well.
 

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Thanks NineBall.

In the first paragraph you state I will need one of each, what exactly are you referrring to?

Also, regarding cables from STB to HTPC, is HDMI to HDMI available?

I have seen some HP Media Center PC that say they have HDMI output. Can I use that HDMI output to connect the HTPC to the HDTV?

Thanks again
 

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In regards to my first paragraph, I meant that you would need 1 set-top box and 1 Hauppauge HD PVR for each feed you want. For example, if you want to be able to record 1 channel while watching another you would need 2 of each.

As I said, there is no HDMI->HDMI connection available for the set-top to the HTPC, you would have to use component cables from the set-top to the HD PVR and then it plugs into the HTPC over USB. The HTPC would connect via HDMI to your TV though as you asked assuming the PC you buy/build supports it (pretty much all current pre-build/parts do these days).
 

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Thanks for the info NineBall. Much appreciated.

Are these two setup scenarios correct:

To get HD and SD...

(1) Rogers PACE 551 HD STB -> (component cables) -> HD PVR -> (USB, audio optical) -> Tuner Card in HTPC -> (HDMI) -> HDTV

To get only SD...

(2) Rogers PACE 551 HD STB -> (component cables) -> Tuner Card in HTPC -> (HDMI) -> HDTV


The one thing I am not sure about is do I need a tuner card in the HTPC if I am using the HD PVR as in setup 1? Or can I connect the HD PVR into a HD capatible video card?
 

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The 2 scenarios should be more like this:

(1) Rogers PACE 551 HD STB -> (component, optical cables) -> HD PVR -> (USB) -> HTPC -> (HDMI) -> HDTV

(2) Rogers PACE 551 HD STB -> (S-Video, RCA audio cables) -> Tuner Card in HTPC -> (HDMI) -> HDTV

The HD PVR plugs right into any USB 2.0 port and does not require a tuner card to operate as it tunes the TV feed and outputs through that connection.
 

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Thanks NineBall.

Very helpful for getting all this info sorted out. So if the HD PVR can connect into the HTPC via USB without a Tuner Card, what are the video card requirements? Can you also please give me a videocard recommendation to work with the HD PVR.


Thanks again
 

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That's a little more tricky. Assuming the HD PVR encodes properly to H.264/AVC level 4.1 then with the right drivers and codecs any graphics cards capable of DXVA will offload the video decoding from the CPU. If not, then the CPU will need to be able to do the work and the video card is not as important (applying strictly to this scenario, you'll want a good DXVA GPU anyway). Basically any ATI Radeon 2xxx, 3xxx, 4xxx or nVidia GeForce 8xxx, 9xxx, or 2xx will work if it is properly encoded. If not then you will want a good dual or quad core.
 
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