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  1. Member
    Join Date: Jul 2006
    Location: United States
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    hey guys i was hoping to get some opinions on this:

    right now, i have a dvd player that supports divx files and has a USB connection. so what i have been doing is throwing my files on my 2gb jump drive and watching them from there. its okay for right now, but what i would like is to obviously have more storage then just 2gbs at any given time. so i was thinking about buying an external 1TB hdd for about 289, and just throwing all my divx files on there and hook it up to my dvd player. or, i was thinking about possibly building an htpc, but i would not need all the extra features such as using it's pvr capabilities. Right now i just have a tube tv, but will most likely get an lcd in a few months, and im not sure whether to just use my divx dvd player with external hdd, or build an htpc.

    any and all help is appreciated, thanks!
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  2. Member GMaq's Avatar
    Join Date: Mar 2004
    Location: Canada
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    Hi,
    The great thing about building an HTPC is how cheaply you can do it, the only thing that spoils the party is the ability to do HDDVD/BluRay. Last year I picked up a used DELL GX280 (P4 2GHz) for $180CDN I added a Nvidia FX5500 $65.00), Hauppage PVR-150 (115.00) and a SBLive 5.1 I had lying around. I can play ANY format including DVD (don't have HDDVD or BluRay and won't until the war's over) I can stream stuff over my home network, The kids can watch YouTube and play games. H.264 Movies look really good and don't take up much space. And the picture quality from the computer RGB/HDMI connector is far superior to Component from my standalone DVD Player. Also the PVR functionality is handy.

    Of course you can spend as much as you want, My system is pretty low rent and works well with my Plasma TV. It has been very reliable so far.

    Just my experience for what it's worth
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  3. Member oldandinthe way's Avatar
    Join Date: Mar 2006
    Location: With the other crabapples
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    Consider one of these enclosures with DIVX capability and a HDD. Prices start at $35

    http://www.meritline.com/mpeg4-divx-video-playing-enclosure.html
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  4. Member
    Join Date: Jul 2006
    Location: United States
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    GMaq:

    so then do you use a keyboard / mouse for your htpc or a remote? im really new as far as htpc's go.
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  5. Member GMaq's Avatar
    Join Date: Mar 2004
    Location: Canada
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    Hi,
    For now I am using an Optical Mouse and keyboard with extensions (they run along a wall and are mostly out of sight) I am going to pick up a wireless set on sale someday, Because I use the HTPC for web stuff I will stay with a keyboard and mouse personally, they tuck away neatly in a coffee table when not in use. Some remotes that come with capture cards are capable of controlling an HTPC but I really don't know the particulars of them. Reportedly GeexBox works very well as an HTPC operating system if you don't want to use a full Windows install. I have used several Linux distro's that worked very well but didn't support the Capture card for PVR purposes. Right now I am using Windows XP because it will do it all.
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  6. Member
    Join Date: May 2007
    Location: reality
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    An HTPC will take you well beyond a DivX player with USB. A properly configured HTPC can store and play just about any video format, store and play your music collection, store and play your digital photos, easily transfer media to and from portable devices (mp3, phone, camera, etc), record OTA, cable and satelite shows, pause live TV, catalogue your entire media collection and if your HTPC has an internet connection it can link to IMDB, televsion listings, etc...and you can surf the net on your TV from your favorite living room perch...you'll want a wireless keyboard and mouse for that. A remote is usefull for controlling media players or check out something like the Logitech Dinovos.

    VH
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  7. Member
    Join Date: Jul 2006
    Location: United States
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    could i build a htpc for around $600 USD? are there any htpc barebones available?
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  8. Member oldandinthe way's Avatar
    Join Date: Mar 2006
    Location: With the other crabapples
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    If you have a wife or expect to have a wife, don't implement an HTPC.
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  9. Member
    Join Date: May 2007
    Location: reality
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    For $600 you should do fine. You will need to pick a case first. You can use any case you want but remember that it will be a part of your AV system and you want it to fit in. A quiet case is also a high priority. At the beginning it may not seem that the looks and noise are a priority, but once your system is running the way you want it, they will become your biggest concerns. There are cases designed to look like A/V compenents from Silverstone and other companies. Some of the high-end ones would double your budget but they make some budget cases as well. You can also consider using one of the micro-ATX cubes or a Shuttle. Shuttle does build barebones systems but if you are confident in building a scratch system you can do much better $ wise. Doing your homework on the case and picking one you like is the biggest part of the build.

    Beyond the case you need a motherboard, processor, memory, optical drive, hard drive(s), video card and tuner card. A quiet power supply, case fan, cpu cooler, etc are all options. Silicone mounts for the hard drives, power supply and fan all keep things a little more quiet. Remember that more fans and smaller fans = more noise. A single 120mm case fan is the best option. An HTPC should not need to be running an overclocked quad core...stick with a slower (and cooler) processor and you will not need multitudes of fans. A passive video card or a mother board with good onboard graphics (such as the Asus P5e HDMI) work well in HTPC's. Onboard DD/DTS/SPDIF, ethernet, firewire, and lots of USB ports are a must.

    The O/S is up to you. Vista and XP both have media centre versions available. Many third party media centre front ends work with Vista, XP or Linux flavours. Some of these front ends are free open-source programs that rival any paid product.
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  10. Member
    Join Date: May 2007
    Location: reality
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    Originally Posted by oldandinthe way
    If you have a wife or expect to have a wife, don't implement an HTPC.
    Yes. If you have an HTPC most states will not issue you a marriage license...and 78.659% of all divorces in America are caused by ugly, loud computers running in the living room. That is why asthetics and sound are crucial to a successful HTPC implementation.

    My wife leaves the video stuff to me but she loves her music and photos being so convenient. She also loves watching a recorded CSI episode while emailing photos to family and friends.

    I guess the object is to make your HTPC work for you, not you working for your HTPC. It's the little things that count.
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  11. Member fritzi93's Avatar
    Join Date: Nov 2003
    Location: U.S.
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    Originally Posted by oldandinthe way
    If you have a wife or expect to have a wife, don't implement an HTPC.
    Mine's in the den. No reason to risk letting it become a bone of contention.

    I can recommend the Soundgraph iMon remote control, it's not too tedious to program. I also have a wireless RF mouse and keyboard. Currently using a 28" LCD monitor.

    Good luck to the OP. If you tackle this project, have patience. Takes a while to set everything up.
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  12. Member
    Join Date: Jun 2005
    Location: USA
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    HPTC is the way to go and it will save you money in the long run. For $600 you could get a decent one by buiding one for yourself (by used one and upgrade video card/sound card). You need to get at least NVIDIA 8600GTS or ATI HD2600XT for your video card.
    A $50 sound card is good enough since you will pass through the signal to your amplifier, digitally.

    ATI video card allows you to pass digital 5.1 sound through your HDMI cable if you want.

    Good luck
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  13. contrarian rallynavvie's Avatar
    Join Date: Sep 2002
    Location: Minnesotan in Texas
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    My girlfriend loves the HTPC I have set up. Only problem is the computer is locked when I'm not around so she can't use it

    The HTPC is generally going to be much more "future proof" than a standalone and that's the biggest draw on it IMO. PCs are so easy to upgrade and more and more people are learning how to do it themselves that you can just keep building on it. With how fast processors and platforms are these days you're really set for another step up in video technology before you have to scrap your motherboard and start all over. Even then I'm guessing just a new video card with the latest hardware decoding built in would suffice.

    As said before the big difference in cost will come with BRD/HD-DVD capabilities. I'd let that alone for now until combo players (and hopefully drives) come down in price. Otherwise you can build your own HTPC or wait for a sale at one of the big box stores. Mine is a little loud since it is also a pretty fast workstation but it isn't noticeable when watching TV or when sound of any sort is on so you don't have to be completely passive with your cooling unless it's in the bedroom or somewhere you really want quiet.

    As for input devices you will use a remote control just like a TV. Depending on the type of HTPC software you use you may want to look for ones that will control your other IR devices like TV, receiver, etc. I'd also recommend you get either a gyro mouse or just a good wireless keyboard and mouse so that you can also surf the web and do all the other stuff you can do with a PC from the comfort of your armchair/couch. The gyro mice are novel for this as they act almost like pointers and work rather well with Media Center and general computer use from up to 30' away.
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  14. Member
    Join Date: Oct 2004
    Location: Freedonia
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    Should anyone want to build an HTPC with BluRay/HD DVD capabilities, you will need to get a video card that has HDMI outputs, which means you'll need a PCI Express slot on your motherboard. None of the currently available commercial BluRay and HD DVD players support full resolution playback unless the video card has HDMI outputs.
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  15. Member
    Join Date: May 2007
    Location: reality
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    Originally Posted by jman98
    Should anyone want to build an HTPC with BluRay/HD DVD capabilities, you will need to get a video card that has HDMI outputs, which means you'll need a PCI Express slot on your motherboard. None of the currently available commercial BluRay and HD DVD players support full resolution playback unless the video card has HDMI outputs.
    The manufacturers have caught on and we are now starting to see motherboards built for the task. The Asus P5E-VM HDMI has integrated Intel X3500 graphics with maximum 384MB shared, dual VGA out: HDMI with 1900x1200 @ 60hz & RGB out with 2048 x 1536 @ 75hz, SPDIF coaxial out, 8 channel audio, firewire, 12 USB ports, supports Core 2 Quad processors and up to 8GB memory. Also has a PCI-E x16 slot incase you need more triangles. At just over $100 these kind of boards make it easy to build an HTPC on a budget: add a case, P/S, processor, memory, hard drive and optical drive. O/S, frontend and interface devices are personal preference.

    You can start with one of these and upgrade as your budget allows.
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  16. Originally Posted by fritzi93
    I can recommend the Soundgraph iMon remote control, it's not too tedious to program.
    The iMon UltraBay looks interesting.
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  17. Member fritzi93's Avatar
    Join Date: Nov 2003
    Location: U.S.
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    I have this remote:

    http://www.pcalchemy.com/product_info.php/pName/soundgraph-imon-knob-ir-remote-and-usb...emote-controls

    Didn't want to give up a drive bay for this:

    http://www.pcalchemy.com/product_info.php/pName/soundgraph-imon-vfd-ir-remote-silver-i...acturers_id/57

    Much less two bays for the Ultra:

    http://www.pcalchemy.com/product_info.php/pName/soundgraph-imon-ultrabay-internal-vfdc...acturers_id/57

    Anyway, I'm not as proficient in all this as many of you here. But I muddle through. I'm very pleased with the HTPC I've built.
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  18. Member
    Join Date: Jan 2008
    Location: United States
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    I just wanted to add that I was in the same boat as munozsblazer. I have an LG HT in a box dvd player with usb. I played around with putting movies in a 1 gig flash drive briefly but it got old real quick. I bought a 500gig USB drive with the intention of putting all my media on it and hooking it up to the LG. Short version... it didn't work. I'm assuming the LG can only handle drives with much smaller partitions? anyway, my drive was formatted NTFS and I went through the trouble to format it FAT32. Still didn't work... so, I wouldn't assume your dvd player will be able to access the 1TB drive. I've ordered a NAS (network attached storage HDD) because I've set up media steaming from my laptop. I haven't gotten the NAS drive yet but I think in the end I'm going to wind up going the HTPC route.
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  19. Member
    Join Date: Jun 2005
    Location: USA
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    If someone want to play video file from USB drive you must have dvd player that supports USB 2.0. I got Phillip DVP-5960 usb 1.1 and it could not play dvd movies I store on 500 GB Seagate hard drive. It really depends on the bit rate (or high video quality) of the movie I think . Most of the movies could not play due to high bit rate that USB 1.1 can support. I can play on some low quality dvd movie (really low)

    In the mean time, I use Ziova CS-505 USB 2.0 and all my dvd movies can play from USB hard drive without a problem.
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  20. Member
    Join Date: Sep 2003
    Location: University of Ottawa
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    Originally Posted by jman98
    Should anyone want to build an HTPC with BluRay/HD DVD capabilities, you will need to get a video card that has HDMI outputs, which means you'll need a PCI Express slot on your motherboard. None of the currently available commercial BluRay and HD DVD players support full resolution playback unless the video card has HDMI outputs.
    If your video card has hdcp-enabled dvi-out and your monitor/tv has hdcp-enabled dvi-in you can use the dvi port instead.
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  21. I have liked the philips dvd players for a long time. The new ones with the usb ports were great up until the point I found the Buffalo Link Theater with progressive DVD player. This unit play DVD progressive mode, it plays HD media files, from DVD, USB and from LAN and Wireless lan. It can also play media files from media storage servers as well. It can play just about any format I throw at it, Divx, Xvid, Divx-HD, WMV, WMV-hd, mpg1,2 etc. media files with AC3. For those rare file formats, I can play them with the help of Tversity.

    Anyhow, the point here is in order for phillips to continue to be a good option they need to put a lan port on it and give it the ability to play media files from shares.
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  22. His future partner may not be a wife
    www.lgbt.com/htpc-build?
    I agree about the HTPC being a more flexible option.. however I quibble about it being all that cheap, yes If you use your own S/h PC, but if you buy in new components its gonna cost the same as a new midrange PC. I use phillips player with an ext HDD and find 90% of films play fine over the USB, rivers, streams and snowstorms do cause stuttering however(due to too high bitrate) Starwars plays fine. The real problem I have with this is the crappy filenames, good old 8 chars dos and when you have 100+ plus films and shows it s bad. Either a Lan port and/or a builtin hard drive would be great, (with improved file system)
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