Re: Blu-ray and HD DVD in one box
I'm the guy playing HD-DVD and Blu-Ray on the PC.
Here's a little background, I purchased a used Electrohome Marquee 8111 projector in 2000. I got this $25k piece of hardware on Ebay for $2k. Lucky for me it was just down the street in Fullerton and I could see it in operation while the auction was still on. Since the Marquee's look terrible with standard NTSC, I first bought a DVDO I-scan. When I realized how advanced the HTPC world had become, I built a dedicated PC to drive the projector. It received and recorded over the air ATSC and scaled all my DVD's to 720p. In my opinion that's the sweet spot for this projector although some of my brethren with more time, skill and patience than I possess fully resolve 1080p on similar beasts.
For the last 2 years I had been using an HP Media Center PC for all of the above and fell in love with the PVR functionality and the My Movies plug in. As HD-DVD and Blu Ray came out, I researched upgrading the HP but decided against it. The 3.0 P-4 processor couldn't keep up with the required HD processing.
Several months ago Nvidia and then ATI announced budget video cards that off-loaded the video processing from the CPU and performed that function in hardware on the video card. Nvidia's 8500 and 8600's and ATI's 2400 and 2600 cards quickly became the best choice for High Def DVD on a PC.
At the same time, advanced hobbyists discovered that Microsoft's accessory HD-DVD drive (then with a retail of $199) could be added to XP or Vista PC's via USB 2.0 and that Microsoft had drivers for it.
The ensuing search for a software player to go with the MS drive finally settled on Power DVD Ultra. Many members of the AVS Forum reported success with the venture. They also discovered that the aforementioned Power DVD Ultra could also play Blu-Ray discs with the proper drive.
At this point I could probably have updated my HP to allow both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray play. In theory I would only have needed to replace the DVD burner in the HP with a Blu-Ray capable model, add a low profile ATI card (2400 or 2600), Power HD-DVD Ultra, the external MS HD-DVD drive and some diligence.
Instead I decided to rebuild my previous HTPC although all I used from that machine was the Antec component style case.
Here's what I put together: 1. Asus P5B Deluxe Mother board (very accomplished), 2. Intel Core-Duo E4300 CPU (the native speed of the E4300 is not enough for native High Def software playback. However, I'm overlclocking it to 2.4 MHz which is fast enough for high def even without the dedicated video card)3. 2 gig DDR2 800 MHz Memory 4. Sapphire 2400 Pro video card (As mentioned this card accelerates High Def playback) 5. The MS XBox 360 drive (now only $170 retail with 5 free movies). 6. Lite-On Blu-Ray burner. 7. Vista Ultimate operating system. For TV integration I also added MS IR keyboard, IR receiver and remote, Hauppage's PVR-150 TV tuner and AverMedia's M780 ATSC tuner card. As I final "fail safe" I also loaded AnyDVD HD to mitigate any potential problems that could occur with regional codes, ITC issues or copy protection. The overall cost for everything was around $1500.
The PC went together easily with very few issues. Once it was done I amended my Netflix subscription to include HD-DVD and Blu-Ray discs and let the new formats arrive.
HD-DVD, Blu-Ray and ATSC over the air are now working flawlessly. The Vista Media Center records and plays back when it should. My family and I are happy with the results.
Last edited by Stereojeff; 08-24-2007 at 12:09 PM..
Reason: improved grammar