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Media Center PC Share your experiences with PCs in your home theater.

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Old 08-21-2007   #1
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Default Blu-ray and HD DVD in one box

I had a conversation with an advertiser of mine who personally built a media center PC with both Blu-ray and HD DVD in the same chasis.

He used the drive from an Xbox 360 and an off the shelf BR drive. He said the video card was $60 - amazingly and that the system unlike earlier versions of his creation used like 19% of the computer's processing - not more than it had.

Computer geeks might be onto something here assuming you have the guts to use a PC for your home theater. I say "why not" my BR and HD DVD players as much as a PC and until Steven Jobs has a player for me with the Mac interface - its going to take making frankenstein-like systems above for people on the cutting edge.

Tell us about your home theater PC rig and what you are doing with it (the legal parts)
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Old 08-24-2007   #2
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Default Re: Blu-ray and HD DVD in one box

Jerry:

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.

Jeff Hipps

Last edited by Stereojeff; 08-24-2007 at 01:09 PM.. Reason: improved grammar
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Old 10-17-2007   #3
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Default Re: Blu-ray and HD DVD in one box

I saw Jeff yesterday and he says he media center PC is working MUCH better these days.
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Old 11-09-2007   #4
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Default Re: Blu-ray and HD DVD in one box

LG SATA combo drive is on sale now.
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Old 11-16-2007   #5
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Red face Re: Blu-ray and HD DVD in one box

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Originally Posted by Telstar View Post
LG SATA combo drive is on sale now.
Yes, you can buy one for 299.00 (CAD). I just found out about this product and I'm getting one the Friday after Black Friday. My system consist of Power DVD Ultra (it will decode the new sound formats also) - Audigy 2ZS Platinum with breakout cable (I actually used my PC as a preamp at one time), Nvidia 8500 512mb video card, K-World ATSC-110 hybird tuner, outside OTA antenna, Dual Core 3.4ghz Processor, Windows XP Pro, 2gb dual channel ram, and an Asus Motherboard (I have overclocked the processor up to 3.6ghz) and my Motorola 6416 III HD cable box is connected to my pc via firewire. I'm also running Total Meida 3, and Media Portal as Front-ends. I'm using an Xbox 360 addon for HD-DVD and AnyDVD HD for any problems. This outputs to my Sharp HD projector.

Before HD-DVD and Blu-ray I've always used my computer to upscale DVD's with DScaler and the like. I believe we techies can have the best of both worlds without having to pay the expensive prices to plunge into High Def Disc (well HD-DVD killed the expensive excuse).

I have run this system with great sucess but I have to make sure that I turn off TSR's when playing my HD-DVD's (virus protection will try to download and scan while playing a film and cause hangs - very distracting - just kill the app and it works fine). In some strange way I belive its people like me that the industry fears. Look I'm not looking to make HD copies to sell and distribute. What computer geeks do like however - is the convienience of not having to pull out the disc everytime (keeps them from being scratched too). I don't mine having a license assigned to my content (as long as it doesn't expire). We just like pushing a button - sitting in a chair with a wireless keyboard and mouse and never having to open a tray except for the initial time that we play a title. Yeah, that is lazy ain't it.

Last edited by prerich; 11-16-2007 at 01:54 PM..
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Old 11-16-2007   #6
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Default Re: Blu-ray and HD DVD in one box

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Originally Posted by prerich View Post
Yes, you can buy one for 299.00 (CAD). I just found out about this product and I'm getting one the Friday after Black Friday. My system consist of Power DVD Ultra (it will decode the new sound formats also) - Audigy 2ZS Platinum with breakout cable (I actually used my PC as a preamp at one time), Nvidia 8500 512mb video card, K-World ATSC-110 hybird tuner, outside OTA antenna, Dual Core 3.4ghz Processor, Windows XP Pro, 2gb dual channel ram, and an Asus Motherboard (I have overclocked the processor up to 3.6ghz) and my Motorola 6416 III HD cable box is connected to my pc via firewire. I'm also running Total Meida 3, and Media Portal as Front-ends. I'm using an Xbox 360 addon for HD-DVD and AnyDVD HD for any problems. This outputs to my Sharp HD projector.

Before HD-DVD and Blu-ray I've always used my computer to upscale DVD's with DScaler and the like. I believe we techies can have the best of both worlds without having to pay the expensive prices to plunge into High Def Disc (well HD-DVD killed the expensive excuse).

I have run this system with great sucess but I have to make sure that I turn off TSR's when playing my HD-DVD's (virus protection will try to download and scan while playing a film and cause hangs - very distracting - just kill the app and it works fine). In some strange way I belive its people like me that the industry fears. Look I'm not looking to make HD copies to sell and distribute. What computer geeks do like however - is the convienience of not having to pull out the disc everytime (keeps them from being scratched too). I don't mine having a license assigned to my content (as long as it doesn't expire). We just like pushing a button - sitting in a chair with a wireless keyboard and mouse and never having to open a tray except for the initial time that we play a title. Yeah, that is lazy ain't it.
DScaler? I use ffdshow. Most of my libraries are still SD material.

I dont think the majors fear the geeks like us that just want to play their movie collection from hard disk. They fear duplication. To prove this, Kaleidascape (a system that costs a few dozen grands) has licenses from them and sells collection of movies in HD format (and standard as well), already ripped on drives.
I hate DRM because I have my files backupped on several different HDDs and computers and WMA files failed to play more than once. Gimme a license but dont put it on the files themselves. I dont think I'm the only one, since drm-free content is growing while protected is shrinking, expecially in the audio realm.

PS: get a better sound card if you use your pc also for music.
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