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HDTV + mediabox

bowenbowen Registered User regular
So, I'm looking at building an HDTV mediacenter.

Now I know why everyone is so into these things, makes my life so much easier. I've got a spare P4 PC laying about and I'd like to turn it into a media center.

I have Verizon FIOS right now, which they have their own little set top box. If possible, I'd like to get rid of that box, but it's no big deal if I can place this media PC in between the STB and my TV.

What I'm looking at is this for TV in:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16815116010&cm_re=Hauppauge-_-15-116-010-_-Product

And this for TV out:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814125336

Keyboard:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16879212011&nm_mc=OTC-Froogle&cm_mmc=OTC-Froogle-_-PS3+Accessories-_-Logitech-_-79212011

I can't remember my brand of TV off the top of my head, but I believe it's a Toshiba and it can do up to 1080p and I do have an HDMI/composite ports. At the moment the verizon STB plugs into the composite ports so I'm not sure what I'll have to do to get input into coax. Any suggestions?

As for media software I'm looking at media portal. It has the basics I want, but mostly I just want to be able to watch Hulu on my TV without having to pay some software company $100 for it and then maybe it'll work tomorrow. At least this way I can make my own plugin if the one they have stops working, or, just use a web browser right on the PC itself.

Am I missing anything? Anything else you guys can think of?

Eventually I'm going to add a blu-ray but that's far in the future, and my PS3 can suffice for there.

bowen on
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Posts

  • badpoetbadpoet Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    This keyboard is nice, but it has a trackball vs. trackpad (which I prefer).

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16823166103

    Depending on the video card (and that 8400 GS will not help you), you may get some choppy fullscreen video from Hulu or other sites with that processor and you probably won't be able to output BluRay very well. I know when I tried an 8400 GS with my AMD dual core it was choppy. Still cheap but better is the http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814500143

    I would think you'd be able to hook your coax from the wall into the computer without the set top. The tuner card should be able to get the signal. As far as output, HDMI is nice as long as your computer remembers that the audio is HDMI (which mine forgets sometimes after being woken up).

  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    Hmm, thanks for those links badpoet.

    I agree the trackball would be much preferred there!

    As for the set top box, it can actually output HDMI. Is there HDMI in cards? I didn't see any. I at least want to get the hulu piece working. I'd really like to catalog my DVDs/Blu-Rays on the system too, what should I be looking at in terms of hard drive capacity?

    If I can take HDMI in I could eliminate the need to switch inputs between all the pieces of equipment I have.

    I'd like to take RCA in as well, but that's not such a big deal to me. I'd just like my DVD/TV/Hulu to all be in the same input.

  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    Also, is there a wireless keyboard equivalent to the one you linked me?

  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    Triiiiplllleee poooost:

    Okay, so let's say I want to make a really lean media box, can I do this for under $200? TV in can wait until a future point in time. I really am not liking how much noise/heat my P4 chip puts out and looking through and I'm sure my electric bill will reflect that.

  • badpoetbadpoet Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    Okay so here's what I'm looking at for my media pc:
    [FONT="Courier New"]CPU:  (2.7GHz)          AMD Semp. 140 AM3
    Mobo: (AMD 770)         Biostar A770E3 AM3
    RAM:  (PC 4200)         G.SKILL 1GB DDR2 553
    Vid:  (GeForce 9500 GT) Zotac ZT-95TEH3M-FSL 512MB DDR2 PCIe 2.0x16
    PSU:  (430 Watt)        Corsair CX430 CMPSU-430CX[/FONT]
    

    I already have a case/HDD/DVD.

    Does this look good? Or am I going to run into huge bottlenecks with HD output? I plan to go Blu-Ray at some point. I'm trying to keep this as low cost as possible too.

  • corky842corky842 Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    There's a dual-core Athlon (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103908) for $15 more, but you'll need a heatsink/fan for it.

    I'd go with a passively-cooled video card and try to improve the case's airflow if possible.

    That motherboard uses DDR3. That ram is DDR2.

    Hard drives are cheap nowadays. 2TB internal ones are around $100, and it should hold plenty of movies for now.

    Darmak wrote: »
    Something is wrong with me
  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    Yeah but I have the hard drive already, no need to worry about that.

    But I may have accidentally stuck the old ram onto that list, changed the mobo last minute.

    Do I need dual core? Like I said trying to keep it as cheap as possible $15 there means $15 closer to a tv in card or blu ray drive.

  • Bionic MonkeyBionic Monkey Registered User, ClubPA
    edited October 2010
    Out of curiosity, what program are you using to convert your DVDs to watch on the computer?

    sig_megas_armed.jpg
  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    http://imgburn.com/

    That's probably what I'll be looking at for ripping it to hard disk.

    http://handbrake.fr/details.php

    This is what I'll be using to transcode it to make it smaller.

    I have quite an extensive amount of DVDs/Blu-Rays so it'll be nice to cram as many as I can into it.

  • corky842corky842 Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    ImgBurn doesn't handle the copy protection on DVDs, so you'll need something like this. For BluRays, [url=http://www.***********/hd-decrypter.htm]this[/url] should work for some of them. I haven't seen any free ones that claim to do everything, but this is (an expensive) one that should work.

    Wow, not sure why the forums don't like the second link. It's for this program: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DVDFab

    Darmak wrote: »
    Something is wrong with me
  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    Probably to prevent people here from distributing copyright materials. Weird that it's just the one link.

  • ThrackThrack Registered User regular
    edited October 2010
    I've never had any luck getting handbrake to encode my blu rays. It doesn't recognize the BD folder structure and it crashes when trying to open a mkv made with MakeMKV or something similar. I guess 30 GB files are just too much for it. I still use handbrake for DVDs but I use RipBot264 for my blus.

    image-1_zpsdcb9eee1.png
  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    http://secure.newegg.com/WishList/PublicWishDetail.aspx?WishListNumber=16642446

    Does this look plausible? Looks good to me but I just want opinions on this, been a while since I entertained the thought but I may buy the video card and then buy pieces here and there (I already have an older machine).

  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Also, on that note, any good software recommendations? Mediaportal looks promising but I'm not too keen on MythTV.

    Anything I can run inside Windows7 would be a plus.

  • FoomyFoomy Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    for software I reccomend XBMC or Boxee my preference is xbmc.

    and as for ripping dvd's I use MakeMKV it's great if you dont want the menus, just rips video in the original quality.


    you might be better off looking at ion based passively cooled systems like this: Asus AT3IONT-I Deluxe it has enough power to playback HD content, saves you a bit of money, and the lack of noise from passive cooling can be very nice.

    one last edit: if you go the normal computer route, pick up one of these if you want to turn on/off the htpc without having to get up http://www.simerec.com/PCS-2.html

    Steam Profile: FoomyFooms
  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Hmm that ion intrigues me. Though I'm concerned because that seems like there'd be no way to play blu ray through that thing. Seems like the video card is not very beefy.

  • RandomEngyRandomEngy Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Use VidCoder to rip DVDs. It uses the core encoding engine of HandBrake except the UI is better, you get instant source previews (for seeing the effects of cropping), pause/resume and batch encoding. I made it because I was sick of the windows interface.

    Also FYI I believe that tuner will only give you unencrypted channels, which is only a handful. You need some cablecard shenanigans to get it all.

    Profile -> Signature Settings -> Hide signatures always. Then you don't have to read this worthless text anymore.
  • FoomyFoomy Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    bowen wrote: »
    Hmm that ion intrigues me. Though I'm concerned because that seems like there'd be no way to play blu ray through that thing. Seems like the video card is not very beefy.

    blue ray playback is just fine.
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/nvidia-ion-atom,2153-9.html

    Steam Profile: FoomyFooms
  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Yeah I decided to not go the cablebox route, just something to play BluRay + hulu on. Maybe to put my movie collections into too.

  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    I see, so 1080p video should be fine then eh? That's good to hear. I may consider that now, thanks.

    And I should be good without a remote, I've got a wireless keyboard already that I can just macro a shutdown button.

  • FoomyFoomy Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    ah, if you dont need the remote, than save yourself $50 and look at the non-deluxe board: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131653&cm_re=asus_ion-_-13-131-653-_-Product

    that case you listed has a power supply so you'd be set.

    Steam Profile: FoomyFooms
  • corky842corky842 Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    You could always get a remote later. There's a bunch that look better than the one that comes with the motherboard, about $25 cheaper too.

    Darmak wrote: »
    Something is wrong with me
  • RandomEngyRandomEngy Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    You may have to make sure your media player is set up to do hardware-accelerated H.264 decoding. I don't think the CPU itself would have enough power to handle it.

    Profile -> Signature Settings -> Hide signatures always. Then you don't have to read this worthless text anymore.
  • RohanRohan Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Foomy wrote: »
    for software I reccomend XBMC or Boxee my preference is xbmc.

    Just to say, Windows Media Center with the Media Browser and TunerFree MCE plugins is quite a capable and attractive piece of software. There's a bit of work to get it setup to play all .mkv's, and to get it reading subtitles, but once it's all up and running it works very well.

    ...and I thought of how all those people died, and what a good death that is. That nobody can blame you for it, because everyone else died along with you, and it is the fault of none, save those who did the killing.

    Nothing's forgotten, nothing is ever forgotten
  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    RandomEngy wrote: »
    You may have to make sure your media player is set up to do hardware-accelerated H.264 decoding. I don't think the CPU itself would have enough power to handle it.

    So if I get that non deluxe micro board up there and XBMC I should be kosher?

  • FoomyFoomy Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    bowen wrote: »
    RandomEngy wrote: »
    You may have to make sure your media player is set up to do hardware-accelerated H.264 decoding. I don't think the CPU itself would have enough power to handle it.

    So if I get that non deluxe micro board up there and XBMC I should be kosher?

    xbmc will use the vid card for video rendering, so yep.

    Steam Profile: FoomyFooms
  • Lord JezoLord Jezo Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    I have tried XBMC but I found it too much of a pain in the butt to bother with. I'm not saying it's bad because obviously it's pretty amazing if you put the time into it, but I just wanted something that worked, so I recommended Windows Media Center. it comes built in to Windows 7 and does just about everything I need it to do. XBMC didn't even have a built in seek bar and when I found that I needed to start installing all sorts of crazy plugins just to enable basic functionality I gave up on the thing all together.

    Windows Media Center worked out of the box, played just about everything I needed. I went ahead and configured it a little more with Media Control to enable multi audio and subtitled xvids and a DVD image playback tweak from Microsoft and now it does everything. I also picked up a WMC Remote so I can sit back on the couch and use it without a keyboard and mouse.

    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/930526

    http://damienbt.free.fr/

    WMC also supports dvdxmlids to allow it to pull down info for stored movies on your hard drive

    http://dvdxml.com/news.php

    If you are not going to use Windows then you can ignore this whole post.

    nagatosig1.jpg
    I KISS YOU!
  • RohanRohan Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Jezo, you should give Media Browser a look. It basically beautifies WMC, and it does it really well. It also marks viewed files, and gives you the option to continue on from a paused file if you shut the pc down for the night or something. There are several themes available, with Chocolate being my current favourite.

    ...and I thought of how all those people died, and what a good death that is. That nobody can blame you for it, because everyone else died along with you, and it is the fault of none, save those who did the killing.

    Nothing's forgotten, nothing is ever forgotten
  • Lord JezoLord Jezo Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Rohan wrote: »
    Jezo, you should give Media Browser a look. It basically beautifies WMC, and it does it really well. It also marks viewed files, and gives you the option to continue on from a paused file if you shut the pc down for the night or something. There are several themes available, with Chocolate being my current favourite.

    Nifty.

    How does it pull in the meta data for movies? It sees some of them but others it is getting confused and getting a movie with the same title but a totally different film.

    nagatosig1.jpg
    I KISS YOU!
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Lord Jezo wrote: »
    I have tried XBMC but I found it too much of a pain in the butt to bother with. I'm not saying it's bad because obviously it's pretty amazing if you put the time into it, but I just wanted something that worked, so I recommended Windows Media Center. it comes built in to Windows 7 and does just about everything I need it to do. XBMC didn't even have a built in seek bar and when I found that I needed to start installing all sorts of crazy plugins just to enable basic functionality I gave up on the thing all together.

    Windows Media Center worked out of the box, played just about everything I needed. I went ahead and configured it a little more with Media Control to enable multi audio and subtitled xvids and a DVD image playback tweak from Microsoft and now it does everything. I also picked up a WMC Remote so I can sit back on the couch and use it without a keyboard and mouse.

    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/930526

    http://damienbt.free.fr/

    WMC also supports dvdxmlids to allow it to pull down info for stored movies on your hard drive

    http://dvdxml.com/news.php

    If you are not going to use Windows then you can ignore this whole post.

    XBMC is very easy to configure nowadays - everything works from GUI menus, and they've got a whole interface to install addons and the like built right in. I recommend trying the Live CD - it can be used to install a machine directly and easily if you like it (it's a tweaked out Ubuntu installation that boots super-fast). There's also a ton of community support and walkthroughs out there on the net.

    It also has the very notable advantage of avoiding a $100 spend on a copy of Windows 7. Also supports Windows MCE remotes out of the box, and (in my experience) is much snappier about remote control feedback.

    IMO Windows is just too much OS for something like a media PC - the bottom-up approach ends up working much better, faster and cheaper.

    EDIT: I'd also throw in that XBMC does all the meta-data and viewed file stuff out-of-the-box now as well. The built in interface for addons (basically like the App Store on an iPhone but free) also makes it easy to add more stuff.

    The Company: The CYOA game that anybody can join at any time - running now!
  • RohanRohan Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Lord Jezo wrote: »
    Rohan wrote: »
    Jezo, you should give Media Browser a look. It basically beautifies WMC, and it does it really well. It also marks viewed files, and gives you the option to continue on from a paused file if you shut the pc down for the night or something. There are several themes available, with Chocolate being my current favourite.

    Nifty.

    How does it pull in the meta data for movies? It sees some of them but others it is getting confused and getting a movie with the same title but a totally different film.

    Not sure, to be honest... there are ways of getting around it. If you want to do it manually, you can make sure every film and tv show is named exactly as they are on IMDB, and for films add the year of their release in brackets - for example, The Illusionist (2006) and The Illusionist (2010).

    If you don't want to do it manually, which can be a real pain in the rear if you have a large collection, then you can give Media Scout a try. It's a program that looks everything up, and though I haven't downloaded even near the latest version, I remember it being a buggy, cantankerous, crashing little fecker. I told it to update my whole collection once and for some reason it gave every film it's name in Spanish. It also renamed every Miyazaki film in their original Japanese script, so they didn't show alphabetically (annoying!).

    But it is handy for going through those troublesome shows or films that Media Browser has issues finding metadata with.

    ...and I thought of how all those people died, and what a good death that is. That nobody can blame you for it, because everyone else died along with you, and it is the fault of none, save those who did the killing.

    Nothing's forgotten, nothing is ever forgotten
  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    can xbmc play hulu natively? I would love a cheap media box that would allow me to watch hulu without plugging in my computer.

    was tempted to do the apple tv2 +xbmc rout but its not worth it if i can't do hulu

    camo_sig.png
  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Get a mobo with good integrated graphics. They can be surprisingly powerful, you don't need a video card to playback 1080p (I don't think).

    Voice actor for hire. My time is free if your project is!
  • useless4useless4 Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    If you are running not recompressed-or-light compressed 1080p then a graphics card helps alot.
    Otherwise be prepared for some hot machines.

  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    mts wrote: »
    can xbmc play hulu natively? I would love a cheap media box that would allow me to watch hulu without plugging in my computer.

    was tempted to do the apple tv2 +xbmc rout but its not worth it if i can't do hulu

    This is what I'm looking for ultimately. Playing my movies is a secondary thing because I've got like 8 devices attached to my TV that can do this. Hulu is the biggest boon.

    How much space to ripped DVDs/Blu-Rays take up? I'd really love to move most of my collection to disk. Probably got at least 100 or so movies.

  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    bowen wrote: »
    mts wrote: »
    can xbmc play hulu natively? I would love a cheap media box that would allow me to watch hulu without plugging in my computer.

    was tempted to do the apple tv2 +xbmc rout but its not worth it if i can't do hulu

    This is what I'm looking for ultimately. Playing my movies is a secondary thing because I've got like 8 devices attached to my TV that can do this. Hulu is the biggest boon.

    How much space to ripped DVDs/Blu-Rays take up? I'd really love to move most of my collection to disk. Probably got at least 100 or so movies.

    Depends on your opinion on recompression. Compressed Blu-Ray's at 1080p are about 8 GB. Uncompressed: 40 - 80 gb. Though if you get rid of the extraneous stuff you can cut that down a little.

    So you'd be looking at 4 - 8 TB. Which is totally doable. I have an 8TB fileserver on my network right now, in RAID6 redundancy. Norco sell affordable 20-bay cases, and something like OpenFiler makes it easy to manage and configure. HDDs are absurdly cheap at the moment.

    EDIT: Also I haven't tried it, but there's a Hulu plugin for XBMC. The YouTube one works great, so I suspect this will as well (also you should be able to install it from the plugin's menu in XBMC - no need to manually download stuff). [note: that post is from 2008, but I can't find the live list of plugins from the XBMC website online. I'm pretty sure it's there though - I'm just in Australia and can't use it.]

    The Company: The CYOA game that anybody can join at any time - running now!
  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Yeah I'm not too worried about redundancy, I also don't want to be streaming shit across the network either if I can help it.

  • FoomyFoomy Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    mts wrote: »
    can xbmc play hulu natively? I would love a cheap media box that would allow me to watch hulu without plugging in my computer.

    was tempted to do the apple tv2 +xbmc rout but its not worth it if i can't do hulu

    the only problem with apple tv + xbmc is atm it can only do 720p, the xbmc devs aren't sure if thats a hardware limitation or not yet.

    Steam Profile: FoomyFooms
  • RohanRohan Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    useless4 wrote: »
    If you are running not recompressed-or-light compressed 1080p then a graphics card helps alot.
    Otherwise be prepared for some hot machines.

    I don't know. Our media pc comprises of a Pentium Dual Core at 1.8GHz, 2GB ram and an integrated Intel chipset, all sitting in an Antec NSK2480 case. It plays 1080P files of around 10GB in size absolutely perfectly, and it's always cool inside the case.

    ...and I thought of how all those people died, and what a good death that is. That nobody can blame you for it, because everyone else died along with you, and it is the fault of none, save those who did the killing.

    Nothing's forgotten, nothing is ever forgotten
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