My setup, and some HTPC questions please

No matter how large or how small, the area of Home Theater is what we all have in common. So...Let others know your configuration. List your components first and then if you care to, a small history. Be sure to come back and keep it updated!
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gregoryx
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Postby gregoryx » Sun Feb 01, 2004 7:39 pm

I have had one SK41G, still have two SN41Gs and now am adding an SB75G. They are all good machines. I have used the SVID out to my projector from the SK41G and from the SN41G; it works quite well. I think it's worth noting their primary value: the combined CPU/case fan and well-integrated thermal controls, keeping the fan noise to a minimum.

The reason I was recommending the SK41G was your price range preference.

In my opinion, using an X-Card for anything other than a very high-definition output (such as a projector or panel or such high-definition device) is a lot of work and money for very little improvement / return. The Shuttle's onboard video (Nvidia) can give a very good SVID output; I think it is as good as a typical DVD player for that type of output. I suspect you can ffdshow it and get some further improvement.

My opinion on this is rather narrow: if the final output is to a low-resolution, relatively-low-quality (compared to a high-quality, high-resolution device), don't spend much money on the feed devices. I'd go with the setup I suggested... maybe less if possible.

On the plus side, 100Mb will be more than enough for any current and near-future formats (next three years at least) and well within the feed limits for the rest of the system (processor, video, etc). In other words, if you moved to an LCD panel, that system would feed it WXGA just fine. If I were setting up a feeder PC (which I will likely be doing in a few months), that is exactly what I'd run and about what I'll spend. I have the monitor for it now (LCD) and need to run the Cat5 to that drop before bothering with the system.

I like to keep components matched: every high-end component in a mid-level system (PC or home theater or otherwise) is money wasted if it's not part of a planned upgrade project. That said, I know that egos prompt purchase of a lot of fancy parts that are otherwise not needed; who am I to question motivations?

$.02 from the peanut gallery...

POST-SCRIPT: just opened the two Shuttle boxes... they come with the SVID to composite adaptor... FWIW...

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Postby blafarm » Sun Feb 01, 2004 8:54 pm

Thanks gregoryx.

It's encouraging to hear that the Nvidia SVid and Composite out are on par with a typical DVD player - and it's also very valuable for me to hear that the time and energy of incorporating a X-Card into the equation is wasted on supporting legacy interlace monitors.

I would be very happy putting together some Shuttle based end-points that were plug and play and didn't require a whole lot of tweaking. After all, at a certain point, you just want to watch some movies.

Very useful information, thanks for taking the time to present it. I might throw this topic out on the DVDLobby forum on the off-chance that someone has adopted a novel approach to this problem - and failing that, I'll pull the trigger on the Shuttles. Speaking of which, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of variance in the pricing of those bare bones kits. Have you ever come across a retailer that discounts them - or do you buy them on eBay?

Thanks again for your input.

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Postby gregoryx » Sun Feb 01, 2004 10:57 pm

Nah... I haven't seen many discounts on the Shuttle systems either. I usually buy them at my local Fry's in case something goes wrong... as it has this evening! I think the older AMD ones are the real bargain.

The SN41G seems fine, but the SB75G isn't firing up. Could be video card incompatibility (ATI7500) or processor issue... bummer. Gotta swap the processor with another working one... then the video, I guess. That's the down side to Fry's... you never know who got the parts before you and destroyed them then returned them.

Cheers!

Edit: weirdest thing I've seen in a while... if I push the ATI card firmly into the AGP slot, it doesn't work - though it doesn't create any "no video card present" beeps; if I lift it up a bit, it works... weird. <sigh> It works, at least! No return to Fry's... gotta love that.

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Postby Propup » Mon Feb 02, 2004 11:38 am

gregoryx wrote:True for movies on a PC, smoothtlk, but not for "web surfing, other progs, etc." as Propup says he's having trouble with.

I don't know of a way to make ffdshow clean up a 480i screen to make it act like an LCD PC monitor at XGA. Can it?


Quite right gregoryx.
I did find both apps and tried, moslty b/c I had never tried them. I think I understand the basics, but the improvements look like they would affect playback only. I was asking about ways to improve the XBR use as a general display for the PC. So, I'm still stuck with the bad "PC" display, but again DVD playback looks very good to me.

A couple of updates: I purchased a cheap Proview TFT as a "utility" screen for the PC work while I eval this stuff. My eyes a now starting to change back to original color... In addition, I got in my Sony CX777ES and got it working pretty quickly with DVDLobby and the plug-in. (very cool!) The PS output looks very nice on the Sony XBR, and the plugin changes DVDs pretty fast. I'm going to post some stuff in DVD lobby forum regarding that.

I think I'm going to redirect my efforts (and immediate budget) and build a proper HTPC platform. To that end, I'm reading all the various posts on HTPC design issues and finding it very helpful (both here in and in AVS)

Thanks again for input and advice everyone!

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Postby blafarm » Mon Feb 02, 2004 2:18 pm

gregoryx,

I forgot to ask a question about O/S options:

I have a couple of extra copies of W98se and W2000 lying around and was wondering if either O/S would have a negative impact on the performance of a high-end Shuttle system that was loaded with a quallity Radeon board and running scaling and deinterlacing software and was dedicated solely to feeding signal to a projection system.

I'd love to not have to buy additional copies of XP Home or Pro for systems that are only designed to play out media.

Any thoughts? Thanks.

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Postby gregoryx » Mon Feb 02, 2004 5:01 pm

W2K should be fine, but I wouldn't recommend W98 for reliability reasons.


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