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Thread: Tell me about Media PCs Please.

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    Tell me about Media PCs Please.

    Hey there folks, Ill come in clean, Ive known computers for a long time, but frankly I still dont know much about a Media PC, Im not very clear when people say they want to build a Media PC. All I know is that:
    They usually have compact casings.
    They have something to do with HD TV's.
    They need HD video cards.
    They are supposed to be better than home theaters etc.

    Well, I dont know how it all works
    what are the plus points?
    what is similar to a media PC?
    why have a Media PC?
    Windows XP Media centre edition has some part to play?
    Why not use your PC as a media thing, like listen to music, watch movies, whats the difference between a normal PC and a Media PC?
    What difference does a television make compared to a monitor?

    Sorry for asking such basic questions perhaps, but in my part of the world these Media PCs are unheard of, never had an oppurtunity to see them or know about them, I recently noticed that my 7600GT says its HD TV ready and that it can give an extreme Media experience etc. So im just wondering how it all works, thanks for the time and help in advance.
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    Vive le pants! directhex's Avatar
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    Re: Tell me about Media PCs Please.

    essentially, the idea is to give you access to all your media (videos, music, pictures) in the living room - and in most cases, advanced TV recording functions too. any PC with appropriate software can play the part, but usually, you'd want a machine in the living room which is both attractive and quiet (many machines are not), dedicated (a windows desktop doesn't scream 'home entertainment') and easy (it should be at least as easy to use as a sky box).

    xp media center edition is one (paid) software option for setting up a media pc. there are a number of free or paid options for most OSes.

    some people use their regular desktop, but that assumes they a) have their pc in the living room, and b) have some really long cables. remember, this thing is meant to feel like part of your living room, like a dvd player, not like it belongs in the study.

    choice of screen is largely down to money. a tv is typically bigger than a monitor, whilst remaining affordable (a high res 37" tv will cost £600, whilst £600 won't even get you a 27" monitor)

    talk of "HD" graphics cards covers two things - the ability to accelerate the decoding of the most common HD movie formats (h264, wmv9 and mpeg2), and the ability to play back DRM media on a compatible screen without bitching and moaning (modern technology means that without HDCP DRM supported by all your hardware, HD movies are played at sub-DVD quality)

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    Re: Tell me about Media PCs Please.

    Okay, thanks, that was quite informative, but do please tell me about the TV, if you connect your TV to your PC, how does it work? You can use the Computer normally, play games etc, essentially using the TV as a monitor or is there any catch? Any performance issue? Can I simply hook up a TV and use it to do everything I do on a monitor? Are there any specific types of TVs? What cables would I need? Thanks again.
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    Re: Tell me about Media PCs Please.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hunain View Post
    Okay, thanks, that was quite informative, but do please tell me about the TV, if you connect your TV to your PC, how does it work? You can use the Computer normally, play games etc, essentially using the TV as a monitor or is there any catch? Any performance issue? Can I simply hook up a TV and use it to do everything I do on a monitor? Are there any specific types of TVs? What cables would I need? Thanks again.
    probably the response time might be slower than your pc screen, performance might be lower if you dont have a powerful card and you have to run a game at a certain resolution for the tv, but if its an lcd tv im sure you can use lower resolutions and it will upscale it. i dont know about connections to the tv but you can connect it by vga, dvi and hdmi. i was just testing my one next door and i connected by vga, the screen only showed up once we were in windows. you can also set it up and modify settings in the control panel (nvidia) for the tv monitor. also hdmi carries audio and video. that was the problem with connecting with a vga cable. you need to connect the audio too so i'd have to buy a 3.5mm to the red and white audio connector cable.

    directhex one question, when graphics cards have a hdmi port if you connect them to your hdmi slot ont the tv do they also transfer the sound from the pc to the tv? i've been looking to make a htpc too.

    thanks in advance.

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    Re: Tell me about Media PCs Please.

    With regards to software, MythTV for Linux or Show Shifter for Windows are worth checking out.

    HTH
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    Re: Tell me about Media PCs Please.

    for the most part, you can use a TV as a monitor, though the image quality will depend on just how much time you put into optimizing it (especially on old CRT sets). usually you'd connect to a CRT using s-video, or to an LCD with VGA, DVI or HDMI. since the resolution of a TV is much lower than an equivalent monitor, you can get away with lower-powered kit - e.g. a 32" tv will run at 1366x768, so any games which you can comfortable run at that kind of res will be fine

    for audio, most HDMI cards on the market work using digital audio loopback - you need to get audio from the SPDIF output on your sound card, into the graphics card, somehow. on one card i looked at it was using an adapter on the s-video output, on another via a dedicated spdif input on the back.

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    Re: Tell me about Media PCs Please.

    Quote Originally Posted by PeteSmith View Post
    With regards to software, MythTV for Linux or Show Shifter for Windows are worth checking out.

    HTH
    MEDIAPORTAL - free MediaCenter HTPC Software - Home

    mediaportal is also worth a look
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    Re: Tell me about Media PCs Please.


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    Re: Tell me about Media PCs Please.

    Thanks everyone, I will try with my own TV, though im confused as to the connections I need to make..
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    Re: Tell me about Media PCs Please.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hunain View Post
    Thanks everyone, I will try with my own TV, though im confused as to the connections I need to make..
    What type of TV is it? What inputs has it got?

    I've got my HTPC hooked up to a 32" LCD via HDMI. I use the Abit AN-M2HD with built in 7 series graphics and HDMI - very good board, probably the best uATX board for a HTPC.

    I use a Pinnacle dual DVB-T tuner to watch and record freeview from Vista media centre.

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