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Old 11-19-2012, 01:22 PM   #1
wvmedic
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Default HPTC help for newbie

Hello all, this is my first post.

I have been reading all over the web for the last two days, it has only seemed to confuse me. I will first apologize for making my first post a question, that might seemingly be simple to most.

I want a HTPC so as to cut the cable cord, I currently have a Roku box and a Vizio smart TV for streaming Netflix.

1. What YOUR PC will be used for. HTPC, live OTA TV via antenna and be able to use to DVR, play DVD & Blu-Ray, stream to two TV's and web surfing/e-mail.

2. What YOUR budget is. 500 dollars +/- with shipping.

3. What country YOU will be buying YOUR parts from. US

4. What resolution will you be using? Not sure.

5. WHEN do you plan to build it? Within the next two weeks.

Now for the what I have. Desk top PC Intel DH55TC main board, Intel i3 540 3.07 GHz, 2 GB RAM, Win 7 64 bit home premium.
Can I use my current PC with upgrades, or do I need to build a dedicated HTPC?

Jeff
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Old 11-19-2012, 08:05 PM   #2
choliscott
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You mentioned you want an HTPC to cut the cable cord, but mention live OTA TV via antenna. Do you have cable now & planning on cutting cable off completely or been running antenna for a while now? I will say the one thing that an HTPC lets you do, is eliminate the cable box, DVR fees from the cable co & the fees from Tivo.

If you're going to use an antenna, I would probably recommend getting a HD Homerun. This box has 2 tuners. If you have cable or planning on getting cable, I would recommend either a Ceton Infinitv4 (has 4 tuners) or HD Homerun prime (has 3 tuners). I believe that HR prime & Infinitv4 do allow for an antenna to be hooked up to it. I believe the cost of the HD Homerun is around $70, while the infinitv4 & Prime is around $200. Regardless of what you decide on, I would probably wait till Black Friday to see if anybody is having a sale. Last year, I got my 1st Infinitv4 for $200, when the regular price at the time, was $300

Also besides what you had mentioned, is there anything else that you do on the computer, that would be cpu intensive? (i.e. play Mindcraft, Battlefield 3, etc)?

If all you do is surf the web & check email, your computer will probably be fast enough, however what kind of video card do you have? You might need to get a better video card. Besides the video, the only other thing that I would probably do is increase the amount of ram to 8 gig.

You mentioned you want to watch shows on 2 TV's. Is the computer near one of the TV's? If it's not, then you would need to get an "extender" for each of the TV's you want to connect. You can either use an XB 360, or at the end of the month, Ceton is releasing the Echo. If you are not planning on upgrading to Windows 8, you could also look at the Linksys extender (which is no longer manufactured), however I have used the Linksys & I didn't much care for it.
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Old 11-19-2012, 08:36 PM   #3
wvmedic
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choliscott, we are currently using cable. I want rid of it due to cost, we only watch a few channels so it isn't really worth the cost.

The desk top is in the living room, as is the one TV. They are only about ten feet apart. The second TV is a bedroom TV that will not see a great deal of use, it is primarily for if one of us get sick and have to stay in bed. The Grandchildren might use it on occasion as well.

Most of what I watch is on local channels, I would like the ability to record some of the shows as I do not get off the job till 08:00 PM when most shows start.

Upgrading the ram, video card we currently have an on board video card and a large HD is doable. We are not gamers so no extra load on the CPU. Would I need a TV tuner card for the OTA antenna, and how do I get TV and videos to both TV's?

Jeff

Last edited by wvmedic; 11-19-2012 at 08:47 PM.
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Old 11-19-2012, 09:27 PM   #4
choliscott
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For the TV tuner, I would probably recommend the following: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16815345007 Depending on how soon you are planning on going forward, I would probably look at Slickdeals.net or fatwallet.com to see if there is a sale, as Newegg had this on sale a couple of days ago for either $60 or $65.

This has 2 tuners, so this will allow you to watch 2 live shows at once, or watch 1 live show, while recording another, etc.

I assume you have a desktop computer. Do you know if it has an HDMI video output? If it does, does your TV, have an HDMI input? I'm assuming you have an Plasma or LCD TV. If you have both, then you might be able to get away with using the onboard video of the I3. It would be like having 2 monitors connected to the computer, with the TV being the 2nd monitor (assuming you only have 1 computer monitor). If your computer does not have an HDMI output, then you probably would need to get a video card for the computer. If I remember correctly a 6450 is sufficient is is between $30-$60 at Newegg.

For the TV that is near the computer, you could use the computer as the "converter" box for that TV. You would need to buy a Media Center remote though. An example of one is this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16880101002

If you wanted to watch tv in the bedroom, you would need to either get an Xbox 360, or a Ceton Echo, when it's released at the end of the month. The 360 does have built in wireless, but if the plan was to record shows in HD, then I would probably run an Ethernet cable to the bedroom. The Echo & 360 act like an "extender", which extends Windows Media Center to other TV's in the home.

You mentioned Large HD. What size HD do you currently have? Depending on if you are planning on recording HD or not, & have many shows you like to watch, I would probably get a 2 TB or 3 TB drive, depending on what the better deal is & what's within the budget.

There will be others that hopefully will respond to give a 2nd opinion


Quote:
Originally Posted by wvmedic View Post
choliscott, we are currently using cable. I want rid of it due to cost, we only watch a few channels so it isn't really worth the cost.

The desk top is in the living room, as is the one TV. They are only about ten feet apart. The second TV is a bedroom TV that will not see a great deal of use, it is primarily for if one of us get sick and have to stay in bed. The Grandchildren might use it on occasion as well.

Most of what I watch is on local channels, I would like the ability to record some of the shows as I do not get off the job till 08:00 PM when most shows start.

Upgrading the ram, video card we currently have an on board video card and a large HD is doable. We are not gamers so no extra load on the CPU. Would I need a TV tuner card for the OTA antenna, and how do I get TV and videos to both TV's?

Jeff
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Old 11-20-2012, 10:23 AM   #5
wvmedic
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choliscott, yes I have a desktop PC. See bellow, it has VGA, HDMI and DVI D out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wvmedic View Post
Desk top PC Intel DH55TC main board, Intel i3 540 3.07 GHz, 2 GB RAM, Win 7 64 bit home premium.

Can I use my current PC with upgrades, or do I need to build a dedicated HTPC?

Jeff
Both TV's have HDMI, the living room TV is a 42" Sony Bravia it has two HDMI ports and is an old LCD TV. The bedroom TV is a Vizio 32" LED that is new I bought it 11/13/12 it has two HDMI ports, Ethernet and Wi-FI. I might have access to a Xbox 360, but do not know how old it is. Running Ethernet to the bedroom is no problem.

The PC only has a 250 Gig drive at this time, when I built it I had no need for a bigger HD, so I will and another HD.

Jeff
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Old 11-20-2012, 03:57 PM   #6
Mfusick
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Do you want to build an entire new machine for $500 and keep your desktop as your desktop and just network them. ???

Or mod your desktop to be a HTPC ?

I'm confused.

You can certainly build a nice HTPC dedicated for 500$

If that's what you want I'd be happy to offer build advice:

Intel Sandy or Ivy Bridge CPU ($40-149)
AsRock 77 mobo. $80ish
Seagate 3tb storage drive $89
OCZ vertex 3 120GB ssd for OS Black Friday deal- $49
8gb ddr3 $35
Antec neo 400 watt PSU $29 (or like)

Case you can pick. It's personal taste. If your tight on budget you can drop the PSU and get the 39$ Apex HTPC case from new egg that comes with cheap PSU.

A few different tuner options. If you keep cable HD prime is nice. If not just get OTA tuner card.
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Old 11-20-2012, 05:53 PM   #7
wvmedic
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Mfusick, yes I would like to build a dedicated HTPC and network it.

If you don't mind my asking where did you get the prices from? I have a local computer store that has good pricing, just a little more than say Newegg. I can put my hands on it there also, I don't mind buying online as long as I know the company is reputable.

Thanks, Jeff
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Old 11-20-2012, 06:10 PM   #8
Mfusick
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Mostly just newegg.

I watch prices of HTPC products as I build a lot of them.

If you need a deal in particular on a certain product just ask.

There's a Black Friday deals thread in the AVS HTPC forum I started :
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1439549/av...al-thread/0_40

I'd keep and eye on that this week.
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Old 11-20-2012, 06:21 PM   #9
Mfusick
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Sign up for the newegg and tiger direct email blasts: they have great offers especially this week and time of year.
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Old 11-21-2012, 08:44 PM   #10
wvmedic
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Well I got vetoed on nixing the cable, it was reduced to basic plus though. I decided to build a new desktop.

Intel i3-3220 LGA1155 CPU
Intel DH77KC Main Board
Win 7 Pro 64 bit 2 TB WD drive
8 Gig RAM
Hauppauge WinTV-HVR 1600 tuner

Win 8 Pro was the same money, wasn't sure about 8 though. Didn't see Media center on win 8, just XBOX something.

I am going to try it this way and see how it goes, any thing else I need to stream recorded TV and movies to the living room TV?

Jeff
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Old 11-21-2012, 09:09 PM   #11
tential
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wvmedic View Post
Well I got vetoed on nixing the cable, it was reduced to basic plus though. I decided to build a new desktop.

Intel i3-3220 LGA1155 CPU
Intel DH77KC Main Board
Win 7 Pro 64 bit 2 TB WD drive
8 Gig RAM
Hauppauge WinTV-HVR 1600 tuner

Win 8 Pro was the same money, wasn't sure about 8 though. Didn't see Media center on win 8, just XBOX something.

I am going to try it this way and see how it goes, any thing else I need to stream recorded TV and movies to the living room TV?

Jeff
MCE is on there and it's free. However, when I tried to set it up, it was no where as easy as XBMC. The layout (default layout without mods or anything) is MUCH easier to use. If you have a large movie/TV database I highly suggest using it instead of MCE.
If you want to use MCE though, I suggest learning how to set up mediabrowser. It's a large upgrade from the normal MCE layout.
To get MCE on Windows 8 there is a free upgrade on the microsoft's website right now. I'd take a look.
As for purchasing a PC, like everyone said newegg and tiger direct. Putting your hands on a CPU box or Mobo box isn't going to change much. It's about the specs and the reviews. That's best found out online.

The only questions I think you need to answer to be helped better is how large is your Movie/TV DB and how large do you intend to grow it by. Then pick a case that fits your needs (shouldn't be too big) and realize that you don't have a CD drive there (although you probably have a bunch lying around and I rarely use mine).

Those prices quoted though seem accurate to me. The 3 TB HD though I've never seen at 90 dollars (never seen available always sold out).
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Old 11-21-2012, 09:30 PM   #12
wvmedic
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Thanks tential, I might not have been clear in my explanation.

I went with win7 pro, win 8 looked real weird to me and I didn't see WMC on it. I guess like anything else I could have gotten used to it, might change over to it later.

For now I'm going to use the desktop I built today with the Hauppauge card as a DVR for shows I want to watch but will miss otherwise, I have a TB of space for that. I might record a couple movies, but we have Netflix too so we will see. I have never attempted anything like this so it is all new to me. So with the tuner card I have do I just run the coax to the TV to watch my downloaded shows, or do I run an HDMI cable from my video card?

Jeff
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Old 11-21-2012, 09:49 PM   #13
Mfusick
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Mediabrowser is nice if you have tuner.

XBMC is perhaps more general and noob but mediabrowser can really shine with some learning curve.

Assassin has guides for both in his paid guides. That's how I learned.

You can set up both and see which you like better.

Without a guide XBMC is usually favored. With guide and with tuner card I think mediabrowser is better and also slicker looking.
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Old 11-21-2012, 09:53 PM   #14
wvmedic
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Thanks Mfusick, I am going to check out Assassin's guide. If I understand correctly it's a one time fee with unlimited access, correct?

Jeff
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Old 11-21-2012, 10:31 PM   #15
tential
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I agree it goes with ease of set up and how much time u wanna spend on it. I think listing features u want Wil help narrow the choice. I used both and wmc just wasn't settling up right for me. I think the plugins are a must so you'll have to purchase them(10 dollars). Also the new Xbmc has live tv so I wouldn't use that as I deciding factor. Tbh, the ease of setup was so fast, I'd say try Xbmc, if you don't like it within an hour of setting it up, learn to set up wmc correctly and do it. It's quite a number more steps but I think the end result on both is pretty similar.

The only thing I'm curious about is the media extender for wmc, I didn't get that to work either and I think that's the shining difference between the two. Perhaps mfusik can elaborate as he knows more about thisthan iIdo . I just started this break on doing as much as possible to organize my media.

Also I just added windows 8. I think it's not bad at all. You barely interact with the weird interface and it's a 5 dollar program to add back the normal start button. I think the faster boot times and responsiveness are worth it. I'll be trying it on my htpc once it's built.

Last edited by tential; 11-21-2012 at 10:33 PM.
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Old 11-22-2012, 05:29 AM   #16
Mfusick
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wvmedic View Post
Thanks Mfusick, I am going to check out Assassin's guide. If I understand correctly it's a one time fee with unlimited access, correct?

Jeff
Yes. One time. Unlimited.

It's worth it. It shows you step by step.

Let us know what you think.
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Old 11-22-2012, 05:32 AM   #17
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mediabrowser takes a bit more work to set up properly than XBMC but is worth it.

Without a guide- step by step- and a few installations and set ups under my belt there is no way I would get 100% out of it.
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