Media Center

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sapphire2007

New Member
#1
So, my fiance & I are talking about whether to build a computer to have as our media center, or whether to go with the traditional reciever and whatnot. Most of our needs are met well and above with a computer -
dvd player, cd player, built in harddrive for storing mp3s, as well as pictures from my digital camera, internet radio, fm radio, as well as showing off funny youtube videos to friends without everybody crowding around a little laptop screen.

My biggest concern is how do I hook up my PS2 to the computer/stereo stuff? The connectors out of the PS2 are RCA, so, do I connect that into a tv card that has RCA in, or do I connect the RCA straight into the TV, and does the sound still come out of the sweet speaker system? Or, so I connect the audio to a sound card, and the video to the tv directly?

I just finished building my personal computer, so I'm not afraid of all this hardware stuff anymore. (mostly) What are the most important things to think about when buying components for a media center? One thing that I've read is how loud it is...how do you find out how loud a component is before you buy it?

So, some comments would be great, help would be better. :)
 
DanceMan

DanceMan

Procrastinating Member
#2
Just talking about stereo components and loudness, bass is the issue. More bass = larger speakers and more amplifier power needed, or a subwoofer to take the load off the stereo pair.
As far as loudness goes, you can look at speaker efficiency, which should be specified as say 90dB at 1W at 1M. Don't take the power handling of a set of speakers as an indication of much, eg. "100 watts". More efficiency means less power required. Bass is what eats up the power and overstresses smaller speakers. You only need "computer speakers" if you're parking them beside a monitor or a tv or anything else sensitive to a magnetic field. Center channel speakers meant to sit on a tv are magnetically shielded, as are computer speakers. I don't know the sensitivity of lcd or plasma screens.

Hope that's of some help.
 
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sapphire2007

New Member
#3
Thanks for that, I meant loudness as in, computers run louder than most plain old dvd players because of the fans and the cpu and all the other stuff going on. How do you know how loud a fan is, sorry for not clarifying, but you bring up other points that I need to look into as well.

And I will look into the shielding stuff, I didn't even think about that.

(Need to get a new tv too....one that actually HAS RCA inputs, as opposed to using the RF Modulator for the last couple of years....) :)
 
DanceMan

DanceMan

Procrastinating Member
#4
Check out Silent PC Review, link below. Everything about making computers quiet.
 
krupted

krupted

New Member
#5
ideally you just get an amplifier, not a receiver, and run everything else from the home theater pc. vista media center is wonderful, and will do everything you need without much setup. its extremely intuitive and easy to use, its designed to do exactly what youre asking.

as far as multiple video inputs, the easy way to add that with htpc's is probably with a remote controlled video switcher. the box will accept all the sources, then you setup your harmony remote to integrate the entire system.

harmony remote you ask? that would be my only other big tip. it makes the entire experience 10x easier/better. http://www.logitech.com/index.cfm/remotes/universal_remotes/

there are many harmony remotes out there, i have the windows media center one but really all of them would work. they are fully customizable via online web interface which makes them surprisingly easy to set up.
 
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sapphire2007

New Member
#6
What exactly does Windows Media Center do that a normal computer can't do? I mean, play a dvd, cd, play mp3's from hard drive, and go on the internet?? I probably won't use my system to watch tv or record much of anything. To be honest, in percentages, this is about what the usage will be:
internet radio: 60%
regular radio: 5%
mp3s & cds: 5%
movies: 15%
games: 15%

A lot of the time, on our current setup, which is quite hacked, a laptop, next to the stereo, with rca out, connected to the stereo, which then outputs the music to the house, with extra speakers strung to the kitchen and to a bedroom. I just enjoy listening to music, wherever I am. And, I would like to get some of my cd's ripped to a hard drive, before I wear the cd out!!!

Also, I'm not a fan of Windows, and I will most likely install linux, and while, yes, it isn't as friendly as windows, I can't say enough that I love Ubuntu. That's what I have on my new system currently, and really, not to advertise or anything, but a lot of the programs are getting friendlier. Granted, it's still hard to find out which program is the friendly one...but hey, it's getting better.
 
krupted

krupted

New Member
#7
well 80% of the reason i use WMC is for the tivo functionality. I cant live without DVR anymore, and windows vista MC does it every bit as good as a real tivo does (without the monthly fees of course).

there is mythTV for linux, its supposed to be good. but yeah other then that there isnt any functionality that MC adds over regular windows, other then putting everything into one GUI and making it all accessable by a universal remote like a harmony. you cant navigate windows on a standard tv screen very easily. an hdtv would make things easier, but then youre still stuck using a mouse and a dozen separate programs.

nice thing is vista home premium includes media center. so $100 for the entire OS/home theater software makes it seem relatively cheap. i wouldnt go any other way, its just too damn good and nice to use. and dont even get me started on how my windows htpc integrates with xbox360 and windows home server boxes- muhaha!:D
 

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