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Old 07-28-2011, 04:47 PM   #1
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Default Joe Perez - Learn me HTPC, Boxee, etc.

Joe et. others,

I am tired of paying $100 for crappy cable. Unfortunately, my wife and I are addicted to DVR, and my wife loves some really crappy cable shows.

Anyway, I'm thinking of building a HTPC so that I can cancel the cable and torrent / hulu / netflix everything we need.

What I want: To be able to watch her crappy shows, my F1 and Top Gear, other random TV, etc. on our HDTV in the living room.

What I am not: I'm not that big of an AV or Computer buff. I just recently built my first computer, it's a i3 2100, HD5850, 1TB HDD, 4GB, Windows 7 rig that I use for iRacing and other awesomeness. So I'm not scared to build an HTPC I just don't really know how to set it all up to work with my TV and network with our other W7 computers.

Current situation: We have digital cable and a DVR through TWC (suck my *** TWC), a PS3 we use mostly as a blu-ray player, a netflix subscription, a poorly set up 7.1 surround sound system and a 40" samsung lcd tv.

Now a series of questions:

Q. Is a HTPC the best for me or will a Boxee be enough?

Q. Can someone recommend a good HTPC build for about $500. I'm thinking i3 2100, 2TB HDD, 4GB RAM, small case, efficient PSU...

Q. If I build a HTPC should I get a TV Tuner card? Which one is the best bang for the buck?

Q. How do I get the sound from my HTPC to work with the receiver and the TV?

Q. Anyone use HULU Plus, is it worth it? We currently have a netflix account and will be keeping it for now.

Q. Do I even need a HTPC or can I use the PS3 for most of this stuff?

Q. If I build a HTPC what software should I be using to make best use of it? How do I set up my home network so all of my W7 computers and ps3 can network together?


I suppose that's enough questions for now. Thanks in advance for any and all spoon feeding. I've been trying to research this stuff but I start to get overwhelmed with the amount of options/info when searching on AV forums or computer build forums.
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Old 07-28-2011, 05:02 PM   #2
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I know you can install Boxee on any PC. Might be useful to evaluate before choosing.

Probably can do same with XBMC.
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Old 07-28-2011, 05:20 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Efini~FC3S View Post
Q. Is a HTPC the best for me or will a Boxee be enough?
Boxey was a dipshit retard who had no place spending all of his free time in CIC in the original series, and when Boomer picked him up on her way off of Caprica in the RDM series, I died a little bit inside assuming that the robotic dog would not be far behind. Fortunately, he pretty much vanished after the first couple of episodes.

Or is there some other Boxee that I should be familiar with? Personally, I use an Xbox360 as my media playback device. The PC just sits there being a fileserver and running uTorrent. I don't even have a video output from it connected to anything- I use VNC to access it from elsewhere.




Quote:
Q. Can someone recommend a good HTPC build for about $500. I'm thinking i3 2100, 2TB HDD, 4GB RAM, small case, efficient PSU...
That hardware list is overkill. It really doesn't take much to play video, much less if all you're doing is serving video over a network to some other box. Go big on the hard drive, and small on everything else.

Except the case. Seriously, don't get a small case. Small cases = high RPM fans = noise. Mine is a shortish mini-tower, and I made sure that every fan in it is the biggest, lowest-RPM style I could possible find. Something like this, only with an almost totally open front and larger fan mounts.

Also, see how the case is perforated in the areas where the fans go?



**** that ****. Get a dremel or some other metal cutting tool (I use a cheap nibbler like this one) and just make all of the metal go away completely around the fans. It makes them a hell of a lot quieter. I did this front and rear, and have two 120mm fans going behind them. My CPU fan is nothing fancy (no heat-pipes), it's just a big chuck of metal with a huge fan on it.

Ditto the power-supply. Some (like the one pictured above) have a small upright fan at the back, and maybe another in the front. Others have a single large fan (usually 120mm) in the bottom, and a vented back. That's the one you want.



My machine is quieter than a dead prostitute in Hustler's trunk.


Actually, this one would be good if you have space for it. (Don't forget to cut out all the perforated BS):



http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?inv...DRED-R&cat=CAS


Quote:
Q. If I build a HTPC should I get a TV Tuner card? Which one is the best bang for the buck?
Tuner card? No idea. I use BitTorrent exclusively. If you're not familiar with it, check out eztv.it



Quote:
Q. How do I get the sound from my HTPC to work with the receiver and the TV?
Some PCs have S/PDIF outputs. That's how I had mine wired before I got the Xbox, when I was using the PC itself as the playback device.




Quote:
Q. Do I even need a HTPC or can I use the PS3 for most of this stuff?
Well, like I said, I use an Xbox360, and I assume that a PS3 can do something similar.

Plusses of using a game console:
  • They're cheap.
  • They have good remote controls (the Xbox Media remote is very nice.)
  • They have all the audio / video interfaces you could ever need.
  • The UIs tend to be pretty good.
Minuses of using a game console:
  • They don't work with all video formats. For instance, the Xbox works fine with any .AVI, including Divx / XVID, but does not work with MKV, and even though it says it's supposed to support MP4, I'll be damned if I've ever been able to make one play (although that might be a WMP11 problem... I'll have to try one on local storage as opposed to across the network.)


Quote:
Q. If I build a HTPC what software should I be using to make best use of it? How do I set up my home network so all of my W7 computers and ps3 can network together?
PC to PC filesharing is easy between XP / Vista / 7. The OS pretty much does it for you. I assume Sony has some slick interface that allows you to network with them (when it's not busy divulging your credit card info to hackers).

With the Xbox, you just turn on Library Sharing in Windows Media Player, it detects the machine, and you're done. (You can also use Windows Media Center, however I find it to be slow and cumbersome, at least under XP.)
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Old 07-28-2011, 05:39 PM   #4
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Old 07-28-2011, 05:47 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Efini~FC3S View Post
Yeah, I get that they exist. It's just that, personally, I have absolutely zero interest in owning one. It's far easier for me to say "Hmm. I wonder if there's been a new episode of Mythbusters aired since the last time it occurred to me to wonder about this" and then spend 15 seconds finding out at eztv.it (and grabbing the torrent for it, if there has been), rather than having to concern myself with keeping track of things like program schedules.

Besides, when you do it my way, some random 14 year old out there in SceneLand has already edited out the commercials, cropped the video to the correct aspect ratio, trimmed the head and tail properly, and basically done everything except make your sandwich for you.

"Live" TV is inconvenient, even if you have a DVR.
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Old 07-28-2011, 06:08 PM   #6
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Lol, sorry. I understand now
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Old 07-28-2011, 06:34 PM   #7
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Boxxy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! <3
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Old 07-28-2011, 07:20 PM   #8
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Hmmm....this has had me thinking all day. Do I even need a HTPC? I know my PS3 "sees" my w7 computers already, maybe I just need to enable sharing through WMC (which is supposed to be much improved in W7).

If I can use my PS3 like you're using your XBOX, then maybe I can stream everything from the new computer that's in the basement and use that as the torrent machine and file server. It would be a lot cheaper to add another 2TB HDD to that computer than to build another computer. I could get live over-the-air HD channels straight into the TV. I wonder if HULU plus is available on the PS3, I think it is?

Apparently, I need to do some more research and I need to start using more of the capabilty of my PS3.
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Old 07-28-2011, 07:38 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Efini~FC3S View Post
Do I even need a HTPC?
Probably not. I build mine before I got the Xbox. Originally, it was what fed video to the display. Now it just sits there being a fileserver. (Well, I do occasionally use it as an emulator to play old NES games on. Got me a USB NES-style controller and everything.)


Quote:
If I can use my PS3 like you're using your XBOX, then maybe I can stream everything from the new computer that's in the basement and use that as the torrent machine and file server. It would be a lot cheaper to add another 2TB HDD to that computer than to build another computer.
No reason why not.



Quote:
I could get live over-the-air HD channels straight into the TV.
Yeah, I guess you could do that. I haven't really missed OTA/cable in the four years that I've been without them.
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Old 07-28-2011, 07:39 PM   #10
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Also, **** boxxxxxxxy. And no, not in the pedophile rapist sense of the word. ******* egomaniac 12 year olds who think that the entire world gives a **** about the lint they found in their pocket this morning...
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Old 07-28-2011, 08:29 PM   #11
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Boxxy boxxy boxxy!!!! <3 <3 <3

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Old 07-28-2011, 08:33 PM   #12
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BOXXY BOXXY BOXXY
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Old 07-28-2011, 09:32 PM   #13
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Boxxy boxxy boxxy!!!! <3 <3 <3
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Old 07-28-2011, 09:49 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Efini~FC3S View Post

Q. Can someone recommend a good HTPC build for about $500. I'm thinking i3 2100, 2TB HDD, 4GB RAM, small case, efficient PSU...

Q. If I build a HTPC should I get a TV Tuner card? Which one is the best bang for the buck?

Q. How do I get the sound from my HTPC to work with the receiver and the TV?

Q. Anyone use HULU Plus, is it worth it? We currently have a netflix account and will be keeping it for now.

Q. Do I even need a HTPC or can I use the PS3 for most of this stuff?

Q. If I build a HTPC what software should I be using to make best use of it? How do I set up my home network so all of my W7 computers and ps3 can network together?


I suppose that's enough questions for now. Thanks in advance for any and all spoon feeding. I've been trying to research this stuff but I start to get overwhelmed with the amount of options/info when searching on AV forums or computer build forums.
I suppose I'll add my .02.

F1: http://thepiratebay.org/user/jorrell0733/
TV: eztv or http://showrss.karmorra.info I use show rss with utorrent, they even have topgear
I also use a BT proxy (btgaurd). for 7 bucks a month its cheap insurance.

PS3 + ps3 media server +computer connected to network is really all yuou need. PS3 might be using this cinvia crap to start filtering content... i dont have this but the ps3 poeple say its cool, so i may upgrade soon...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16822136593

it does netflix, youtubes, and i bet soon it will do hulu and the like.

Audio can be handed through HDMI. You either need to go serverdevice>reciver>tv OR get a splitter and go from the media player to both the tv and the reviver. the WD thing has optical, so for that you could go with the opictal to the reciver and HDMI to the tv. These schemes should allow you to have 5.1 when you want and TV audio when you dont.
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Old 07-29-2011, 05:28 PM   #15
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So I got the PS3 and the PC to play nice together last night. I had to unblock the PS3s MAC address in W7, and voila I can play stuff through my ps3. The only problem is I don't know what video files the PS3 can and cannot play and I'm not exactly sure which folders the ps3 has access to. If I had more than 5 minutes to play around with it last night I probably could have figured it out, but how well, one step closer to cutting the cable.

If I wasn't married, or if my wife were more technically savvy, I would probably skip the OTA stuff but I suppose it will make her happier if she's able to just turn on the tv and have at least a few channels available.

Anyone else use a BT proxy? I've been using torrents for years but only at very small volumes, so I never looked into them.

Anyway, time to start shopping for another HDD...
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Old 07-29-2011, 05:46 PM   #16
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Files ps3 can play is hit/miss.

Lots of failstration with this.
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Old 07-29-2011, 05:57 PM   #17
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ps3 media server will get you to a play where it will play 99% of files. It does live trans-coding and re-packaging
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Old 07-29-2011, 05:58 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by golftdibrad View Post
ps3 media server will get you to a play where it will play 99% of files. It does live trans-coding and re-packaging
In the real world of downloading torrents, it will not.
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Old 07-29-2011, 06:07 PM   #19
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In the real world of downloading torrents, it will not.
Its works on everything I d/l except the f1 races, witch i trans-code to mp4. PS3 like mpeg 2 divx and h.264, and most stuff uses that now days. I think the reason the f1 does not work is because its a raw rip of the bbc 1080i broadcast.
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