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home theatre via pc

jase12

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ok so im just starting to get into the whole pc home theatre thing, and i'm loving the idea of having all my entertainment streamlined and in the same place. i have an idea of how i want to run things but its not perfect and would love some input as to better ways to complete my setup.

I am planning on using bittorrent for all my tv and movies (would love to use itunes but it is just too pricey for the amount of tv i watch), and i use itunes for my music, where i buy everything off the Music Store (so is protected AAC).

I have an xbox 360 and want to use this as an extender for media centre, but I have looked high and low and realise that I can't play the protected AAC format through Media Centre or on xbox full stop without doing a whole lot of nerdy conversions and stripping which I a) cant be bothered to do and b) am probably not enough of a tech head to work out without deleting shit by accident.

is it worth buying apple tv and then using this for music and xbox 360 for video? will this be too much stuffing around? or should i just make sure i get a sound system with an ipod dock? are there any other ways i can set these things up to have everything controlled from the one place?

any help or ideas are very much appreciated!!!
 

BrettChaotix

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You are right - without extra work you probably won't be able to play your torrent-downloaded movies on Xbox360. I convert all my music to mp3 so I can't comment on iTunes issues. Buying Apple TV is not going to fix your problems, at least not cleanly. You're best bet is to put a computer in the living room to act as a Media Center PC. If it's not the computer storing the movies/music then use wireless networking. Here's how I do it: I download BlueRay/HD movie rips via BitTorrent. I use the K-Lite codec pack and "Media Player Classic" to watch them. I have Windows Media Center but it won't play the high def movie files, just standard DVD rips. Media Center sucks for playing mp3s so I still use WinAmp for my music. I rip CD's using Buzzsaw CD Ripper. My computer has a DVI output. DVI can output up to 1080p quality video so I use a DVI-to-HDMI cable to plug it into my LCD TV - I have HD quality video this way. My living room speaker system is shit so I don't worry about high quality audio. I do a 1/8" to stereo RCA cable from my PC to my "Aux In" on my receiver. If you want to use your PC as a Tivo you need at least one TV tuner card, Hauppauge is the best brand. A single input tuner card will let you watch/record TV but not simultaneously. A dual-input card let's you do both at once. Two dual-input cards will allow you to record a program while watching another program using the rewind/repeat features. I control the whole thing from my couch using the a wireless keyboard and mouse that I found for $40 on eBay. If you will be watching TV through the computer you are probably going to want a remote, it's a real pain in the ass to use a mouse to change channels. However you have to plan out what remote you want.... TV tuner cards, some Blueray DVD drives and fancier sound cards come with their own remote controls. Microsoft also sells a remote control that is made to specifically control Windows Media Center. If you want to control your computer AND receiver AND TV with a single remote you're going to have to invest in a programmable remote control.
 

turboman808

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I was excited at the thought of using my xbox 360 to play everything. However it doesn't work well at all. You will have a hard time finding a video off bit torrent it will play. I wouldn't waste your time.

My HTPC or my second one broke. Thankfully I got it for free using old parts from work so it wasn't a big loss.

I looked into building a new one and all I really want is to download torrents and watch my ripped DVDs.


The guys over at AVS forum made a really great suggestion and it sounds like it will work for oyu as well.

Get yourself this box called "Popcorn hour". Does everything you want and plays back everything. Cost $200. Drop in a 1.5 terrabyte drive if you like or play stuff on your network.

And this part you will really like. It downloads torrent just like a computer.

http://www.popcornhour.com/onlinestore/


Alot of the people with HTPCs are using this instead because it's alot easier to setup and it really does play everything.
 

Flambeur

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Originally Posted by BrettChaotix
I download BlueRay/HD movie rips via BitTorrent. I use the K-Lite codec pack and "Media Player Classic" to watch them.

I have Windows Media Center but it won't play the high def movie files, just standard DVD rips. Media Center sucks for playing mp3s so I still use WinAmp for my music. I rip CD's using Buzzsaw CD Ripper.

My computer has a DVI output. DVI can output up to 1080p quality video so I use a DVI-to-HDMI cable to plug it into my LCD TV - I have HD quality video this way.

My living room speaker system is shit so I don't worry about high quality audio. I do a 1/8" to stereo RCA cable from my PC to my "Aux In" on my receiver.


Yeah I just use the DVItoHDMI.. Easy. Most of the shows I watch I just download now. But i'd recommend VLC player over the alternatives. Just works better for me, and I never have a codec or caption problem (when I'm using it). Better settings options as well.

I do want to eventually set up a true system though.
 

skiwebster

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I use XBMC on my orignal XBOX for everything. It plays just about every file type for both video and audio. my logitech harmony 550 remote controls it flawlessly. I'd recommend a modded xbox for just about anyone who has all of their movies, tv shows, and music on their computer. And the interface is slick and much easier to use and navigate than Xbox 360's.
 

Nicesuit

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That popcorn hour A-110 can't be beat if you're not willing and able to do a lot of research on putting together an HTPC. It'll play everything including the kitchen sink. I especially like the streaming of HD soundtracks from Blu-rays.
 

Ace Rimmer

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Wow, great suggestion on the Popcorn Hour device ... I've been trying to spec out a HT PC and have run into a brick wall when it comes to finding a PC video card/sound card that can output the new HD auto formats. I may get one of those to tie me over for SD movies ... 1.5 TB drive costs around $130 and can hold probably close to 300 movies.
 

Jumbie

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Originally Posted by Nicesuit
That popcorn hour A-110 can't be beat if you're not willing and able to do a lot of research on putting together an HTPC. It'll play everything including the kitchen sink. I especially like the streaming of HD soundtracks from Blu-rays.

I looked at one of those but I don't like that it has no wireless.
 

A Y

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Originally Posted by Jumbie
I looked at one of those but I don't like that it has no wireless.

They sell it with a USB wireless Ethernet adapter for $36 more.

The other nice thing about Popcorn Hour is that it's the cheapest (and only other) network player that can play back 96 kHz PCM. The $2000 Slim Devices Transporter is the other one.

--Andre
 

Jumbie

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Hmmn, didn't know that.
 

turboman808

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I have been down the HTPC route twice. Now I just want the simplest of device that will just play a dam movie. I should have my popcorn hour up and running in a few weeks. I would post a review but there are already 100s of them praising the box.

I needed some 1.5 terrabyte drives for the office and threw in a couple extra for myself.


Got one internal and one external at newegg.
 

Ace Rimmer

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Originally Posted by turboman808
I needed some 1.5 terrabyte drives for the office and threw in a couple extra for myself.


Let us know how those 1.5 TB drives work out. You're talking about the new Seagate Barracuda, right? There are reports that those drives have been locking up, although supposedly a firmware update will fix this problem.

I'm considering buying one for my PC (I'm close to full on my 1 TB Seagate) but this problem has me worried.
 

A Y

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I'm not sure I would trust large HDs yet. I'd get drives with the smallest number of platters, and make sure they're kept cool. Of course, with Toshiba introducing a 512GB SSD at CES, the game's going to change very soon.

--Andre
 

Nahmeanz

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wait until they announce an updated mac mini at macworld. get it. install boxee. that will play everything including blu-ray rips.
 

xchen

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Right now, I am obtaining Blu Ray rips of movies, converting them from .mkv to .mpeg (I've got a really beefy system). I then stream them using an ethernet cable (wireless was not buffering quickly enough) over to my roomie's PS3 and we watch them on the 1080p TV. It's really great. My roommate was talking about building a massive Blu Ray collection but I think we've decided against that as this is a much better approach, IMO.
 

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