Media center PC to suit my needs... Possible?

  fourjays 14:33 08 Jun 2006

Well, I'm not quite sure where this belongs, but anyway.

This morning I have been thinking about digital TV, and the bits I need for receiving it, while maintaining our current home TV setup. Now it all seems to get very complicated, with extra boxes, remotes, wires, etc. I was thinking - is it possible to build a media center PC that can do everything we need, so that we have only 1 box.

Our current setup is as so;
Small 14" TV in the dining room, connected to a split antenna.
26"-28" Widescreen TV in the living room, connected to the other antenna split.
DVD Recorder, and VCR connected to the Widescreen TV.

I know a small amount about media center PCs, but not loads. I am fully capable of building a PC, but have no experience with media center things, so if I ask a thick question, thats why. Additionally, I don't know how much of what I would like is possible via a single media center PC.

I would like to have one Media Center PC, with remote control, capable of receiving digital TV (freeview, not Sky/Cable) through an antenna input, and outputting TV to two TVs. I would really like to have the ability to have either TV on any channel at the same time (so one can be on BBC and the other on ITV, for eg). I would also like to be able to record DVDs (or record to HDD) with the media center PC. That is what I would like.

Now for my dumb questions;
What hardware would I need, apart from the usual (mobo, CPU, etc)?
What usual hardware would I not need (graphics card, sound card)?
Is it just a case of building a "normal" computer, then adding in the extra hardware?
What software would I need? Just Windows Media Center Edition, or something else?
Is it possible to have it work with my current CRT TVs, or would I need TVs with special connectors?
I am also thinking of replacing the 26"-28" TV with a 26"-32" LCD TV. Are there any special connectors on the TV I would need? Would I be able to have one LCD and one CRT TV?
Could the media center PC be capable of, or upgraded in the future, to receive HDTV and output it to an HDTV capable TV?
What would be needed to record to HDD and/or DVD (apart from a HDD/DVDRW)?
Would sound be outputted to the TVs audio for playback via the TVs own speakers?
Remote control? :-P

All help is greatly appreciated, and hope you don't mind all the dumb sounding questions, but I like to be sure before doing things. Don't want to go ahead to discover I need lots more than I expected. :-)

  rodriguez 16:39 08 Jun 2006

This should be possible I'll go on ebuyer now to find the components and make a list of the spec. Only thing you might not be able to do is record HDTV as there is no Freeview service for this and won't be for around 8 years until the analogue TV is switched off to free up bandwidth.

  fourjays 16:55 08 Jun 2006

Ok, thanks alot. :)

  rodriguez 17:43 08 Jun 2006

This should be OK for what you need:

Antec Black Overture II Quiet Media Case =
£67.79 - QF 90599

AMD Athlon 64 (ADA3800BVBOX) X2 3800+ Socket 939 Dual Core = £192.45 - QF 94640

ABIT NF-95 SKT939 Nvidia C51G MCP51 5.1 audio LAN SATA PCI-E = £42.95 - QF 109994

2x Corsair (VS1GB400C3) 1024MB, DDR400 / PC3200 = £110.16 - QF 66405

XFX GeForce 7300GS 256MB DDR2 TV DVI PCI-E = £45.81 - QF 103599

2x Maxtor 6V160E0 160GB SATA300 7200rpm = £88.02 - QF 102294

LG GSA-H10ABAL 16xDVDRW/RAM Internal Black - OEM = £24.67 - QF 107210

LG GDR-8164BL 16x52 DVD-ROM Internal IDE (Black) - OEM = £13.39 - QF 98199

Mitsumi 7-in-1 USB2 Floppy Drive / Media Drive SM/MS/MD/CF/MM/SD = £14.09 - QF 90805

Hauppauge WINTV-HVR 1100 Digital and Analogue Tv and Radio int PCI = £47.96 - QF 94512

Microsoft OEM Media Center Remote Control lnc Receiver = £61.09 - QF 78740

Microsoft OEM Windows XP Media Center 2005 = £229.60 - QF 98372

Total cost = £937.98

Just go on ebuyer (click here) to double check this spec for compatibility and in case I've missed anything.

  fourjays 18:30 08 Jun 2006

Thanks alot. :D That sounds great.

Is it possible to have it so I can have an LCD TV connected as the main "monitor" AND have one of our current 14" Analogue CRT TVs connected? Is there a special cable/adaptor needed to output to a CRT TV?

Thanks again. :)

  rodriguez 18:41 08 Jun 2006

Yes that should be possible. I think that card has DV out which would allow it to be connected to a HD ready TV. There should also be an S-Video connection that can be connected to another TV. There may be a little S-Video to composite cable supplied that will allow you to plug it into the composite socket on the other TV. Just check all it's connections in Google or something first because the description on ebuyer doesn't say much about it's connections.

  fourjays 19:06 08 Jun 2006

I just checked another site, and it says the card has DVI-I and S-Video out? Those what I need?

  fourjays 19:10 08 Jun 2006

Just one other thing... I don't think any of the portable TVs have composite socket. Is there such a thing as an S-Video to Coax/Scart cable or adaptor?

  rodriguez 01:14 09 Jun 2006

Just make sure it had DVI output and it will be OK. The S-Video out is what you need and you can get an adapter that has 3 composite sockets (1 video, 2 audio) and an S-Video socket going into a Scart plug that goes into the back of the TV to allow you to plug composite and S-Video equipment into it. These only cost a couple of quid.

  fourjays 10:23 09 Jun 2006

Ok, thanks for explaining. I found the adaptors, and found some TVs that take DVI, so that is all sorted.

I presume it is fairly self-explanatory once up and running to set-up the system for use with 2 TVs displaying different channels? It might be a few months til I am able to make my media center, but it's useful to know in advance.

Something I came across earlier to do with media center PCs is the "iMON VFD with IR remote" (click here), for an LCD display on the front of the case. Are they any good? Would using one of them in the system above simply be a case of not having a second DVD drive and the remote, and having the iMON instead?

Thanks for your continued help. :)

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