Using your PC as a Home Entertainment System

  cosi 14:37 12 May 2003

There has been a lot written already in the media as to how all our devices are going to converge some time in the future.

From looking at some other threads in the Helproom, I suspect that there are many people who have already set up or built their PCs to: play & record music on all sorts of formats, listen to radio, watch TV, record TV programmes, even function like a TiVo device etc.

I am currently building a new PC with such uses in mind. So , rather than rediscover the wheel, I would be interested in hearing what others have already done in hardware, software etc.

It would be great if we could start a discussion forum on this subject.

  SteevScotland 14:54 12 May 2003

I am in the process of addapting an old pc to make it a home entertainment hub. At present I use it as a jukebox and home cinema system. It is connected to my TV for watching DVDs ect..
In future I plan to add a TV tuner card and use it like a TiVo box.

Cheers S

  cosi 11:13 14 May 2003

SteevScotland, thanks for your posting.

If your willing to share the info, I would be interested to know what adaptations you are going to make. Also for your existing system, what software/hardware are you using for the "jukebox" & "home cinema".

What TV tuner have you got your eye on ? As far as I can tell you can get ones that pick up analogue or cable/satellite. What about digital terrestrial ?

Likewise, for the TiVo-type application, what software are you looking at ? Showshifter seems to be mentioned by a lot of reviews ?!

  MartinT-B 12:42 14 May 2003

If you have an old PC don't throw it out.

Use it as a server!!

Assuming you go the XP route on your new PC, networking is relatively painless and using on OLD pc as a server is actually a good investment in time if you have a family with differenct PC in different rooms.

You may know this, but just in case. Essentially what you will be doing is using an older/slower PC to store all the information that other PCs may need. On my home PC I have about 30GB of .wma files which are copies of most of my CD collection. That is the sort of stuff you'd have on a server. The server PC doesn't have to be fast or special as the PC accessing the info can copy the music (or whatever) to a temp or cache file. Several PC can access the server at the same time. It can also be used to Back-up.

If the HDDs in the server are large enough, and you have the time DVDs can also be copied to it, keeping the original Pristine.

Once copies have been made you can put all your CD's, LPs etc. into storage.

Hauppage make a TV card called the Nova-T for about £60-70. This card enables freeview and Copying to the HDD if you want to record a TV program or film. You may will be able to run a Satelite connectyion through it.

If you are thinking of going the Home Ent Sys route, I would suggest something like a Shuttle, which is a very small and QUIET PC that looks pretty good too. Combined with a good digital TV/Monitor, a BB connection and a Server you should be able to free up a lot of space in the average living room.

  MartinT-B 12:48 14 May 2003

click here for small form (footprint) PCs

click here for the Hauppauge Digital TV cards

WinTV Nova-t (PCI)

Watch for FREE! digital channels
No subscription is required for Free-to-air Digital
Digital TV offers sharper pictures and clearer sound
Record digital TV to disk and playback
Listen to Radio in Stereo sound*
Easy installation

  duplo 14:40 14 May 2003

It partly depends on what you spend and also on what you class as Home Entertainment.

If you want you PC for watching movies, TV, and music then the spec you need should focus on a Graphics card with a TV out (if you want to plug into a TV), TV card such as the one recomended above a good soundcard and speakers to get good sound (ie.Audigy 2, and some high quality speakers), and a large fast hardrive to store data on. You dont need a very powerful CPU (A 2000 will do),but 512 Ram is always a good idea. If you want a games machine aswell, then you want a fast graphics card and CPU which will add £100's to the cost- as well as noise.

A funky case is a neet addition as it will "look the part" and parts from the likes of will mean your music will not be drowned out by noisy fans, although I think at the moment QuitePC CPU fans are limited to Athlon 2700, and if you go for a GF FX then the only way to silence that is the wather cooling route!

Good luck!

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