I thought that i'd put together a topic on my recent home theatre experiences.How did it begin?
I used to just have a 28" wide screen CRT telly and a fairly expensive DVD player. As time moved on, I needed to go digital and ended up buying a new LCD TV.BluRay
My girlf bought me an LG BluRay player for Xmas, but there were a number of problems with the design:
1) It connected to the internet but could only access youtube or perform firmware updates
2) It didn't play all MKVs very well
3) The USB connector would only support FAT32, so largest filesize = 4GB (DVD discs are either 4.7 or 8.4GB).High Def Video
There are a number of ways you might play hi-def video. These will basically include:
1) AVI or MPEG file (usually common for heavily compressed/reduced quality movies. Usually < 2GB)
2) BluRay discs (50GB)
3) MKV (another media file format - Commonly between 4 - 15GB)DVD/BluRay
I wanted a DVD writer but wasn't sure about BluRay. I'd priced up the re-writeable discs and they were expensive for what they were. I made a choice that I'd buy a DVD writer / BluRay reader.Choosing the parts
I didn't see anything pre-assembled that I liked so decided to buy the components and build it myself.The case
I didn't realise that cases were so diverse. Previously I knew that cases were beige and sharp on the edges. Little did I know they could be one of the most expensive parts of a computer! I settled on the Antec Microfusion Remote with LCD display.
This case was reviewed as being well-priced and quiet. This is one of the most important things to consider if the PC is on whilst you watch filmsThe motherboard
I had picked the ASUS P5Q-EM. This MB had great reviews and seemed ideal for a home theatre PC. It's of Micro ATX form factor so it would fit well in the Antec Case. Most of the stuff is onboard including graphics and sound.http://reviews.cnet.com/motherboards/asus-p5q-em-motherboard/4505-3049_7-33232825.htmlMemory
I opted for 4GB of fast 1066MHZ RAM. This would be plenty for a home theatre PC.
TWIN2X4096-8500C5C XMS2 DDR2Processor
Nothing elaborate here, just a medium priced Intel dual core.
Intel PentDC E6500 2.93GH 45nmHard Disk
Just a simple Seagate SATA drive with 3GB/sec burt rates. Certainly fast enough with plenty of storage space.Operating System
I went with Windows 7 (64 bit). I quite like the Media Centre that comes with it.Connecting it up
I'd noticed that the HDMI cables were priced up to £70 in Currys. What a rip off. Spending this much on a cable would be like throwing money in the Mersey. As the signals are digital and the cable is short, you couldn't tell the difference between an expensive cable and one that cost a fiver. So look on ebay.
The PC Audio connects into the SPDIF (Optical) on the amp.Matroska MKV
To play MKVs you need to get Matroska software, especially if you want to use Windows Media Player or Media Centre. I used the K-lite codec pack: http://www.codecguide.com/klcp_64bit.htm
Players like VLC can play natively.Recording the TV
Girlfriend likes to record crap off the TV so I bought a TV card. Kworld Dual DVB-T (PCI Express). I had to get one with a half height bracket to fit in the Micro ATX case. Comes with a remote and integrates really well with Media Centre.Internet
Never bothered getting a wireless card as I just use the network port on the back to connect to the wireless router.
Been using the system now for 4 months with wireless keyb and mouse. Certainly more pleased with it than standalone Bluray/Dvd player.