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#324149 - 09/28/10 12:24 PM Re: HTPC [Re: Listener]
Capn_Pickard Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 03/09/04
Posts: 1056
Loc: Arlington, VA (NOVA)
Listener - to add a couple of points:

According to a website that eludes my right now, while it is technically possible to buy a video card that will pass High Def vid and a bitstream audio (TrueHD or DTS-MA) over HDMI, the sad truth is that the HDCP protections get in the way of making this a viable option without some code cracking. In any event, I haven't yet found solution that is less expensive than a stand-alone blu ray player to get both hi-def sound and video from a blu ray disc.

With regard to quality - this might be due to the fact that my video card is not super strength - I find the image quality to be on par AT BEST with the source played from a stand alone player. Note that, in my set up, both the stand alone player and the PC are hooked up with HDMI cables (for audio on the PC, I use a digital audio out). Perhaps if you got an awesome gaming video card there might be a difference. But for my money, I would rather just buy a standalone player for the money I could spend on the new video card, without the hassle of configuring the video setting and negotiating the audio side of things.

With regard to convenience - sure, if you want to rip just a couple of titles, have at it. But to me, the WHOLE POINT of Blu Ray and DVD on HTPC was so that your WHOLE COLLECTION was on there, meaning no more fumbling with disks. Just scroll through your movies, pick what you want to watch and go.

In truth, though, I think the HTPC thing is more about showing off than actual functionality. Consider this: Even if it only took 8 - 10 minutes to load and rip a DVD, including menus (and not my slower 30 minute time). Consider how many times you will actually watch any single movie, and then consider how long it actually takes to get up and put a disk in the player - probably less than 30 seconds ... let's call it a minute. You'll have to watch each movie 8 times before you start to see actual convenience benefits. And while it's awesome to have a slick interface to show off to your friends when they come over, is it really worth all that work for a 10 minute demo? If they're actually coming over to watch a movie, they'll be more impressed by watching the awesome screen you've got and the great sound system you installed over some (likely glitchy) PC setup. The fact is that my friends come over far too infrequently to make this investment. My wife isn't impressed by this kind of stuff, and the amount of work required to get set up far outstrips any benefit reaped in the future.

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#324168 - 09/28/10 04:22 PM Re: HTPC [Re: Capn_Pickard]
Listener Offline
local

Registered: 09/05/08
Posts: 269
Loc: CT, US
All good points. The truth is that I am a bit of a tinkerer and that is most likely a part of the appeal. I also like to watch netflix, hulu+ as well as other downloaded content and want to bring those to my TV. I can do some of that with the ps3 right now, but I would prefer a streamlined interface as well as access to many of my ripped blu-rays. The goal for me is to eventually get rid of cable and use the combination of the above mentioned services as well as amazon video on demand etc... to get all of my shows/movies. As far as the time it takes to rip movies... it's not like i'll sit there waiting for it to happen. I will most likely just rip new movies I buy while I'm doing other stuff. You are right though.... It is an expensive and unnecessary toy.
_________________________
w22s, w150, qs8s, ep500

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#324170 - 09/28/10 04:43 PM Re: HTPC [Re: Listener]
Capn_Pickard Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 03/09/04
Posts: 1056
Loc: Arlington, VA (NOVA)
As they say - your mileage may vary. And certainly, if I burned movies as I got them, rather than all at once, the process would become a whole lot more palatable.

The trick to making the HTPC a functional part of your is to either go ALL IN or not go at all, I think.

If you invest wisely, you can build a nice HTPC that will function well for years, will have TV reception and recording capability and, of course, will give you access to internet based media. If the system is a one stop shop for all of those things, then there is certainly a lot of appeal to it, in theory.

I won't tell you not to do it, I can only share my experience. Again, my experience was that the PC part of my setup is great for surfing the web on the TV, listening to music and looking at pictures (all cool features with friends at parties or playing slide shows for folks rather than having to cluster around a 15 inch laptop monitor). The PC was not good for much else, though and was not a good replacement for DVD/BluRay player or Cable box.

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#324175 - 09/28/10 06:54 PM Re: HTPC [Re: Capn_Pickard]
fredk Offline
axiomite

Registered: 12/06/07
Posts: 7042
Loc: Canada
Quote:
According to a website that eludes my right now, while it is technically possible to buy a video card that will pass High Def vid and a bitstream audio (TrueHD or DTS-MA) over HDMI, the sad truth is that the HDCP protections get in the way of making this a viable option without some code cracking.

And that is the heart of the matter. HDCP requires both a protected video and audio path. They must be separate. That makes the hardware doubly complicated and adds expense. I don't think that the hardware vendors are going to try too hard to deliver low cost hardware given the luke warm reception the htpc has had thus far.

I honestly think that Sony would be most happy if the whole HTPC thing died an ugly death.

The theoretical advantage to the HTPC was entertainment 'vitrualization'. The ability to use one piece of hardware for multiple entertainment functions. The reality seems to be far from that.
_________________________
Fred

-------
Blujays1: Spending Fred's money one bottle at a time, no two... Oh crap!

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#324186 - 09/28/10 08:00 PM Re: HTPC [Re: fredk]
Zarak Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 03/09/03
Posts: 1849
Loc: PA
One of the reasons I've considered it is the DVR like functionality. I don't like monthly recurring costs, and have lived without a DVR up to this point, but I'm starting to see more of a need with a 9 month old that makes it a bit more difficult to sit and watch shows than it used to be.

I don't watch that much TV to being with. I have an hour of shows on Thursday evenings and that is it other than sports.

Now that the Ceton quad tuner card is out I've considered getting one. It would be hooked up to the PC in the office, so I would need ethernet from there to the TV, as even 802.11n isn't going to cut it for good quality HD I think (unless someone has experience otherwise).

I also don't have a media center extender by the TV, although I do have a PS3, which seems to have some interaction with media center, so I'm not sure how that would work and what the differene is vs. a true extender.

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#324238 - 09/29/10 01:24 PM Re: HTPC [Re: Zarak]
Wuchak Offline
buff

Registered: 12/18/09
Posts: 42
An HD DVR is $10 a month or $120 a year. If it breaks they come replace it. In a year from now if a new model is out they swap it out for you. How many years of that service will you be able to cover for the price of building an HTPC? Now add in time to maintain it,upgrade costs, replacement costs, etc. and you'll see that $10 a month is a sweet deal. Even if you add a second box or a third for different TV's it's still far cheaper in the long run and a lot less hassel.

For $139 you can get a Sony 3D Blu-Ray ready player that connects to the internet to view NetFlix, Pandora, YouTubu, Hulu, etc. It also has a USB input on the back to play anything you want to plug into it.

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#324242 - 09/29/10 01:39 PM Re: HTPC [Re: Wuchak]
tomtuttle Offline
axiomite

Registered: 06/20/03
Posts: 8283
Loc: Tacoma
My wife and kids easily navigate the UI on the D*TV DVR. I don't see any way I could make a HTPC DVR version as user-friendly.
_________________________
bibere usque ad hilaritatem

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#324335 - 09/30/10 09:25 AM Re: HTPC [Re: tomtuttle]
Listener Offline
local

Registered: 09/05/08
Posts: 269
Loc: CT, US
I suppose that I can no longer rationalize the HTPC after all these comments. Good thing I don't have to =). WAAHHHH I WANT ONE. WAAHHHHH. As I said .... It is a bit of a hobby. The building of the PC and tinkering with either WMC7 or another media center is a part of the fun for me I guess.
_________________________
w22s, w150, qs8s, ep500

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#324336 - 09/30/10 09:40 AM Re: HTPC [Re: Listener]
ClubNeon Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 02/06/09
Posts: 3448
Loc: Western Maryland, USA
Why doesn't everyone drive an automatic transmission?

Why isn't every camera a point-and-shoot?

Some people who have interests in things like a little more control.
_________________________
Pioneer VSX-1018AH-K, PDP-5020FD, DV-79AVi
Axiom M22s, VP150, QS8s
Sony PS3, surround backs
-Chris

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#324338 - 09/30/10 10:29 AM Re: HTPC [Re: ClubNeon]
Capn_Pickard Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 03/09/04
Posts: 1056
Loc: Arlington, VA (NOVA)
I drive an automatic, but shoot with an SLR. I also enjoyed building the PC.

Listener - you can build a decent PC that will serve admirably as a music/picture server for very cheap, especially if you're not worried about aesthetics and can harvest an old PC case with an adequate power supply. Then, all that is left to buy is the MOBO, processor, RAM, disc drives and a hard drive complement. This can be done with less than $300. A good TV tuner will cost about $80 from Hauppauge (optional). With that set up and a copy of Windows 7, you'll have a pretty slick system that is fun to turn on at parties (there is a neat feature on WMC7 that locks the computer and only allows the media center to be played, meaning you can have your PC on at parties, with your guests able to change music, add songs to the queue, etc., without worrying that someone will mistakenly shut down the system or delete all your stuff by mistake.

Don't let me dissuade you from building a PC and having fun with it. Just realize that it is not the one-box panacea that it is advertised. But it can complement a Blu Ray/Cable box nicely.

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