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Question

Advice on specifications for computer used for TV viewing?

by Dwighttbp / December 16, 2012 1:43 AM PST

We have an eight year old Gateway tower (OS = Win XP) hooked up to our Samsung flat screen TV and watch all our TV and movies through our Internet hook-up (Hulu, Netflix, sports through random free sites...etc.)

This is working well for us and we're very happy with the set-up except that the Gateway is so weak, we need to upgrade.

Questions for those who know about these things:

1. Given that all we care about for this computer is internet/wireless speed and video and sound quality, what specifications should I be looking for in a new tower? What processor speed/capacity, RAM memory, sound, video and wireless cards, will maximize the quality of our viewing?

FYI- we live in a rural area where our Internet service is limited to 6 MBPS max (right now it runs about 1.5 to 2 MBPS but will soon be upgraded (in theory) to be closer to the 6 MBPS max).

We will also want to play DVD's through the DVD drive that the new computer should have. We do not need a TV tuner. We do not play video games. And I also assume we will not need much hard drive capacity but maybe I'm forgetting something?

2. What operating system should we get? I'm inclined to get Win 7 because Win 8 seems like overkill for what we need. Plus my wife is very frustrated by changes brought about by periodic software upgrades. Win 8 looks like nightmare to her. But I worry that we lose out in the future by not starting off with the latest OS when available.

Any help on any of this would be greatly appreciated- thanks!

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All Answers

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Answer
In a nutshell.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / December 16, 2012 2:24 AM PST

Any i3 or better, 4GB or better with a video card with dedicated video memory with HDMI and the DVD player and of course Windows 7 should be fine.

WiFi is nice but can be trouble for some if the distance to the WiFi router is too far. It's all about location and what's between you and the router. It rarely is the hardware choice unless it was some rare 2 dollar thing.

Windows 8 might be OK if we add the start button back in. http://www.stardock.com/products/start8/ for example and there are others and free ones as well. We'll get a few Windows 8 machine just in case we get asked if our apps run on it but for now we see that Windows 9 will be fine.

For me I went simpler with an Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7 to the HDTV but this falls short on what you want to do but I thought I'd toss this in.

With that out of the way, let's look at the top sellers at amazon.com for desktops. Stores have drank the Windows 8 Kool Aid so my bet is you may not get what you want there.

-> http://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Computers-Accessories-Desktop/zgbs/pc/565098

At NUMBER 2 I see http://www.amazon.com/HP-P7-1490-Pavilion-Desktop/dp/B009X8EC90/ so read the buy comments and see what you think.
Bob

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Answer
Decent PC
by Willy / December 16, 2012 2:44 AM PST

As you're using your OLD PC and got what you wanted, anything newer is going to do this as well of similar specs. You need to pay attention to your current cable setup and be sure that is also similar to what is offered in a new setup. While, I'm inclined to go Win7 also, Win8 provides the same answers. If you go through the trouble of Win7, Win8 will be just as much, so decide which maybe less of a headache for you. Also, if Win7, you can upgrade to Win8 later. With the setup(cable) they should provide anything newer if need be because you have a new PC if applicable or they may swap over the items that are part of thier setup to new PC. That service should offer what it takes via the support website, the needs of continued service -OR- they send someone out to do this or instruction "YOU".

DVD movies will play nicely provide the DVD drive is there. The other half of this is the player s/w, but at least Windows media will handle that OK.

Since most newer PC will have globs of HD space, consider how much you need, but typical offering should be 1Tb or better. If you need more, then buy with new PC as part of it, but 2Tb should do well. if you save or store personal movies or offline movies then that will take HD space.

Win7, 4gb ram, Intel cpu( I perfer), DVD drive, 1Tb HD(at least) and ports(ethernet, USB, etc), video(card? 512mb ram or better) otherwise on-board video supports 512mb or better. It appears you want a "desktop" to replace your old Gateway, so run away from tablets, laptops or netbooks, unless that suits you, but most of those would be better with Win8 and touchscreen if decided upon. Shop online of local stores(check for deals either way).

tada -----Willy Happy

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Answer
Thanks for the advice
by Dwighttbp / December 16, 2012 11:18 PM PST

Thanks very much to to R. Proffitt and Willy for the advice!

Couple follow up questions:

1. I'm not up to speed on HDMI technology but understand that's the connection I need to make between the new computer and Samsung flat screen TV we have (as opposed to the parallel port cable I'm currently using). When I look at the specs for the HP desktop that R. Proffitt provided a link to, I don't see anything about HDMI ports or cables. Is there another name for it?

2. As far as hard drive space, we don't download movies- pretty much stream everything when we watch the TV (or use DVDs). So I don't plan on getting a ton of hard drive space. But am I going to regret this because I'm not thinking of where entertainment technology is headed? Or is hard drive memory cheap enough that I should just go ahead and get a good amount of hard drive space (say 1 TB) anyway?

Couple clarifications- Internet connection is via DSL and WiFi is a must since there's no phone jack near the computer.

Thanks again!

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HP's specs.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / December 16, 2012 11:40 PM PST
In reply to: Thanks for the advice

You're right. It has DVI and VGA. Now DVI does use a small few dollar adapter to HDMI but it might not put sound on the HDMI. If this was my choice I'd add the usual 30 dollar ATI 5450 1GB video card (I already checked for the slot and power) then I'd be good to go.

Try a few other models from that top sellers. There's a reason those are in that list. If I'm unsure which I should consider, the best sellers at Amazon has been a great help to narrow it down.

http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?docname=c03541337&cc=us&dlc=en&lc=en&product=5298325#N403

Bob

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Just check and verify
by Willy / December 16, 2012 11:49 PM PST
In reply to: Thanks for the advice

HDMI- If you have no connection coming with new PC, then you can add it latter. USually, I perfer the video card addition vs the ada[pter, however the adapter will work too with added instructions to make it *all* work. Which is why I perfer the video card with HDMI port amongest others that maybe included, DVI or VGA. HDMI handles the audio as part of tis make-up.


HD storage- The main feature of a larger HD is more storage. Newer PCs will come no thought with a larger HD. Overall, it's good insurance to have the extra even though you may not think you'lll use it. It's just there and it part of the overall PC build, just be keen on what's provided. Of course, you can use the HD storage any way you want. 1Tb is just darn good to have, IMHO.

Ports- All those connections you may need are going to come with the new PC. The only lacking ones are called, "legacy ports", like parallel/LPT, etc.. But, those can be added later if the need arise by adding a PCI type card with those required old ports. Though its important to know that your new PC has available empty slots to instal them on, so be sure to review specs.

tada ----Willy Happy

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Answer
Thanks again!
by Dwighttbp / December 18, 2012 11:05 PM PST

Thanks for the quick and informative responses! I think I'm good to go.

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