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Complete Audio/Video/Computer set-up

by johnmendenhall / January 25, 2006 1:16 AM PST

I want to create a home theater system that ties my computer together with my T.V. and audio system.

I want to be able to use my TV as my monitor, speakers as my computer speakers while still being able to switch back and forth between DVD, computer and TV cable easily. What do I physically need to be able to do this?

I want to have it all be digital, supporting HDTV, THX and at least 5.1 dolby sound.

If possible, also be able to split screen between TV and computer so that half of my plasma would show my computer and the other half would show regular TV.

Basically, just looking for all the hardware needed to be able to do this.

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No NO
by stewart norrie / January 25, 2006 1:58 AM PST

The main problem is When someone wants to watch t.v. Your going to be on your computor, Then the problem of burning your disply, computor cables that will not interface with your hi-def special cables examplw H.d.m.i optical audio etc. Sorry it just sounds crazy to do this.. Also when you install all your audio and vidio gear your going to have a very comlpex set up ADD computor gear that wont interface just doesent make sence keep you computor in the bedroom whjere it belongs

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I am sure the necessary equipments are out there, but...
by Art / January 25, 2006 2:14 AM PST
In reply to: No NO

may not be readily available. So my suggestion would be a consultant (if there is such a consultant), if you have the money and the desire. But I tend to agreed with Stwart on this.

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I've done it
by steve.trelease / January 25, 2006 5:58 AM PST

Giving a nod to the naysayers, I would not attempt this setup if you have only one computer in the house - the point about usage contention is well-taken. Other than that, it's quite feasible, relatively uncomplicated (particularly if you like fiddling with hardware) and doesn't require a lot of exotic gear. I'll start with the simplest setup, and work up in complexity.

To meet your split screen requirement, the monitor will need to have PIP capability. Your two sources (Cable + PC, DVD + PC, etc.) will correspond to two inputs on the monitor. For the PC, the standard 15-pin RGB connection is perfect, equal to component/ HDMI/DVI in quality. The video card will need to support the highest resolution the monitor can display. Audio should be routed through the receiver (unless the monitor has digital audio pass-through), but this means switching audio and video separately. This could be simplified with a remote which supports macros, however.

Going a couple steps further (which is the approach I took), you can handle most (if not all) of your video on the PC by using its DVD drive and installing a video capture or TV tuner card. These cards typically have multiple inputs, so cable/satellite/ VCR/etc. can be routed through the PC. With this setup, monitor/receiver switching is eliminated and PIP takes the form of windows. The added benefit or tuner/capture cards is that you can get "free Tivo". BTW, I'm sold on using broadcast HD, as opposed to paying for local channels on satellite - the video/audio quality is just as good or better theoretically (and actually) in many cases.

If you want to take this route, here are some basic suggestions for hardware:

-Fast CPU (at least 1.6GHz, but 3.0+ is better)
-Motherboard with built-in 5.1 digital audio (SPDIF)
-512MB RAM minimum
-Quiet, well-ventilated/cooled case
-Large hard drive (160GB plus)
-HD TV tuner card
-Video card compatible with tuner card
-Wireless keyboard and mouse (optical)
-Windows XP (MCE not necessary)

If this will be your second PC, you'd be best off with a home network and broadband Internet. Aside from the obvious benefits of web browsing, you'll appreciate having high-speed access for automatic "TV Guide" downloading. If you go the Tivo route, the PC should remain on round-the-clock. You might consider an A/V component type case, but these are more expensive and limit your hardware options somewhat.

As for the plasma monitor, be very aggressive with the screensaver and power management. If you are sensible, you need not be overly concerned about burn-in. I can't say enough for the sheer delight (not to mention, the lessened eyestrain) of having a huge screen for PC work. I actually encourage the kids to use it for their computer games.

Even though I've thrown out quite a bit of information, there are more nuts-and-bolts details to be covered. I'd be happy to provide such, and can also recommend the site byopvr.com.

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In addition...
by steve.trelease / January 25, 2006 9:56 AM PST
In reply to: I've done it

It sounds like you already have a plasma TV, but I thought I'd mention that a full-blown home theater PC setup only requires an HD monitor (i.e. one described as "HD ready") - you can save a bit (or get a larger/better/etc. display) when you eliminate the tuner and speakers.

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My personal opinion is to NEVER mix my A/V with my PC.
by Riverledge / January 25, 2006 11:02 AM PST

Extensive wiring, expensive additional equipment.....
I cannot imagine watching a split screened movie with
a computer sharing the same monitor. Your family must be thrilled with the prospect.

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not for the family...
by johnmendenhall / January 25, 2006 11:50 AM PST

This particular set up would not be for my family, but for personal use. I think it would be easier to watch tv and work on the computer at the same time if they both shared the same screen. (I like to multi-task like that).

So thank you to everyone who posted something useful - it has helped me out a lot.

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Sorry about that.....
by Riverledge / January 25, 2006 12:35 PM PST
In reply to: not for the family...

But multi-tasking on the same screen will most likely do a number your eyes. I think you'd be off with two different dedicated screens.

river.

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wouldnt recommend it
by masterying01 / January 25, 2006 2:08 PM PST
In reply to: not for the family...

you can do it, but it wont work the way you want to. if you get a media center...and "multitask"....having the tv part running with audio while doing computer stuff will make your computer work a lot harder which will slow down a lot of the stuff you're trying to do..both tv and computer related.

if you get a tv with split screen(sony xbr's, lg lcd or dlp's, some other ones), you can do it.....but again....you're better off getting a tv and a computer monitor for much cheaper then a bigscreen with splitscreen feature.

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Thanks for the validation.....
by Riverledge / January 26, 2006 10:47 AM PST
In reply to: wouldnt recommend it

I multi-task, but when I do it's always separate screens. TV for TV. Computer for the computer.

river.

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MY ROOMATE DID THIS TO ME.
by stewart norrie / April 18, 2006 7:58 AM PDT

spent 3 years building a home theater system of my dreams, Then 1 nite my roomate broght home a trunk load of garbage so he could play with his computor on my system. The most stupid idea ever I told him to do his multi tasking somewhere elso just kidding but I think multitaskers should have there one little planet to live onIn closing I saw this milti tasking story on t.v. about this yeppie couple that were so busy miltitasking that they had to text between each other having sex must have been fun talking to each other on there cell phones to each other ha ha stewart

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Yes - YES!
by eagle5555 / April 17, 2006 9:01 AM PDT

Late to the thread but want to say that while some folks may not see the need for what you want and therefor say it's a bad idea, let me say that it's a terriffic idea and I've been working on developing it for my home.

I live in a small house and have one pc, one tv and one stereo. Because I have a tv/radio tuner card in my pc and I've loaded all my music, dvd movies, radio shows recorded off the internet, podcasts, photos, etc. onto my pc I can use a wireless keyboard or MS Media Center remote at my tv and view movies, listen to music, schedule, listen and record streaming audio, watch dozens of dvds, record tv all w/out getting out of my sofa.

This sure beats having a pc in my living room because there isn't room for it. This also means that I don't need a separate dvd player for the stereo/tv.

While I probably wouldn't spend hours multi-tasking viewing video and using other pc apps, that's not the point. The fact is that I CAN multi-task. Wanna check out the imdb trivia on a movie you're watching on the tv in the living room but the pc is in the study? No problem, just resize the movie, open a browser and go to the internet. Want to check-out a product you just saw used while watching This Old House on the tv in the living room? No problem.

As far as the no-no nancies go, let them get up and go to their specialized room to use the internet or watch tv or sit amidst multiple ugly displays in their living room.

Go ahead with your plans - you'll have an awesome, multi-tasking environment that really lets you get the most out of your content and systems.

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STILL WOULD NOT TAKE THIS ROUTE.............
by Riverledge / April 19, 2006 6:27 AM PDT
In reply to: Yes - YES!

BEST wishes.

river.

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