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Building the Ultimate HTPC in July

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Building an Ultimate HTPC in July

So I am tired of waiting for Cox cable in Fairfax Virginia to get their act together. I have been renting a Scientific Atlantic 8300HD (160GB) cable box from them for the past 4 years. I only can record 20-25 television shows before I run out of space and have to delete items. I found out that it had a eSata port on the back and tried buying a Western Digital My DVR Expander, and while it saw the extra would only record random segments of what I had programmed to record. Cox refused to help me, and Western Digital told me that they probably disabled the port.

Then I heard about the Ceton Infinitv 4! Now I am searching the Internet for information on how to best accomplish my TV dreams. One of the problems I keep running into is that the information on the Internet about HTPC's is out of date and no longer applicable. So I come to you guys for help and assistance.....

At first I thought I could use one of my spare computers as my HTPC, but it seems as though it is not powerful enough to handle displaying HD content. I bought a brand new video card that had HDMI out, and VLC player is choppy when playing back HD content......even Youtube and Hulu choke when trying to play stuff full screen. The specs were....

* Intel Pentium 4 550 (3.4Ghz HT)

* Asus P5GD2 Premium (915 chipset)

* 1GB of Ram

Since this machine won't work, I have started my quest to build my ultimate HTPC. Here are the parts I have assembled so far (minus the Ceton I need to buy and the Hauppage 2250 I already own).

I figure with the Ceton Card and a Hauppage 2250 that I should be able to record 4 and watch 1 at the same time? Also I am assuming that the Harmony remote works with a PC? I am trying to go with a motherboard that I can upgrade the processor at a later time if needed. I am hoping that the Sandy Bridge issues get worked out by July when I plan to start building this machine. I would love to have anywhere from 6 to 12TB of hard drive space so that I can record entire seasons of TV shows to catch up on things I have missed over the years. I will be picking up an extra Xbox 360 with Wireless N for the bedroom so that I can watch my recorded items on that TV also. Right now I pay the following on my cable bill....

Cox TV Starter $22.99

Expanded Service 32.00

(Advanced TV 5.99)

Va Cable Right of Way Fee 0.76

(Advanced TV 6.00)

Video Promotional Discount -19.00

(DVR Service 9.99)

Other Costs 0.13

(Advanced TV HD Receiver 7.99)

(Advanced TV HD DVR Receiver 7.99)

Total TV $74.84

The items I have put in parenthesis, are the ones I am hoping to eliminate by building a HTPC and renting a CableCard. Right now I have a DVR that I rent for the living room, and a cable box for the bedroom. I have no clue what the "Advanced TV" fee is, I am guessing that they charge me per port for HD content. As for the computer, it will pretty much be just a DVR, I will block out web browsing to all but Hulu and Youtube. My hope is that this workstation provides my TV needs for the next 3-5 years and that I can take my two boxes back to Cox and tell them where to stick their outdated technology. Any assistance you guys have is appreciated....

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I've thought about doing something similar in building an HTPC. But unlike you, I completely cut cable two years ago. $68 to watch TV just seemed like too much to me. Now I download all the shows that I want to watch after they air, and for that my WD TV HD Live does the job perfectly. So I don't need an HTPC, but basically what you've picked out seems to be more than suitable. Maximum PC did an article on this not long ago if I remember correctly.

Pentium 4's are pretty much useless today. That is what I am currently using as my main PC, and it does not handle anything in HD at all, even with 2 gigs of RAM.

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I had a HTPC but I ditched it in favor of the WDTV Live and I created a server to host the content. If I were buidling a HTPC again though I'd look at a bigger case like the Silverstone LC-17 to house more than 2 HDD's, a gruntier PSU and I wouldn't use the onboard intel VGA at all .... I'd install a Radeon 5450 silent as the AMD video cards are way, way more capable than intel's solution. Then I'd install a Hauppage TV card and use their MCE compatible remote. The extra HDD's are for recording content to rather than the boot HDD. Far less likely to get glitches that way.

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