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Notebook As Htpc

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Moving into a new house and need to come up with a new solution of connecting a PC to plasma. In the old house, the study was in the next room so it was simple case of running audio (optical) and video (VGA) cables around the skirting board.

The new setup isn't so forgiving, with the study on the other side of the house.

I am also in the market for a new notebook, so I am looking at letting the notebook takeover the PC role.


- streaming video off the yet (yes, I'm one of those poor unfortunates who's addicted to Big Brother)

- playing back content dowloaded off the net (e.g. TV shows)

- HD DVD playback. I've been reading on how to use an Xbox 360 HD DVD with a Windows set up as a cheap HD DVD drive (connected via USB, installed drivers, and use WinDVD8 for playback). To be honest, this is probably the main incentive driving a HTPC.

- looking a photo albums

- potentially some use with HDTV tuners.

I've hunted through this forum and couldn't find much discussion by people who have been using notebooks for HTPC use.


- is there an issue with processing power needed to do this sort of stuff, or are the current generation of processors (e.g. Core Duo 2) all up to it?

- graphics card issues. Do I need a dedicated card, or would onboard stuff be okay?

- connectivity issues (e.g. VGA vs. DVI vs. HDMI). Some of the top end stuff is using HDMI, though I don't know it that is a huge advantage over DVI. I'm not up to speed on this, but I haven't heard of HDCP issues with HD DVD...the xbox just uses VGA or component anyway. I have a VP30 scaler as a hub, so things are pretty flexible as far as connections go.

- a number of notebooks I've across have a S/PDIF connection, so I'm assuming there wont be any issues with audio.

- as far as internet connectivity, I was planning to run an ethernet connection to the TV setup to avoid potential wireless issues (i.e. just plug notebook directly into router)

Any feedback would be appreciated :blink:



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The first thing you must consider is an antenna signal. Particularly in your area, it needs to be outside. The supplied antenna will be next to useless.Read Get the Best Reception, Regional NSW and read the links.

You can buy from ASUS notebooks which contain a digital receiver on board particularly if they have a widescreen. Their sensitivity is not as great as some set top boxes. The driver's leave a bit to be desired. They come with remote controls.


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Cliff I think your idea should work OK (well worth a try anyway) - the later notebooks should have the grunt needed to do what you want and the graphics capability should be fine for driving a plasma via DVI output.

Most flat panels need you to use DVI or VGA to not have overscan problems but I have found my MacMini looks drop dead gorgeous when connected to the HDMI input via a DVI to HDMI adapter - there is a bit of overscan but the PQ difference is significantly better than using the Pioneer's VGA for some reason - well worth the overscan issue which isn't a problem anyway if watching video and slides etc and not just gazing at the desktop.

Definatly go with a wired internet connection - wi-fi will struggle with video streaming.

I'm using a 1.83Ghz MacMini for all the same stuff that you propose (still waiting for HD DVD drivers - hopefully in June with the new OS) and it handles it effortlessly - it doesn't even raise a sweat so a decent laptop should also cope OK

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Thanks for the suggestions.

On the TV reception issue, I've had a word with fellow forum member Bellotv (Richard) about getting reception sorted out. Haven't moved in yet, so still an unknown quantity.

I came across an article on an ASUS HTPC here - HD DVD, digital tuner, HDMI. It seemed perfect, but that specific model isn't available here. The local product (ASUS W2PC-7M008P) doesn't come with HD DVD , smaller HDD and is fairly steep at $3500.


A fellow Pioneer plasma user!

Reassuring to read that you've got it working okay. I was preparing myself to spend a bit extra on a higher spec laptop, but I'd rather not. Sounds like I should be pretty safe with the middle of the road machine.

I think I might have read one of your earlier posts on issues with wireless connections, and that steered me toward getting a wired connection in place. I'm also pondering about getting an xbox 360 so rather than pay $180 for an adapter, I'd rather put the money toward getting a more stable wired connection in place - might be able to to get BelloTV to help me get the cable installed:)

Looks like I'll have to poke around some other forum to find a bit more on the ins and outs of Windows notebooks as HTPC.



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Interesting I was just trying this out last night with my recently purchased MacBook.

Traditionally I've been a Windows user for many years, I've even built a HTPC in the past. Let me just relay my experiences in setting up an HTPC last night in about 20 minutes:

1. Purchased a program called "Remote Buddy" which allows complete control over the remote control that comes with every MacBook.

2. Closed lid of MacBook (went to sleep), plugged in power cable and video out cable, pressed button on remote, MacBook woke up and automatically switched to the TV screen.

3. Selected correct resolution (720x576 PAL 50Hz) from Displays control panel.

4. Connected to Windows PC's shared media drive over wireless.

5. Added shortcut to drive into Remote Buddy by drag-and-drop.

6. Press Menu on remote, select Files, then the shared drive and there were my videos.

7. Select video, choose VLC, press Play on remote.

This has got to be the easiest I've ever experienced. The computer was silent and unobtrusive and there was almost nothing to configure. I was in HTPC heaven. Having 50Hz with the correct PAL resolution just appear was a miracle!

Yep, 3 months ago I would have dissed this suggestion, but after seeing how easy it is, I am swayed. No problem with processing power (although I didn't try a high-def H.264 video, I think a Core2Duo processor should be able to handle that with ease).

If I was using one permanently, though, I guess I'd get a Mac Mini instead (when the Core 2 Duo with 802.11n comes out soon). I think I'd pair it with an Airport Extreme with a USB hard drive plugged in.

The MacBook has digital optical out and also DVI, VGA and S-Video (via converters) so should be able to connect to anything. Some people have complained difficulties matching some odd-resolution LCDs though. I know you were probably asking about Windows laptops, but I can tell you that a MacBook does work REALLY well.

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Having recently purchased a Pana PV60, I got the exact idea to use my laptop as a HTPC.

As I already had a STB, the only purpose for the laptop is to wirelessly stream content from my desktop.

Specs are very very modest - Celeron 2.2, 512 ram, 30 gb HDD. No problems with Divx streaming/playback whatsoever. Have also just ordered a wireless keybaord with integrated trackball, allowing me to control my lappy from my lounge chair.

Now I can stream divx, play games, even surf the net in my lounge.

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I have also been using my MacBook at a HTPC with a minimum of fuss and problems,

EXCEPT, that my notebook is now no longer 'portable' - it has become intertwined with the TV, video cables, stereo cables, TV tuner devices and aerials. It does become of a bother to disconnect it all when I want to be mobile, then put it all back together again.

But, it will have to do until the next gen Mac Mini comes out...

Ang :blink:

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