My PC is connected to both TV and stereo
In relation to this topic, yes my PC is connected to both TV and stereo.
The PC I build up back in 2004, it has a Celeron 2.0 Ghz processor, 512Mb RAM, NVidea Gforce graphics card with 256 Mb RAM with SVHS output, Much TV fusion Video Capture card, Soundblaster Livewire 5.1 surround card with 16 Mb RAM, 250MB Maxtor Hard Drive, SONY DVD burner and XP Professional operating system. The total cost at the time was just under $1200.
The TV I use is a ROWA (TEAC clone) 26 inch CRT, the stereo is an old Phillips 393 35W for front and a GENEXXA STA-825 50W for the main speakers. It is a bit of a mixed hybrid system but it works.
Back in 2004 programs were limited to the likes of Media player 9, Nero and VDub just to name a few, but I have noticed a whole range of programs becoming available for entertainment PC systems such as Aimersoft and Prism Video conveter by NCH for DVD and other formats to PC conversion, then there is Tube Hunter Ultra by Neoretix, which great for grabbing those flash videos from Utube and others and converting them to AVI files. However I still use Windows media player now version 11 to do my final output.
Despite the fact I originally set up my system as a prototype and back in 2004 I was probably one of the "first kids in the neighborhood" well at least my neighborhood to have such a system. The system has so far proven itself many times over, despite the usual cantankerous PC problems.
The best part I like about this system is having all your CD and DVD in the PC, where there less likely to get damaged, scratched and stolen. It is also easier to share your files to friends by downloading the files into a memory stick, which is a lot easier than waiting by some tape recording device to finish its job.
Can there be any improvements to what I have got, yes most definatly.
I am sizing up for my next generation system and looking at something close to a gaming PC although I don't see the need for over clocking however I do like the idea of a water cooled system (or rather ethylene glycol(the green stuff used as radiator coolant in cars)), but mainly for quietness as the fan noise can be noticeable in quiet scenes.
So I would be looking at something with either an AMD 64 or Dual core processor 2GB of RAM, HDTV capture card, I think I will keep the Soundblaster Live wire card, I might give the NVIDEA 9600 a try, dual hard drive 200GB for the operating system and programs, 1TB for my media storage, Blue Ray DVD burner, I will probably keep the XP operating system (still not too sure about Vista)and all housed in a nice 19 inch 3U rack mount case, if I can get one.
As for my Audio system I am considering a nice Valve (Hollow state) job probably custom made, I like the valve amp because it makes a good compliment to the CD player or rather digital media player, as they tend to remove that "digital edge" that seem to make digital recordings sound a bit harsh. A 42 inch LCD TV or a Panasonic 3 LCD video projector.
The most important item to remember when building up an entertainment PC is RAM size, I would not go any lower than 1GB, I know my system has 512MB and on fast action scenes frame jitter is apparent, where as systems with 1 GB RAM fast action scenes run quite smoothly. As with processor speeds I have run DVD files on a PENTIUM 2, 450MHz machine with XP and 126MB RAM where I would say that would be the lowest limit before image and sound breakup occurs. Again that only happens on fast action scenes.
The PC is not the only weapon of choice for entertainment systems, the laptop is also making it onto the scene as well as I have seen quite a few known brands such as Toshiba an Dell produce versions with the SVHS TV output and Acer have made a stand alone entertainment PC, but you don't have to rely on PC's and laptops with SVHS or HDMI output plugs either a lot of large screen LCD and Plasma as well as video projectors also have VGA inputs therefore making any PC able to be an entertainment PC.
Having to turn all you equipment individually can also be eliminated by utilizing USB mains controllers or windows home automation systems. For these systems you will have to hunt around for them, but thats what the internet is for.
PC entertainment systems are the way of the future there is no doubt about it, at the moment the technology and systems are still in its infancy, but will rapidly improve over the coming years, as more of us pioneers work out which is the best combination to use.
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