noob questions about HTPC/PVR

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please excuse the noobness of these questions. I'm getting interested in building a PVR to sit next to the telly downstairs and have been looking at different sites for a couple of days and frankly Im a little confused, so a few questions:

whats the difference between a PVR and HTPC?
is it possible to build a PVR from a shuttle box and have it absolutely silent?
di I have to run XP media centre on the PVR?
how does the PVR interact with the other components such as TV,telewest cable box and NAD L70 DVD Receiver?

thanks for looking
 
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To my knowledge, a PVR isn't built as it were, you buy it. Its basically a freeview box with a hard drive in it to record programmes up to 7-14 days in advance. the best one are Humax, topfield and digifusion I think and start at about £90 for the basic digifusion.
 
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I've been running my MCE box for about a year and a half now, and it's great :D I very very rarely get any problems with it, and it's on 24/7 :)

Here's the specs:
AMD XP2400
Abit NF7-S v2
1gb RAM
2x 160gb + 1x 250gb Seagate HDDs
2x Nova-T TV Cards
FX5200 Graphics

Connected to:
Samsung LE26R41BDX TV
Cyrus 7 Amp
 
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Matt said:
I've been running my MCE box for about a year and a half now, and it's great :D I very very rarely get any problems with it, and it's on 24/7 :)

Here's the specs:
AMD XP2400
Abit NF7-S v2
1gb RAM
2x 160gb + 1x 250gb Seagate HDDs
2x Nova-T TV Cards
FX5200 Graphics

Connected to:
Samsung LE26R41BDX TV
Cyrus 7 Amp
firstly, why do you need 2 TV cards? also Ive got an old Geforce 3 Ti3200 AGP card, would this do for graphics?
 
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2 cards means i can record one channel, and watch another :) or record 2 channels...

I think MCE requires a DX9 card? The card i use was only ~£20 anyway, and is fine.
 
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Matt said:
2 cards means i can record one channel, and watch another :) or record 2 channels...

I think MCE requires a DX9 card? The card i use was only ~£20 anyway, and is fine.
ahh, thanks but here comes yet another question: do you need MCE or would ordinary xp do (or Linux for that matter)?
 
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There are loads of options about, but MCE works very well for a PVR box. It's VERY easy to use, and looks great, which is what you need really. Though remember a PC will look awful if it's connected to a standard TV and not an LCD or equivalent display.

I tried a few software options out, but found MCE to be by far the easiest to install and use. Anyone can just pick up the remote and have no problems at all :)
 
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footman said:
whats the difference between a PVR and HTPC?
PVR means Personal Video Recorder. Anything that can be programmed to record and play video is a PVR.
A HTPC is a PC used mainly as part of your home theatre, e.g. watch TV and DVDs and play MP3s. When installed with the necessary software to allow it to record it becomes a PVR.
footman said:
is it possible to build a PVR from a shuttle box and have it absolutely silent?
You can build a HTPC is any case you want. You could save money and use a standard ATX case if you want to, but it probably won't look nice in your living room. Shuttles need some work to make them silent though.
footman said:
do I have to run XP media centre on the PVR?
I've only used Windows Media Centre 2005 and it was easy to setup and use. There are some free alternatives available. One of them has been bought by Yahoo and I think it's still free, Meedio I think.
footman said:
how does the PVR interact with the other components such as TV,telewest cable box and NAD L70 DVD Receiver?
From my experience with MCE 2005, MCE automatically detected any TV tuners I had installed (2x Happauge NOVA-T PCI). It recognised they we digital tuners, DVB-T, and downloaded the channel list and program guide.

I didn't use an external source, but from what I understand you'll have to install a capture card for each input. So say if you have NTL and SKY you'll need a card for each. You tell MCE which capture card has what source on it etc. The MCE remote includes 2 IR dongle which connect to the remote receiver. You place one over the IR sensor of each box and once MCE is given the correct remote codes it will change the channels.

If you already have a PC I'd advise buying just a PCI DVB-T (Freeview) card and (<£30) a copy of MCE2005, or one of the free alernatives, to play with. Play around with it for a few weeks to get an idea.

And read as many HTPC case reviews as you can before you commit to once. Read real user reviews to find out which ones are really silent and easy to install component in to.
 
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Here's a link to the new Yahoo product. They've bought the technology from Meedio and given is a completely new interface. Meedio used to try and look just like MCE.
 
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thanks, I only want to use it a PVR. So if I only have 1 TV card installed would I be able to record to the HDD and still be able to watch a cable programme the usual way ie tv/telewest box?
 
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Mujja said:
Here's a link to the new Yahoo product. They've bought the technology from Meedio and given is a completely new interface. Meedio used to try and look just like MCE.

Just having a go with this now. Though i can't get TV working in it, which isn't great tbh :(

[Edit] US only. Great.
 
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You've got 2 choices, you can buy just a TV Tuner card and use your Telewest box as an input or a Digital TV tuner card and watch/record Freeview channels.

The difference with the cards.

The first type only has an analogue tuner, much like you TV, and will only pick up channels 1-5. For more channels you connect your cable box composite output to the TV card and you'll also have to connect the audio to the sound card line in.

The second type has a built in DVB-T tuner, you won't be able to get as many channels as cable but it's a simpler solution.
 
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Matt said:
US only. Great.

Sorry, didn't test it. Sold my PC etc couple of months ago to keep the wife happy. Just have the work laptop now to play with.

I used the money to buy and X360 and PSP tough, so not all bad :)
 
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Mujja said:
You've got 2 choices, you can buy just a TV Tuner card and use your Telewest box as an input or a Digital TV tuner card and watch/record Freeview channels.

The difference with the cards.

The first type only has an analogue tuner, much like you TV, and will only pick up channels 1-5. For more channels you connect your cable box composite output to the TV card and you'll also have to connect the audio to the sound card line in.

The second type has a built in DVB-T tuner, you won't be able to get as many channels as cable but it's a simpler solution.
As Im also trying to use up stuff Ive got lying around, I shall be using a Pinnacle PC-TV Pro card. Would my Geforce3 Ti3200 (also lying about!) do the video job?
BTW thanks for all the info....its becoming much clearer in my mind now.
 
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