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Looking to Make a Media PC

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by vegeta13613, Jan 29, 2011.

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  1. vegeta13613

    vegeta13613 Thread Starter

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    First of all, I don't have a whole lot of knowledge regarding computers. I know the basics, and that's about it.

    I recently bought a 42" HDTV with a RGB input, which made me consider making a media PC. I know that if money were no object, I would have no problem just buying a premade one. However, I am looking to spend under $400, if possible, so I think it might be best to try "building" one myself. Here's what I'm looking to do...

    1. Stream Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and *possibly other online video content.
    2. Browse web (email, quick google searches... nothing fancy).
    3. Easily stream media (mostly .avi files) from the external drives connected to my main PC. I have a lot of foreign films, so the built-in media player would need to be able to play .srt files along with the video.

    I don't NEED to be able to play DVDs but the ability wouldn't hurt. I would also like something with a USB port so I could plug in a thumb drive and play .mkv files. Once again, not necessary, but it would be nice.

    I am considering purchasing a cheap PC (hopefully a fairly quiet one), a small wireless keyboard with a touch-pad and a wifi usb adapter.

    Any thoughts on how to accomplish my goals without breaking the bank or getting too technical?
     
  2. DoubleHelix

    DoubleHelix Banned

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    RGB? It doesn't have HDMI?
     
  3. vegeta13613

    vegeta13613 Thread Starter

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    No, it has two HDMI inputs... I mentioned RGB because, like I said, the reason I began thinking about making a media PC was because I saw my TV has a RGB input. I realize you could likely use either input for a media PC (depending on the PC's outputs, obviously). I can't say HDMI is a big deal for me, as my internet connection isn't fast enough to get high def from Netflix streaming. If I got something that could easily play downloaded .mkv files... well, that would make HDMI a little more important.
     
  4. DoubleHelix

    DoubleHelix Banned

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    I don't know what RGB is. Does it transmit audio and video? If it's just video, then you'd need another connection for audio. And I'm not familiar with any video card that has something called "RGB" as an output, so that would be complicated. HDMI is simple, standard, and 1 cable.
     
  5. vegeta13613

    vegeta13613 Thread Starter

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    Yes... like I said, the connection just made me think of connecting it to my computer. My TV has an RGB port that looks exactly like the VGA output from my computer... both are 15 pins and look almost exactly the same to me. Perhaps I was wrong in thinking I could just connect a TV directly to the computer. Anyway, yes, HDMI would be nice, but if it's going to cost me a lot of extra money to go through a HDMI port, I'll skip it. That's not my worry at this point. I am trying to focus on an actual machine; I know I will be able to connect just about anything to my TV through a connector or adapter.
     
  6. DoubleHelix

    DoubleHelix Banned

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    HDMI is the easiest and cheapest way to connect a computer to a TV. It is the way to do it. What you call "RGB", I'd call VGA, and it's an old, out-dated connection that only transmits video. Your new TV is almost certainly designed to connect to a computer via HDMI. Get out the manual and verify.

    This is the computer to get.
    http://www.dell.com/us/p/inspiron-zino-hd-410/pd?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs&~ck=mn
     
  7. vegeta13613

    vegeta13613 Thread Starter

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    Yup, HDMI is nice. Indeed VGA only carries video, but my TV has a 3.5mm jack. Unless I do end up getting a device that will play .mkv files I don't really need HDMI. I'm not going to dish out much to play standard def through a HDMI output. If it's no extra, I would obviously prefer HDMI. As I said before, the output is not much of a concern to me at this point. I want to find a device that will do what I need at my price point first.

    I have seen people suggest that Zino before (I think even on this forum). As far as you know it will do everything I wanted to do, including streaming my video content from my main PC? If so, this might be the item for me to get. $300 plus $40 for the wifi adapter... not too bad if that $300 model does everything I need it to. I think I would need to buy a small wireless keyboard with a trackpad as well.
     
  8. DoubleHelix

    DoubleHelix Banned

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    It's a computer. It's not going to do much of anything out of the box. You have to install software and configure it to do what you want.

    HDMI cables are cheap. You'll spend more and end up with inferior video and audio with VGA + audio.
     
  9. vegeta13613

    vegeta13613 Thread Starter

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    I wasn't worried about the price of the HDMI cable, I was talking about the extra money I might need to pay for a device that has an HDMI output over one that doesn't. I see that it does have a HDMI port, so I would definitely use HDMI if I get this. I got an HDMI cord for my Roku for $10, so I think I can afford one more cord :) It looks like that $299 model should do just about everything I need it to. For what I will be doing with it, I don't see much sense in dishing out for one of the more expensive models.
     
  10. vegeta13613

    vegeta13613 Thread Starter

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    I have been doing a little more thinking. I would REALLY like to be able to sit down and watch Justin.TV streams on my TV. The problem is my current (fairly old and underpowered) PC seems to start to slow down on the site and deliver fairly pixelated images, even on HD content. I am pretty sure this isn't due to my internet connection, as my video quality is quite good on Netflix, Hulu and many other such sites. I am thinking all the advertisements and other junk on the pages might be slowing my system down at least somewhat. Maybe it's all in my head :) Should one of these media PCs be able to handle these video services without a problem? Oh, I am currently planning on getting the $350 model, which is slightly more powerful than the $300 model.
     
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