You think you are interested in Beyond TV?
EDIT: You can also change the look of your BeyondTV- below are some links to some BeyondTV Skins I made.
SKIN "LCD" http://forums.snapstream.com/vb/showthread.php?t=28271
SKIN "Nostalgia" http://forums.snapstream.com/vb/showthread.php?t=28017
SKIN "Pirates" http://forums.snapstream.com/vb/showthread.php?t=28136
The big three- Windows MCE, Sage TV, and Beyond TV are all good things to consider but if you decided on Beyond TV, this post was created to help guide you in what to expect!
Unlike SageTV or Windows Media Center, Beyond TV is currently ONLY a PVR solution- meaning it doesn't have a built in DVD player nor does it playback audio files. Beyond Media is a program to integrate a media center into Beyond TV.
What Beyond TV does give you is a very simple and intuitive recording station with an excellent search function, great manual recording features, and a layout that is so simple to use- even my Fiance who isn't too hip on computers knows how to fully operate without having to consult me for help.
Setting up Beyond TV is very easy- there are a few requirements and some tweaks you must do if you really want to get the most out of your Beyond TV setup.
Hardware- in order to use Beyond TV to it's max, I will list the minimum requirements to get you started...
100GB or greater HD 7200RPM Minimum
nVidia Video card (yes, nVidia...read on)
512 DDR RAM
PCI MPEG2 Capture card (Hauppauge HIGHLY recommended)
350 or greater power supply
TV, Surround Sound AMP, Speakers are up to you...I won't make suggestions here. However, a surround sound amplifier that has optical inputs (S/PDIF) will save you a few bucks when it comes to buying licenses for Dolby codecs and will give you the absolute best sound. What you hear is what you get!
My setup is not a blazing fast computer and yet, I experience ABSOLUTELY no hiccups or bog-downs when using it-
I have everything in my signature but I'll do an explanation of why I chose each piece of hardware. Just keep in mind, my HTPC isn't for gaming and I don't consider my choices to be the only options to go with for creating a Home Theater PC for Beyond TV useage. Maybe you will like my ideas, maybe you won't. Nice thing about HTPC's it's limitless with OPTIONS!
1. Case- Antec Overture. It's quiet and has ample space to put hard drives. It's kinda cool looking (KINDA) but there are definitely better cases out there. I probably would have went with Ahanix if I was to do it all over again-
I personally like Seagate hard drives. They are one of the most quiet drives on the market and have never let me down. I even thought my very first Seagate was broken because it didn't produce much sound.
2. Motherboard- Abit NF-7S (2.0) This motherboard is relatively inexpensive now, has nVidia's Sound Storm onboard, USB 2.0 and Firewire, Uses the nForce N/S bridge, and has 2 Serial ATA controllers. The whole motivation for this motherboard is the SoundStorm chip- S/PDIF output. One of the best onboard audio chips in my opinion.
If you already have a surround sound receiver w/optical, this little SoundStorm chip will win you over.
3. AMD Athlon XP2800+ (An XP2500 would work just as well). I really don't care what your preference is, INTEL or AMD they both work great and will satisfy your needs.
4. Lite-ON SK7551 wireless keyboard with pointing device. The Lite-On has a VERY nice sized I.R. receiver and the keyboard has a pointing device built in. I program the keyboard commands into my Sony RM-AV2500 and I can operate every piece of equipment with 1 REMOTE! (Doesn't sound like that big of a deal but it is)
5. Sony RM-AV2500 - It's a $150.00 remote that you can buy for $80.00 at NewEgg.com that is fully programmable, has lots of features and it's big. At first I didn't like the size of this remote but the more I used it, the more I liked it's size. This remote now even controls the lighting in my living room after installing I.R. dimmer switches in my house. Because the Lite-On keyboard works on I.R., I can program all the key-commands I need into it.
6. PNY Verto 6600GT AGP- That's right. It's *NOT* an ATI card. No, I do not think nVidia is better than ATI for 3d games and such, but for Home Theater PC's you are MUCH better off using nVidia. Trust me on this one- I'm a HUGE ATI fan and I *ONLY* use ATI video cards in my computers I build but, nVidia currently has the market on video-to-TV output. (The PNY is a little on the loud side but I'm looking for solutions on that)
If your TV has a DVI connection on it, don't go waste your money on a "Monster" brand DVI cable- they are expensive. Why pay $100+ dollars on a DVI cable when you can find perfectly good DVI cables for about $15.00 on Ebay. That's what I did and the cable is a good quality build.
7. Theater-Tek DVD- If you own an nVidia card and you don't own this software, ask yourself why. I chose this DVD player because they capitalize on the nVidia DVD decoder.
8. Hauppauge PVR series capture cards either the PCI or USB2 versions work great. Also, ATI's new theater 550 chip has appealed to a few BTV users. I'm currently testing the Sapphire Theatrix 550 out on my rig so look for my personal opinionated review.
9. General Suggestions- only 1 DVD ROM is installed on this HTPC. I don't use this to browse the internet since there is NO anti-virus software running on this PC. No DVD burner since all shows are on a network drive and can be sent to other PC's for editing & burning.
Hard Drive Setup- (Some may find this one useful)
C:\ Drive is partitioned- main partition used for programs.
D:\ Second partition used for the recording buffer (60 Gigs - enough buffer for watching shows) which gets HEAVILY partitioned. Having it separate from your programs allows you to defrag the drive without comprimising your recorded shows.
All recordings go to a 200GB hard drive labeled "M:\Shows" (M for Movies) Nothing but recordings go to this drive although, I put another file called "drivers" which contains all my program updates for the HTPC in case I ever have to perform a clean install on C:\
10. DVDIdle- removes copy protection from your DVD's allowing you to play at any resolution, allows you to skip over lame intros & warnings by going directly to the MENU, and saves your DVD drive by caching through RAM.
Some people have experienced problems when using DVDIdle and TheaterTEK DVD. I found that instead of cacheing to RAM, cache through one of your hard drives will remedy those pesky DVDIdle issues when using TheaterTEK.
If you decide on an nVidia card with your system and you used to have an ATI card
First- uninstall ALL of your ATI drivers. They sometimes conflict with the nVidia ones. Download the latest drivers from www.nzone.com and have them ready when you install your card.
Don't forget on Series 6 GeForce cards to have a spare +12 molex connector and at least a 350 Watt or greater power supply. Forget to hook +12v to your card and you'll certainly have some embarrassing troubleshooting on your hands. (#1 tech support fault)
Install the nVidia card- see how well you like it's features.
What you will want to invest in is the nVidia DVD decoder....Actually, wait first- see how well DVD's look without it- HUGE difference!
The nVidia DVD decoder software starts at $20.00 but...
If you are using S/PDIF (optical) for your audio, don't waste the extra $30.00 for all of the Dolby features unless you feel you need it.
If you use S/PDIF, you will more than likely set it to "SPDIF Passthrough" in which your receiver will be doing all the decoding (This is how I'm using it)
Next, read this thread...There is a fix where you replace the DirectX 9.0c "quartz.dll" with the "quartz.dll" file from DirectX 9.0b to fix motion blurring. Depending on your system, you may or may not have the need for this fix... If you are using an ATI video card, this fix is 99% mandatory to have a watchable picture.
This is specifically a Microsoft DirectX 9.0c problem found in both the Beyond TV and Sage TV communities and it is not a problem related to either PVR software development.
(I personally believe Microsoft did this on purpose to get users to jump over to their Media Center Edition)
It must be done in safe mode but it will improve on your picture.
Another thread- to improve your record/playback qualities and a few other minor tweaks can be found here...Lots of reading will pay off to getting Beyond TV set up the way you want it.
Most users never realize with Beyond TV, if you go into the Web Admin settings and create new record qualities, you will get the absolute best picture quality when recording. Kind of a shame you have to learn how to enter Web Admin to customize and that these recording qualities are not (YET) a part of the choices in setup. In other words, you have to create custom record qualities.
Finally, as a last step- MAINLY for those who use DirecTV or Digital Cable...
You may not need to take this last step though.
I will try to keep this updated as much as possible. Feel free to post any tips/tricks you know with setting up and running Beyond TV.