I mentioned my HTPC in my previous blog entry. I'm pretty happy with it, so I thought I might describe it here.

It's based on a Dell 400SC that I found a great deal on. P4 2.4GHz, 2x SATA, 6x USB, onboard sound, 10/100/1000Base-T, 8x AGP, $324 after rebate. I didn't need the machine, but when I saw the great deal I figured I should buy it anyway.

It arrived & I hooked it up to play around. Then I noticed that it was incredibly quiet, which is great for an HTPC.

So I yanked the old HTPC out and moved the M-Audio Revolution 7.1 and Lite-On DVD over to the Dell. I added DVD player software, Powerstrip, and MCE. Hooked up to the Mitsubishi 46" RPTV (VGA->DTV) and Denon 1802 amplifier (analog to external input). I named it "HTPC".

I keep music on the network on my file server. (It's also my domain controller, DHCP server, DNS, etc. I call it "SERVER". My domain is called "DOMAIN".) MCE lets you browse your music by cover art, using the remote control. Nice.

Using the MCE remote to control the DVD player software is really nice. It's almost as convenient as using a standalone DVD player, but it's got more features - software is cheap to improve, compared to hardware. For example, when fast-forwarding I can still see subtitles & hear the audio. If I'm in a rush to finish a movie, I can run it 20% faster.

I run at 848x480p for DVD playback (480p is DVD native resolution). The native on the TV is 540p which has really bad overscan. I'm considering running a resolution-in-resolution of 480 in 540p, which may result in a better picture (TV native is good) and even less overscan than I have today. We'll see.

The next step is to rip my DVD collection; MCE will let me browse by thumbnail with the remote which seems slick.

--- edit: updated to add links ----