Should I do this?

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Should I do this?

I was given a non-running Compaq Presario which I got running again,
by changing its hard drive and installing the OEM copy of XP that must
have come with it.   It seems to be a 2.8MHz Pentium 4 on a ASUS
P45SD-LA mobo, and has USB.   I augmented its RAM to 1.5GB (PC3200
DDR). It actually runs quite well and fast.

Now then, I am wondering if I can put this machine to my advantage,
using it with my home theater system and its HDTV.  Probably not, but
I was hoping I can.

Right now, when I want to play an avi clip or some such, that is on
this computer, I go through the messy process of burning the clip onto
a DVD-RW or CD-RW (so I can re-use them), and then playing said disk
on the HT's player.

I'm thinking maybe I can add to the Compaq a PCI graphics card that
has DVI-I which I can then cable-connect from its DVI to TV's HDMI.  I
would connect the Compaq's sound via RCA cables to my receiver.

This would mean I could do either or both of following:

(1) Save AVI's on this machine on a flash drive that I have - and then
plug that into the Compaq's USB to play the AVI on the TV.

(2) Add a wireless network card to the Compaq and then obtain  AVI's
via my wireless router directly - thereby eliminating the flash drive.

Please tell me where I am wrong,  and/or what I am missing.


Re: Should I do this? wrote:
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Yes, you can build a Home Theater PC (HTPC). You can get a video card
with an HDMI connector. HDMI can carry both video and sound, so if
your display system can handle that, then there can be a computer
end solution to provide both. If your display device can't handle it,
you also have the option of running analog audio cables from your
computer sound card.

The open question I'd have, is whether a P4 2.8GHz is sufficient to
play back any arbitrary content. Perhaps at lower resolutions, it might
work. But if you were playing back some kinds of high definition content,
I wonder if that would be enough.

Modern video cards have video acceleration features. So that is a plus.
But the unknown then, is whether the system processor will be enough
in all situations. For example, maybe you're playing some Flash
video, and the crappy Flash driver isn't fast enough. A bit faster
processor can cover those corner cases, where acceleration is
unavailable, or doesn't use all the features that it could.

These are examples of video acceleration features in popular new
video cards.

Once you identify the right video card to accelerate playback,
then you have to find a card that will fit one of your available

Is that motherboard name "P4SD-LA" perhaps ? Then it has an AGP 8X slot.

This would be a modern AGP card. It is actually a bridged PCI Express GPU,
converted for use with AGP. Drivers usually stink on cards like this, so
read the customer reviews carefully. Frequently, they contain the "success
recipe" for getting the card to work. This card is $100 after rebates,
and has HDMI on the faceplate.

(RV730     Radeon HD 4600 Series     UVD 2.2)

One other minor point. With respect to OS choice, you're going to
need WinXP, Vista, Win7, as there won't be drivers for Win2K, Win98 etc.
If you're using an older OS, Microsoft has rigged things against you.
If you go too far forward (bought a copy of Win7), that would suck
the good out of your 2.8GHz processor, and there might not be enough
performance left to do anything else. Drivers for a new video card,
are only going to be available for a limited set of OSes.

Wireless would be fine, for transferring files to the PC, so you don't
have to walk over and copy files to it. But if you're planning on
streaming things to that machine, Wifi isn't always the best choice for
that. It really depends on what success you've had with Wifi already.
Some people find when streaming, the Wifi can drop out long enough to
lose frames. There would be less to worry about, if you're just copying
files via a share. In some household setups, it could be something like
a door opening or closing, which can upset Wifi. Or perhaps a cordless
phone running on 2.4GHz - every time that phone rings, you could lose
your wireless movie streaming for a moment.

To answer the Subject line of your post "Should I do this", I think
you can do some testing with your current setup, and see how the
deck is stacked against you. I can't predict how much good a new video
card is going to be, as there aren't enough regular review articles
charting the progress of video playback on low end processor systems.
If you do web searches, you might find some two year old reviews, which
may be useless for predicting success or not. And the thing is, when a
reviewer does one of those articles, chances are they'll be using a
Core2 dual core or higher processor, which wouldn't be a good representation
of the performance of your machine. You can spend $100.00 and give it
a try, but with no guarantee you'll be playing movies at 1920x1080.


Re: Re: Should I do this?

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I would have to do the latter because my 'display system' (home
theater) has TV audio muted in favor of the receiver's higher quality
sound feeds to the speaker array.  But that's ok.

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That's what I would fear.  I probably should forget it based on this

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My God!  You are right!  and indeed it should have an AGP.  Me stupid.

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I have XP on it.

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Thank you Paul

Re: Re: Should I do this?

you can always get a video capture card. and pipe tv trough that and see
what happens

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