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A few questions about HTPC's...

Thu Jun 19, 2008 7:00 am

I'm trying to design a good little Media Center/Home Theater PC here, and I want to have some good 7.1 surround sound capabilities, good HD video quality, and the ability to watch HDTV on the PC. I have a few questions, as I'm somewhat new to the idea of it, and so I have a few questions and clarifications, if possible.

Now, as far as I know, ATI cards basically pwn Nvidia cards hands down as far as usefulness in an HTPC, being that they come with their AVIVO HD software free with the card (do you have to download this, or is it a featureset implemented at the driver level?). From what I've read, AVIVO HD and PureVideo HD are both on pretty equal par in terms of offloading work from the CPU and doing some nice video post-processing, but from my understanding PureVideo HD is a $50 software add-on from Nvidia where AVIVO HD comes free. Am I right there? Or am I way off? And, are these cards capable of outputting 1080P 120 Hz video to a TV, or is the 120 Hz thing reserved only for stupid home entertainment mantlepieces, or does that 120 Hz stuff take place inside the TV?

Finally, what's all this HDCP stuff? I mean, I know it's **** DRM whereby a studio can elect to have their HD content downsampled to SD quality if it is to be played on a monitor connected to the PC via a non-encrypted interface. From what I've seen, most studios haven't elected to do this, but media companies are typically jerks. Is DVI an HDCP-compliant interface? What about DisplayPort?

Secondly, TV tuners. What... do they do, other than let you watch TV on your PC? Do you still need the receiver box from your cable/satellite company, or does the TV tuner sorta take it's place? WTF is ATSC, NTSC, and ClearQAM? Any personal recommendations? This is an area in which I'm a total n00blet, and I need some SERIOUS help here. My geek skills are horrid here. :D

I think that's about it. Thanks in advance, folks. :D
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