Computer Help

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Computer Help

Postby uNicedmeMan » Sun Apr 15, 2012 7:56 pm

Revealing my total noob status concerning computers here but I may be in the market for a new computer (if it's not too pricey) and could use some advice. The only thing I want to do with this computer is download music / movies and connect it to the TV to watch said movies. Can I do this with a ~$300-400 netbook and a large hard drive (already own the hd)? If so, what products would you recommend?

Another inquiry: The HD that I own was formatted for a mac (previous computer), can I get the files off of it if I purchase a windows machine?

Thanks guys!

Also I apologize in advance if I should have posted this in more appropriate, existing thread.
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Re: Computer Help

Postby warobert » Sun Apr 15, 2012 8:17 pm

Can I do this with a netbook?
--Not if those videos are in HD (720P +) because your average netbook is rocking an underclocked low power processor and bumpkiss for graphics acceleration. I would really recommend a budget desktop unless you really like the laptop form factor, in which case you should be able to get something capable that has HDMI out in the 6-8 range.

Can I get my files off of my mac formatted hard drive?
--depends. are we talking external hard drive here? if so, how big is it? If it is an external, then your mac may have formatted it FAT32 for compatibility. In this case you are good to go. If we are talking about an internal hard drive that you removed from an old mac computer, never happen with a laptop and damn complicated on a desktop.
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Re: Computer Help

Postby Jesse B 707 » Mon Apr 16, 2012 1:19 am

Don't go with a laptop/netbook, just go get a budget desktop box at best buy or costco and you will be good to go
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Re: Computer Help

Postby jubuttib » Mon Apr 16, 2012 1:29 am

Yep. Modern HD video is actually quite power hungry if you want to ensure smooth playback. Still, it shouldn't end up being too costly. The cheapest alternative almost always is to buy the components separately and build it yourself, but seeing as you're a self proclaimed noob I think that might be out (though I still urge you to at least try to learn, knowing what's in your machine and knowing how to fix the most common problems can also save you a lot of money, and it really isn't that hard in the end). Unless of course you have a friend or a relative who could help you with it. Still, it's not that bad and you shouldn't have to pay a huge sum even if you buy it ready built, you'll just pay for a bunch of unnecessary and usually frankly very annoying software.

On the HDDpart, Mac OS X seems to use HFS Plus, which does have read only drivers for Windows (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HFS_Plus#Windows) so in theory at least you should be able to manage the migration. Might require a bit of computer know how though.
Last edited by jubuttib on Mon Apr 16, 2012 4:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Computer Help

Postby jubuttib » Mon Apr 16, 2012 4:08 am

One thing you might want to look at is also buying CoreAVC codec (I think the license costs something like $12), which will greatly improve playback on lower powered machines. I've tried it on my ASUS EEE PC 1005P netbook, which basically hits none of the required specs for running HD video (a very sucky single core 1.6GHz CPU, 1 GB of slow DDR2-667 RAM, a lowly Intel graphics chip that's basically good for nothing, and only has 64 MB of memory at it's disposal). It ran 720p material perfectly fluidly, very rarely dropping frames when the memory tried to do other stuff (I was multitasking at the time). With more RAM it'd probably be even better. And while it can't run 1080p at a constant rate of 24 fps the clip was encoded at, it did manage a consistent 20 fps speed. Not enough to actually watch the video but implies that you don't need that much more power to do it. And without CoreAVC I think I got maybe 8-10 fps tops.

So basically any computer more powerful than a two/three year old low end netbook should be enough when using CoreAVC to decode H.264 or x264 video. Especially since the newer versions support graphics card acceleration in the form of CUDA for nVidia cars and DXVA for ATi cards. For the record the Intel chip in mine does absolutely nothing to help with decoding the video, the 20 fps was just on the grunt of the CPU. If you're really adamant about going as low as you can go, at least make sure you get a computer that has a graphics chip that can handle CUDA (basically any GeForce) or DXVA (basically any Radeon and most Geforces too), has an HDMI port and then buy CoreAVC. It should help with driving the necessary specs down.
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Re: Computer Help

Postby Frank Delicious » Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:01 am

Building your own computer does not save you as much as it used to unless you are building a high end gaming rig. You can get some really good budget desktops nowadays that are cheap as shit, especially if you don't need a monitor.
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Re: Computer Help

Postby jubuttib » Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:30 am

Frank Delicious wrote:Building your own computer does not save you as much as it used to unless you are building a high end gaming rig. You can get some really good budget desktops nowadays that are cheap as shit, especially if you don't need a monitor.
True, the prices have come down a lot in recent years.

Personally I'd still go through with it, even if only because it'll be easier to do maintenance on it.
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Re: Computer Help

Postby keltik » Mon Apr 16, 2012 10:42 am

you said you are more accustomed to macs. why not buy a mac mini? or an AppleTV? all you want is multimedia right? AppleTV is $99. If I had seen what those do I would never have bought a PS3. Mac Mini is $599. I say AppleTV.
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Re: Computer Help

Postby Ironhide » Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:37 pm

Could build a budget HTPC that would suit your needs and then some. Could purchase a higher end mobo that has HD video on it that would easily allow streaming 1080dpi, but not handle games. Even higher in dual cores could handle this. If you want help I could build an example HTPC on newegg.
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Re: Computer Help

Postby jubuttib » Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:56 pm

keltik wrote:you said you are more accustomed to macs. why not buy a mac mini? or an AppleTV? all you want is multimedia right? AppleTV is $99. If I had seen what those do I would never have bought a PS3. Mac Mini is $599. I say AppleTV.
From what I'm reading on the wiki the AppleTV needs another computer to stream content from if you're not using an online streaming service like Netflix.
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Re: Computer Help

Postby keltik » Mon Apr 16, 2012 6:33 pm

I think the latest models just stream it like a ps3 or xbox does. I can't say for sure but think about it, a wii can stream netflix. those aren't that powerful. I think that the AppleTV is like the first gen iPads and they need a pc to upload the iTunes purchased content. I think streaming content is done on the fly. I think it has the capability to stream from your iphone/ipad/laptop downloaded content directly via airplay.
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Re: Computer Help

Postby jubuttib » Mon Apr 16, 2012 8:37 pm

Looking at the thing, I really don't think the AppleTV is a suitable solution for him (because it basically needs another computer anyway), and the Mac Mini is pretty darn expensive.
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Re: Computer Help

Postby turso » Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:06 pm

Easiest way to solve this is to go to a reliable but cheap retailer, ask the for the cheapest laptop that can run HD.
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Re: Computer Help

Postby Ironhide » Tue Apr 17, 2012 12:18 am

Another question that might help, is what do you plan on watching this on? A computer monitor or TV? Depending on the size you might need a little better system. But here's an example of something you could get for $330. You could change stuff out, but it should be plenty powerful for what you need. Not to mention, you can always upgrade parts later.

https://secure.newegg.com/WishList/MySa ... D=27014428
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