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HTPC Building Series: The ATI TV Wonder 650

Check out our HTPC on a Budget series and join us in building a great HTPC for under $1,000.

We’re starting to wind down the layout of all the parts that are going into our Home Theater PC. First, let’s recap some of the main components that we’ve thrown into this project this far:

We’ve come a long way to far. In this article, though, I wanted to talk about the TV card that we’ve chosen. Since we are doing this on a budget, we are hoping for a nice balance of good performance at an inexpensive price. This is why we’ve chosen the TV Wonder 650. Amazon has it for 43% off of the retail price. This card supports both over the air HD broadcasts, as well as ClearQAM cable TV.

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HTPC Building Series: Driving multimedia content to the HTPC

Check out our HTPC on a Budget series and join us in building a great HTPC for under $1,000.

Continuing our quest to build the ultimate, while inexpensive, home theater PC, the one thing you need to consider when talking about media is how you are going to actually get the media to the computer. After covering the main mission, carefully going through our selection of hardware, giving you a first hand look at the MSI motherboard we chose (and explaining exactly why we chose that one,) and then bringing you up to speed on how we are going to drive 7.1 surround sound from this thing, you were probably thinking that the brunt of the thinking was done, right? Well, while that may be the case, there are still some important considerations that need to be taken into account.

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HTPC Building Series: Achieving great 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound

Check out our HTPC on a Budget series and join us in building a great HTPC for under $1,000.

In previous posts, while talking about building up our Home Theater PC, from the ground up, and on a budget, we’ve focused on a few goals. Things like what we want to see the system, as a whole, do for our home entertainment experience. We’ve talked, in general, about some of the hardware we plan on ordering to put into this bad boy. We’ve even gone into detail on the one essential piece that is going to drive everything - that being the motherboard. Today we want to focus on how we are going to get amazing sound out of this system.

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HTPC Building Series: Choosing the MSI 7411 motherboard

MSI 7411

Check out our HTPC on a Budget series and join us in building a great HTPC for under $1,000.

In this installment of the Home Theater PC building log, we wanted to focus on the core of our system. Previously, we took a look at the process of selecting hardware along with a look at the overall mission to build the best HTPC we can, on a budget. To understand what we are aiming to do, though, I thought it would be best if we were able to take a look at what’s going to be at the center of everything: the MSI MS-7411 Media Live DIVA 7.1 motherboard.

That’s a mouthful, we know - but it’s also an amazing centerpiece for our system. The foundation is MSI’s MS-7411 micro-ATX motherboard featuring AMD’s 780M chipset with UVD support and side-port memory for smooth 1080p playback. This motherboard can be ordered with either pre-amp or amp audio card solutions (one purchase package) directly from your distributor of choice. Note that this motherboard uses the mobile variant of the 780 for additional power savings features that are useful in a home theater environment. It pulls less power, and it doesn’t get as hot, which means much less fan noise. Nothing kills a movie experience like fan noise, seriously.

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HTPC Building Series: Selecting our hardware

Check out out series and join us in building a great HTPC for under $1,000.

In our quest to build a great HTPC on a budget, one thing we need to think about is the hardware and software we are going to use to build and run everything. We are going to be really ambitious here, scouring deal and coupon sites to find great hardware and software at even greater prices. If you come across anything, feel free to leave a comment and let us know.

The first piece of hardware we are focusing on is a motherboard from MSI that integrates the “Maui” platform - the MSI K912GM-FIH. This is one of the biggest leaps forward in HTPC technology, and as such, we are going to build this machine around this board. In case we need to prove our case further, check out this video we did on the motherboard before its release:

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HTPC Series: Let’s build a budget HTPC

Check out out series and join us in building a great HTPC for under $1,000.

Over the next few weeks, we are gonna be working on a special project that we hope you guys will get a kick out of. You see, as gadget enthusiasts, we know that we all love when technology can make our lives easier, or when it is just downright cool. However, recent developments in the economy are going to lead to a tightening of the budget (if it hasn’t already), and we thought we’d try and see if we can build something awesome at a reasonable price. The task? We want to build a great home theater PC (HTPC), made with great parts, for under $1000 USD. You can follow our progress at our page. Or, if you’re too lazy to hit that link, here’s a list of topics:

So, what are the goals of our HTPC project? Well, besides the aforementioned $1,000 limit, we have a few other things we want out of it. First, we want it to remain fairly quiet. After all, this thing is going to be use to watch movies and television. We don’t need any extra fan noise coming from it. Secondly, we want it to put out a high definition signal, with connections that use today’s technology. Ideally, that means it will have an HDMI out port, so we can get both high definition and surround sound out of this thing.

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How to upgrade your iTunes purchases to DRM-free iTunes Plus

Posted by Andru Edwards Categories: Apple, Features, Music, Software

Earlier today during the keynote, Apple announced that the Store was on the way to completely dropping DRM. As of today, 8,000,000 of the 10,000,000 tracks are now available as DRM-free iTunes Plus tracks, and that even includes music videos. We figured we’d give you a quick look at how you go about upgrading your library of purchased content.

iTunes Plus upgrade

So the first thing you want to do is go to the iTunes Store, and look on the right-hand side. You’ll see “iTunes Plus” as one of the links, with a number next to it. That number represents the number of pieces of content that you have available that can be upgraded. Click on that.

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Bleeding Edge TV 297: Unibody MacBook Pro RAM upgrade tutorial

Last month, released their long-awaited and redesigned notebook, which spurred a bunch of excitement for all gadget lovers out there. The new unibody enclosure is sleek, and Apple even went out of their way to make it easy to upgrade the critical components that live inside the notebook yourself. Behind one door lies the hard drive and battery, both user-replaceable. Remove a few more screws, and you have direct access to your RAM.

Of course, these things are better explained in video than they are in text, which is why we’re here. In this episode of Bleeding Edge TV, we give you a full tutorial on what you need to do to upgrade the RAM in your new MacBook or MacBook Pro. If you are wondering why you’d want to do this, well, just compare the cost of what Apple charges you for 4GB of RAM versus the cost of buying the RAM yourself from a place like Newegg. You’ll save yourself a couple hundred bucks if you have a few minutes to spare.

Check out the tutorial, and let us know how it goes for you if you end up giving it a try.


Bleeding Edge TV 192: SanDisk Sansa TakeTV Setup

So, a few days ago, we hit you with our TakeTV unboxing video, where we showed you everything that was inside the Sansa TakeTV package. Today we wanted to follow it up and show you how you go about setting the thing up, just to prove that it really is as simple as it looks. We hook up the TakeTV device to our Samsing LCD in under a minute.

Stay tuned - we will have another video up in a couple of days that shows the actual usage of the device - putting videos on it, playing them through the dock, etc.


DIY Features Halloween Projects

Posted by Sheila Franklin Categories: Household, Misc. Tech, Science

DIY HalloweenThere are only about 3 weeks left until All Hallows Eve, so if you want to get adventurous this year be sure to check out the Special Halloween Edition from the editors of “Make” and “Craft ” for the holiday. Inside, you’ll learn how to make flaming LED skulls, laser jack-’o-lanterns, and mechanical ghoulies. You can also find makeup and a recipe for blood-spurting wounds as well as DIY coffins, tombstones, and decorations. All this (and a trip or two to Radio Shack) is available for $9.99.

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