I need an awesome entertainment center
October 19, 2007 12:05 PM   Subscribe

Help me build an awesome entertainment center. Hive mind, you're my only hope.

Okay, so I have a 2 year old 62 inch Sony WEGA LCD with HDMI capability. I have an X-box 360, but it is one of the older ones without HDMI. That's all I have to work with. I understand this may take pages of technical data so if anyone could just point to a few good non-biased sources, I would be appreciative. Also, is it possible to modify my X-Box to have HDMI?
posted by Brandon1600 to Technology (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Theres no real advantage to HDMI over component, other than less cables. You won't be able to modify your 360 to output component either.

If I only had those two devices I'd install XP Media Center Edition on a PC (it doesnt need to be by the TV) and use your 360 as an extender to watch and record TV. You can also stream videos and music from your PC as well.

A nice upscaling DVD player like the Oppo DV-981HD would make a huge improvement in picture quality over playing DVDs with the 360.
posted by mphuie at 12:12 PM on October 19, 2007

Tversity. For to stream video from your computer to your xbox360 over your network, and therefore watch stuff on your nice tv instead of your computer monitor. google it.
posted by shmegegge at 12:37 PM on October 19, 2007

HDMI really gets you 1080P signals out of your xbox 360. The component cables that your xbox currently has is more than adequate to transfer a 720P signal, which is the native resolution of your display (unless you spent an ungodly amount of money two years ago, 1080P lcd displays are just hitting the market).

You want to stay in 720P world, because your lcd has the number of pixels that correlate to the screen size (1280x720). Also while xbox games support 1080p, most of them are natively rendering in 720p (or 640p for halo3).

So you don't need to upgrade your xbox360. You can however purchase the HD-DVD module for it for $180 and get HD-DVD on your big screen tv.

Next, you need audio. Depending on what you want to pay, I would look into something with component switching, maybe HDMI for future upgrades, and some auto calibration stuff like MCACC (if you don't want to get too technical it works well, if you want to tweak it more, it gives you a good starting point). Most people who setup surround systems don't realize what they are missing compared to a properly setup box.

I personally use an older model of this Pioner Reciever and have had it for over 3 years now, and I still like it. The 7.1 lets you use two more rear surrounds, which widen the 'sweet spot' for surround sound in my experience, meaning that more than one person can enjoy it, if you have a bigger room it is nice, you will need dvds / etc encoded with 6.1+ signals (DTS-ES is really good) to make practical use of one.

MSRP is $500, but I got mine for $280 shipped from etronics (they don't have this model available, but may have last years).

For a remote, pickup a logitech harmony, they make life easier, and will actually let you select your devices easily.

Next are speakers

I use 150 watt JBLs which are a little overkill for the reciever, they are discontinued from what I can see.

I keep hearing good things about Fluance speakers, especially for value / performance. Pick up the banana plug connectors and some 14 guage wire, either from fluance (who have respectible prices on the plugs) or some other etailer or Radio Shack if you must. You want big heavy copper. With the equipment you are working with, you wont really notice anthing with monster cables $8 a foot copper wire, etc. (cue monster cable geek entrance).

I picked up Belkin component cables from amazon for a fraction of the price, and couldn't tell the difference.

For DVD players I am at a lose, as my favorite pioneer model is discontinued, and it had some great features I don't see listed on the new ones (besides DiVX support, which is great if you want to archive all your simpsons seasons to one dvd a season, and not fill up your hard drive, it has Super Audio CD and DVD-Audio support, which is a nifty bonus, and makes showing off your even more fun).
posted by mrzarquon at 1:41 PM on October 19, 2007

Home Theater Magazine can give you ideas. The ultimate of course would be to have the whole room THX certified.
posted by caddis at 2:07 PM on October 19, 2007

Another place to look AVS Forums

Also for cheap video calibration, pickup any THX dvd (like the Incredibles) and it will have a video calibration setup on it, that you use with THX optimizer glasses to get a thx certified display.
posted by mrzarquon at 2:48 PM on October 19, 2007

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