For a big Christmas gift for my family I decided to install a home theatre in our attic, which I recently finished. I was anxious to try out Intel’s latest Core i5 processor with integrated graphics to play Blu-ray movies. I also wanted to put all of our home videos on a PC so we could catalog and watch them on-demand anytime without having to fumble with DVDs or tapes. So I started by getting a new set of 5.1 speakers, a new receiver from Pioneer which supports Dolby TrueHD, which is also supported by the Intel® Core i5 processor. I then got a great price on a 1080p ceiling projector. These high resolution projectors have been slowly coming down in price, making it more affordable than ever to put together a setup like this. I also wanted a big screen for this room, of course; so I purchased a 106″ pull down screen giving me a huge picture, but also allowing me to put it away when my younger kids used the room to play in.
I then started building my home theatre pc beginning with the i5-661 which has Intel’s best graphics performance supporting full HD hardware decode. I used a special case from Silverstone meant for home theatre PCs, added two 1.5 terabyte drives for massive storage for all my home videos and backup. I then installed Win7 Home Premium so I could use Windows Media Center with a remote control. For watching Blu-Ray movies, I used Arcsoft’s TotalMedia Theatre 3 which has great support for Intel’s graphics and audio. I connected my PC to my receiver using a single HDMI cable and another HDMI cable from my receiver to my projector. That was it. Simple. Initially, Win7 didn’t properly recognize my receiver or projector. After a reboot, it recognized my receiver as both the audio and video device and passed both video and audio flawlessly. Christmas morning was spent watching a Blu-ray version of “UP” from Disney’s Pixar. Everyone was blown away by the clarity and richness of the picture and sound. This system rocks! Phase two will be to build another computer for our family room downstairs and stream home videos from the home theatre pc in the attic — no more DVDs!