A Budget Home Theater & PC Setup: 4K, HDR, UHD Blu-ray, and Moreby Ganesh T S on December 26, 2017 8:30 AM EST
UHD Blu-ray Playback in Action
Prior to testing out HDR UHD Blu-ray playback using the TCL 55P607 and the Denon AVR X3400H, we did a trial run with the LG 43UD79-B monitor. The playback was flawless in SDR mode. Emboldened by these results, we moved the hardware to the home theater setup. At that time, the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update was yet to be released. Intel and CyberLink had adopted their own scheme to activate HDR in full screen mode while playing back HDR-enabled titles. Unfortunately, the TCL 55P607 (on firmware version 7.7.0 at that time) did not really like the mode switch.
Corrupted HDR Display with TCL 55P607 Firmware v7.7
I reached out to both Intel and TCL with the above results. While the latter simply washed their hands off the issue, Intel was very responsive. They went to the extent of even sourcing the same display to check at their end. Around the same time, TCL released a firmware update (v8.0.0 4127-30) that resolved the problem.
By the time I was able to upgrade my TV, Windows 10 Fall Creators Update had released and Intel's 4877 driver had also become public. My next testing round had interesting results. The 4877 driver had flawless desktop and streaming HDR, but, playing back the Planet Earth II title resulted in a BSOD, or a PowerDVD crash, or a message indicating that PowerDVD was denied access to the graphics hardware. With an older driver version (4771), I was able to play back the Blu-ray with HDR, but, had no desktop or streaming HDR.
On checking with Intel again, it became evident that the issue was specific to the Planet Earth II title. They provided me with early access to a driver slated for release in January 2018. This driver enabled both the Intel NUC7i7BNHX and the ASRock Beebox-S 7200U to successfully play back the Planet Earth II Blu-ray with HDR, while also performing as per specifications in our other tests detailed in the previous sections.
Note that the Pioneer BDR-211UBK comes with an OEM version of PowerDVD 14 that does support 4K UHD Blu-ray playback.
We tracked the power consumption of the set (PC + Blu-ray drive with the SATA-USB bridge) while playing the first chapter of the first disc in the Blu-ray set (after a full menu loop).
We find that the Beebox-S 7200U is more power efficient for this particular task. The NUC7i7BNHX is much more versatile with its Thunderbolt 3 ports, Optane support, and other bells and whistles. Can those make a difference in a generic HTPC setup? We will address that in our concluding section.
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ebilg - Tuesday, December 26, 2017 - linkTo avoid all the headaches with UHD Bly-rays you could just get an Xbox instead. The studios don't seem to care about 4K Blu-ray on PCs. Plus the Xbox also does Hulu in 4K.
ddrіver - Tuesday, December 26, 2017 - linkIt's obvious the "budget setup" isn't actually a budget setup because the guy just accepts to be "sponsored" with equipment that blows any budget: it goes from ~$470 to ~$1000. That's over $500 extra. On a budget! So who cares about the BR player? It can just be sponsored by somebody.
@GaneshTS & AT what other budget builds can you do with expensive sponsored stuff? I was thinking on an article on how to get free gaming builds... from your parents.
ganeshts - Tuesday, December 26, 2017 - linkDude, seriously? The only equipment that was sponsored was the Denon AVR, and it was clearly specified. Everything else was out of my own pocket (other than the PCs that come in for review on a revolving basis)
ddrіver - Tuesday, December 26, 2017 - linkThat wasn't about getting hidden stuff or anything like that. It was about adding $500 and still calling it a budget build. A $1000 receiver isn't part of any budget build. It doesn't make sense.
Gasaraki88 - Wednesday, December 27, 2017 - linkSo you want a home theater system but don't want to get an AV receiver? You complaining about a $500 receiver? That's the cheapest you can get that supports DV passthrough and all the other new tech. If you don't want good sound you don't need a receiver so you can subtract that out but then it not a "Home Theater" then.
Icehawk - Wednesday, December 27, 2017 - linkNot even remotely true, plenty of recievers in the ~$400 range offer the sams functions. After my last two $800+ recievers crapped out after two years I will no longer put my money in them.
Crazyeyeskillah - Thursday, December 28, 2017 - linkYou are completely out of touch with your readers. There are plenty of options on the market that will deliver a great experience without dumping $500 into a receiver. While it's fun to piss away money on a home theater system, you don't have to blow all your money on something that won't give a perceivable benefit whatsoever to the average consumer. The extra $500 could make up the difference towards a 55" OLED display, or an entry level projector. Your priorities are clearly bias and deserve to be in question. Most of your articles are fair but this is really a preposterous entry without question.
I would have honestly love to seen a review of some entry level projectors. Virtually everyone wants to know more about the bulbs, longevity, brightness, clarity, and other factors. Speakers are pretty much the no brainer of tech, they either work or they don't. If you want more channels just increase the blank.1 you have setup.
Even just building a really versatile box for future proof playback would have been sufficient. People tend to geek out on their displays in their own way.
FreckledTrout - Sunday, December 31, 2017 - link@Crazyeyeskillah, I disagree. Any adults here who can afford an OLED TV would love a decent quality home theater which will cost at minimum $2000 but many people just don't know it. My nephew who is 28 has a good soundbar system and really didn't understand why I spend $2.5K on speakers and a receiver so we watched a movie, pearl harbor. When your company leans to duck the plane dropping bombs, priceless. Good home theater isn't something most people understand but once they have heard it they know what they are missing.
SunnyHours - Wednesday, July 11, 2018 - linkThere are other ways of having a decent speaker system without dishing out 500$US on a "home theater" receiver...especially if you don't plan on getting a decent set of Surround Sound speakers, which are not cheap...we are talking at least another 500$ up to 2000$ or more...and just for speakers.
Instead, why not get a nice set of powered Bookshelf speakers like AudioEngine, Swan, HiVi, M-Audio, Kanto, Edifier and even Klipsch have good speakers that don't need a Receiver/Amplifier and generally have a 3.5mm cable so it's compatible with most anything, there are also some who do have RCA input(s). In this list you'll find all kinds of prices and whether you want a 2.0 speaker system or a 7.2 speaker system.
Also, another nice option if you have many things to connect, you can always just get a nice and simple 2.1 Sound System with a receiver (NAD, Yamaha, Denon, Harmon Kardon and others that don't come to mind should serve you well) and a pair of regular Bookshelf Speakers (Same brands mentioned before plus a couple others...just go to your biggest audio dealer close by and try them out before you buy them...if you can try both the receiver and speakers all the better!)
The 3rd option would be to go with Headphones!
If you want to head to head, speaker system vs Headphone system...of the same price, you'll always get way more sound for your money out of a simple headphone DAC/Amplifier combo and some Headphones or a DAC, headphone Amplifier and Headphones.
Whatever you do, please, do NOT encourage Bose. They sell overpriced stuff and it's just a really bad deal all around.
If you want more information and to ask questions to people who really know their stuff, head over to the Head-Fi Forums. They really specialize in headphones, but being Audiophiles usually means you'll also want good sounding speakers to be able to share it with others, and also to mix it up a little.
prerich - Friday, July 27, 2018 - linkBravo!!!!