staring at a screen

Categories: anime


Awhile ago, I posed my problem of viewing anime on my TV, and I just decided to expand on this issue.

For the past two years, I’ve used the same setup for viewing fansubs. I have a computer connected to a flat CRT TV using either s-video or, more recently, component video. I like watching anime on a normal TV because of the viewing experience. Namely, I can lounge on the La-Z-Boy rather than sit on my computer chair. I sit at a computer chair all day at work, so sitting in one to watch anime just isn’t appealing. Also, the picture quality, for the most part, nicer on the TV. My LCD is a fairly typical 20″ LCD, and it just doesn’t have the same response speed or the contrast that a CRT TV puts out.

The main problem though is that the LCD is 1600 x 1200 pixels, which means that most anime gets stretched out full screen (unless I want to watch it in a microscopic box). If I resize the anime to full size, the artifacts are much more noticeable unless I turn on AA filter, but then it starts to choke my system. Lately, because my video card doesn’t support two monitors and a TV at the same time (very annoying), I’ve been looking into a new way to watch fansubs.

The first idea was to use my XBOX 360 and XBOX Media Connect. There’s just two big showstoppers with that– the first is that XBMC seems to have problems with certain popular container, non-avi formats. The second is that XBMC only works with a Windows XP Media Center (or Vista Premium) computer… and the server that houses most of my fansubs is an XP Professional machine. I tried out XBMC using an old laptop that had XP MC, but it was a very clunky mechanism for viewing anime.

The second is to just bite the bullet and purchase another video card or one that specializes in TV out. The problem, beyond the cost, is that, well, my mobo doesn’t support more than one PCIe card unless they are SLI’ed together. Otherwise, the second PCIe card will only run at 1X. A PCI TV tuner card looked attractive until I noticed that most of these cards had s-video and component connections for video in, which is the opposite of what I want.

Bah, I guess the crux of the issue is that I just want a way to watch anime from my computer without sitting at my computer. It’ll be nice to be able to also control the machine from remote so maybe in the future I can pipe anime to all rooms in the house. I guess I’m writing this post just to see if any of the readers out there have cool or just plain effective setups that they’d like to share.

29 Responses to “staring at a screen”

  1. Yay, it’s Beppo! That just made this day a little more bearable. :)

  2. Try TVersity. It will act as a XBMC replacement and automatically convert all those ‘certain popular container, non-avi formats’ into a stream your XBOX 360 can understand.

  3. You could always get a LCD HDTV with a DVI input… I guess that would probably just cause more problems though…

  4. I’d just bite the bullet and buy a new video card. I’m using a rebadged Radeon 9250 for this very purpose, and it works perfectly fine. When I bought it a couple years ago, it was only around $60… pocket change, considering how much use I get out of it. I just run the signal to my CRT TV in the next room via S-Video. Even with a 50′ run, it looks fine.

    The new ATI control panel stinks, however. My card shipped with the old control panel, but when I did a reformat several months back, I was forced to upgrade to the new control panel. Piece of junk. Thankfully, I was able to find a copy of the old control panel and roll everything back.

    The only problem I now experience is that I have to adjust the size of the image outputted to the TV every time I reboot the computer (it needs be adjusted to fill the screen). That only happens once a month or so, though, so no big deal. I wish I could just turn overscan on and be done with it, but ATI’s idea of overscan is to chop off something like 60 pixels from each side. So, for now, I just extend my desktop to the TV as if it’s a regular monitor running at 800×600 resolution.

    Ultimately, I’d like to have a dedicated box for this – a bare bones machine stuffed in a quiet Shuttle case or something, sitting right next to the TV – but that’s more money than I care to spend right now, especially considering how my current setup works fine.

  5. Are you watching anything new for the winter quarter Jason?? Red Garden’s becoming pretty crazy. You might enjoy the bitchiness.

  6. I watch my anime on my PSP… for the same reason though, watching it on a computer chair sucks.

  7. i guess it’s a non-issue for me, since my bed is right across from my computer and i can just kick back on it while i watch the good stuff.

  8. I don’t think that my situation is representative, but since you asked, and half of the posters seem to produce noise anyway… I use iPod Video to drive the TV. This is an excessively dorky setup and its resolution is low, but it works, and the color transmission is better than on my laptop’s LCD. I have to admit though, the main reason I do it is because all of my computers run Linux, and cannot be arsed to install proprietary video drivers, which are necessary to drive the TV-out. A secondary reason is, I don’t want to run cables from my den to the big TV.

  9. smallfry, I’m using TVersity as you described. On some videos, it ‘stalls’ for a few seconds, then skips ahead. Very annoying. Things were much easier when the hacked XBox was still working…

  10. Well, the other simple thing I used to do is to just split the VGA signal coming out of the video card and run it through a converter that converted the signal to RGB to output onto a TV through S-video or composite. A box from Avermedia doing something simple like that may cost around $50. I did the same with my audio too, which didn’t need signal converting, but rather a connector conversion. The set up probably cost me like $70 including cables and it didn’t involve any drivers or anything of the sort.

  11. buy an old xbox (not 360) soft mod it, install XBMC its a free program made by people with free time, then stream stuff to your tv from your computer via ethernet, it plays all formats except h.264, which it plays.. but it lags so badly you can’t watch it, I run it on a 67 inch Projection TV and it looks just fine stretching it out is not even a problem.

  12. I’m probably going to sound like a dick, but yea I kind get your problem Jason. I’ve been outputting my video from my Dell 700m via s-video to my projector for awhile and for the most part, it’s pretty good. I do have a lot of black/empty area since my projector has a weird res, but it does the job.

    Ironically enough, waiting anime on my 24″ WS LCD is a pain since my laptop’s video isn’t cutting it for the higher releases. I never noticed the issue when doing it via S-video, but I guess since it gets shrunk, the video runs fine. Watching the high res releases of Manabi and Pumpkin Scissors made me cry at how bad my laptop can’t handle it.

    But yea, I think if you’re going to go the new video card route you may as well just do the Shuttle. They’re pretty cheap and if you’re just gonna make it a multimedia box, you can probably spend under $400. Yea, it’s probably double of what you’ll need to spend for a new video card but at least this way you’ll have a dedicated machine for PC –> TV watching.

  13. Hum… well i kinda understood the problem (though the phrasing was odd for me). I used to watch anime on my tv too. But then I built a Windows Media Center from spare parts for my TV. SO i can watch anime from there. That pixalization issue you were talking about might be able to be solved if you lower the resolution of the TV. Hi-resolution like 1600×1200 is kinda counter effective on a 640×480 anime. I’m sure you know it but i might as well say it. When watching something on the TV It will cut off like 15 pixals on all sides of the tv. There is a work around you could do with the CCCP Codec pack or more specifically FFDSHOW if you want to automatically add a 16 pixal ish black border so you get the entire content of the show. I recommend a 800×600 resolution unless you have a HDTV like you kinda alluded to with the component cables, Although it could just be a EDTV.

    Also your PCI-E Should have these settings. 1-16x, 8x-8x, 16x-16x, Since your mobo said it can do SLI (Limited to Nvidia SLI Chipsets only, Some mobo has 2 16x slots but not the chipset so it can’t do dual graphic card anyhow)You should be able to pull off 2 graphic card independently. I also recommend a Nvidia graphic card because Dual-view, Quad-view to my experence is poor on an ATI vs. Nvidia.

    When what i have now is kinda nice. I have a media center PC for my Big Screen 65″ TV outside in the living room connected via Wifi to my Server in my room and that Computer is runn tri-screens. one is a 21″ 4:3 CRT for games, and 4:3 animes, The second one is a 22″ Widescreen LCD with 5ms 16:10, for more games and Widescreen anime. Last I can fire up a projector that is celling mounted and projected on to a 150″ Screen running a 1000Watt 5.1 Sound system. It is my pride and joy. Meant for when i have guest over to watch anime. All of this in my room. Costing me no more than 300 dollars to built. Because i have connections.

  14. Is there a cheaper VGA to composite converter? The $50 that weirdofu mentioned just seems excessive for just that. I could have sworn I’ve seen some cheap wal-mart converter for $20-ish. I’ve been wanting to watch fansubs on my TV for same reasons most everyone else has stated–I spent too much time in front of a computer as it is. Anyone know of cheap way way to do this without having to get a new video card (I don’t plan to for at least a year because it’s a newer computer)? My desktop only has VGA out, but my laptop has VGA and s-video. My TV only has composite inputs. Ideally, I just want to extend the desktop of my laptop onto the TV….

  15. With almost perfect timing, this is one of the major topics in my head at the moment!

    I have my Computer on one end of my bedroom, and my 54″ TV on the other end. Pretty much opposite ends…

    With my computer upgrades, I got a NVidia 7900GT. Complete with its little RGB/Svideo/Component output block. My old 5200FX never wanted to work when outputting to my TV. I have a A/V cable running under the bed to the TV. My audio chipset lets me change what each socket is, so I have two audio out – one to my speakers, the other to my TV. So thats the audio sorted. also gives me an interesting ability for a persudo surround sound :D

    I have my card set up to output my TV as a second screen, just off the lower right corner of my main screen. When I want to watch something on my TV, I just move it to the second screen, and start it on there. I would have used mirroring, but my TV wont show my desktop size (TV only goes up to 1024×748. The LCD is at 1280×1024)

    Took a bit of fiddling to get Media Player Classic to work with it fine. The System Default renderer wants to work on that screen. though, it means I had to get DirectVobSub working for my subtitles.

    The experience is much better. It means before I go to bed, I can start an Anime episode, and just watch it before going to sleep. In the mornings, it allows me to stream an episode while I get ready for work… Its a tad hard on the eyes with some subtitles, but getting a tad closer fixes that. Also, I sometimes notice a moment where the video will lag behind the audio a tad, and then will speed up to catch up. This happens maybe once every 2 videos… Lasts a second, so it doesnt really matter.

    The only remaining issue for me is the remote. But im planning on solving that too… I am going to get a Wii Controler, and use that. In the next week they should hopefully get it in at the store, and I can set it all up. The ability to Pause, Rewind, frame step, and maybe oneday use my mouse, all while laying in bed… ahh… that will be fun…

  16. Gha… Bad fingers. That TV was a 54cm…. what possessed me to put ” there, I dont know…

  17. If you have some old box which is powerful enough to play MPEG2, you could attach that to your TV and use VideoLAN to stream from your main PC to that. You even can start VLC in an always-receive mode (Just run “vlc udp:” in an endless loop), so you don’t ever have to access the box connected to your TV, just start streaming from your main PC and it starts playing. On problem with this setup is that VLC still does not interpret SSA/ASS, so if some fansubs has styled soft-subs, you are out of luck… And your main PC must be powerful enough to decode the video and reencode it to MPEG2, which could pose a problem with H264…

  18. My comp’s in my room, so I just watch from my bed. Though most everything is sideways, it still kinda works somewhat decently, and without having to be at my desk in my chair.

    Well, that’s my alternative to not being able to watch on a TV. Sides, the TV in my room is not that much bigger than my monitor. Well…maybe 6-7 inches bigger, but iunno.

  19. I have a second computer which is in my living room next to the TV. The TV has VGA input, so I just use that to output to the TV. I can set my desktop resolution to the same resolution as the TV (1280×720), and I don’t have in issues with scaling or stretching. To control the computer, I use an ifrared remote adapter (Streamzap PC remote) and a Harmony universal remote. I usually copy shows to this computer over a network share, or just play them from a share on another computer.

  20. No, there aren’t any cheap VGA to composite converters. From what I gather, nobody sells simple converters anymore, which were just a couple of circuits and relied on the PC to supply correct scan. These days, all converters have a frame buffer in them, something like TVIA 5500 to drive the capture and TV scan, and a little ARM CPU. It’s a miracle that such monster can be gotten for $80 really.

  21. I’m using a dedicated box for anime and torrents with a decent, but cheap video card (PNY Geforce 6200, $50). A 32in 720p LCD TV costs $599 from Costco w/ every input you want (VGA, HDMI, Component, but no DVI) Anime looks really good on that box ;)

    If you can afford it, get the LCD and use the VGA plug ;)

  22. i just media player classic and lower the full screen resolution to like 640*480 and it looks quite similar to a tv output, i also run it with ffdshow so even rm’s look dcent

  23. I love using my XBox360 for watching anime… I use Transcode 360 and really don’t have much problem playing anything I want….

  24. Sorry, I guess I’ve been off the market for a while and didn’t realize the products were still that expensive. It seems the one I got still costs $82. Could have sworn I got it for cheaper. Oh, and by the way, despite what most of those products may want you to do, like use a VGA y-cable to split the signal coming out of your video card, DO NOT do it. It will degrade the signal on both end. You’re better off with a product that let’s you switch between VGA out and composite out, or simpler yet, get a KVM switch to switch the signal. Also, don’t expect small text to be readable on your TV, though subtitles should be perfectly fine, unless very small fonts were used. I’ve actually tried doing output to my TV through both video card and my TV box and the quality were about the same. I guess cost-wise, it may turn out similar as well, considering how most video cards have TV out now anyways.

  25. kinda related topic, any1 watched the new OP come with air bdrip? 1920×1080 WAV, 3 min 140mb, first try to open it, crash, second try, it murdered my graphic card with a chainsaw, now i’m on intel integrated graphic card ; ;

  26. wmv, not wav*

  27. why is their nt an inuysha series on this you must be crazy to not like inuyasha so whats the deil!!!!!!!!?

  28. I have a 52 inch 1080p sharp lcd, connected to my pc with hdmi. Newer h.264 sd anime looks great but the high definition (like Howl’s Moving Castle) is just amazing.

  29. D: Arnoldstrife, where do you get your “connections”!? I mean I have the same idea of a ceiling mounted multimedia projector, but I can’t find any under $1,000.
    and for the main question: I would just get an inexpensive setup, mount it next to the TV and component that sucker to the TV. Because, if you do a micro-box setup, you’re not going to pay much for anything but the motherboard, you can get a nice ATI Radeon 9000 at WalMart these days for $120, and 200GB HardDisks run around $90.

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