Thursday, March 25, 2010

Media Center Goes Win 7 - Finally

It's hard to believe that I first built my media center back in 2007. When I initially set it up, my plan was to use Windows XP and run Media Portal. After a few abortive attempts and getting everything running with my hardware, I gave up and moved to Media Center 2005 (XP). After further configuration woes (due to dodgy hardware and/or drivers), it has worked basically flawlessly since.

I was happy with this configuration, and it remained unchanged, until I bought Windows Vista.. MY tuner cards didn't work any more, and the interface ran too slow for my wife to accept. Needless to say, that copy of Vista still sits in a box somewhere, never to see the light of day again.

With the recent release of Windows 7, I knew the time was right to try again - I knew there were lots of good features for MC, and I was keen - only problem was that my hardward (tuner cards) *still* didn't work. This time though, I was feeling a bit more keen on spending some money, so I discarded my tuner card (actually I gave it to my brother-n-law, who has made it work in Win 7!), and I bought two dual-tuner cards and a 1TB hard drive for TV only.

These cards are Hauppauge 2200 and they 'just worked'. Now the only problem was that the interface was a bit sluggish on a busy screen (e.g. Recorded TV - we have a lot of recorded shows).

I looked at everything obvious (or so I thought), and eventually I realised, much to my own embarrassment, that the HTPC only had 1GB of ram! I don't really recall way back there in 2007, but 1GB was probably not too bad.. As my wife pointed out, even her netbook has more ram. Too true.

A quick trip to MSY (great prices, worst web site ever) and 4 GB, for a lousy $105 and now the Win7 Media Center is looking awesome.

One last thing - having visited my place several times and viewed the beast that is my HTPC, my stepfather has decided he wanted one too - despite my encouragement to get a TiVo. I beg you.. But no.. He bought one anyway, and a big screen TV, and a nice new stereo. It will be a good setup, when he gets it working.. :-)

Given that he's not technical, I've committed a few hours to the cause so far, but as of last night, we are not quite there yet.. I think we're close though, with only the channels tuning to be done. Somewhat poorly, I think, the supplier (in a different city), left the channels configured when he shipped it - thus, when we booted it, it listed all the 'correct' channels, but no guide listings, and no reception. It took me a while to realise that these were for Melbourne (or perhaps Brisbane?), but the bub had had enough so we went home with the problem unresolved..

Ahh.. Why didn't he just buy TiVo?

EDIT: After a little tweaking (faulty tuner, wrong city config) it is all working a treat, and the supplier was good about replacing the faulty tuner too