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RichL
8th March 2006, 08:20
I'm in the early stages of building a PC with TV tuner card to use as an HDD recorder, I'd like to make this as idiot-resistant as possible so I was thinking of using Windows Media Centre Edition.

However, I'd like to combine this with my current Win2k gateway box (Winroute & USB webcam software) so my questions are :

Can Win Media Centre run all the same programs as XP, or is it so neutered to make all but HTPC functions impossible?

If WMC is incapable of doing what I want, does anyone do a funky, consumer-TV-friendly front end to overlay WinXP and handle all the HTPC stuff?

lecter
8th March 2006, 09:00
Windows Media Center is a fully featured XP, the only problem I ever had was with some specific drivers (like TV tuner drivers) that were completely unsupported by it (though they worked fine in XP Pro)...to make it idiot-proof, all you have to do is buy a TV tuner/capture card on its official HCL and combine it with a supported graphics card (all Nvidias from the FX series, I believe and most ATIs...no Matroxes at all).

RichL
9th March 2006, 04:25
Thanks Lecter, I've decided to give WinMCE a trial with a *cough*copy a freind is currently not using or installed*cough*
He said it had issues from the moment he installed it, but he wasnt specific about what.

schmosef
9th March 2006, 05:07
MCE2005 is a vast improvement over past versions.

Much better overall driver compatibility.

Although you really should ensure that your capture hardware is on the HCL, as lecter advised.

From what I can tell MCE2005 = XP PRO -domain membership support +Media Center software

It come on two discs. Disc one is basically the installer for XP Pro. Late in the install it will ask for disc two. Near the end it asks for disc 1 again and refers to it as "windows xp pro, disc 1". :) (there's even a note in the readme for the installer that says not to worry about the mention of XP Pro).

I haven't run into any software that didn't want to install on MCE2005. Although I have to admit that I run it in a dual boot config and keep the MCE2005 install relatively clean.

There are a few third party add-ons to XP that will do MOST of what MCE will do. There's even an open source one, IIRC.

One thing that only MCE2005 can do is act as a media extender for Xbox 360. With it you can stream movies to your 360 via your home network. It's pretty awesome. I've spent more time on my 360 just watching movies than I have spent playing games.

The big flaw with the 360 is that it doesn't support divx so you need to transcode your movies to WMV to stream them to your 360.

One of they guys who developed the Media Center hack for the original Xbox wrote an add-on to MCE to help automate the process of setting up the transcode. He setup a blog to discuss it here: http://www.runtime360.com.

This entry: http://www.runtime360.com/2006/02/codec-compatibility-update.html is really good even if you don't have a 360. He talks about the best ways to configure for divx and other codecs. I've found that using the codec setup he recommends reduces my overall CPU load in general and allows me to multitask much better, so I can surf and/or work while watching a movie on a different screen without raising my CPU temp too much.

Fat Tone
10th March 2006, 06:11
Here's the open source option: http://www.team-mediaportal.com/

WyWyWyWy
21st March 2006, 05:45
There is also a paid option with trial.
http://www.meedio.com
This is very good.

Although... can I mention that no Media front end supports Unicode properly, except Win XP MCE.