Media centre to build or not to build....

  Jollyjohn 12:53 17 Nov 2005

I have decided to build a media centre pc to go in my lounge for the following reasons.
My 14" portable tv with built in video cannot record a different channel to the one I am watching.
This tv has no input, except aerial, so it is not going to be easy to add a DVD player.
My cd player has died and it is part of a midi system.
I live in an area that is not due to get a digital tv or radio signal until 2012, by that time the media centre will probably need replacing anyway.
My intention is to have one box to do almost everything. I will connect this box to the internet, dial up only, so my wife can check her emails without having to start up the other computer upstairs.
I will post the details of the sysytem at the weekend.

  ade.h 18:55 17 Nov 2005

There's a lot to think about here;

Media Centre Edition is not (AFAIK) available as a standalone product. If it is, then it's probably an OEM copy that is potentially being sold in breach of Microsoft's EULA. (See the Forum Ed's blog on that subject for more details)

A standard copy of XP Home Edition will do most (but not all) of what the MCE can do. You'll probably want to add a TV Tuner card and recording software such as Showshifter

What format are you going to build? ATX is the easiest and most economical choice, but less that ideal for a living room environment unless it can be tucked out of sight. It is certainly possible to build an almost silent yet quite potent ATX system for reasonable cost. A Small Form Factor case is a potentially trickier proposition, but would fit well in a living room. The third alternative is one of the specialised Media Centre-style cases that are now available, that allow you to build something that fits in with your existing electronics products.

Perhaps your best bet is to buy off the shelf. With regard to the third type of case that I mentioned, companies such as Hi-Grade produce some very nice MCE systems for around £1000.

  Jollyjohn 13:00 18 Nov 2005

I purchased an OEM version of XP MCE2005 with the tuner card. An Avermedia A169 dual tuner.
When installing MCE, it comes on 2 cd,s, it ask for the 2nd cd - no surprise there. It then asks for files from SP2, and asks you to insert your sp2 cd - heres the surprise - it really wants the first cd reinserted!
I have installed MCE on a separate partition on my main computer just to see how it works etc, so far so good.

  pauldonovan 13:46 18 Nov 2005

Never tried them but these guys seem to be used quite a bit and seems quite reasonable to me (you'd still need to get MCE - or one of the alternatives, and contrary to Ade's post you can buy it legally).

click here

  Jollyjohn 18:37 18 Nov 2005

Having looked at a few options, mainly based around a barebones kit, I eventually decided on a system from Eclipse computers click here They sell various systems that you can customise before ordering. Thier media centre systems come in a range of nice looking cases - more like hi fi components than pc's. Details to follow.

  Jollyjohn 21:08 18 Nov 2005

Eclipse DMS System -Sempron-
Here is what I have ordered - awating delivery.
FoxConn 760GXK8MC-S Sck 754, VGA, AGP8x,5.1 Snd Motherboard
AMD Sempron 2600+ (64Bit) Socket 754 CPU -Retail Box
1024Mb 400Mhz PC3200 184Pin DDR Memory Module
56.6 PCI Data Fax Voice Modem -Software-
160Gb Maxtor DiamondMax 10 ATA133, 8Mb, 7200rpm Hard Drive
NEC ND3540 16x+R 16x-R Dual Layer DVD Writer -Silver-
3.5 1.44Mb Floppy Disk Drive -Silver Facia
Enlight 7473 Silver MicroATX Media Center, No PSU
MicroSoft Media Centre Remote Control
Enermax EG375AX-VEG 370W Silent,PSU.
Will post more info but probably not until next weekend.

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