Originally Posted by merlot
So my wife and I are tired of paying $30/month to Comcast for our HD DVR boxes (which fill up way to easily) and I've decided to go the HTPC route with a CableCard (or we might drop that and give OTA and internet TV a try).
For my first step, I'd like to update my XP machine with Windows 7 and use my 360 to run Windows Media Center. My PC is a P4 2.4 GHz with 1GB RAM and built-in 100mbps LAN. I would not use it for viewing as it would remain in the office (though it can play 720p content back smoothly). I'm curious if it is powerful to record shows from multiple tuners and serve them to the Xbox 360.
I did a test last night where I downloaded 720p and 1080p material from Microsoft's website and then shared it. I was able to watch it without issue on my 360, both over the wired and wireless network. Can I expect Media Center to work just as well? Or should i just build myself a more powerful PC?
I would definitely add more ram.
you are going to have issues with downloaded mkv file too. the xbox wont play them and your pc might have trouble transcoding them on the fly (not mention the transcode quality sucks). you can get divx7 to avoid the transcoding but you only get 2.0 sound with that. but then you could always convert the mkvs to dvr-ms or wtv.
you also wont be able to do hulu or another internet streaming from the htpc, but anything on xbox live will work and netflix is great in that you can get hd videos.
On a side note, i went through a similar dilemma about 9 months ago. I convinced my wife that we didnt need cable and i could get all the shows we enjoyed for free (from OTA). I was either going to get an extender or a dedicated htpc.
i was going to resurrect an old p4 box i had like you, but by the time i added ram (expensive ddr ram) and an hdmi video card (i had no pci-e slot), i was getting close to the cost of buying a new machine that did all i needed. and the extender left me limited.
i ended up getting an htpc. the cost saving of no cable bill paid for the htpc in a matter of months and its amazing how much you dont care about all the channels you lose when you are getting an extra $120 a month (in my case).
i just recently got an xbox as an extender for my upstairs tv, and i am much happier with the htpc, the xbox works great as an extender for Media center in that it is great for watching shows i recorded or setting recordings, but i have a problem playing mkv files and i need to be careful how i rip my dvds. i still cant get hulu or any other kind internet streaming and if i want netflix than i have to leave the media center interface, log onto MSLive and go to netflix, after i add what i want to watch to my instant queue with my laptop. Its clunky.
the main HTPC doesn't get netflix HD but its a small price to pay for the flexibility it gives over the xbox.
not telling you to do one over the other, just make sure you explore all avenues before you commit.