Originally Posted by maccardi
once I come up with a final design, I will post my config. I've been on vacation last 2 weeks of the year and have been doing allot of research on the subject (what else is there to do in the winter in Western NY). I'm pretty sure on my PC hardware equipment, but I've been trying to find a good HTPC case that will look good in my audio rack and not make allot of noise. There is allot of stuff out there. I'll keep you posted.
I'm on my second attempt at a Windows based media center. The first worked, but ended up being a failure when Vista ended up in a Windows Update circle of death. I just gave up and installed W7. Also, Linksys stopped supporting the media center extenders I have so they won't do h.264 although they have the power to do it.
The problem with a media center pc is that it runs windows, and sometimes the PC crashes, sometimes it reboots, sometimes the sound is funny, sometimes the display is jerky. Just when you think you've got it right, something else happens.
My setup is a dell c521 with 2 tuners in it for recording tv. I have my ripped movies sitting on a Home server, and ripped BD movies on another pc, all joined by libraries in the homegroup, eventually all the content except maybe the tv will sit on the home server. I have a new Dell Zino sitting upstairs running as a mc client, connected to the net via Wireless N. It was running fine, playing files remotely, but now it's not. I haven't figured that one out yet.
If I were you, I'd see what Microsoft is up to with Home server at CES. Maybe they'll have tuners in the next version of home server. Their strategy/implementation is still a bit fragmented, but they're getting there.
At the moment, I only use the Media center as backup of the TW dvr, but I hope to use it as a whole house dvr some day. The media center extenders I have will play the Windows 7 tv shows, but won't do most h.264 shows. I have old pcs running W7 that I plan to use like an extender. You can do everything but live tv, which is something I want. I have a Hauppauge HD-PVR 1212 that I can get to work with MC, but I can't figure a way to stream it to upstairs.
If I could find a way to get ESPN and other live cable sports, I would probably be happy with Network and Netflix, that would save me nearly $100 a month.
By the way, I've been putting W7 lots of old pcs. The latest was a 5 year old laptop and they run fine. You can get a new Zino with HDMI for around $250, very small, very quiet. That's a good place to start when paired with a home server.