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Dell Zino with Windows 7 (or Vista), used as HTPC: WHAT are you installing and WHY??

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
So you've received (or just about to receive) your hot new toy and you want to make THE MOST out of it? Also, you want to do it right for the first time? You are not alone!


We could use this thread to discuss our initial setup steps, focusing on the installation of SOFTWARE on our Windows 7 (or Vista; but definitely not Linux) systems that is intended to be used mainly (or exclusively) as a FULL BLOWN HTPC!

To keep the thread REALLY USEFUL for those who are new to the whole HTPC thing, I think presenting your list of steps is the best format to go with (that is, a list of "WHAT".). Short explanations regarding your decision to go with the particular software could also be extremely useful. (Hence the "WHY" in the title.)

Snippets of such info is being discussed in the main thread, but not in an organized manner. So I think this thread is justified and has real potential, especially if we keep it on topic!

post #2 of 11
Thread Starter 
Can I go first?

I just received my Zino today, but I am still stuck at work. I'll get home right after Midnight and will start configuring the Zino right away... The Zino is going to be my HTPC in the HT room, but will serve light browsing/webmail/torrent duties as well.


This is my plan of attack so far:

1. After the first boot up, I'll be poking around to see if the config is indeed what I've ordered. I'll take some notes, see what else can I discover.

2. I'll see if I can actually make a bootable DVD (in case of emergency later...). I think Windows 7 let you do that right out of the bat. (If not, I can just visit MY DELL DOWNLOADS later for them - based on the literature, they let you create backup media from online.) I will burn a "Drivers" DVD as well if the option is presented.

I will also change the boot order to CD(DVD) DIVE FIRST if it is not set up by Dell that way yet.

3. I was thinking long and hard of making a drive image (clone) to an external HD right away (I have a Western Digital HD I could use, therefore I am eligible to download the free utility that is a somewhat crippled version the excellent Acronis True Image 2009) and maybe even performing a clean install, but I think I'll just run PC Decrapifier (Previously Dell Decrapifier), then see what else can I find that is not worthy of my glorious new HTPC.

Still, I am planning on making a drive image later. (Right after I have everything installed and working!)

4. Connect the Zino to my wireless network, head online and download/install Microsoft Security Essentials right away (new free antivirus software from MS, lean and mean...)
Visit Windows Update as well, make 7 fatter and happy

5. I am thinking of installing the following FREEWARE apps right away (I have 4GB of RAM, so I can afford some stuff running in the background):

- Mozilla Firefox, maybe Chrome
- VideoLan VLC 1.03
- Malwarebytes Anti-Malware
- Spybot Search & Destroy
- Revo Uninstaller
- Powerpoint Viewer
- Adobe Reader
- Adobe Flash Player 10.1 (duh)
- Google Earth

6. Run msconfig from the Start menu, stop certain apps (of the just-installed software) at startup.


You guys might have noticed that so far there was nothing HTPC specific mentioned above. Well, there is a reason for that; I AM A NEWBIE MYSELF! I have to discover (and learn) things first, before I can decide about future directions. I am going to take it slow and start with the (excellent!?) Windows 7 Media Center. I still have to get my WHS going, decide about which lean and future-proof container/file format to convert my media into (if any) (mostly DVD ISO-s), then see how I can serve it up to 7MC (and other devices in my household). And that is just the beginning... I have so many toys to integrate... But the Holidays are coming, and I am planning to get so much done!
post #3 of 11
-used stock installation of 7 basic for a while. missed aero and WMC.

-prep'd USB for windows 7 32bit ultimate retail

-installed, formatted C(OS) drive in process. Didnt disturb the small fat partition and the dell recovery partition.

-installed latest drivers for 780G/SB700. Version from Dell's official website.

-reboot

-installed card reader, conexant audio, ethernet lan, all drivers from dell site. also driver for Belkin USB wifi dongle.

-no dell software/bloatware installed

ran WEI, the score system. Base is 2.9 - lowest is 'graphics performance for aero desktop'

-installed klite mega codec pack, enabled dvxa during this install.

-tested some 720p mkv's, normalized the volume setting for MPC Homecinema

-opened up catalyst. set to my tv's native reso of 1366*768. Used display properties to overscan until it fits maximum i can to the tv screen.

-installed firefox and nod32 internet security

-i think thats for now. will add on office/foxit pdf when the need arises.
post #4 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by zamansimba View Post

-used stock installation of 7 basic for a while. missed aero and WMC.

-prep'd USB for windows 7 32bit ultimate retail

-installed, formatted C(OS) drive in process. Didnt disturb the small fat partition and the dell recovery partition.

-installed latest drivers for 780G/SB700. Version from Dell's official website.

-reboot

-installed card reader, conexant audio, ethernet lan, all drivers from dell site. also driver for Belkin USB wifi dongle.

-no dell software/bloatware installed

ran WEI, the score system. Base is 2.9 - lowest is 'graphics performance for aero desktop'

-installed klite mega codec pack, enabled dvxa during this install.

-tested some 720p mkv's, normalized the volume setting for MPC Homecinema

-opened up catalyst. set to my tv's native reso of 1366*768. Used display properties to overscan until it fits maximum i can to the tv screen.

-installed firefox and nod32 internet security

-i think thats for now. will add on office/foxit pdf when the need arises.

This seems like a lot of work. How much space did you gain? Do you notice any speed differences?
post #5 of 11
Can anyone tell me the advantages of using WMC instead of Media Portal (or something similar)? I am not going to be using a TV tuner right away, mostly just for rips of movies. Does media portal allow for dvxa?
post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by tbucfan1231 View Post

Does media portal allow for dvxa?

Yes
post #7 of 11
pretty simple:

utorrent
vlc
power dvd
post #8 of 11
Thanks for doing this folks--i'm kinda new to htpcs and my zino is set to arrive wednesday or thursday. I'm looking forward to seeing what you all are doing to get set up.

From my own background and from what i've seen here and in the main zino thread, i'm certain i'll be trying to do a clean os reinstall/go on a crapware jihad. After that is what I'm trying to figure out now.
post #9 of 11
Question - is there room in this thing for a dual tuner Avermedia Duet??
post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcrash View Post

Question - is there room in this thing for a dual tuner Avermedia Duet??

Ahhhh, no! Hdhomerun would work good though. Or some USB Tuner.

BT
post #11 of 11
When I got mine at work last week I took the cover off to see if everything was inside. It was. Took home. Wireless wasn't being recognized so had to reseat the card. now working. It is only connecting at 54Mb instead of the N speeds which my Belkin is. So I am using wired.
1. Fixed underscan with the ATI CCC.
2. Installed Media Browser and Media Center Master. Both working great.
3. Installed my WHS software so it could do a backup to my server.
4. Removed McAfee and installed MS Security Essentials.
5. Set auto login so I wouldn't have to log back in on reboots or sleep.
6. Tested videos on WHS. All seem to be playing fine. Mainly avi and wmv and a few mp4.
7. Installed DVDFab and DVD Shrink in case I want to archive to WHS through it instead of laptop.
8. Confirmed sound works through hdmi
9. Even though I stream Netflix through my xbox I set it up on my zino as well.
10. Setup the HDHomerun.

Don't think I will do anything else since all is well. Any one have questions or suggestions feel free to chime in.
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