Originally Posted by crossbeaux
I assume you mean 5TB, 2TB, and 3TB drives. Otherwise, not so much space.
Windows Media Center supports only one single primary recording folder, so you put it somewhere on some drive. Ideally it should go on a fairly large drive, with a fair amount of space. My most recent drive upgrade relocated this folder to a 2TB drive, and after partitioning and copying other things that had to be on it I started with about 1.5GB of free space. That was consumed very quickly during the Olympics when I was recording three channels of HD at around 16 hours per day for each channel.
But WMC and Windows 7 support an unlimited number of additional separate folders on one or more drives which can be added to the "Recorded TV Library" (initially defined as that one-and-only primary recording folder at a minimum, but it can be extended to include as many other folders as you want, on that same drive or as many other drives as you want). So as much storage space as you care to have and make available for playback-only of previously recorded programs, that's how much capacity you can build for yourself. The primary folder limits your current ongoing immediate recording capacity, but if pressed for space you can simply move any recording to any of the other locations to free up new recording capacity while not losing that previous recording. The entire "Recorded TV Library" contents are shown when you look at your "Recorded TV" list in WMC.
So the numbers I gave reflect the net total sum of the "free" storage space I'd added up from the multiple external folder/drive locations I have defined as part of the "Recorded TV Library". I don't actually use any individual drives larger than 2TB yet (there's an issue with WinXP compatiblity), neither internal nor external. But someday perhaps.
Your system sounds great. If you're ever in Portland, OR, come on over and set one up for me.
As I've often lamented, 30 years ago I knew everything there was to know about PCs. Now I know almost nothing.
I'd love to. It's just a matter of assembling all of the prerequisite hardware and Ethernet infrastructure in your house if you don't already have the required pieces, and typically that only requires a dollar investment and waiting for things (like your TV tuner cards) to arrive. You figure out where your HTPC will go, make sure you have proper (a) Ethernet cable to the gigabit router, and (b) proper coax cable from your cable provider, and you're pretty much ready to start. If you need to replace your router and/or run new Ethernet cable to your remote locations where you have HDTV's, you need to do that.
For each remote HDTV you will need a "media center extender", which can be an Xbox. Or, it can be a Linksys DMA2100 extender which is no longer made but you can still buy them. Or, it can be a new Echo extender which is just nearing availability from Ceton (they're about to enter beta on it). But you need an extender at each HDTV, to be fed via Ethernet from your network and which feeds your HDTV via HDMI.
After that, you need to have a Windows 7 PC (of modest strength is all that's really needed) which will become your HTPC and be on 24/7 in all likelihood and thus drawing electrical power all the time. So you try to configure it so that its power usage is probably between 150-300 watts, which is considerably more than a standard DVR will draw so it needs to be figured into your true "monthly cost". The Win7 machine can be dedicated to WMC (which makes things easy) or you can just re-purpose one of your existing machines to be your HTPC, if that works and if it's reliable and stable. A UPS at that location really is a necessity, to protect you during power surges and outages, so that you don't lose your DVR capability.
You give back your DVRs (probably $18-$20 each) and replacing them all you rent a single an M-Card ($2/month). That M-Card goes into the Ceton 4-tuner TV card, and supports all 4 of its tuners. If you want more than 4 tuners for your cable needs in your household (remembering 1 tuner is needed for any recording that is occurring, as well as for anyone watching "live TV") you can add a second 4-tuner card. If you want to record OTA/ATSC for local networks from your roof antenna (typically the picture quality is superior than what gets re-transmitted by the cable system for these same networks) you can get a 2-tuner Hauppauge HVR-2250. Or, you don't need to if it's not part of your plan.
Note that all of these TV tuner cards have drivers/software that can also support SDV cable system infrastructures which are becoming more and more common as a bandwidth-limit solution while still providing an ever-growing list of HD channels, which require Tuning Adapters as the magic. I'm lucky in my TWC/LA (former Comcast) location, where the existing Motorola infrastructure was sufficiently modern and updated so that SDV/TA was not required for my area. I have TWC coax going directly into my Ceton card, with no tuning adapter involved. Others are not so lucky, but the Ceton hardware supports it if you have it.
Anyway, I inspired my nephew in Chicago to do just this in his house. He'd originally gone with uVerse from AT&T, and was so disappointed that he threw them out and went with Comcast. Then he went with HD HomeRun boxes (on the network) for his TV tuners, instead of the internal Hauppauge and Ceton tuner cards I use in my HTPC. He has one HD HomeRun box (for OTA/ATSC) and two HD HomeRun Prime boxes (for cable), feeding his HTPC via network connectivity which is in another location in his house. That's why gigabit networking is required, because sending all of these HDTV programs from the tuners to the HTPC simultaneously takes bandwidth. Note that this is not an issue if the TV tuner cards are internal to the HTPC, although delivering live/recorded content from HTPC to your remote extender/HDTV locations simultaneously still takes bandwidth.
Anyway, my nephew has four Xbox's/HDTV's around his house. And his wife and three young daughters have no problem using the Xbox remote to invoke Windows Media Center actions. They are now all "fully trained and fluent" using WMC, which obviously passed the "client test" for these "customers" with flying colors. In his Chicago Comcast area there are also no tuning adapters involved.
Myself, I'm not a gamer so I use three Linksys DMA2100's to support the three HDTV's in my house, with each DMA2100 having its own dedicated WMC remote designed to look like the official Microsoft WMC remote. On each of my two HTPC"s (one of which is the actual HTPC) I have WMC running, accessing the shared "Recorded TV Library" hosted by the HTPC. So I can watch copy-freely content on either Win7 machine (on its monitor) as well as all extender/HDTV locations, and I can watch copy-protected content on the HTPC as well as all extender/HDTV locations. I also have a genuine Microsoft WMC remote (and IR receiver) at each of the two PC's, so that I can control WMC on both machines via remote just as you do from your living room chair... which is obviously very convenient.
I'd love to build out such a system for you. I think you'd love it.Edited by DSperber - 9/14/12 at 8:54am