Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Finishing the Home Theatre PC

You might recall that I discovered one of the hard disks I’d purchased for my HTPC was defective. It was sent back, but I’ve had to wait for a replacement to arrive. It finally came in, and on Saturday I picked it up along with the Shintaro Wireless Keyboard.

As an interim measure, I’d installed everything on the WD 1Tb drive, but now I could use the Seagate drive as the system disk (Operating System, etc) and leave that 1 Terabyte of space for recording data.

While I had the case open, I also took the opportunity to remove the extra video card (my experiment with composite video had failed, and the onboard video should be more than adequate).

I then re-installed Vista onto the new drive (which pleasingly was noticed immediately by the BIOS – no problems this time!)

As it was more than a month since the original build, I checked to see if any new drivers were released:

I thought I’d be clever and configure the Free*EPG TV Guide settings before starting up Media Center, but that didn’t seem to work. After I’d gone through the Media Center configuration process and then closed MCE, I ran the Free*EPG tool again and things went better.

Everything was up and running again.

Shared media

I’ve heard about Media Centre Extenders, but never saw anything about how MCE can talk to other regular Windows machines. Well it turns out it is quite simple. You can point MCE to a network share in the Library settings, and then  you can browse all your digital photos and listen to your CD collection remotely.

Add-ins

I also wondered if there were any interesting add-ins for MCE. There’s quite a list mentioned in the Media Center forms on The Green Button.

I’ve installed the following to start off with:

  • Heatwave – displays the current and forecast weather
  • TVTonic – Internet TV and video podcasts

TVTonic comes with a whole lot of channels to choose from, but you can also add your own custom RSS feeds to the list. I added the feed for dnrTV, and it worked straight away.

A quick warning though – don’t forget that you’re downloading all that video, and like me you might discover that’s a great way to use up almost all of your broadband quota for the month! At least Internode are responsible and send you warning emails when you’re getting close to the limit. We normally don’t get anywhere near the 10Gb a month limit, so this is something I’ll need to monitor.

It does raise an idea for my own MCE add-in – A Media Center Usage Meter for Internode. Now just to find the time to do it!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

This is worth checking out too.

http://www.asciiexpress.com/webguide/download.aspx

Michael

Research and Reviews.info said...

Full review of the Shintaro Wireless Media Center Keyboard can be found here: http://www.researchandreviews.info/Computers/Shintaro_MCE_Keyboard/shintaro_kb_1.html