Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Family Room HTPC

  • Vizio 1080p 47inch LCD TV
  • Yamaha 5.1 Dolby digital/DTS receiver with Yamaha speakers and a powered sub-woofer
  • Direct TV H23-600 HD receiver box (HDMI) Straight to the TV
  • Wii – primarily for my 3.5 year old son to play – connected to the Vizio (composite)
  • My main HTPC (Intel Based) which is the backbone of my home entertainment.
  • Harmony 880 (what a great device -J)

HTPC Specs
  • Silver Stone LC17B case
  • Intel E6550 2.33 ghz processor / 4GB RAM on a MSI board with inbuilt HD audio – SPDIF out directly to my Yamaha receiver
  • Vista home premium & Mediaportal
  • EVGA 9600GT DDR3 512mb super clocked graphics card – DVI to HDMI to my Vizio
  • Hauppage 1800 Tuner – with OTA $10 antenna to get OTA HD and also connected via S-video to my Direct TV box.
  • Microsoft IR receiver and the IR transmitter stuck to the front of the Direct TV box.
  • LG Bluray Drive with Power DVD 7.3
  • Seagate 500gb drive with OS. WD 1TB green drive with movies, music and photos


I use both Vista media center and Mediaportal for my needs. After tinkering around with Mediaportal to get my DVR working and wasting a ton of time, I decided to stick with Vista MCE for my DVR needs as it is so easy. Microsoft has made such a wonderful product…it is just amazing. All you need to do it hookup the cables, put in your zip code, select your provider and voila….EPG is downloaded automatically and everything is taken care within like 30mts. Nothing to beat Vista MCE in terms of DVR functionality, ease of setup and ease of use.

As far as my other media (DVD, movies in AVI, DIVX and XVID) – I primarily use Mediaportal for couple of reasons - the ability to remember a ton of movies at their last watched points and the ability to easily switch between codecs to watch any kind of video. All my DVD’s are direct rips from DVD’s that I own and they are all in VOB format at 100% quality. I still cannot believe that mediaportal is a free software. For people like me who use want to organize their movies, music photos and have a nice interface with customizable screens etc….mediaportal is the way to go.

For my bluray needs I use Power DVD 7.3 and the LG bluray drive. I have media browser installed in Vista MCE and it takes care of auto loading the Bluray ISO and firing up PowerDVD. I have a Quit PDVD button programmed in my Harmony which closes Power DVD and restores Vista MCE. We watch all our recorded TV through Vista MCE.

CCCP Codec pack with FFD Show and Haali Splitter
AC3 filter

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