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Help for Newb- Turning PC into good MCE

Discussion in 'Microsoft Windows' started by WSB, May 9, 2005.

  1. WSB

    WSB
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    Hi-

    I'm wondering if someone can offer any advice- just installed a new 32" lcd screen and hooked up the PC, XBOX, DVD and amp through it- am a very happy bunny at the mo :)

    Now I want to turn my PC into a Media Center - Specs of my existing Dell Box- 2.5ghz processor, 1 gig ram, 80 gig primary hdd, 120 gig secondary hdd, 128mb GeForce4200 graphics card- all this running win xp pro.

    The machine itself is only around 18months old so dont want to go get a brand spanking MCE when my machine is a nice little runner. A friend of mine said I should just install the MCE components I want- but the trouble is- what do i want?

    Thinking about getting sky multiroom so i can hook up sky to it as well but with E4 coming on to freeview I'm thinking I might just go with the freeview option.

    So what do I need? I've hooked up the PC to my amp so playback of divx gets good sound quality so its just the actual hardware for my machine and any software ppl on this forum can suggest.
    I think I'll need a tuner card wih remote control but which one? apart from that I am open to any suggestions.

    :lease:

    Thanks
     
  2. lisag

    lisag
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    Hi, yes you can just buy the MCE software and remote for about £100 and install it on your current pc. Your graphics card is not officially supported, but might work so give it a try. I can recommend a Nvidia 6600GT graphics card as an upgrade, as if you use this in conjunction with the Nvidia DVD codec it gives excellent video playback quality.

    You will need a supported dvd codec to get film playback working in MCE, if you are using an amp and spdif passthru you can buy the Nvidia one without the extra sound processing capabilities for about a tenner.

    As for tv - if you want to use sky you need an analogue card such as the Hauppauge 150MCE which will capture from your sky set-top box and work within MCE. If you want dual tuner capabilities so you can watch one channel and record another you need two of these cards (or one PCI card with twin tuners on) and two Sky set top boxes feeding them. The MCE remote can then be taught to control both MCE and the sky boxes.

    If you want freeview instead, it is a little easier, and generally better quality and would recommend the Sweetspot MCE card, or two of them for the twin tuner capabilities.

    MCE is a whole OS so make sure you back up all your data before installing and then format your hard drive and do a clean install. MCE is fussy about drivers and codecs so choose carefully what you install and in what order, as it took me a few attempts to find the right combination.

    BTW - E4 on FREEVIEW :eek: You sure?

    lisa
     
  3. stripe

    stripe
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    Yeah E4 is going on to freeview later this month.
     
  4. Skunkpipe

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    Yup, E4 is coming to Freeview...

    The only other thing I'd suggest is that you may want to think about making you machine quieter if it's going to be sitting in your livving room
     
  5. lisag

    lisag
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    :eek: For Free?? or part of Top Up TV load of rubbish?
     
  6. Skunkpipe

    Skunkpipe
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    for free
     
  7. WSB

    WSB
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    E4- think its for free- only a few weeks to find out.

    lisag- thanks for the in-depth response- I'll certainly look into your recommendations. Not looking forward to the whole format hd thing but needs must i guess.

    Stupid q- but is Windows MCE just Xp with add-ons? I need my PC for use with IE, Citrix and JVM so want to make sure I'm not losing anything with the MCE OS.

    "
    The only other thing I'd suggest is that you may want to think about making you machine quieter if it's going to be sitting in your livving room
    "
    Thats certainly a good idea- any ideas on super quiet fans?
     
  8. Skunkpipe

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    I use panaflo fans ( http://www.dorothybradbury.co.uk/ )controlled by Zalman Fanmates.
    Heatsink wise, my personal preference is for Thermalright (XP90 / XP120) with 92mm or 120mm fanaflo fan - again controller by a fanmate.

    MCE is just XP Pro minus domain support plus the MCE app - you can exit this anytime you want and use as you would your XP machine
     
  9. WSB

    WSB
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  10. lisag

    lisag
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    :clap: E4 for free, that is the best news of the day so far....

    I think I have seen the remote for less than £30, but you may want to buy the software and the remote together as the software is OEM and has to be bought with some hardware, I think. Will have a look round and post a link if I can find a better deal.

    I keep reading about MCE being XP without domain support, but I don't know what that means, anyone care to explain?

    lisa
     
  11. WSB

    WSB
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  12. Skunkpipe

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  13. Skunkpipe

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    What gfx do you have at the moment?
     
  14. WSB

    WSB
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    GeForce4200 128mb - it has dvi - all my kit apart from my second hdd was spec'd and installed by Dell.
     
  15. lisag

    lisag
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    I think I have read on www.xpmce.com or www.thegreenbutton.com that people have successfully used older Nvidia cards successfully, but if you can stretch to an Nvidia 6 series the Pure Video technology does make a difference in picture quality.

    That link is good, except if you are using an external amp and spdif passthru you don't need the 'gold' version of the nvidia codec just the bronze which you can get direct from nvidia. Looks like their online store is closed at the moment, but you can get a 30 day free trial to get you going and then it is about $20 or so, equivalent to £10ish to buy the activation key when the trial expires. Ebuyer have the remote here and the software here .

    Quite a few of us on this forum recently bought this graphics card from Fastek
     
  16. Skunkpipe

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    it might be worth holding fire until you know if it works or not - my old 4200Ti was a decent card (if a little noisey) and more than up to the job so you might be able to save a few pennies
     
  17. WSB

    WSB
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    thanks for all that- I think you are right- I will wait and see what happens.

    I've ordered the Fan mate and fan. Now all I need is the tuner card and I'll be ready to buy the software and give it a go!

    Sigh- just thought of having to format my hdd :rolleyes:

    once again- thanks for all the info lisag and U-SM - if theres anything else then feel free to add it.

    :thumbsup:
     
  18. WSB

    WSB
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    one more q- with a wireless optical mouse- what additional benefit would the remote control give me?
     
  19. lisag

    lisag
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    MCE is a bit easier to navigate with the remote, you will probably need it if you want it to operate your set top box, and it will impress your friends!
    :D
     
  20. WSB

    WSB
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    if it helps with the wow factor then its all good. :cool:

    i ordered the sweetspot MCE (with my avforums discount- thank you very much) but then saw this...

    http://www.ebuyer.com/customer/prod...2hvd19wcm9kdWN0X292ZXJ2aWV3&product_uid=27669


    Hauppauge WinTV-Nova-t PCI Freeview Receiver for 38 Plus Channels in DVD Quality DVB Radio / Remote control / And Doubles as a PC Video Recorder

    this has a freeview tuner built into it- dont suppose anyone had any opinions on it? should i stick with the sweetspot or go with the hauppage?

    I suppose sticking with the sweetspot and getting a seperate freeview box would do the trick and be a bit more versatile also.

    Looking at the HP Media Center PC's they look quite cool in erms of the dvd writer that can burn the label on the cd/dvd. Anyone recommend a fast speed dvd writer that will do this at a good price?
     
  21. Skunkpipe

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    You can get a HP Light scribe DVD burner. I have one - cost about £70 through which is expensive is you consider a decent DVD Writer can be had for £35. The media is more expensive also (about £1 per blank CD). I did consider getting a printer capable of printing direct to CD (Canon ixp4000 thing) but don't have the room for another printer - plus as you say the lightscribe discs look funky and I use them for the CD's I ship with my machines
     
  22. Kamakazie

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    so are the sweetspot cards now supported in MCE?
     
  23. Skunkpipe

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    The Sweetspot MCE Freeview card is. :smashin:

    The Sweetspot capture cards are not:thumbsdow
     
  24. Kamakazie

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    ahhh ok, cheers for that.
    not very good is it, i fancied one of those but looks like its gonna have to be a Hauppage 250.
     
  25. Skunkpipe

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    The Hauppage PVR150MCE is just as good (and a little cheaper) as the 250.
     
  26. GazH

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    Hopefully I'm not gonna confuse things but what about the PVR-350. I would like to control my Sky box and read that this is good input for MCE2005.......

    I have read some good reports about it on these forums (I think).....is it worth going for or should I go for a pvr-150 or the nova-t mentioned above......the sweetspot is a bit more expensive I thought as well...getting a bit confused myself as it happens.

    Help...!!!!

    Gaz
     
  27. lisag

    lisag
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    Hold on.....
    This is the list of supported MCE hardware / software http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/mediacenter/partners/dfw/partnerlisting.mspx that Hauppauge Nova T card is not on it, and having a quick look on google they do a Nova T MCE edition so my betting is that this particular card that you link to on ebuyer is not MCE compatible.

    The Hauppauge 150 and 250 MCE cards are analogue, not digital (freeview) you could use them in conjuction with your freeview set-top box, but when you capture from an external source, normally via s-video you lose picture quality.... so it is much easier to stick with a MCE supported freeview tuner, either PCI or USB2.
     
  28. Skunkpipe

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    The Nova T is a freeview card and doesn't have s-video in.
    The PVR150, 250, 350 and 500 are analogue cards which do have s-video in. IIRC they all have the same MPEG2 enoder. I'm pretty sure the 250 and 350 have been replaced now by the 150 and the dual tuner 500
     
  29. WSB

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    Cheeky of Ebuyer as they are selling a bundle package with the tuner and MCE 2005. I'll just use the sweetspot for now and if i'm not happy then i'll look at other options later.
     
  30. lisag

    lisag
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    Oh, I may be wrong then, I guess it must work in MCE if they are selling it as a bundle....?
     

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