Is Vista Media Centre ready for family use as home cinema centre piece?

Discussion in 'Microsoft Windows' started by ENEM, Jan 22, 2008.

  1. ENEM

    ENEM
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2005
    Messages:
    49
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Location:
    London
    Ratings:
    +1
    In 2005 I purchased a well specified Windows Media Centre 2005 computer based on Win XP. It sometimes works well, but usually is flakey. By this, I mean it does not work like a normal item of consumer electronics - it works like a computer (which is what it is, so why am I surprised :confused:). Having said that, the interface is a DREAM compared to the clunky old fashioned look I get even with a modern Panasonic HD/DVD Recorded.

    I am tolerant of the quirks, picture freezing, updates and other issues, but for family use I found it to be totally unsuitable - they were less than thrilled to miss 3 mins of Dr Who due to reboot:eek:. To solve the problem I added a Panasonic HD/DVD recorder and everyone except me just used that and lived happily ever after. I put the problems down to the Media Centre concept with XP software not being ready for ordinary users.

    I am now thinking of changing to a new Sony Media Centre (i.e 301 or 302)running Vista but before I do, is the experience of users here that the new operating system resolves the problems that I experienced - I should reiterate that it was not a bad experience (I actually liked tinkering with it) but it was just not suitable as the centre piece of a family Home Cinema system.

    Is it all working now with Vista or do you still need brace yourself for problems and angry users?!

    Are there any other pre-built big-brand media centres that can be recommended - systems that looks like a hi-fi/cinema component not a computer.

    I hesistate to say budget no object, but I will pay more for better/more reliable.

    Thanks for any help.
     
  2. Stiggy

    Stiggy
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2004
    Messages:
    6,725
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Location:
    Sandy Heath
    Ratings:
    +1,043
    I find Vista much more stable than my previous XP Media Center 2005. I've had almost no problems at all, and my technophobic wife loves it!

    I've just got a Dell PC with a dual DVB-T card in it, and it works fine. I use an LCD TV so we can always watch TV 'live' if there's a problem with the PC.
     
  3. afroylnt

    afroylnt
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    157
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Ratings:
    +8
    I had a MCE media PC from Acer which worked fine but only had a single tuner graphics card. The case it came in left little room to upgrade and it was also a little noisy.

    I now have a custom built Vista Media PC that has a dual tuner card. Vista seem quite power hungry so get a fast processor and plenty of memory if possible (at least 2 Gb RAM). It is still a PC - a bad software update could can still cause problems. I am wary of pre-built machines like the Sony as they tend to customise the OS which can lead to problems when you want to change a component. However if you are happy never to change any of the components then this won't be an issue.

    I have a separate aerial feed straight to the TV and tend to use this for live viewing. This means I can record two programmes at once via the PC and watch a third directly on the TV. The two week guide works well in Vista (it did also in MCE). I would try to see whatever PC you wish in the flesh to make sure it is quiet enough for you and to see the actual dimensions - some PC's have larger cases than you think (also make sure the case will have adequate space around it for cooling). There have been issues with getting Vista PC to sleep so if you can make sure that the PC has no issues in this area. I would state to whoever you buy from that it is important the PC sleeps and wakes up without any problem.

    So in summary it requires a little more patience than a DVD recorder etc but is worth it - but it is still a PC - maybe try to sell it to the rest of our family by pointing out that they can browse the internet on a big screen...:thumbsup:
     
  4. pjkent

    pjkent
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2006
    Messages:
    55
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Ratings:
    +2
    I've just built a Vista Media Center - and it's much better than the XP Media Center 'experience' I had a few years back. The initial build was done in a few hours (suprisingly easy), but the tweaking has taken a month to get it running smoothly.

    I wouldn't recommend MCE to anyone who wasn't technical, as there's so many variables that can cause problems... I guess it's a bit of a love affair with the technology!

    If you do use it for the family, then once you've got something stable, I'd recommend giving them a locked down user account which means they can't tweak too many of the settings, and a good backup solution in case they do (Acronis True Image 11 is particularly good).

    This is basically what I've done at home - it means the girlfriend can't do away with my hours of slaving to get it right!
     
  5. cygnusx04

    cygnusx04
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2007
    Messages:
    534
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    31
    Location:
    South East
    Ratings:
    +36
     
  6. elootos

    elootos
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2006
    Messages:
    316
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    46
    Location:
    Somewhere in Cambridgeshire
    Ratings:
    +131
    I agree with the others; the beauty of it on your TV is worth the few problems here and there. I have a Media Center I built myself and have found that by having little or no other software installed gives you a rock solid machine.

    The few PCs I've dealt with at work from the likes of Dell tend to come with a lot of unwanted software installed, I'm not sure what their Media Center designed machines are like but the less software on them, the more stable it will be. Whatever you end up getting, check that it has decent branded hardware, avoid OEM for maximum chances of stability.

    Have fun! :thumbsup:

    Oh and I completely agree with this as well, someone has just told me that the one thing they wanted their Media Center to do is sleep properly, and guess what, it's the only thing it can't do! Typical.
     
  7. Valo^

    Valo^
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2005
    Messages:
    334
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    31
    Location:
    Livingston, Scotland
    Ratings:
    +31
    I use Vista Media Centre on my HTPC and it really is a step forward when you compare it to MCE2005. I always thought that MCE2005 was never really developed properly and was a product designed quickly to fill a gap in the market.

    Vista Media Centre is totally different, it's a lot more polished and I think a lot less problematic than MCE2005 personally.
     
  8. ENEM

    ENEM
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2005
    Messages:
    49
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Location:
    London
    Ratings:
    +1
    Thank you all very much for your heplful replies.

    I am thinking (initially) of staying with the existing box, which is a P4 3Ghz, 1Gb Ram and ATi Radeon 300/550/1050 Card. I can upgrade the RAM later or more likely change to a dual core box etc - but want to see if it any good first.

    I am assuming that Windows Vista Home Premium Edition is the appropriate version.

    Thanks again
     
  9. pjkent

    pjkent
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2006
    Messages:
    55
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Ratings:
    +2
  10. davidchurch

    davidchurch
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2006
    Messages:
    26
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Ratings:
    +0
    I have just upgraded an old PC from MCE2005.

    It was a very easy upgrade and although it is not (yet) problem free, it is looking as if it will be many times more simple than the original install of XP MCE.

    I think more RAM is better and I was advised that 2Gb is needed for Vista.

    I agree with other posters that it is a lot more polished and a lot less problematic than XP.

    HTH
    David
     

Share This Page

Loading...