Yes – that’s right – after a few months now, I’ve finally gotten more done with my media center PC and the room itself. I went for an Enspire Digital AVX-700 Media PC for the core of the system, this has an AMD Athlon 64 X2 440+ Dual Core CPU, with 2 x 320GB hard drives, FusionHDTV DVB-T Dual digital tuner, and a 128MB GeForce 6600GT video card. I’ve put that with a Logitech Z-5450 5.1 channel speaker system – these are cool as they have wireless rear speakers. The video output is via a DVI to the Sharp LC37GA4X 37″ LCD TV. I’ve got to say that the overal setup is fantastic. Picture quality is great, the sound quality is incredible – particularly with the bass tones. When you see a helicopter in the movies, it really feels like it’s there in front of you, or behind you.
So easy is this to use, that my wife and kids have now taken over “Dad’s new toy” and are recording their own shows… sometimes meaning that mine are not getting recorded. With the Dual tuners, we can record two shows at once. This is the default/supported limit of Media PC, but I’ve seen hacks out there that mean I’ll be adding a second dual channel card to the system next week so that we can record up to 4 channels at once [:)].
About the only thing I don’t like is that we have all this invested in the system, that id we have a hard drive failure we will loose the lot. The 2 x 320GB’s came configured as a 50GB system partition with the remaining space being spanned into a single large drive. I’m not so worried about loosing the TV recordings we do, but the system partition is critical to me. Unfortunately XP does not permit mirroring which is a real shame, as this would solve the problem for me. I’ll be playing with Acronis software to do a regular backup of the system partition to my Netgear SC101 (it’s got 2 x 300GB drives striped).
Other things I’ll be doing is integrating this into my SBS 2003 home network so that I can patch it, AV protect it, and Spyware protect it etc.
Anyway – that’s it for now – I’ll post more on this soon.