Introducing Media Center Week!

I’m proud to introduce this week as my randomly designated Media Center Week!  Get those F5 keys ready, because I’ve complied
story after story, post after post and you’re not going to want to close your
web browser for this one.

Already today we have news that Dish
Network might be on its way to Media Center
, and coming up tonight you
might just learn that Media Center is about to increase it’s TV signal presence
outside the US (no, really!)

If you have any specific questions that you would like
answered as a part of Media Center Week, please reply to this thread and I’ll
pick a few to cover.

32 thoughts on “Introducing Media Center Week!

  1. I’ve heard that Cox is refusing new HD channels for CableCARD users even though they are not going to SDV until the end of the year. Do you know why and how they are able to do such a thing?

  2. What legislative and/or technical framework will allow me to watch TV from my home country (UK) even though I live in the US?
    How likely is that ever to come to pass?

  3. I need a recommendation for a small or slim form factor VMC. I’m not messing with CableCARD, just ATSC and analog cable DVR functionality plus random web video (Netflix, Hulu). Was thinking slim HP, slim Dell, or possibly Mac Mini – though I worry about Apple using integrated graphics… I don’t want to build it. I see a slim HP can be had with Blu-ray for under $1k.

  4. Hi Chris, Along the Mac Mini line, is there a way to use the Sony Firewire DVD Jukeboxes on the Mini without booting up windows? Also, do you know if the Hauppauge HD PVR will be supported in OS X? Thanks.

  5. I bought a DMA2100 recently and because of the ‘toggle’ IR none of my learning universal remote’s will work with it. Are there ‘discrete’ codes that will send a command without it having to be alternated if it’s repeated? Ie a way to send 2 fast forward commands in a row with one IR code (no toggle?) I know there is a registry change “debounce” for Media Center but I cannot find a way to make this work with the extenders.

  6. This Blog deserves better comments than what is above. I’m looking forward to Media Center Week. Thanks Chris!

    Oh, and Dish Network, you are free to contact me for any beta on a MC/Dish product. I’ll gladly test and keep quiet about it!

  7. Chris,

    Why is it that Vista Media Center video decoding requires so much more CPU power than XP Media Center?

    With XP Media Center, my Pentium IV 3.4GHz, NVidia 6600GT, and 1GB of RAM could handle decoding and displaying recorded 1080i and 720p streams perfectly using the NVidia DVD decoder.

    With Vista Media Center, the same setup struggles with 1080i and 720p with both the MS MPEG2 decoder and the NVidia one. I can see that CPU usage is quite high and erratic. The video stutters constantly.

  8. Chris,
    A few things I’d love to hear your perspective/opinions on:

    1) Anything on the new Hauppauge HD-DVR : ) Especially what do you think is the Microsoft reaction to this exploitation of the analog hole? Any chance they would actively try to thwart it’s use in Media Center, or will they just not go out of their way to do it any favors?

    2) Any thoughts on advantanges/disadvantages to Media Center vs. Sage TV or Beyond TV (if you have any).

    3) Ballpark timing on the PC HD satellite solutions for DirecTV and/or Dish.

    4) What is the MS vision for Media Center? Surely right now they must recognize it’s an incredibly niche solution due to the OEM requirement for CableCard PCs. Are they firmly behind Media Center and making it more mainstream or just going through the motions?

    5) How will the upcoming XBox 360 with blu-ray impact Media Center? (just kidding).

    Cheers and enjoy the blog,

  9. 1.) your top/favorite VMC plugins. Which ones do you use on a regular basis?

    2.) Do you use VMC as your primary DVR? Do you use media center extenders on a regular basis? If so how many tuners does your VMC box have and how many extenders do you use?

    3.) If you could have ANY one feature in VMC that currently isn’t there what would that be?

    – Josh

  10. I’m curious to know which why you lean at the moment. Would you rather have The DirecTV MCE (HDPC-20) or CableCard MCE? (SDV BOCUR)? I wonder who will truely have a better HD lineup by this fall? I’m trying weigh all the options, features, and channel choices. The On Demand stuff needs to sort out as well. It’s a long way out but maybe you can give us your 08 Q1 opinion.

  11. Do you have any info about why there’s a need for Fiji? I know there was a lot of stuff left out of Vista Media Center and new stuff like support for DirecTV tuners and H.264, but why a whole new OS? Why couldn’t Microsoft just update Vista Media Center with patches, hotfixes, etc for all that stuff? After just buying Vista Home Premium just for its Media Center features, I don’t feel like buying Fiji with Windows Seven just a couple years away (unless Windows Seven doesn’t have Media Center built in).

  12. Chris,

    I have two questions I’d love to get your take on:
    1) Do you believe the Home Server bug fix is going to be sufficient enough that I could begin storing home videos and pictures again without too much worry? It is very cool to have music, home videos and pics digitally, but what are you recommendations for making sure these don’t get lost. I feel like I need 3 or 4 levels of backup …
    2) Is there ever going to be the ability to streem DVD files to extenders. Does there need to be? (i.e. can the new standards provide just as good of an experience)?

  13. In a situation that is common at least in Europe, I watch TV from 2 different countries and need a separate tuner for each (e.g. 2x STB, or STB + DVB-T card).

    Currently Media Center only allows multiple tuners if they are identical (i.e. use the same guide) because it switches between them indiscriminately to resolve conflicts.

    When will Media Center allow the use of multiple guides and independent tuners? (I know there are hacks out there, but they won’t work if the two tuners have no channels in common)

  14. Chris, any idea if DVD streaming will be officially supported in Fiji?
    Do you know if Ceton Corp is ready to release it’s (B)OCUR tuner. I think ATI needs competetion to lower it’s prices.

    Are you aware of any OEM’s entering the Cable Card arena with budget priced machines? As cheap as the Dell XPS 420 may be, starting price of $1000 before the obligatory Video card and ATI Tuners pushes the price for a decent spec rig up.

    When, if ever will Microsoft offer any solution to the SDV problem. According to several sources, the Tuning Resolver for the Tivo HD and Series 3 will not work on Cable Card MCE rigs. This is important, as more Cable Companies are implementing SDV to compete with Directv and Dish Network.

    As always, thank you.

  15. I am thinking about getting Vista x64 for my Mediacenter machine. Will HDPC-20 support x64? I got 4GB and a dual core 2.4GHz and I hope that will be enough.

  16. I use hdhomerun and I also have a couple of analog tuners. I only use my media center box with 360’s acting as extenders the media center box is actually currently headless.

    So, heres my question, I’ll explain it to you as it happens to me. Say I’m watching/recording live HD and pause the program to say go to the bathroom or whatever. The commercials come and I want to skip ahead, this is fine and dandy and I skip ahead. The issue is whenever I eventually catch up to where I hit that fast foward button the recording skips. Also sometimes if I’m recording multiple things the rewinds and fast forwards themselves can take awhile. This happens more on HD and less on Analog. So I’m really just wondering is this normal behavior, or can I throw more hardware at the computer to speed it up and if I can what would make the greatest impact?

    Here is the computer stats.

    Processor: AMD Athlon(tm) 64 Processor 3000+ 2.01 Ghz
    Manufacturer: ASUSTek Computer Inc.
    Model: K8N
    Total amount of system memory: 1.00 GB RAM
    System type: 32-bit operating system
    Number of processor cores: 1
    64-bit capable: Yes


  17. Do you think that the new Hauppuage Component Caputure Card and DVD streaming can give SagetV extenders a competitive advantage against VMC extenders?

  18. all my photographs are xmp tagged. all my photographs are geotagged with xmp keywords of the form geo:lat=XXX and geo:lon=YYY. Since XXX and YYY coordinates differ with each photograph, when I browse photographs by tags pivot, the screen is filled with thousands of these geo tags making it difficult to find more useful tags (like family, etc). Is there a way to hide selective tags like geo tags ?

  19. Chris, is this the year that Microsoft ‘gets it’ with integration with their products (i.e. XBox, MCE, Zune, Vista) and they begin to streamline all of their services?

  20. Does Vista Media Center support receiving the TV Schedule via DVB-T? Microsoft does not have “TV Schedule coverage” for my country, but since I use DVB-T, Media Center should be able to use the schedule broadcasted over DVB-T. If Media Center does not support this, are there some third party programs/plugins that do?

  21. I like the Mac Mini as a small form factor TV for deployment in the living room. Apparently you can install Windows XP on it, and I presume even Windows XP MCE or even Vista. Would let me browse the web (not sure what this would be like from 15′ away) and watch shows off my main desktop MCE machine. I don’t know whether you can run one MCE machine as an “extender” to another though. I suspect you can’t. Any information on this?

    Obviously if not then the Mini wouldn’t really work for this since it doesn’t have any tuners etc, though perhaps a USB interfaced tuner option might still be doable. Not too fond of that for a L/R install though…

  22. I need a suggestion of a new dual tuner VMC machine that can sync recordings with a Zune? I know this means Cable Card is out, but what do you think are the best options available?

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