Getting ready for a presentation on MCE 2005

I will be presenting Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 in less than a week at the Northwest Ohio .NET User Group and again in a few months at the Findlay Area .NET User Group.   Getting ready for this presentation has been a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. Overall I am very pleased with MCE 2005.  Here are a few observations- consider it a “sneak preview“ for the presentation.

Some of my favorite things about MCE 2005-

First, a little background. I originally wanted to buy a TIVO.  I was appalled by the fact that they charged a monthly fee (or, you could pay a bunch more and get a “lifetime“ service).  I wanted to find an economic way to be able to record TV.  A VCR was way too 80’s, so my quest began.  I did some research on MythTV, the linux open source way.  I was originally thinking I’d try this, but it looked like it would be more time consuming than it was worth. There were many issues with different hardware drivers that I didn’t want to have to wrestle with. Not only that, but I felt the MythTV approach wouldn’t work the greatest with my satellite dish, as I’d have to figure out my own way of doing the IR blasting and what not.

Anyway, I ended up going the MCE 2005 route. I was really glad I did- after getting a tv-tuner card and throwing a few new components in an existing system, I was up and running in an evening!  The set up went really quickly and it worked with my “older stuff“. System specs:

Athlon XP 2200
GeForce4 440Mx card
256 mb ram
DVD-RW drive
Emuzed Maui TV tuner with MPEG 2 encoder
30 GB Hard Drive
OEM Remote

The total cost to set up a system like this would be a little over $300.  If you don’t have MSDN Universal (every developer SHOULD have a copy!) you can purchase it with the remote for about $130.  In other words, to build a complete MCE 2005 system, you can do it for $400.  I believe either way this is cheaper than going with a TIVO. MythTV is potentially cheaper up-front as there is no OS cost (just the time to figure it out, find your drivers, etc).

Initial Impressions:

1. It works very well.  The main reason I got it was for watching and recording TV .Note: you must have a DVD decoder that works.  My motherboard came with one, so I was all set.  Most DVD drives will come with one.  The TV guide is great- it downloads a weeks worth of TV at a time for all my channels. I use DISH Network, and there are a lot of channels to wade through (minor complaint- it gives me ALL possible channels, even though my package only has 120). 

There are a lot of “smart“ options for how long it keeps tv programs, based on space, frequency of recording, etc. It can record “series“ of TV shows, so you don’t have to worry about queuing up every last thing. It also can record shows while it is in the hibernate mode.  Furthermore, I can do a bunch of stuff while I am recording TV with NO noticable slow down.  There is also support for more than one tuner, though I haven’t tried it.

As far as non-TV stuff goes, there are also plenty of features that I like:

1. A great slideshow for JPG’s/GIF’s.I can watch my digital camera pics simply by clicking on the folder they are stored in. For added effects, I can queue up some MP3’s and listen to them while watching.

2. The remote control is great. There is a button for “live tv“ and “recorded tv“ which makes it really simple to get in and do what you want.  Also, watching recorded TV is great- you can skip through the commercials by (on average) hitting the “skip“ button about 4 times.

3. Ability to watch recorded videos from other sources (such as an AVI from a digital video camera)

There are several (minor) issues that I am still working through as well.  The biggest is that MCE 2005 doesn’t include support for .NET version 1.1 which means you have to compile everything in v 1.0 .    So far the official word from MS is that they are aware it’s an issue, and no word when it will change. I’m hoping they will add support soon 🙂 but in the mean time, v1.0 will be the way add-ins are developed.



8 thoughts on “Getting ready for a presentation on MCE 2005

  1. It seems really strange that MCE 2005 doesn’t support .NET Framework 1.1 seeing as I thought it was built on top of XP. So you can’t go and install the runtime for 1.1? I have been thinking about seeing if I can get MCE 2005 set up seeing as it looks like my Tivo may not be supported for very much longer after seeing all of the press about them.

  2. Hey Aaron, it is strange that it doesn’t support 1.1 🙂 I was thinking the same thing. You CAN install the runtime for 1.1 on top, but the Media Center object model has issues when you try and compile with 1.1. It’s pretty funky that it isn’t backwards compatible.

  3. I fired up MCE2005 on a 64 bit Shuttle with a Hauppauge and an Nvidia FX7500 – both in-spec items. I had a great deal of trouble getting it to work and it still ‘freezes’ on live TV. I know I’m not the only one who has these problems. Perhaps the product is not yet mature.

    Another whine; it should give you the choice of ‘extenders’ (via fast user switching) or domain membership.

  4. Can’t talk too much about MCE – I don’t have any windows PC at home, only Linux 🙂 and pretty happy with it.

    Just a comment about DishNewtork. I have Dish Receiver 6000 and it works just great with the MythTV, I.e. it switches the channels via infrared transmitter controled by lirc (linux infra red control).


    Shuttle nForce2 – Athlon XP 2700

    512Mb – ram

    180 Gb Hd

    Geforce FX 5600

    Haupage PVR 250 – with MPEG-2 encoder and the remote that comes with the card.

    Dish Receiver 6000 and serial port IR transmitter to switch the Receiver’s channels.

  5. I have been working with WMC 2005 and a Hauppauge PVR-500 for 2 weeks now, I can move thru the set up process until I reach the remote this point WMC will not recognize a DishPro 301 Set Top Box nor the Echostar Remote that Dish Network supplied me with. I have talked to Hauppauge and was informed that WMC will not work with Directv or Dish Network. If you have this setup and it is working please tell me how you set-up your MS remote controll…

  6. I too hav MCE 2005, Hauppauge PVR-500 card, and DISH 301 set top box. My system hangs at the remote setup also. Has anyone found a fix or workaround for this.

    Thanks in advance

  7. I too cannot setup the Dish 301 receiver to work. I’ve even taken off the black plastic to position the lead directly on the IR reciverof the 301 and nothing happens.

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