Friday, July 20, 2007

Media center woes again

If you read my blog, you likely know that I am a little bit of a media center fan. I might even be called fanatical, in my support of the product line that really inspired in me a feeling of hope for the greater Microsoft universe. In 2004 is was bad enough that no one should have used it, but in 2005 and after the update roll up 2 later I thought that Microsoft might have gotten their groove back. Though divergent specialized sku's for products likely caused a few headaches internally I was a fan of having a support team that was focusing on making the Media Center a fantastic must have product, so naturally I was leery when I heard that MCE functions had been rolled into Vista proper. I have been running MCE2005 on several different hardware platforms for the last couple of years and feel that I have a firm grasp on the potential, and short comings of MCE but my most recent (re)install because of a failed hard drive has been far from worry free. I have managed to damage my install discs and was using a XP SP2 disk to give the installer any of the files that it was having trouble reading from my Media Center Disks. The moral of the story is that this was not a good idea, and the machine is very unstable. It records flawlessly, but frequently hangs during playback of recorded and live TV. Restarts were required basically every 8 hours of watched TV.

My setup is on a Gateway 901 Home Theater PC, with a All-In-Wonder 2006 special edition 256mb agp TV tuner/video card and a Hauppauge 500 dual tuner. This special setup required some registry hacking to get working (2 analogue tuners are the official limit) but is well with in the capacity of this 3.2ghz Pentium 4 machine especially with the 1.5gb of ram I have installed. Finally the whole bit is run off of a 500gb Maxtor with 16mb cache. Certainly there are better boxes out there, but this should be a more than adequate Media center setup. It is very sad that my setup is unstable, so maybe I will either follow this Instructable or pull a torrent of iso's, maybe even look into Vista. Whichever way I go something needs to be done to fix this situation before the other members of the household take it upon themselves to kill me for breaking the TV.

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