Media Center update…

Sunday, September 11, 2005 6:07 AM
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It’s now been about a week since I’ve had my box up and running and have overcome most of my earlier issues… still have a few things that I am working through before I move it into the living room.

The biggest thing that was bugging me last week was the fact that everything worked great except watching/recording live tv.  I had a unknown PCI device in the device manager (turned out to be the onboard audio) which I thought was the issue, but two other actions actually fixed it.  After hitting a deadend in the newsgroup, I submitted a support ticket to Intel (the manufacturer of my motherboard).  In one of the articles sent back to me by the auto support ticket parser, it outlined how my motherboard, which has 4 memory slots arranged in 2 pairs of channels, performs much better when you separate multiple modules into different channels.  I initially had put my two 512MB modules in the two slots of one channel… so I changed it to put one module in one of the slots of each channel.  After updating the BIOS, poof, live TV worked great!  Yesterday the choppy video came back, but I found that my dedicated recording drive was heavily fragmented (I copied over probably 10 movies and long shows from my TiVo over the course of the week).  The defragmentor is still running after 18 hours and I’m hoping that resolves it.  If so, I wonder how often I need to defrag the recording drive.  This is a little concerning as watching live video is almost intolerable while defragging the drive.

I also found a slick, and cheap, utility that can control my VFD on the front of the case.  FrontView is very customizable and works like a champ!

The last big thing I really want to do before I move it into the living room is get a ghost image of the OS drive.

I planned to take a bunch of pictures for this post today, but I don’t want to interrupt the defrag process.  I’ll see if I can’t get that done later in the day.

From a TiVo user’s perspective, I love Media Center hands down over TiVo.  The interface is very fast & responsive and the end user’s experience is much richer than TiVo.  If I want to record a movie, I can select it in the guide, quickly hit the record button, and I don’t have to click through a ton of other dialogs.  The guide also indicates what shows are scheduled to be recorded.  When you select a movie, you can find all shows/movies that a specific member of the cast will be in later. Listening to music is great as well.  Select My Music, then sort by artist.  If you’re like me and have a ton of ripped MP3’s, scrolling through the artist list can be a pain (like TiVo).  But what MWCE has is the ability to type in a few letters using the numeric keypad (just like you would if you were doing SMS on your mobile phone) and it jumps to that artist matching your query.

All in all, I love WMCE and can’t wait to move it into the living room, replacing one of my TiVo’s.  I plant to keep one TiVo since I have a lifetime sub on it, but the other is a month-to-month.  I was planning to sell the box on ebay, but with the deals they are offering on TiVo boxes now, I doubt I’ll get much money for it.  Maybe I’ll just gank out the HDD and slap it in a USB2.0 enclosure.  Ideas?  Anyone need a TiVo Series 2 box that’s about 1 year old?  Make me an offer!

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