The Ultimate Windows Media Center Build and Troubleshooting Guide

After many years (and iterations) of Windows Media Center PCs, I have finally arrived to a place where the benefits outweigh the issues and I have full approval from the ‘Board’. Take a look at all of the previous posts here: http://blogs.serioustek.net/post/category/fine-tuning-media-center-7 We are now using HTPC Windows Media Center PCs on our Primary TVs and for once, everything is working perfectly, and there are ZERO ‘weird little issues’ that I have to explain away … Read more…

Intel NUC i5 HTPC Review

The Intel NUC looked appealing ever since I first saw it – it provides HD 4000 graphics, an i3 or i5 processor, an SSD, HDMI output,¬†and 1Gb LAN all in a 4″ by 4″ by 1″ package that can even mount on the back of a monitor with a VESA mount. Here’s the Intel reference page: http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/motherboards/desktop-motherboards/nuc-i5.html When my son started crawling and pulling himself up on things, he became VERY interested in buttons and … Read more…

FoxConn R10-H1 Review

I recently built a cable-box replacement system using a FoxConn R10-H1 barebone system. It is essentially a case, power supply and motherboard all-in-one (plus some extras in this case – a heat-sink fan assembly). Here’s a link to the system on NewEgg. After having several AMD systems in the past, this was the first Intel setup I have had in some time. It has gigabit ethernet, and an HDMI port – perfect for an HTPC. Here’s a … Read more…

Streaming Live TV over a Wireless Network with the HDHomeRun Prime

With the recent purchase of the HDHR3-CC, I had been hoping to eliminate one of the cheap-no-HD-no-guide cable boxes and replace it with an ultra-fast, SSD based PC. The PC works great….the problem is the network – or more specifically, the lack of a wired network to the PC in question. So I purchased a wireless adapter…then I realized that I still have a Wireless-G access point, and I am therefore limited to 54Mbps (if … Read more…

Fine Tuning Media Center 7 – Is it all worth it – Part 2

A while back, I had “given up” on using a Media Center PC, sold the digital cable tuner cards, and moved on to the old standby – a service provider set-top-box, hoping to use other devices and DLNA to replace some of the lost functionality. Let’s just say that even with DLNA libraries, Netflix, and OnDemand…a purpose build Media Center is nearly impossible to replace…that was before I owned an XBOX 360. Enter the Media Center … Read more…

Fine Tuning Media Center 7 – Is it all worth it?

See Part 2 here. I didn’t think that it would come to this…but we have finally switched to a cable box, and I’ll be re-purposing the Media Center PC shortly. This post has 2 purposes: 1. To help me make sure I did the right thing and work out ways to get functionality back. 2. Help anyone that is thinking about going this route make the decision. We have used a Media Center based TV … Read more…

Fine Tuning Media Center 7 – Media Storage

There are several ways to create a media ‘store’ with an HTPC- Store everything on a single local drive (this drive will also hold the OS) Store everything on a network share Store everything on a second local drive Store everything on an external USB\eSATA drive I think the last 2 options provide the easiest and best solutions – especially for large amounts of media. The problem with storing everything on a single local drive, and … Read more…

Fine Tuning Media Center 7 – ATI Display Hardware

When I upgraded to an ATI HD 5770 card, one of the biggest issues with the HDMI output was the odd ‘choppiness’ when scenes went from full color and light to very dark. After I had figured out how to correct it, all was well…then there was a newer version of the ATI Catalyst driver suite. Dynamic Contrast strikes again!!! What I did not realize is that the update reset the settings for Dynamic Contrast … Read more…

Fine Tuning Media Center 7 – Power and Sleep

The iMon remote controller was always able to turn off our Media Center by itself – but then when a Logitech Harmony remote is introduced, things got ugly. 9 times out of 10, the PC would NOT shut down when the Harmony sent the command. This is likely due to the complexity of the iMon remote commands. This was alleviated when I switched the iMon manager software to recognize standard MCE remote commands instead of … Read more…

Fine Tuning Media Center 7 – Remote Control Interaction

We have used an HTPC for nearly 4 years now – and yes this includes using Vista Media Center. There have been a few revisions – completely open setup to test, ClearQAM\Analog tuners, different video card, ATI DCTs…The biggest, and probably best feature is the ’10 foot’ interface – controlling everything with a remote control. I chose the Antec Veris Fusion silver for the case – it has an iMon VFD\remote eye built in to … Read more…