MEDIA CENTER PC [Software Review]

Posted by: jonconley

MEDIA CENTER PC [Software Review] - 03/26/04 11:10 AM

I have been interested in creating a media center PC for a very long time. I am interested in something that can handle the functions below.

I have a new job so I should have the money in about 5 months. I will start really researching these areas in about 2 months (have looked into alot of them already). I figure if I am looking for the best deal, I might as well compare and review the software while I am at it. So please include any software suggestions, maybe even hardware suggestions, areas I should weigh in the review, etc.

I am also debating if I can create a backend and then put an XBOX in every room as the front-end, so that will be included as a cheaper option also (don't think I can put gigabit NIC in the XBOX though).


Feature Lists
NEEDED
  • DVD Playback (Media or HDD-based)
  • TV Playback w/ Tivo-like Functions
  • Audio Playback w/ Ripping (Codec Dependent)
  • Electronic Programming Guide
  • Media Streaming (Atleast for LAN)

PREFERRED
  • Video Playback w/ Ripping (Codec Dependent)
  • Gaming (Nothing hardcore, just basic emulators like MAME and earlier consoles)
  • Remote Friendly (RF/IR)
  • Remote Administration

WANTED
  • Touch Screen Compatibility
  • The Weather (Nice bonus)


Current selection


Areas Covered
  • User-Friendly (Installation, Setup/Configuration, Ease of Use, Updating)
  • Performance (Hardware Requirements, Compression Times, Streaming Quality)
  • Functionality (Number of Options, Plugin/Addin Support, Integration)
  • Other Factors (Cost, Aesthetics, Etc)
Posted by: jonconley

Re: MEDIA CENTER PC [Software Review] - 03/27/04 07:27 AM

blatant bump. come on ppl. am i seriously the only one interested in this? if so, its cool, won't bother with a review. if you could get something from it, then let me know so I can take the extra time to document, examine, and review everything.
Posted by: Gremelin

Re: MEDIA CENTER PC [Software Review] - 03/27/04 08:55 AM

I'd love to *have* one, but I'm not too sure how realistic that goal is... It'd be sweet to have RCA/SVideo out, and still have possibly a CATV output...

I mean if I had RSA out I'd have it hooked to my VCR, possibly have it have an input so i can input the VCR, but input would only need RCA.

What I'm thinkin is have possibly a built in RCA hub which would be fuckin sweet... at least having like 5 RCA ports inputting lol... Having my PS2/XBox/SNES/VCR/DVD player inputting lol...
Posted by: jonconley

Re: MEDIA CENTER PC [Software Review] - 03/27/04 03:28 PM

Sounds interesting. That RCA/SVideo switch for the newer consoles (that aren't emulated yet) would be great. I will keep an eye out for something like that which can be controlled by your PC hopefully.

Gotta have a way to control it remotely, don't want to have to move for weeks at a time

Let me know if you see anything either
Posted by: Gremelin

Re: MEDIA CENTER PC [Software Review] - 03/27/04 10:37 PM

Too busy to look lol... I have a 4 set switch for my systems here, but i have to change it manually...
Posted by: Gollum

Re: MEDIA CENTER PC [Software Review] - 03/27/04 11:12 PM

i think those are great. but if i were gonna build one. i'd definately make sure i had a good TV. i'm sure you're spending a lot on the system already. why not splurge, if you can afford it, and the space, and get like a nice DLP projection screen. imo, i'd probably up the gaming too. something like, half media center, half gaming center. i know you can use xbox and stuff. but how cool would half-life2 or doom3 be on a nice big screen tv? maybe that's just me. but it seems that a lot of what you have listed, seems mostly basic (except the touch screen and stuff). so if you're gonna make it yourself, you should definately add something more...like your xbox front end pc back end idea. just my two cents. as for pvr software...i've never actually looked into that. but i might soon for my new pc. i'll let you know.//
Posted by: Gremelin

Re: MEDIA CENTER PC [Software Review] - 03/27/04 11:20 PM

If i wanted an xbox integrated I'd just mod my xbox :/...
Posted by: jonconley

Re: MEDIA CENTER PC [Software Review] - 03/28/04 01:09 AM

Backend PC and Frontend XBOX is what I am leaning to the most now, just can't beat the price. I am not sure though, probably want a separate PC for gaming.

As for the TV, I hear DLP is the way to go and size-wise, it cannot be beat.
Posted by: Gollum

Re: MEDIA CENTER PC [Software Review] - 03/28/04 08:02 AM

uggh...yes. after working at circuit city, and seeing all the tv's. dlp is by far my favorite. huge, great picture, great size, and light and easy to move. just gotta make sure it's got the anti-glare screen and dvi input.
but yeah, the great thing about making your own media center pc, is that it'll do what YOU want it to do. i know i'm preachin to the choir here, but i just get excited when ppl have large plans for a system setup. i'm as giddy as a schoolgirl. so make sure you keep us updated.//
Posted by: Defcon

Re: MEDIA CENTER PC [Software Review] - 03/31/04 05:35 AM

I just want a system that will support my Laserdisc player
Posted by: Gremelin

Re: MEDIA CENTER PC [Software Review] - 03/31/04 07:07 AM

Well, if it had RCA in it'd be easy ...
Posted by: Defcon

Re: MEDIA CENTER PC [Software Review] - 03/31/04 02:57 PM

Screw that, if I'm paying good money I want some expensive grandiose method of connecting and controlling the player remotely. Maybe a conversion so I can burn my own laserdisc's too!
Posted by: weeve

Re: MEDIA CENTER PC [Software Review] - 03/31/04 04:34 PM

It needs a wireless keyboard/mouse like the websurfer pro's have. Um Defcon, laser disc...really. How about beta, and a 8 track convertor too?
Posted by: jonconley

Re: MEDIA CENTER PC [Software Review] - 04/01/04 04:54 AM

programmable LCD display remote w/ touchscreen and touchscreen LCD or flatpanels mounted in each room.
Posted by: Gremelin

Re: MEDIA CENTER PC [Software Review] - 04/01/04 05:25 AM

Yeh the LCD display remotes are fuckin beautiful... Flatpannel's are just a waste IMO
Posted by: jonconley

Re: MEDIA CENTER PC [Software Review] - 04/01/04 11:50 AM

how else are you going to see the screen? I mean yeah, sometimes those touchscreen @ the bars for jukeboxes are a pain, but really, a touchscreen flatpanel beats having a mouse/keyboard in everyroom. It is also much easier on the eyes
Posted by: jonconley

Re: MEDIA CENTER PC [Software Review] - 05/08/04 09:26 PM

Anyone here used GentooX? There is a a few other distros on the XBox, but I am wondering if GentooX performs much better than say Xebian.

Also, adding OpenHTPC to the review list
Posted by: Gremelin

Re: MEDIA CENTER PC [Software Review] - 05/09/04 02:05 AM

I like those high tech remotes with the touch screens :X... Their badass... Possibly having the USB/PS2 ports redily available for use would be good as well.

And as always I'd feel honoroed to do a full review for you on the pc's ...