Vista Media Center gets a chance

For the past week I’ve been going back and forth about trying to use Vista Media Center to replace my two TiVos and today I finally decided to take the plunge. After spending some time with my friend Dave’s setup today, it really just came down to price. With all the deals Dell runs, I didn’t want to pay too much. With Apple it’s easy, no one gets a deal; but with Dell, you have to be more careful. In the end it was a combination of a $400 off deal via and no interest for 12 month — you know I’m a sucker for those. The only downside is I had to buy a 22-inch display with it, so you can look for it on eBay in a few weeks.

As for the specs — I’m waiting on the Blu-ray player and the extender until I’m sure it’ll be a good replacement for my wife and I, but I’m getting started with a Quad-Core 2.4Ghz, 3GBs of Ram, 500GB HDD, ATI Radeon HD3650 256MB GDDR4, and a single ATI CableCARD tuner. Ohh and free 2nd day air shipping, but who knows when it’ll actually ship.

All said and done, it’ll cost me $1200 to my door with tax. So after I sell both my TiVos, it’s $400 out of pocket. Of course I’ll only need one CableCARD from FiOS and no more TiVo tax, but even with the $24 a month savings, it’ll take me about 17 months to break even.

7 Responses to “Vista Media Center gets a chance”

  1. Brent says:

    Sounds like you have a nice setup. Let us know how it goes. As I told Dave I’m especially interested in the CableCard setup and how easy/difficult it is to get setup and working perfectly.


  2. Ted says:


    You didn’t get a TV Tuner card with the PC? If you live in a fairly populated area, you’ll want to get a ATSC card for free OTA HD.

    I take it that you’re using it primarily for TV watching. But photos, music, movies and other extensions make Media Centers blow away TiVos.

    Do you have an Xbox 360? Makes a great extender. Plus you can download movies to it.

    You should fill that 500GB in about 3months. Enjoy your toy. Check out


  3. Al says:


    I’m looking for a “one-stop-shop” of my media, similar to what you’re trying to do. Please let us know how things go, as I am really anticipating your impressions.


  4. Ben Drawbaugh says:

    I’ve had 10 CableCARDs installed to date, and all went easy so I don’t expect this one to be any different. The key is to not depend on the installer for expertise and to walk him through the experience. I know it shouldn’t be that way, but it is. And if that technique fails you, then keep some cash on hand. 😉

  5. Ben Drawbaugh says:

    I get 90% of my programming via OTA, but I can’t give up that 10% so I had to have the CableCARD tuner.

    I already have an HDHomeRun that I plan to use, so that’ll give me a total of three tuners.

    Don’t have a 360, couldn’t stand the fan noise, but I’m planning on getting a Linksys extender.

    You may be right about the 500GB, but Dell charges too much for upgrades, so if it fills I’ll get a new one via Newegg etc. But it may be enough as I only have a 500GB drive in my TiVo now and it’s only been full a few times.

  6. Ben Drawbaugh says:

    Ohh believe me, you’ll hear plenty.

  7. […] recent experience is yet another great example of why. When I switched from two Series3 TiVos to Vista Media Center a few months back, I made the mistake of ordering a Dell with a video card that didn’t […]