Vista Media Center arrives today, what to do first?

Dell loves to under promise and over deliver and although my new XPS 420 wasn’t expected to ship until the 14th, it is on track to arrive today via FedEx. Let’s just hope my ATI CableCARD tuner arrives in 1/3rd the time as well.

Unlike my TiVos, I’m sure I have a lot of setup to do. I plan to initially connect it to my desktop display until I think it’s ready to connect to the TV. Here’s what I know I have to do up until now, can you think of anything else?

  1. Try to repartition drive to make it easier to reinstall Windows, may need to re-install.
  2. Uninstall crapware
  3. Uninstall A/V and firewalls, disable Window’s firewall
  4. Update drivers on Dell’s site, then check manufactures’
  5. Install Windows updates including SP1
  6. Install and configure my HDHomerun as a tuner and setup MCE
  7. Install Ultra VNC and test from my Mac — since Vista doesn’t include RDP, might install hack later
  8. Setup two users, one admin and one to auto login VMC as
  9. Configure VMC to auto load in Media Center mode using the switch and startup
  10. Finally, move to rack and connect to my HDTV, maybe via HDMI, maybe component, depending on which works better

My primary objective is to replace my Series3. After I’m satisfied I’ve done this, then I’ll pick up an extender for my second HDTV. Then I’ll start to look at plug-ins and explore the other VMC features. Unless of course there is a plug-in that I need to replace the functionality of my TiVo.

Stay tuned for my impressions of how things go.

7 Responses to “Vista Media Center arrives today, what to do first?”

  1. Brad Linder says:

    You might want to look into as an alternative to VNC. I’ve been using it on my VMC machine for a while now, and it does the trick. Plus you can login from any computer with a web browser.

    You’ll also want to look into media center plugins once you’ve got the system up and running. The one I use the most is RadioTime, because I listen to a lot of online radio streams, but you might also want to check out Yougle, NetflixMC, and some others, as well as DVRMS toolbox.

  2. Ben Drawbaugh says:

    Thanks for the tips, is logmein faster than VNC? It seems VNC is slower than RDP.

    I’ll check out those plug-ins too, but honestly I don’t listen to the radio, sometimes talk radio, but the stuff I listen to isn’t usually available online. As for Yougle and NetflixMC, aren’t those SD only? You know the tagline of my life/blog. 😉 DVRMS toolbox I’ve played with before, maybe it’ll help me import my recordings from TiVoToGo.

  3. Richard says:

    Vista Ultimate does support RDP, I use remote desktop and the Mac RDP client from my wife’s MacBook all the time.
    Why disable the firewall?
    There’s an option in the Media Center UI to auto start login etc. see

  4. Ben Drawbaugh says:

    I don’t have ultimate, and I didn’t want to spend any extra just for that one feature — remember this is a DVR to me, not a computer.

    I don’t need the firewall, it is already behind my home firewall and I use WPA to secure my wifi, so I only have to worry about people who plug-in, which is not very likely. But mostly because they are known to cause hard to troubleshoot issues.

    Thanks for the tip!

  5. […] successfully completed everything I set out to do yesterday, and more, and am feeling more confident that this solution will be able to replace my […]

  6. Brad Linder says:

    Yeah, for the most part the plugins are SD… I was just trying to think of some off the top of my head that I actually use. 🙂

    I’m not sure how LogMeIn compares to RDP/VNC because honestly, it’s just worked so well for me that I haven’t really bothered with much else. I did set up a VNC server for a few days a while back, but it took longer to log in using UltraVNC than it did using LogMeIn, so I scrapped it.

  7. Ben Drawbaugh says:

    Yeah Logmein is crazy easy to setup and works great, but it is a little slow across the LAN. VLC is faster, but I haven’t figured out how to make it auto load in vista.