I 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 TiVos, but I’ll wait until I receive my CableCARD tuner to pass final judgment.
I ended up reinstalling Vista, because it was quicker than repartitioning and uninstall all the crapware, AV, firewalls etc. Then I installed all the updates including SP1. Next I installed both Logmein and Ultra VNC — because logmein is very slow locally — but I’m having problems getting VNC to launch at boot and I also had to disabled uac, since it was interfering with VNC. Later I plan to try an RDP hack. I then configured it to login automatically and start Media Center. I had some trouble configuring the display because although the video card properly set the HDMI output to 1080p, it also had underscan turned on by default. I’m sure this is helpful for some, but I prefer to use the “dot by dot” feature of my TV to disable overscan.
I also configured my HDHomeRun for ATSC and scheduled a bunch of recordings, everything works great, but it could change channels a little faster — hopefully the CableCARD tuner will. The biggest problem I’m having is with the remote, it doesn’t seem to work well with my Xantech IR distribution system, just like my AppleTV does. It is working, just not real well, which brings me to my biggest problem; I need a wireless keyboard/mouse. VNC is not working out, and having the keyboard in the a different room is nearly impossible. I’m going to be on the hunt for a nice Media Center Keyboard with integrated mouse, preferably Bluetooth, but IR will work too.
After I got the basics up and running I went out and installed ffdshow and haali so I could playback additional codecs like mkv. This was easy to setup thanks to Chris L, and is passing Dolby Digital and DTS nicely. The last thing I did was copy the contents of my “originals” folder from my iPhoto library and the contents of the “music” folder from my iTunes collection. Those copies finished this morning, so we’ll see how VMC deals with them, and how much work it will require to make those features usable. I may just end up continuing to use my Apple TV for music. I also want to figure out what the best way to import my shows from my TiVos. I copied over an exported show that was already converted to MPEG2, which worked, but I didn’t have as much control as I do when playing back DVR-MS files. So that is on the list of things to do, I may look at VideoRedo for converting the .tivo files to DVR-MS, but I’d rather not buy software as it’ll be a one time deal.
So enough about setup, here’s some Media Center impressions from a long time TiVo owner.
- Setup was much, much, much harder, but not impossible — TiVo you just plug it in and set your res’, Guided Setup take some time, but other than that it’s a breeze.
- The overall UI is so much better than TiVo it isn’t even funny, although some of the plugins look just as out of place as HME applications.
- The grid guide is really snappy, the overlay is really cool, and I love how it actually shows what is recording and what is not because of a conflict in the guide. So no more To Do List to fight with. But the to do list is there, and better than TiVo because it splits it out by days.
- Conflict resolution is also much better, you just pick what show you want per conflict. Of course you can set a priority — which doesn’t take 5 minutes to apply like TiVo.
- The miniguide is very useful, but the info button not so much, I quickly learned you are better off just hitting the ‘up’ button than the info button to check show details.
- I do already miss the ability to control the two tuners, but maybe that will fade as I stop using the TiVo.
- The quick access buttons on the remote are useful, but TiVo did have some shortcuts that worked well, if you knew them.
- The scrub bar is really nice, the FWD, RWD, skip etc, work very well, in this regard the TiVo and the Media Center are very comparable.
- I love being able to play ‘other’ files without converting them.
- Played a little with the pictures, it’s much better than TiVo as well, but then again I never liked the pictures feature on TiVo.
- Setting defaults for recordings is nice as well. I don’t think Tivo has this, but I like being able to set “first runs only” by default.
- The one button recording is also convenient, but I usually end up going in there to edit something anyways, this may pass as I get use,d to it.