Home Theater PC News – Your Source for Everything HTPC Related
Then you will want to look at building an HTPC around Windows XP Media Center Edition (MCE) 2005. MCE 2005 is a copy of Windows XP SP2 and a PVR/media center rolled into one. MCE requires a fairly new system with MCE certified drivers for video and TV. MCE only works with certain compatible DVD decoders. It also only works with certain hardware encoding capture cards. This is to ensure a more controlled and hopefully trouble free HTPC experience.
Are you looking for lots of customization and tons of options to expand what your HTPC can do? Then look towards a front-end program like Meedio Essentials. It has an international community of end users and an active group of users developing plugins. Meedio Essentials is also the only front-end that I know of that has a native music player that supports ASIO output for bit perfect playback.
Mostly concerned with a TiVo-like experience but with the benefits of being on a PC? Try out SnapStream’s BeyondTV 3.5 or Frey Technology’s SageTV 2.1. These two fierce competitors are quickly growing beyond PVR centric applications into full media centers.
Don’t want Bill Gates near your PC at all? Linux has a couple of options worth looking into. By far the most popular is MythTV. With some basic Linux skills and a little bit of time spent reading up on Linux hardware support you can have a very capable HTPC fairly easily, and best of all it’s free! SageTV is also coming to Linux, this way if you are familiar with SageTV for Windows it is possible try Linux without straying too far from your comfort zone.