PC based appliances, touchscreens, technology & innovation

Posts tagged ‘HTPC’

Help! Hard Drive Survey

I now have three PC’s in the house: The HP TX2z, the Windows Home Server, and the Home Theatre PC.

I have lots of hard drives (the WHS is 7.5TB at the moment), but for the purposes of boot drives, I have the following three to choose from:

Here’s the question:  Which drive goes where?  How do I maximise my bang for buck?

My current theory is to stick the 128GB SSD in the laptop (blend of speed and size), the Intel in the HTPC (raw speed, and there is another disk and a server there for TV recording duties), and the Raptor in the Home Server (by process of elimination).

Have I got it all wrong?

The Digital Divide

I mentioned a while ago that I was preparing for an upgrade to Win7 for the home theatre PC. This machine is probably the most important in the house after my laptop, as it is the absolute centre of our home entertainment world. With three kids under five, having a simple way to manage and access our media for recording and watching tv, movies, endless episodes of PlaySchool and Charlie & Lola, as well as accessing our music and photo collection is vital.

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HTPC Mk2: Ready for Windows7

On release of Windows7, it was time to upgrade the HTPC from the initial build.  I had done a test build with Vista Home Premium earlier in the year, and whilst I liked the look of Vista Media Center, I wasn’t happy with the performance of TV.

The initial build for the Win7 HTPC was identical to the original build with the exception of the Raptor 10,000rpm hard drive I had available – it seemed a waste not to use it, particularly when it’s no louder than the Samsung SpinPoint that it replaced.

The installation of the Windows 7 (64bit on an AMD 3500+ CPU) was it’s normal smooth self. On completion of installation, all the hardware with the exception fo the TV card was found and installed.  A quick search of the Terratec website landed me drivers (v284) for the Cinergy 2400i Dual HD Digital TV card, while a visit to the nVidia site netted me the up to date drivers for the 6150 on board video card.

Configuration of the media libraries against folders on the Windows Home Server was completely simple, and even more so after running the Media Connector.

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This weekends HTPC and WHS maintenance

Things to do this weekend:

  • Play with the kids
  • Help out around the house
  • Update the Windows Home Server:  I installed an evaluation version just under 120 days ago, so it’s time to update.  So that I don’t go through this work for nothing, I’m using it as a test of the migration strategy I’ve been planning for the commercial installation of WHS that I’m planning for a pro-bono client this year.  Wait for advice on timing of WHS vNext.  Nothing to report at this stage.
  • Continuing to test the Home Theatre PC for Windows7 video issues.

The Home Theatre PC (initial build): What’s inside?

One of the things that I proposed to do with this blog was to talk about computer based appliances – in other words, computer hardware that has been built up for a specific purpose, and which doesn’t necessarily expose the underlying computeryness during day to day use.

So it is with the home theatre PC.  Originally built in July 2006 with Windows XP Media Centre Edition, this machine has been:

  • recording and playing back television;
  • storing and playing back DVD’s and home movies;
  • storing a copy of our MP3 collection and playing it back
  • storing a copy of our photo collection, which acts as a screensaver when it’s not in use

This post outlines what’s in the HTPC for hardware and software, how it was built.  With the plan for moving to Win7, there are bound to be changes to come.

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Reinventing the blog

As mentioned in a couple of prior posts (and spanning back over a couple of years), I’ve removed the CarPC from the WRX, because I just didn’t have time to fiddle in the garage and spend time with my family.  This triggered the search for new hobbies that I could work on after the little people went to bed.  Bottom Line:  A Home Theatre PC that I’ve been running for three years, and a Windows Home Server that has been running for two months.

Stay tuned for some content.  I’ll be adding the links and screenshots from my Home Server build, and blogging through the build of my new Windows 7 Home Theatre upgrade.