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Inexpensive Media Center for Bedroom

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April 28, 2006 1:28:11 PM

Hi everyone,

I am trying to build my first INEXPENSIVE media center for my bedroom. I just want to be able to watch movies, play music and podcasts, and maybe have some DVR capabilites.

Can someone recommend a rig for me? I will build a much nicer one next year for my main home theater, but since I watch so much TV and listen to so much radio from my bedroom, I thought having a small system there would be nice.

My budget is not that tight, but I didn't want to spend a ton on the bedroom system since there not much hi tech there.

Thanks!!
April 29, 2006 6:23:27 PM

Yeah, buy a mac mini. And then put Parallels Work Station on it or Dual Boot to Windows Media Edition. And use all the goodness of Windows software on the prettyness, and smallness of a mac.

:) 

Best of both worlds.


DDay
April 29, 2006 7:17:25 PM

Quote:
Yeah, buy a mac mini. And then put Parallels Work Station on it or Dual Boot to Windows Media Edition. And use all the goodness of Windows software on the prettyness, and smallness of a mac.

:) 

Best of both worlds.


DDay


Actually not a bad idea, but for his use there is not reason to install Parallels. Just format and install Windows. OS X offering not other than front row which is a nice attempt but nothing compared to MCE. Heck if Apple comes out with the killer app you can always go back to OS X.

Anyway I would do the following:

Take the basic single core Mac Mini for $599 and from Apple, add the $50 DVD burner.

Upgrade the RAM to 1GB (take out the 512 that comes out it, sell it on eBay or something).
This from Newegg will do just fine:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16820145568

Add a larger hard drive, maybe 250GB. Use this Firewire one for $135.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16822154614

So:

Mac Mini $649.00
RAM- $77
Hard Drive- $135
Windows MCE- $114

Total: $975.00

This might be a touch more expensive than other options, but you cannot beat the size of the Mac Mini, it can go about anywhere. Add a monitor or your TV and you are all set.
Related resources
April 29, 2006 7:30:41 PM

All set...with the exception that he cannot install a tv tuner/caputer card, and thus must forego any PVR capabilities. :?
April 29, 2006 7:33:31 PM

Use an external.

DDay
April 29, 2006 7:50:07 PM

Of course you could stay completely inside Mac OS X. I mean, yeah, media center is better, but who knows.

Check it out.

DDay
April 29, 2006 8:08:31 PM

I was considering building a cheap media center PC like this one for $300. But I ended up scraping together the pieces I had and some others from eBay instead.
April 29, 2006 8:10:39 PM

Off topic Alert:

Hey steckman, how do you have an avatar? I mean, for me it says I have to have 100 posts in order to get one to show up? So, please explain away.

Ironically this post puts me at the 100 post limit.

DDay
April 29, 2006 8:21:58 PM

Off topic Reply:

You need 100 posts to have an uploaded avatar. I just chose this one from the stock list that anyone can use.
April 29, 2006 8:27:23 PM

AFAIK, MCE will not work with external capture cards. :?


I've come up with an alternative to Mac Mini. It's half the price, but it is larger in size. Choice is up to you.

1. Buy the Dell B110 off the Dell small business site: Right now you can get it with 1 GB ram, DVD burner, 17" flat panel moniter, and 160 GB hard drive for $349. After tax and handling charges, the total comes to $399 shipped.

http://www1.us.dell.com/content/products/features.aspx/...

2. Buy a hauppauge PVR 150. It is MCE compatable. Price: $69 shipped.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

3. Pick up a copy of MCE with remote. Price is ~$150 shipped.

That should complete your build. Grand total is $620. If you would like to add FM tuner functionality to your media center, I might suggest this unit from MSI to replace the hauppauge:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

It will only add ~$10 to your total.



EDIT: If you can forego MCE, you can simply buy the Leadtek Winfast tv200xp expert tv tuner/capture card, which also has fm tuner/capture functionality and a remote. Not as slick as Media Center, but it works great (I own one), and it is a steal for $50. It will not work with MCE though, so you'll have to use regular XP home/pro. The Dell oem xp home will work fine in this case.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

Total cost with this card and the Dell: $449. That's all you need if you can handle getting up to turn the computer on/off.
April 29, 2006 9:26:52 PM

Quote:
Hi everyone,

I am trying to build my first INEXPENSIVE media center for my bedroom. I just want to be able to watch movies, play music and podcasts, and maybe have some DVR capabilites.

Can someone recommend a rig for me? I will build a much nicer one next year for my main home theater, but since I watch so much TV and listen to so much radio from my bedroom, I thought having a small system there would be nice.

My budget is not that tight, but I didn't want to spend a ton on the bedroom system since there not much hi tech there.

Thanks!!



I would suggest an inexpensive PC + http://mythtv.org/



http://mythtv.org/modules.php?name=MythFeatures
April 29, 2006 10:18:04 PM

Quote:
Hi everyone,

I am trying to build my first INEXPENSIVE media center for my bedroom. I just want to be able to watch movies, play music and podcasts, and maybe have some DVR capabilites.

Can someone recommend a rig for me? I will build a much nicer one next year for my main home theater, but since I watch so much TV and listen to so much radio from my bedroom, I thought having a small system there would be nice.

My budget is not that tight, but I didn't want to spend a ton on the bedroom system since there not much hi tech there.

Thanks!!


A64 3000+ S939 Venice
X1300AIW
200GB SATA HD
Cheap S939 mobo
1GB value RAM
XP MCE
Case and PSU are up to you
April 29, 2006 10:33:37 PM

Quote:
Hi everyone,

I am trying to build my first INEXPENSIVE media center for my bedroom. I just want to be able to watch movies, play music and podcasts, and maybe have some DVR capabilites.

Can someone recommend a rig for me? I will build a much nicer one next year for my main home theater, but since I watch so much TV and listen to so much radio from my bedroom, I thought having a small system there would be nice.

My budget is not that tight, but I didn't want to spend a ton on the bedroom system since there not much hi tech there.

Thanks!!


A64 3000+ S939 Venice
X1300AIW
200GB SATA HD
Cheap S939 mobo
1GB value RAM
XP MCE
Case and PSU are up to you


Very nice config :-D

You have my vote, except ATI is not mythTV friendly, get an nVidia card + a Hauppage TV card.

http://www.hauppauge.com/
!