I've been trying to find info on building an HTPC, but I really only need a system that will work like a DVR. I know how to build PC's but I've never built an HTPC before. If I'm not using it for games or BluRay, what kind components should I be looking for if I want to run Windows 7's Media Center? I plan to capture video OTA, so I don't need to worry about any CableCard issues. Would it be a good idea to buy a SSD for the OS and a larger drive to store the HD content I capture? I'm looking at a budget of around $500-1000 for this, but I have no idea what the general costs would be. I'm also looking for it to be as quiet as possible as it will be housed under my TV.
I've never used a system like this before, and have an harmony 880 remote. How do I control the media center software? Is there IR or something I can actually point my remote at and will the Harmony remote be able to "program" itself to learn the buttons?
Also, as a stupid question, do you simply leave the pc on 24/7 or does it "sleep" when it's not recording any TV shows?
AND... if I want to have another TV in a different room watch shows recorded on this box, is that possible? I know there are media extenders, but I wasn't sure how that worked. If I got an xbox or something like that, would it function the same as the media center box? Could I watch a TV show on one tv and another recorded show off the media extender?
Last question... On the Tuner card will it allow me to record two shows at once from OTA? I know some cards seem to have an HD tuner and a separate QAM or Analog tuner, but I want to make sure that I'd be able to record 2 OTA shows in HD with this card.
Thanks for all the help!!! It's been difficult to find info on this topic after searching around quite a bit.
Sorry, I submitted a lengthy reply yesterday but it must not have worked. We've been having intermittent internet problems at work for the past week. Anyway, here's another shot at the reply.
The case has an IR receiver, but I'm not sure how well it will work with your harmony remote. Sorry I can't be more help on that.
I used to have my HTPC sleep and it would automatically wake up to record scheduled recordings. My HTPC is actually a dual-role PC, so it's overclocked for extra encoding power. I was having some problems with it reliably waking up from sleep mode, so now I just leave it on 24/7. Letting it go to sleep should work just fine on the system above.
Yes, you can use an Xbox 360 as a media center extender. In fact, that's exactly what I do. My HTPC has been moved to an office and I use an Xbox 360 as a media center extender in my living room. It works great! It's almost like having the HTPC hooked directly up to the TV like I used to. You can use the Xbox to view/pause/rewind live TV, check the guide, schedule recordings, watch recordings, and browse movies, pictures, music, etc... I can watch one show on the Xbox and a different show on the HTPC.
Yes, the HVR-2250 will allow you to either record two HD OTA shows at once or watch one show while recording another. The tuner has an internal splitter, so it only requires a single input. Getting two of those tuners would allow you to record four shows at the same time or watch one while recording three. I actually have both a HVR-2250 and a HVR-1600 in my HTPC. That setup allows me to record three HD OTA shows and one analog cable show at the same time.
I got it because WalMart was having a special for the Xbox 360 Arcade. It was its normal $200, but it came with a $100 WalMart gift card which is just as good as cash IMO.
I haven't used any of the stand alone boxes, so I couldn't tell you how they compare. Sorry. I've heard they aren't quite as fast as the Xbox 360 at tasks like navigating menus, but I couldn't tell you from experience if that's true or not.
Edit: I just looked at that Samsung extender you mentioned and there's one HUGE drawback to it - apparently it ONLY works with specific Samsung monitors.