How to make a mediacenter PC and record video from TV

It all started when a friend told me that he is building a router with a all-in-one motherboard with an Atom processor inside.

I always wanted to build a computer in order to solve these problems:

  • to be there for the entire family at any time, even if I am not at home
  • my and Mihaela’s calendars are merged,
  • common appointments are automatically added to both of us,
  • remote access is possible
  • direct access to the entire videos (all possible formats including ISOs and MKV), photos (all formats including ORF), music collection(many formats, including AAE) is possible. A prerequisite for this is
  • have a mediacenter software which
  •  simply works without patching it every week
  • compiling weeks packages in order to hope to make it work and render all formats mentioned above

and last but not least

  • I can record cartoons from TV for my son without having to be in front of the TV! A prerequisite for this is
  • Have a TV-Tuner (either internal or external via USB) which can receive the programs via cable or via satellite
  • Have drivers for the operating system I have chosen
  • Be able to control it from that operating system and mediacenter software

So, these are my requirements which are not so easy to fulfill (I found out this only later !!!!)

 

Sooooooooooooooo… you think is easy ?

No, as a matter of fact, I recommend to NOT do this.

Simply go into a hardware store and buy a mediacenter, let the experts configure the hardware, install Windows with Mediacenter, install a TV-Tuner, and you are done !

You will avoid countless hours of reading hardware specifications, looking for best prices, praying that the shop delivers the pieces as promised, praying that the hardware is not defect, that the memory works, that all pieces of hardware are compatible with each other, that the cables are correct, that the power supply delivers enough power, that you don’t fry the motherboard or other pieces, that the case is big enough for all devices, that the entire construction doesn’t burn out and so on…

Advice :

DON’T DO IT !!!

It is a waste of time, energy and money ! Honestly !
You can do 1000 other better things instead of wasting so much time.

 

Did I convince you ?

I guess not … then read on.

 

You need these pieces of hardware to do a mediacenter:

(All links are from Amazon Germany and the prices are those from Amazon.de – they are only provided through my personalized shop for hardware)

– Motherboard with processor which is powerful enough to render the movies, pictures and run also an operating system

– Powerful video card which can render HD (it has an HDMI port)

– Gigabit network card, wireless is a nice to have, especially if you don’t have cables

A nice to have is a processor which doesn’t eat to much power. The perfect candidate for this is an Atom processor, but since you need also a lot of CPU power, you need a dual core Atom processor. This reduces everything to the Intel Atom D525.

-> There is actually a motherboard which has all these on it:  

Zotac Mainboard (Intel D525, DDR3-800, Next Generation NVIDIA ION 512MB, PCIe-X1, WLAN, USB 3.0, HDMI, DVI-D, PASSIVE, Mini ITX) von Zotac

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

– Minimum 4 GB of fast RAM (DDR3)

Kingston KVR1066D3S7/2G PC3-8500 Arbeitspeicher 2 GB (1066 MHz NON-ECC) DDR3-So-Dimm

 

 

 

 

 

 

– Large HDD to record and host movies

 Western Digital WD20EARS Caviar Green 2TB interne Festplatte (8.9 cm, 5400rpm, 8.9ms, 64MB Cache, SATA)

 

 

 

 

 

– Case to host everything

LC-Power 1300MI Gehäuse Mini-ITX/M-ATX 75W

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hint: switch the cables for Power LED with the one for HDD LED. You will get interesting effects when the HDD is working. The blue leds will show the HDD activity while the red led from the power button remains always on (while the box is powered on).

 

From Mediacenter

 

 

– TV Tuner with PVR (programmable video recording) function in order to receive video from Satellite or Cable and record it on the mediacenter and display it on TV

TechnoTrend S2-3600 DVB-S2 USB Box mit HDTV Unterstützung

 

 

 

 

 

 

Warning: the software is pure crap ! The remote control is working only with its software which can’t be really used !

 

As a software, I have a Windows 7 which has a Mediacenter. Any version from XP Media Center Edition above will work perfectly.

 

The result is a good and solid PC (it is in the end a PC) which consumes between 30-40 W when recording, which plays a lot of media formats, can record series on a schedule.

 

In the next article i will tell you how to configure it.


© Copyright 2011 Sorin Mustaca, All rights Reserved. Written For: Sorin Mustaca on Cybersecurity

Check www.mustaca.com for the IT Consulting services I offer.
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About the Author

Sorin Mustaca

Sorin Mustaca, (ISC)2 CSSLP, CompTIA Security+ and Project+, is working since year 2000 in the IT Security industry and worked between 2003-2014 for Avira as Product Manager for the known products used by over 100 million users world-wide. Today he is an independent IT Security Consultant focusing on Cybersecurity, secure software development and security for IoT and Automotive. He is also running his personal blog Sorin Mustaca on Cybersecurity and is the author of the free eBook Improve your security .

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