HTPC 7MC Configuration

I’m tracking this primary for my own reference, but it should be helpful to others as well.   First, here’s my current Home Theater PC hardware config, rebuilt multiple times.

HTPC

Audio/Video Equipment

Software Installed

  1. Windows 7 Ultimate – courtesy of Microsoft Launch Party.   As of 11/2016, WMC is still working.  Going to hold out as long as possible, mostly because I don’t have the time to invest in a new DVR system, and I can’t give up commercial skipping…
  2. Windows Security Essentials – free anti-virus
  3. TCP-Z RDP hack to allow admin access without interrupting TV.
  4. vim – a text editor (showing my age..)
  5. Hulu Desktop . Replaced this with the AutoHotKey solution described here.
  6. Media Center Studio this is another must have for editing the MC menu to your liking.
  7. Amazon Unbox – Until Comcast On-Demand drops it’s prices, this has become my new movie source.    Note that since Comcast HD movies seldom include the DTS soundtrack, you don’t loose anything vs. downloading from Amazon, and we don’t watch enough movies to justify the Netflix monthly fee.   Maybe that will change when the kids get older.  They are typically $2-3 cheaper for a rental.   They do make the PC download difficult to find.  Seems they’d rather push the Roku player.
  8. MediaInfo – For diagnostic information on recordings and what-not.  Unfortunately, this program doesn’t seem to handle wtv files very well, but seems to do a bit better if you convert to dvr-ms.
  9. Finally implemented the Hulu launch and resolution change using AutoHotKey and Media Center Studio.  The problem is that the Hulu Flash stream performs much better at 1280×720 (otherwise known as 720p) and my default config is usually 1920×1080 (1080p).   It was painfully simple.   I hacked the script a little bit to make it work better on Windows 7.
  10. Installed DVRMS Toolbox 1.2.2.0, along with DTBAdd-in for Windows 7 and ShowAnalyzer for commercial skipping.  Followed the directions at EngadgetHD and we are now automatically skipping commercials during playback.   Definite bonus points on the Wife approval factor.
  11. Have Cyberlink installed, never use it.

Configuration

See all the gory details on my Missing Remote Post: 67 Easy Steps to a Windows Media Center re-install.

Full blogger disclaimer: Microsoft gave me a free copy of Windows Ultimate, but did not ask me to blog.

 

TX Black – Home Theater Enclosure, Pure Aluminum, with Remote and Front Panel VFD Display
Power Supply 550 Watt Antec® TRUEPOWER TRIO Quiet Power Supply with 120mm Smart Fan (+$75.00)
Motherboard Genuine Intel® P35 ATX Motherboard with DDR2, PCI Express, 1333MHz FSB, RAID DP35DP
Processor Intel® Core™ 2 Duo processor E8500, dual 3.16GHz cores, 6MB L2 Cache, 1333MHz FSB (45nm) (+$75.00)
CPU Cooling Arctic Cooling® Freezer 7 Pro Heatsink, Ultra Quiet Fan, Copper Heat Pipes
DDR2 Memory 4096MB Corsair™ XMS2 DDR2-800 Low Latency Extreme Memory with Heat Spreader (2×2048) (+$60.00)
PCX Video 512MB Visiontek Radeon HD 4850 GDDR3 (+$160.00)
TV Tuner ATI TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner – Internal* (HDCP Video Card Required) (+$165.00)
Second TV Tuner ATI TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner – Internal* (HDCP Video Card Required) (+$275.00)
HDTV Terrestrial Antenna None
Third TV Tuner None
Fourth TV Tuner None
Monitor None
Audio On-Board Integrated Intel® High Definition 7.1 Channel Sound, with Optical Digital Output
Hard Drive 1 1TB Hitachi 7200rpm 32MB Cache SATA 300 w/NCQ (+$80.00)
Optical Drive 1 4x Lite-On Blu-ray Burner (HDCP and Play Movie 1.5 REQUIRED for playback in Vista Media Center) (+$315.00)
High Definition Media Software None
Media Reader Integrated 52-in-1 Internal Media Card Reader
Network Adapter Integrated 10/100/1000MBps Gigabit Ethernet Network Adapter
Network Adapter 2 or WiFi Adapter None
WiFi Router None
FireWire 2 Integrated IEEE 1394 FireWire Ports, 1 front & 1 rear
USB 2.0 Ports 6 USB 2.0 Ports, 2 front & 4 rear
Bluetooth None