Windows 7, Windows Media Center, DLNA and Internet Streaming
Posted by Alan on January 23, 2011
I know this is off topic from the type of stuff I usually post but I am so happy with myself I thought it was worth a post.
For the past couple of years I have been following the concept of the home theater PC (HTPC) utilizing Windows Media Center. It was an on again, off again thing that never really took priority. However, two things happened recently that finally pushed me to take the dive. For starters we got a new computer for the house and it came with a second hard drive that I think stores something like 100 exobytes (I might be exaggeration a bit but the thing is big). More importantly though was the fact that I discovered that my wife had been purchasing songs via iTunes that I already owned on CD and therefore was wasting money that could have been better invested into something more important like our kids college education fund or beer.
So I started out by burning all our CDs to disk. This may be one of the worlds most boring tasks. Then I began burning all our DVDs to disk and found out that this process carries the same excitement level as burning CDs. But what finally got me excited was what I was just able to accomplish. Last week I went out and purchased a Hauppauge HD-PVR and hooked the component video out from my cable box into it and then hook the Hauppauge into to my computer via USB. I installed some drivers and spent some time futzing around trying to get the IR blaster working but finally everything came together. Right now I can now view live TV on my computer via Windows Media Center but what is better is the fact that I can use the kick-ass programming guide feature of Windows Media Center to schedule and manage recordings just like my cable box PVR can. The team that created the online program guide and its functionality definitely hit a home run.
So now all my programming is being saved to hard disk and I can view it (along with Netflix and Internet TV) via Windows Media Center on the main computer. But it doesn’t stop there. I can also view the content on my Xbox via the Windows Media Center Extender functionality. And thanks to the fact that all my content (CD’s, DVD’s, and Recorded TV) are stored in a format that Windows Media Player can recognize I can use the “Play To” feature and push my content to any DLNA certified device and I can even easily access my stuff on the home computer from my work computer while at work although watching recorded TV while I am supposed to be working would be wrong. Suck it Apple TV.
So my next decision point is how I want to integrate my media content to yet more rooms in the house. So now I am in the midst of a dilemma. I can either add additional capabilities to other room via devices like those made by Sonos or Western Digital (among others) or I can get new flat screen TVs to replace my old CRTs as a many of the new ones that are either out or coming out soon have built-in support for DLNA. The challenge I am still facing is how do I convince my wife to let me continue doing all this cool stuff. You see she was born with a medical condition that causes her to roll her eyes and say “okaaaaaayyyy, sure, whatever….” any time her husband starts describing what he wants to do with the home electronics.
Anyone got any suggestions? Anyone got a cure?