Setting up a Windows 7 Media Center

by Shijaz Abdulla on 06.12.2009 at 07:31

I’m setting up a Windows 7 Media Center at home and thought I’d share feedback on how I went about getting it done. Being a tech enthusiast, and NOT much of the movies/music person, I went for something very modest and inexpensive.

 

The PC: Acer Aspire Revo R3600

 

  • Very sleek, black, ultra small form factor, can be mounted on the back of a flat panel TV or mounted on its own footing. Both mounting kits are provided in the package.
  • Intel® Atom 230 processor @ 1.6GHz (intel’s smallest processor)
  • 2 GB RAM, expandable to 4 GB
  • NVIDIA ION chipset
  • NVIDIA GeForce 9400 upto 896 MB
  • HDMI output, VGA output
  • 6 USB ports,
  • 4-in-1 card reader
  • eSATA port
  • Built-in wireless adapter, Ethernet port
  • HD Audio 7.1

The Display: Videocon Haute 32” Flat Panel LCD TV (VBL32HBG-FLA)

  • 32” LCD, 16:9 aspect ratio, 1366×768 resolution
  • 2 HDMI ports, VGA with audio jack
  • 3 RCA inputs
  • Proudly made in India :) 

videocon

Human Interface: Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop 1000

  • Media Center keys
  • Spill resistant (living room/coffee table use)
  • 6 month battery life. (I recommend using rechargeable Ni-Cd batteries for keyboard and mouse)
  •  

    I would have preferred a keyboard with built-in trackball instead of a mouse for living room coffee table convenience, but I couldn’t get hold of one.

    desktop_1000

    Webcam: Microsoft LifeCam VX-6000

    LifeCam CinemaI used the LifeCam VX-6000 only because I had a spare one lying around. For those buying a new webcam, I would recommend the LifeCam Cinema, a great webcam that I had evaluated:

    • 720p HD widescreen @ up to 30fps!
    • Auto Focus
    • Digital microphone

    The LifeCam VX-6000 that I used is an older model, that has the following features:

    • 71 degree Wide Angle Lens (good for living room set up)LifeCam VX-6000
    • High Definition video
    • 3x digital zoom
    • Up to 30fps
    • Built-in microphone

    Why a webcam on my Media Center PC? OK, I like to use the living room computer for video conferencing with relatives, because this way the whole family can be on the couch *and* within frame :)

    TV Tuner:

    I am still looking for a good, locally available external TV Tuner/Capture card that is on the Windows Media Center Hardware Compatibility List (HCL). The ones that I found locally are from Lightwave – and that’s not listed on the HCL. I already have an STB with RCA composite output and RF out jack, and I’m looking for a capture card that will receive one of these and display it in Windows Media Center. I will post an update when I finally install a TV Tuner. :)

    Meanwhile, if any of you have got Lightwave TV tuner cards working with Windows Media Center, please post a comment and let me know of your experience.

    For now, the only thing I watch on my PC is Internet TV from IslamBox.TV.

    Other hardware:

    • Since the Acer Aspire Revo R3600 comes with no bluetooth, I have a USB bluetooth dongle plugged in.
    • The Revo comes with no DVD player/recorder and you might want to buy one. For me, I already have a DVD player hooked to my LCD TV, and I have other computers in my Windows 7 HomeGroup that have DVD recorders. Installation of Windows 7 on my Revo was done with a USB stick.
    • I had to buy an HDMI cable because neither the Revo nor the Videocon LCD TV came with one.

    Audio: HDMI output

    The audio from my TV is good enough for me. You can always connect a sophisticated audio system if your TV supports it. The Revo only has a headphone jack.

     

    Setup:

    • Unpack and set up the Revo as per the instructions enclosed, initially use the wired keyboard and mouse supplied with the Revo
    • Connect the HDMI cable between the PC and the LCD TV.
    • Power on both units, get connected to the internet, install updates, antivirus software, etc.
    • Install the wireless keyboard and mouse as per the instructions enclosed and unplug the Revo’s wired keyboard and mouse
    • Install the LifeCam as per instructions e
      nclosed. Plug the device in only when prompted by the installation software.
    • Uninstall any useless software that was pre-installed by Acer (some games, utilities and trial software)
    • Upgrade the Revo from Windows Vista to Windows 7 using a USB stick.
    • Connect your TV/STB to the TV tuner card and do the installation. Run through the Windows Media Center setup.
    • Set up a Windows 7 Homegroup to better share
    • Try not to mess around with the display resolution too much. I use 1024×768.

    Here are some pictures of my living room computer :)

    SNC00830 SNC00833

     

    What next?

    The next things on my list:


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    4 Responses to Setting up a Windows 7 Media Center

    1. New blog post: http://tinyurl.com/y8m8z8y – Setting up a Windows 7 Media Center

    2. Todd says:

      This is awesome!

      How small is the Acer Revo?

    3. Shijaz says:

      The Acer Revo is tiny and is 7.1″ x 7.1″ x 1.2″

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