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 :)
Human Interface: Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop 1000
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.
Webcam: Microsoft LifeCam VX-6000
I 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)
- 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
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.
- 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.
- 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
The next things on my list:
- Get that TV Capture card
- Set up a Windows Home Server running on Hyper-V