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Thread: Convert your ordinary PC to a Media Center PC

  1. #1
    Choto Cheeta's Avatar
    Choto Cheeta is offline Trusted Member
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    Jun 2008

    Default Convert your ordinary PC to a Media Center PC

    Source : Choto Cheeta Online

    As you walk in to any computer store or IT shop, you see being displayed, PCs with capability to watch and record TV, running Windows Media Center. You might just wonder, do you need to pay for the full PC to obtain the Media Center functionality of the PC?

    In fact no! All these Media Center PCs have in the extra, is a TV Tuner Kit (PCI based TV Tuner Card and a Remote control) along with the Media Center Edition of Windows Vista or Windows XP.

    How much would a TV tuner Kit cost ?

    Any good Windows Vista compatible TV Tuner Kit from brands like WinFast / LeadTek or Pinnacle may cost you around USD 50 or EURO 35 or INR 2000.

    Where to get the Media Center Software ?

    Which is that software, you see with Media Center PCs ? Usually its the Windows Media Center, which may come with Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 or as an integrated part of any installation of Windows Vista Home Premium and Ultimate editions.

    Where as similar software, which allows you to view / record / pause live TV would come with your TV tuner kit from the hardware vendor itself, an example would be Pinnacle TV Center Edition. So any one or both of them can be used for your TV viewing needs.

    So let us view a few tricks on how exactly you can transform your regular PC to a Media Center Edition without burning a hole in your pocket !

    Let us understand how it would actually work, below is a diagram of what we plan to achieve.

    As you may see, we are in need of having a cable connection signal (in case of DTH, the STB signal) coming to the PC. Here in the diagram, we are putting a splitter in between the Cable connection and TV. So now you have multiple output from single Cable connection. So now you may run TV and PC simultaneously without paying extra connection fee to the cable guy.

    Hardware prerequisite

    * One Cable Connection Splitter
    * Some extra cables (from line out to TV and line out to PC)
    * Connection Jacks.
    * TV Tuner Kit for the PC.

    Before I left home, I took the measurement as how much cable I would need, keeping in mind that my TV is in living room where as the PC is located in the bedroom. I found the best place for the splitter to reside, was at the place, where the TV is.

    So I calculated that I needed to have 35 meters of cable from my TV (where I would keep the splitter) at living room to my PC at bedroom, where as I would need a short 2 meter cable to join the splitter (out) to the TV also.

    I also had to purchase 2 type of jacks, first type, which would connect the main cable (which comes from cable guy) to the splitter and also the cable end which would come out from the splitter and second type of TV RF in socket, which would be at the end of the cables coming out from the splitter to TV or PC.

    After completing the wiring part, I had to ensure a TV tuner Card for my PC.

    I already have written a good internal PCI based TV tuner kit would cost around USD 50 or EURO 35 or INR 2000 from brands like WinFast / LeadTek or Pinnacle.

    Do keep in mind an important factor of Vista WHQL logo certification while buying a new TV tuner KIT.

    In my case I am using Pinnacle PC TV Pro 110i, a pretty old card originally developed for Windows XP Media Center Edition 2003. The TV Tuner would plug in to your motherboards PCI slot.

    Once plugged in, all you need to do is use the given CD for driver installation and start your Windows Vista Media center edition or if in case you are in Windows XP, use the given TV tuner software with the card.

    Where as when the card is a WHQL certified device, you may find the device driver already available in Windows Update.

    Once the hardware drive for the device is installed, now you may plugging the Cable using the second type jack which is comming out from the splitter and after which you may either use the Windows Media Center edition or the given application with the TV Tuner device for TV viewing.

    Now have a fully working version of your own Media Center Edition PC. The setup is not only beneficial for home entertainment, but also equally important for business professional who may need to keep an close eye on market news on the business hours which now can be done directly from the PC itself.

  2. #2
    HappyAndyK's Avatar
    HappyAndyK is offline Site Administrator
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    Jun 2008


    Pretty exhaustive and useful !

  3. #3
    rkonit's Avatar
    rkonit is offline Gold Member
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    Jul 2008
    Pilani, India


    Wow... Thanks for fully explained guide.

  4. #4
    tweakwindows's Avatar
    tweakwindows is offline Microsoft MVP
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    Jul 2008


    As usual, good one

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