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Build Your Own Media Center PC, Part 2
Pages: 1, 2, 3, 4

Scanning for TV Channels

With the TV signal all set up, you need to scan for TV channels that you can receive. Select Scan for more services (see Figure 54) and press OK.

Figure 54
Figure 54. Scanning for TV signals

As usual, a warning prompt will be shown, alerting you that any recording in progress will be affected. Select Yes and press OK. Media Center will now start scanning for channels (see Figure 55). This may take a while. Select Next and press OK.

Figure 55
Figure 55. The TV channels found

That's it! Navigate to the My TV (see Figure 56) menu item, press OK and then select Live TV.

Figure 56
Figure 56. Selecting the My TV menu item

You can now select the channels you want to watch using the remote control. Figure 57 shows the picture quality of a selected TV channel. Overall, the Hauppauge WinTV-PVR-500 board delivers very good picture quality.

Figure 57
Figure 57. Watching TV on the media center

Recording TV

Besides watching TV, another great feature of the Windows Media Center is its ability to record TV programs. To record a program, select the Add Recording item (see Figure 58) within the My TV screen and press OK.

Figure 58
Figure 58. Adding a TV recording

Specify the channel you want to record as well as other information such as start and end time, frequency, etc. (see Figure 59). To record the program, select the Record item and press OK.

Figure 59
Figure 59. Recording a TV program

If you have dual TV tuners (like the WinTV-PVR-500), you can watch and record TV programs at the same time.

Summary

In this article, you have seen how to custom build your own media center by building your own PC and using the Microsoft Windows Media Center Edition 2005 OS. I have built my own media center using the two casings from Antec and Thermaltake. The estimated cost of each system is summarized below:

Components Price (using Antec Fusion) Price (using Thermaltake Mozart SX)
Casing $219.00 $250.00
Power Supply (Coolmax 400Watt ATX power supply with 120mm fan) N. A. $40.00
CPU (Intel Pentium D 830 3GHz) $280.00 $280.00
CPU Cooler (Samurai Z CPU cooler/CL-P0220 CPU cooler ) $25.00 $23.00
Motherboard (MSI 945GM2 HF) $109.00 $109.00
Memory 2GB (two pieces of Corsair's 1GB PC4200 DDR CL4 Value Select DDR2 memory) $250.00 $250.00
DVD Writer (Pioneer DVR-110DSV) $69.00 $69.00
Hard Drive (Seagate Barracuda ST3250824AS 250GB) $96.00 $96.00
TV Tuner Card (Hauppauge WinTV-PVR-500 MCE-Kit) $170.00 $170.00
Graphics card (Asus Extreme N6200TC TOP/TD/128M) $55.00 $55.00
Keyboard (Remote Keyboard for Windows XP Media Center Edition) $80.00 $80.00
Operating System (Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005) $125.00 $125.00
Total $1,478.00 $1,547.00

Note: Actual pricing may rise or fall depending on the market rates. This table is provided for your information and reference only.

As you can see, for around $1500, you will be able to build a relatively powerful media center. Your choice of casing will affect the overall pricing a little, but not much. Also note that I have not included the pricing of the monitor/TV, as you may want to use your existing display or TV.

Wei-Meng Lee (Microsoft MVP) http://weimenglee.blogspot.com is a technologist and founder of Developer Learning Solutions http://www.developerlearningsolutions.com, a technology company specializing in hands-on training on the latest Microsoft technologies.


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