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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-06-2010, 01:04 PM Thread Starter
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Replacing your cable/satelite service with win 7 media center - How to

I have replaced my satalite bill of roughly 120.00 a month with win 7 media center a few months ago. A lot of people want to know the setup and how everything works. Here is a list of parts and a write up on how to do this properly.

First off here are all the features available and there are no monthly fee's. Once it's setup, all this is free.

  • 22 stations in HDTV including all local networks
  • Pause Live TV
  • Record Live TV in HD
  • Record on one TV and watch on any of the other TV's
  • DVD Movie library on all TV's streaming from one pc/server
  • Full music library streaming to all TV's
  • Full Picture library on all TV's
  • Any videos you have have or obtain streaming to all TV's
  • Netflix on all TV's streamed on demand 24/7 (optional 8.99 a month)
  • Hulu streaming on all PC's through media center
  • Full TV Guide for accessing shows, recordings etc.
  • There are many more options but these are the basics

Here is my parts list

  • HDTV Antenna - Channel Master 4228HD 8 bay antenna
  • HDTV Channel Master CM3418 distribution amplifier
  • RG6 or RG6 Quad coaxial cable
  • 10' antenna mast with chimney mount
  • 2- Gateway SX2800 Slimline PC's Intel Quad Core Processors with 4GB Ram
  • 2- Hauppauge WinTV-HVR 2250 HD Tuner Cards
  • 2- Logitech Harmoney 880 Remotes

First there are a few things you need to consider based on your area. You can go to this site below to determine what channels are available in your area and what strength of antenna you will need in order to pick up these channels.

AntennaWeb

Once you have determined how many channels you will get and what antenna you will need then your off and rolling.

The PC's I bought were a closeout last years model that came with Vista on them, after looking around I saw on the HP website that I could get a free upgrade to Win7 and ordered the DVD's. About 5 weeks later they came in the mail and I upgraded to Win 7 which is highly recommended.

I had to add the HD tuner cards to the PC's and the model I chose above is a very good dual HD tuner card and should work great with all versions of Windows.

Windows media center has an option of starting media center when the computer starts and keeps it full screen unless you choose to close or minimize it and this in turn keeps your PC working as a Media Center full time for TV viewing.

The Harmony remotes control the Media Center as if it was a set top cable box or directv. You can do just about anything with them that you can with the keyboard, although I do keep a wireless mouse and keyboard around for surfing the net or anything else I might need it for.

I will try to capture some video and show some of the function of how this all comes together and works great.



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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-06-2010, 01:07 PM Thread Starter
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Antenna

CM-4228HD-2T.jpg

Distribution Amplifier

CM-3418-2T.gif

RG6 Cable

cable.jpg

Antenna Mount

CM-3080-2.jpg

Antenna Mast

CM-1607-2.gif



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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-06-2010, 01:08 PM Thread Starter
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Gateway SX2800

gateway-sx2800-01_large.jpg

HDTV Tuner

hvr2250_top.jpg

Remote

base_media.jpg



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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-06-2010, 01:08 PM Thread Starter
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I tried to capture some video showing how all this goes together and just works great... but the quality of the video was not good enough to post.

You can learn more about win 7 media center here and also watch some videos they have online.

Windows 7 features - Windows Media Center - Microsoft Windows


If anyone has any questions let me know...



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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-06-2010, 06:37 PM
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Media centers are great. I'm also happy to answer any questions. We've had ours going since 2006 I believe, with Win XP Media center edition. Now running Win7.

I will point out you can do it with much less powerful equipment then R1 lover. Almost any dual core (not Atom), is a fine processor for doing a media center. I'd avoid a Pentium 4, but any of the Core2Duo or newer, or Athlon X2 or newer on the AMD side should be fine.
2 Gigs ram minimum, 4 is best (and it's dirt cheap now so why not).
Your most critical component to smooth video playback is your video card. If using a integrated (built in to motherboard), you want a minimum of an Intel 4500. Anything from ATI and nVidia will be fine too. My media center has an older ATI x2600 in it, and it's plenty powerful enough.
Noise is a big concern if you are going to have this thing sitting in your living room. So look for quiet fans for the case and processor, and a video card that has passive (no fans) cooling.

My setup is a little different than r1lovers. We do get 3-4 HD channels over the air (attic mounted antenna), but I only use that for watching Hockey games . We have analogue cable, and I have 3 tuner cards in my Media center, so we can be watching 1 show and recording two others. We use that for our day to day TV. It's not HD, but its fine for us.

On top of TV, just having a PC available all the time is nice. When friends come over with digital photos, we just pop their memory card into the media center (ours looks like a normal piece of AV equipment), and it comes up on the big screen. Screen saver is also nice, it rotates though all our photos. I also have it linked to the server in the basement which has a couple hundred movies and several TV series on it that I download (motoGP, WSBK, etc).
It's also convenient to have the PC there because my wife and I play video games together, so we can have one of us on the laptop, and one on the big screen playing.


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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-06-2010, 07:49 PM
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What channels for Hockey games man? I've been looking to set up an antenna for exactly that reason.

HAIL TO THE KING!!

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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-07-2010, 12:46 AM Thread Starter
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Good stuff green, the screen saver is nice... we also pick up all of our local radie stations on the FM tuner in media center, when doing so the pictures play and the kids can site for hours watching all the pictures I have taken of them... lol they love that more then cartoons. lol


and ya it can be done cheaper... but I really got a good deal on those pc's.... 325.00 each shipped to my door and then I also got a free upgrade to win7 with that too.. lol

The first one I bought for a work pc and it was 400 at best buy... then I went looking for two more to do this setup and found them online for 325. Needless to say they are no longer available for that, they now run about 500 each.

I think all in all I'm in both setup's for about 1500 or so, which isn't bad. I might be missing something though as I didn't really keep track.



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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-07-2010, 10:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Junior View Post
What channels for Hockey games man? I've been looking to set up an antenna for exactly that reason.
From St. Catharines, I can get CBC toronto, so 2 games every saturday
Also can hit FOX and a couple other buffalo stations, though I have to spin the antenna for those.

Where I live, I get 3-4 stations North (Toronto), 2-3 East (Buffalo), and 1-2 East (Hamilton).
I usually just leave it pointed at Toronto.


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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-07-2010, 03:33 PM
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yea I could likely pick up either Toronto of Detroit from here in London, depending on whether she's pointing NorthEast or SouthWest. Pain in the ass to rig up something to spin the antenna tho.

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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-07-2010, 10:45 PM
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That would be a nice addition to my Satellite I would still keep mine for the channels I like to watch..



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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-08-2010, 11:11 AM
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Quote:
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That would be a nice addition to my Satellite I would still keep mine for the channels I like to watch..
Nice thing is you can hook your satellite box into the media center too. You take the output of the satellite box, and put that into an input for the media center. then you use an infrared blaster to control the satellite box.
It's a bit clunky of a system, and adds a bit of delay in changing channels. Video quality might not be great too depending on what inputs your media center has, and what outputs the satellite box lets you use.
Same all true for digital cable.


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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-08-2010, 04:44 PM
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it's how to

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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-09-2010, 12:47 AM Thread Starter
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Damn.... lp always gotta do that huh...

If I didn't spell things wrong you would have no reason to post...... and we like ya... so I'll keep it up.



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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-09-2010, 09:27 AM
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hehehehe. Man oh man LP does dish out some serious ownage every now and then.

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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-09-2010, 04:27 PM
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post #16 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-16-2010, 11:02 AM
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We dont get crap off air around here, bummer living in the sticks.
Also real shame nobody has hacked Nagra 3
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