I finally got everything configured with the Windows Home Server (see this post). My home network now looks something like this:
The Media Center is a pretty old, single core AMD 3200 system, so I’m not getting full 1080p resolution out of the video card because there’s just not enough horsepower in the CPU (I get stuttering at that resolution). So I’m running it at 720p instead for now, which is generally fine because the Media Center is primarily playing DVDs that are stored on the Home Server. I do have a Hauppauge TV card in the media center, but I’m not receiving the HD channels yet since I’m not quite ready to dump my cable box. But I predict in the next 12 months that the cable box will go and I replace the media center computer with a newer system. Why?
Well, first of all cost. Comcast chargest an arm and a leg for the DVR service. And frankly, the capacity of that box kind of stinks. I typically record shows that are not broadcast in HD using the analog channels, but in a year that’s going to go away (thankfully). So I’m going to need much more disk. My media center currently has a 160 GB disk, which means that I can record over 30 hours of HD video, which is about 3x more than what the Comcast DVR will hold. Of course, this is an old computer; a newer media center box will probably have 320 GB or more of disk, which means hours of HD. It’ll be worth the investment to avoid the Comcast charges as well as have better capacity. What do I lose? Comcast’s On-Demand service. I’m not sure I care that much about that — it seems like a service I rarely use. I could easily imagine investing the Comcast savings into Netflix and getting their on-demand video service instead.