My latest home techie project is building a Media Portal computer for the home theater setup. I love my digital media but it’s not always great to watch TV shows & movies on the computer. Burning the shows/movies to DVD and watching it on the main home theater works well but carries the small hassle of burning everything first.

Having a Media Portal will let me have all my movies, tv shows, music and some other goodies directly integrated with my home theater setup. Now that I have Eva’s old computer freed up, I’m configuring it to be a central media portal. It will be connected to my network and connected to the home theater receiver and controlled via the Harmony 880 remote.

Here are some quick specs:
P3-1000 CPU
Microsoft compatible media center infrared receiver
Windows XP
Media Portal software

The initial testing thus far has been great. The Harmony 880 works really well with the Media Portal software making the whole experience so much better. The only problem has been finding a reliable hard drive to go live with. Out of the four drives I’ve been testing, three have all failed. Fortunately one drive will be good enough. I got my IR receiver from eBay yesterday and it was a snap to get working. I picked up some nice long 25 foot audio/video cables this morning from cBit.

Once this drive passes the tests, I’ll be ready to rock ‘n roll!

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2 Responses to “Media Portal”
  1. Alex says:

    Hey Len,
    I want to make the same set up but I don’t reaally have everything integrated. I have vista but I think I might downgrade to win xp pro. It works fine just don’t know what kind of issues I might run into moving forward, playing dvd’s, ripping, daemon tools etc. I want to really have some flexibility with my htpc.

  2. Len says:

    Hi Alex,
    Although I haven’t tried it myself, I know MediaPortal will natively play a DVD movie. I don’t believe MediaPortal has built-in support for ripping DVD’s in to .iso or divx format. The only inconvenience with loading a DVD movie would be if your HTPC is located away from your TV. There is built-in support for Daemon tools to automatically mount and play back dvd’s in .iso format so that might help you. I find that having the movies in divx format works best for me since they are high quality, don’t take up a lot of space and are all convenient to play-back with just a push of a remote button.

    I have heard of some incompatibilities with Vista but I don’t think there are any serious problems. There may be some minor issues when it comes to automatic power management between MediaPortal and Vista but this should all be corrected as MediaPortal approaches its version 1.0 release.

    Best of luck with your HTPC project.