Tv on your terms not theirs.

I have been wading through my experiment for trying to get a decent setup for IPTV and watching TV on my terms and in ways that enrage and upset corperations and content pushers. They want tight control, ABC wants to make it illegal for you to fast foreward through commercials, and all of them want to double, even triple dip and make way more money on the content. No only do they get paid from all the Advertising revinue and from the Govt subsudies but they also want to charge you to watch it in any way other than on their channel when they broadcast it.

I tried the Dling DSM-320's + a media server and while this works, it's a Pain. Dlink made some great hardware but really half assed the software, it's pretty much a piece of junk simply because the software is slapped together and they did the stupid thing of using PnP media server software to stream the video instead of simply reading off a share. I recently acquired a copy of XP Media Center Edition and was mildly impressed until I discovered that you have to fight to get mpeg playback and even the latest version is so full of bugs and is not extendable except for cheezy html pages that kind of look like they belong. It's not worth the 4+ hours to get it working, and prebuilt media center pc's are horribly overpriced, I have a media center PC built that is as good as the best that HP makes for less than 1/2 the cost.

I was about to turn back to the old linux stand-by Mythtv until I found a neat little project I have not heard of before. Media Portal is an open source project that replaces XP MCE with a robust and highly extendable version that actually works. I have gobs of plugins, I do not have to fight it to get it working (55 minutes to running from a formatted hard drive) and I can change how it looks, act's, add neat plugins that feel like they belong, etc..

So if you are looking at a media center and dont want to spend a week to build a linux based unit that will work better but takes more time and skill to get going, try media portal. And certianly do not buy a XP media Center pre-built. I cant see any real reason to pay a major premium for something that is that buggy.