Media Center

When I got back from Iraq, I built a new desktop system that included a dual TV tuner and a spare hard drive so that I could install Windows XP Media Center and start recording TV off my analog cable connection.

The cool thing about my Hauppage tuner is that it does the encoding on the board itself, so it doesn’t use the CPU very much. And the secondary hard drive allows me to store a lot of shows and not have it thrash my main drive.

The result is that I’m extremely happy with it all. And really it only costs an extra couple hundred dollars. The TV tuner costs $145 at NewEgg (my favorite place for buying computer parts) and hard drives are cheap, like the 250GB drive I bought.

I’ve gotten back into watching TV again, but this time it’s when I want to watch TV. Like when I wake up on a Saturday morning. Or while I’m on my lunch break.

Media Center

The problems are that the cable companies want to get rid of analog cable in favor of digital cable, which means they can charge more and also so that they can stop people from using third-party systems to record TV.

    Here’s a list of shows I’m recording these days:

  • Frontline
  • South Park
  • Drawn Together
  • The Daily Show
  • The Colbert Report
  • Conan O’Brien
  • Survivor
  • Lost
  • The Apprentice
  • Robot Chicken
  • Saturday Night Live

I might start recording some more shows that I found on TLC while I was visiting Julie, like “What Not to Wear”.

This was some of the best money I’ve spent. I highly recommend it! All you have to do is subscribe to a series and the guide will track the show for new episodes and/or repeats, even if the show changes times. What’s also nice is the interface is simple to use. While the software is twitchy and will crash to desktop/reboot easily sometimes, it is usually fast and easy to start watching what you want to watch.