December 19, 2011
| by Phil Lozen
If you already have a networked Xbox 360 in your home, once you hook up your Media Center PC to the network, pairing the two is simple and can be done in Media Center’s “Settings” menus by selecting “Add Extender”. A wired connection to your extender offers the best experience for HD watching.
One of the big advantages of Media Center is the ability to have control of your recorded TV files. Going on vacation and want to catch up on DVR shows? Copy the files from your main PC to your laptop and watch recorded TV on the go.
Media Center can also be outfitted with add-ons developed by the small but loyal Media Center community that will allow you to organize digital movie collections (file format depending), eliminate commercials from recordings, or access recordings and guide data remotely. Plus, all your pictures and music can be streamed via Media Center, too.
Customization options in Media Center are far too numerous to cover in this article, but it’s safe to say it’s the most tinkerer-friendly DVR software available.
Windows Media Center might not be for everyone, and there are up-front costs that you might not have to deal with if you simply rent the equipment from your TV provider. But with so many households already possessing the basics of a Media Center setup, namely the PC and Xbox 360, in most cases that upfront cost will be limited to the purchase of a TV tuner. And with typical DVR rental around $10 a month, the cost of a tuner could be recouped in no time.
Add in the customization and flexibility of Media Center, and it’s the best DVR that you’ve never used.