Thinking about MCE

Discussion in 'TiVo Series 1 - UK' started by Craig B, Jan 5, 2006.

  1. Jan 5, 2006 #1 of 16
    Craig B

    Craig B Member

    Aug 11, 2001


    I've got the chance to get a cheapish HP 7240 MCE machine through work and am contemplating replacing my tivo and xbmc with it. I've looked on the Microsoft site and played with the demo; it looks ok and offers similar functionality to tivo and xbmc combined. I've read the old MCE thread in chit-chat and have a few concerns that I hope people can help me with.

    My tivo is silent, I expect the pc is relatively noisy. Anyone have any experience on this.

    The old thread said the listings weren't up to the tivo standard, is this still the case?

    My tivo is almost completely reliable, am I stupid in expecting the same of MCE?

    A bit more relevant info. I only use freeview and watch it on a 1024x768 plasma. The pc on offer is a P4 3GHz, unknown tuner cards. I only intend to put it near the tv and not use it as a general pc.

    Ideally I would rather wait for slightly newer technology in a few months before taking the plunge but I have to decide by tomorrow as the scheme is closing. What do you think? Would you replace a tivo with MCE?

    ps. I know most people would say never and so would I until recently, however I fancy something new with twin tuners.
  2. Jan 5, 2006 #2 of 16

    mike0151 A Friend of Dot

    Dec 13, 2001
    No but if the price was right, I might consider supplementing my 2 TiVos with MCE.
  3. Jan 5, 2006 #3 of 16

    nathan Lurker

    Feb 18, 2002
    I've been playing with MCE on a Shuttle-style PC, it's also loaded with Media Portal too to try that out.

    Neither of them are a patch on the sheer ease of use and functionality, let alone stability, of Tivo and XBMC IMHO.

    Microsoft have a mountain to climb in it's desire to make MCE a consumer electronics product. Windows is not a good platform to start on, for a start!
  4. Jan 9, 2006 #4 of 16

    mshilling New Member

    Dec 12, 2004
    I just cancelled one of my Tivo boxes on saturday. I built a silent HTPC and it passed the wife test, so we ditched the tivo. I built it from spare parts, aside from the case that I paid 100 for and the dual tuner card, 125. So out of pocket expense was 225 (it wont be that cheap for most, 2.8 GHz processors arent just laying around most peoples spare parts piles).
    My experience:

    MCE does everything tivo does, some things better. MCE certainly integrates with my gigabit ethernet much better. Transferring shows from my HTPC to my desktop happens FAST. Not like the lousy usb-ethernet or wireless G "support" tivo has.

    Addons are great - just like tivo had started with, I have weather, traffic cams, email, etc - the possibilites are endless. as long as people are coding these programs ill have more to add.

    Hard drive upgrades are now very simple. No linux boot cd (I run linux on my desktop so that was not trouble for me), no image copying, nothing. just add a 2nd hard drive (internal or external) and use it.

    Hardware upgrades are easy. Its a PC! Just add a HD tuner if you want one. No expensive hardware purchases (after the initial purchase)

    Simpler video support - I can plug my dig video cam into the front firewire port on my HTPC, and watch directly from MCE. Memory card reader lets me do this with my dig cam content as well. Also has more supported video types. Stick in a burned CD with Xvid content and it plays. I can transfer movies ive downloaded to it (in a minute or 2 with gigabit ethernet) and it shows up in my list of movies. No conversions, nothing.

    NO MONTHLY FEES (lifetime is spendy and your stuck with dated hardware by the time you've saved anything from doing it).

    I am an upgrade junkie. I dont like leaving things sitting there for years and years. I want things to get better, and if I can do it on my own with some program updates, new add-ons, etc...I can now do that with no problems.

    Thats all I can think of right now, im sure there is more...

    Tivo was great for me for a few years, and probably will continue to get better. I still have a tivo in my bedroom (stuck in a contract till 11/06, stupid mail in rebate! :) ) but will probably spend 200 on a media center extender and ditch that also. Sharing content around my house just got much easier (not quite as cheap as a SA tivo but much cleaner and nicer)

    Id say if you can do it, build a HTPC and see for yourself. My harmony remote integrated seamlessly (wife approved) and my tv watching experience just got better (dual tuners alone is enough to change me).

    If you have CONSTRUCTIVE comments/questions, id be happy to answer them. I dont want this to sound like a Tivo bashing post, and I dont want the fanboys to jump down my throat either. Its a decision I chose to make, and I couldnt be happier with my choice.
  5. Jan 9, 2006 #5 of 16

    programx TiVo Tamer

    Oct 2, 2002
    Isle of Man


    I have just made a similar move, in light of conitnuing lack of support from TiVo or the prospect of it.

    I have a silent PC running that I built myself, a 3GHz thingy with as many cool bells and whistles I could afford in the short term.

    It is currently running WinXP Pro, until I decide whether to purchase MCE and lose the decent features of XP Pro.

    Until then, if you don't like MCE, there are alternatives, like MediaPortal at, which is .NET based and open-source and constantly being updated with equivelant or better functionality. It is Free so won't hurt in testing it.
  6. Jan 9, 2006 #6 of 16

    mshilling New Member

    Dec 12, 2004

    What decent features? The only thing I lost switching from XP pro is the ability to join a domain. Thankfully I dont run a domain at home for my wifes PC and mine, so its no different to me.

    I didnt notice any differences, but I only use MCE on my HTPC and run Gentoo on my desktop so I havent played too much with it.
  7. Jan 9, 2006 #7 of 16

    mjk Lurker

    Mar 13, 2002
    Inverness, UK
    Agreed. MCE is XP Pro with the media center features added and 2 small deletions, one of which is the ability to join a domain. (Apparently there is a workaround for this if you apply it at install time.)

    MCE plays nicely with my other XP Pro machines on my home network and is indistinguishable from the other systems in day-to-day use.
  8. Jan 9, 2006 #8 of 16

    itm New Member

    Aug 12, 2001
    London, UK
    So what are the advantages of MCE over MediaPortal?
    (I currently run the latter for music and XVid/Divx, but haven't splashed out on a TV card since I already have both Tivo and Sky+)
  9. Jan 9, 2006 #9 of 16

    mk-donald New Member

    Dec 16, 2002
    Fascinating stuff.

    Re quote above : don't forget that Microsoft have built SOME degree of MCE functionality into the Xbox 360.. (and HD video...)


  10. Koolvin

    Koolvin New Member

    Nov 5, 2004
    where does MCE get its EPG from and what is it like?
  11. Craig B

    Craig B Member

    Aug 11, 2001
    I decided to wait and not jump into the company scheme. I really like the look of MCE and will almost certainly be getting it in the future.

    I found a machine sold by quietpc that looks great but costs nearly £1200. It seems an awful lot when all I will use it for is TV as I have no interest in using it as a general pc, although running the plugins looks great.

    How do people find the guide data in relation to Tivo? Roughly similar with different errors or vastly better/worse?

    My other question is distribution around the house. I presume it is easy to send the tv/recorded shows to other pc's but how about to other televisions? Can I hook a tv out to an rf distribution box, assuming my video card has an rf-out? I plan on connecting the mce box to my plasma via VGA. Are there any issues on using VGA and tv-out at the same time?
  12. programx

    programx TiVo Tamer

    Oct 2, 2002
    Isle of Man
    As far as I know, MP is better that MCE in that:

    * Its much more open
    * It has wider support for hardware
    * It can use analogue/digital cards in a mixed config
    * See the link I provided for more advantages

    MCE is better than MP in that:

    * Its more stable
    * Its HD capable (I don't think MP is yet)

    But this is second hand knowledge, as I said, I do intend to buy myself a copy of MCE just for informational purposes.

    My only concerns with MCE is its support for .NET/web development/SQL Server installs/etc. Anyone had any experience with this - by chance?
  13. DeadKenny

    DeadKenny New Member

    Nov 9, 2002
    Woking, UK
    What do people reckon to the likes of GB-PVR and MythTV?
  14. sanderton

    sanderton TiVoer since 11/2000

    Jan 4, 2002
    Fine if your main hobby is fiddling with your PVR, not actually using it!

    I an now 99% transitioned from TiVo to MCE. TiVo still records the odd thing on Sky, and I have a second machine recording kids programs, but regular TV viewing is now via XBox 360 extenders from an MCE server.
  15. programx

    programx TiVo Tamer

    Oct 2, 2002
    Isle of Man
    Oh my god. I'm not around here as much as I should but surely if Stuart is 99% on Microsofts camp, the end is surely nigh.

    But my plan is the same. Just need to buy the OEM MCE and qualifying hardware and I will start watching TiVo through MCE and gradually ween it off.
  16. blindlemon


    May 12, 2002
    Malmesbury, UK
    You will regret it when TiVo release a UK series 3 :D:D

Share This Page

spam firewall