Way back in ‘06 I setup a home DVR based on BeyondTV, a pretty nicely done Windows DVR app. That was long, long ago, but frankly we had no reason to change, so we just kept on time-shifting by doing recordings through a tuner card and our ancient Comcast cable box.
But for all things there is a time and for the old DVR, that time has come. I wanted to do streaming, and I wanted to cut my costs with Comcast, so I set out to build a new rig to replace the old. A few hours on trusty newegg.com and I had the right list of components:
- MSI A78M-E35 Motherboard
- AMD A8-5500 Trinity Quad-Core 3.2GHz FM2 65W Desktop APU with DirectX 11 Graphics
- SILVERSTONE Black Aluminum / Steel ML04B Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case
- SILVERSTONE Strider Plus ST50F-P 500W ATX PS
- Scythe SCSK-1100 100mm Shuriken Rev. B 3 Heat Pipes CPU Cooler
- Rosewill RHRC-11002 Windows 7 Certified MCE IR Remote Controller
- Seagate Hybrid Drive ST1000DX001 1TB MLC/8GB 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s
- ASUS Black Blu-ray Drive SATA Model BC-12B1ST
- SiliconDust HDHR3-CC HDHomeRun PRIME digital tuner
Neat things … first of all these AMD combined CPU/GPU chips seem cool to me, literally and figuratively. No graphics card needed, the CPU has one built in. With 65W power, the whole thing draws little power. The Scythe Shuriken cooler is a low-profile unit, fits just right in the case and is extremely quiet. The Seagate drive … 1 TB and close to SSD speeds, for $80; what’s not to like?
Case and power supply are from Silverstone. I wanted to get a fairly small case to fit in my TV stand and the Silverstone fits that bill. The inside setup is tight, though, so make sure you get a PS as small as the Strider.
The thing that makes it all work is the HDHomeRun PRIME from SiliconDust. It was with some trepidation I took my 2 old Comcast cable boxes and headed for their service center. Expecting an interrogation, instead in 5 mins and with no hassle I had traded in the boxes for a cable card, a way to get authenticated content from your cable provider. Back at home, plugged the HDHomeRun onto my home network, plugged the cable card into the HDHomeRun and, after a few short calls to Comcast activation, voila! I now have 3 – count ‘em, 3! – digital TV tuners on my network.
The DVR app is Windows Media Center, which is a “free” part of Win 7 Ultimate. This of course is what put BeyondTV out of the personal DVR business. Still doing the setup to WMC, like making our recording rules. And while I can watch all our old shows in WMC, the UI for searching through them frankly sucks. One thing that was built in to BeyondTV was compression and commercial-skips. Now with WMC I need an add on like DVRMSToolbox.
Lastly, with this new box I finally have a Blu-ray player. First disk to get: Blade Runner 30th Anniversary Collectors Edition. DVRs: Like any other machine, either a benefit, or a hazard …