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Topic # 13656 22-May-2007 11:34
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Here's the draw card./.

I'm involved in kitting out some top end systems.
1080p 7.1 Home Theatre...  blah blah
More and more clients are now asking for media centres.. ('future proof' is contagious I tell you.)

My dilemma is one of product stability vs customer service.
Clients want functionality of digital media with the robust, appliance like performance.
But PC's don't integrate cleanly with dedicated Home Theatre. There's always an issue. If not now, then later.
Customers don't have IT support. So they always call Ghost busters. Thinking it wasn't set up right just because they crashed it all.
Now I can't afford the time to support media PC's. But the customer is always right and so I can't afford to not integrate them either..

So does anyone know of any bulletproof high end Media Centre style options?
your advice welcome.


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  Reply # 71632 22-May-2007 11:49
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Unfortunately no media PC is bullet proof. That is the problem with integrating a PC into home theater. If you just want a media player for just music try something like the Modix 3520. I am yet to see an ultimate media player/PC that does everything.




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  Reply # 71642 22-May-2007 12:10
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My Windows XP MCE PC is more or less bulletproof.... until the xmltvnz app fails to work against the tvnz, sky or tv3 websites and I have to d/l a new version.  You would have that problem on any media pc that uses it though.

I also dont install google/yahoo toolbars, cool email icon and msn addins or click the "click here NOW" links on web pages.  The fact that a Media PC is still a PC which can have other elements introduced is the main reason for instability.  That probably explains why i've never had a crash in the 1+ years I've been running it.

I would think that the only real "bulletproof" option would be one so locked down that the end user couldnt change anything and if thats the case you might as well buy components instead.

(i guess that if you gave end-users linux based media center pc's they might be too scared to try and change anything... :P)




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  Reply # 71644 22-May-2007 12:12
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As others have said, I don't think there is any easy way of having something that's bullet proof and doesn't require some form of PC knowledge when things go wrong. Because we don't have official EPG in New Zealand it means using something like XMLTVNZ to scape the data from websites or a DVB feed in XML format such as the hairy.geek.nz one. Both of these encounter problems from time to time and XMLTVNZ is a product that needs to be upgraded regularly when the likes of Sky and TVNZ purposely change their sites to stop you from being able to scape data.

I know Steven Ellis from OpenMedia has a very good MythTV based product that is probably as close as you're going to get in NZ. My GB-PVR setup works extremely well but I wouldn't want to go as far as recommending it to a user who struggles to understand how to use a VCR.


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  Reply # 71661 22-May-2007 13:16
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I would agree. No OS is bullet proof, Windows XP, MCE, Vista or Linux. But the key problem in NZ is the EPG which doesn't exist and has to be hacked. And XMLTVNZ while really good, does suffer from some complexities and the vagaries of the sites changing all the time.  I would pay for a reliable EPG feed - $5/month perhaps. If we look at how many fokls are using XMLTVNZ now (looking at the downloads) that would be reasonable revenue stream for SKY, TVx et al to cover their costs. To save on hosting costs the entire EPG  could even be delivered over BT!

While my gbpvr system runs 24x7 occasionally it reboots (no idea) and every now and then if fails to record a show and I can't for the life of me work out why looking at the logs. I put it down to tape jamming in the VCR!

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  Reply # 71774 22-May-2007 22:05
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Has anyone approached the publishers of TV Guide?

For each subscriber to the paper copy of the TV guide, it would be a nice little "added extra" to offer *THE SAME INFORMATION* in an electronic format (i.e. an EPG). Sure it would be a niche product, but hell, the market is there... it just needs to be developed.

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  Reply # 71782 22-May-2007 22:30
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I was thinking of approaching sky and asking how much it would cost to legally get access to their xml feed and be allowed to 'sell' it.

Then host the guide data on my website, and require username/pw to access (you would have to subscribe, $x per month which would mostly go towards sky), from there on you could import it into your media pc, or you could have an xml feed for your vista side bar or what ever!

I may email them soon, after exams.

It seems that there may be enough interested people for this to work for both parties involved (sky and us...)

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  Reply # 71805 23-May-2007 06:43
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I recall reading somewhere online last year (so take the truth of it with a grain of salt) that somebody wanting to gain access to the program information to publish an electronic EPG was going to have to pay around $3k per week for this information. Obviously if you're the likes of the TV guide or NZ Herald this is peanuts. If you're somebody wanting to launch a service then it is reastically feasible but a lot of work would have to be put into it to build a subscription based model and with all the free options obviously nobody nobody wants to invest the money.






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  Reply # 71922 23-May-2007 16:54
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Thanks for all your responses.
It's good to see the openmedia boxes are out there. I'll be sure to keep an eye on them. Thanks sbiddle.
Agreed that all O/S have issues. Some more than others ahem.. *cough* vista.

And of course EPG is something that will bring media PC's into their own.
There is so much more than just the domestic programming to tap into. 
 http://www.solomonrothman.com/blog/2007/04/10/100-reviewed-places-to-watch-free-movies-online/

Also very interesting to see that Pirate Bay are setting up a YouTube rival.
 
 

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  Reply # 71926 23-May-2007 17:00
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IMHO a working EPG is the single most important part of a PVR.

Since I built my GB-PVR setup I actually find I spend very little watching live TV any longer although I do probably watch more TV than I did in the past. Since I'm normally at the gym around 6pm I watch the news when I get home and it takes me around 15-20 mins to watch the whole hour since I can skip out the ads and trashy stories. I can also sit there and flick through the EPG and set programs to record and watch them at a later date and even record a whole series if I want.

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  Reply # 75165 19-Jun-2007 14:26
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swiftideas: Here's the draw card./.

I'm involved in kitting out some top end systems.
1080p 7.1 Home Theatre... blah blah
More and more clients are now asking for media centres.. ('future proof' is contagious I tell you.)

My dilemma is one of product stability vs customer service.
Clients want functionality of digital media with the robust, appliance like performance.
But PC's don't integrate cleanly with dedicated Home Theatre. There's always an issue. If not now, then later.
Customers don't have IT support. So they always call Ghost busters. Thinking it wasn't set up right just because they crashed it all.
Now I can't afford the time to support media PC's. But the customer is always right and so I can't afford to not integrate them either..

So does anyone know of any bulletproof high end Media Centre style options?
your advice welcome.



Assuming you are the service provider who set up the system.....

(1) Use Vista media centre .. turn on automatic updates..
(2) Set up a users for the client with least amount of priviledges and lock it down as much as possible. Give them admin password - so they can install application - but they would be using standard logins
(3) set up your EPG on your server - and point to it on the Media centre setup.

It wont be ullet proof - but unless the user is stupid, it should minimise the support.

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Reply # 75483 21-Jun-2007 10:25

I concur that there appears to be no media centres on the common market that can be notated as "bulletproof"...
I took some units up the rifle range the other day & a .303 projectile went right through them


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