"XP MCE 2005: A HUGE waste of dollars!"1.0 starson by Dirty Al
Pros: Good for watching TV only...but for all that money? No!
Cons: Highly restricted by copyright protection.
Summary: Are you looking set up a digital replacement for your clunky
old VCR? Are you looking to copy live TV to your hard drive
for editing and burning to recordable media? Well Windows
XP Pro Media Center Edition is definitely NOT for you!
That's what I thought I was gonna do, so I spent quite a wad
building a new system. It's mandantory that you do that. You
absolutely must have a super-charged CPU, a large-capacity
SATA hard drive or two, an MCE-compatible TV tuner card
and a special Microsoft MCE Remote Control. (The system
laughs at you if you try to configure it with only a mouse)
Everytime you buy something new, it turns out you still don't
have enough. The end result is that you find out the whole
project was a big waste of time to start with! The shows that
you copy to your HDD you'll find are in a format you've never
experienced before (.dvr-ms) which is totally unfriendly to
people who want to save their favorite shows and movies
onto recordable digital media.
It seems that Microsoft has joined in with this copyright-protection
frenzy that has taken over the world of entertainment. And
I mean they have joined in with a vengeance! They don't give
a rosy rat's ass what their customers think about it either. This is
really ironic, considering the fact that Bill Gates got started in
the computer business by copying other people's software.
Whether or not you personally think these new laws are valid,
the fact remains that people have been copying live TV for
about three decades now, for their own domestic use and with
no thoughts of piracy or profit. But now that we've graduated
from VHS to DVD, for some reason the industry moguls have
gone livid with paranoia, certain that everyone who breathes
is trying to "steal" from them. Forget that practically nobody
sells the stuff they record.
Well, save a televised movie to your new expensive SATA
HDD and then try to transfer it to DVD-R, +R, RW, or whatever.
You can't do it! You can only view the saved content through
Media Center, as long as it's still on your hard drive which, as
we all know, can fill up pretty dang rapidly.
The unprotected shows can be recorded to DVD, but you're on
your own to find the software you'll need to re-encode DVR-MS
to regular MPEG first. The first program I found cost 40 bucks
and took over two hours to encode a half-hour episode of
Malcolm in the Middle. And that was only after I re-set it up
from three initial crashes. Then I had to find more software to
help me cut out the commercials which the first program
dishonestly claimed it could do. Luckily I already own DVD
authoring software, so I didn't have to purchase that. But then,
after all that work and expense, I found out that the end product
really and truly SUCKS. The video is actually worse than VHS.
And, speaking of VHS, try to transfer your old tapes to DVD using
this piece-o-junk system. It would take too long to relate all the
gory details here, so just trust me that it's not worth the immense
trouble to even try it.
Do yourself a favor. Buy a standalone DVD recorder to connect
to your cable or satellite receiver in place of your old VCR. It'll
be much cheaper and simpler, not to mention the fact that the
end result will be much higher quality and, most of all, it works!
I wish somebody had told me all this stuff before I spent all that
dough. My only consolation is that I now own a really kick-ass