My First Media Center

Back in 7 years ago when I was starting my existence in Jakarta, living in a boarding house, to please my entertainment needs I bought a mini-hifi plays CD, VCD, cassette and FM radio comes with a remote control, then adding a small 14” TV also came with a remote control too, so in a small 3×3 m2 room I already had 2 remote controls. After 2 years, my life goes on and got a chance to marry a lady then moved to my own house, started with a living room, I decided to add some spice to my home entertainment life, bought a Home theater set with 5.1 for surround system, also it came with another remote, changing the TV to a bigger 21” screen and shift the old TV to bedroom, then all remote in the living room became 3, after through the years i decided to join digital entertainment and changed to LCD TV and watching TV is not just rely on the free-to-air service captured by coaxial antenna, digital satellite TV comes into market, so I subscribed to one digital satellite pay-tv service, once again it then add another remote to my living room became f.o.u.r.

In this digital age, everyone digitally stores their moments a.k.a photos in a digital format, keep it in flash drive, CD, DVD even hard drive…then view it trough a computer with its own monitor sits in different room is the only way to view the photos instead print it out (expensive!).

Well it’s enough! No more fun if you had to control so called “entertainment devices” by its own remote separately and each remote scattered all over the livingroom, moving to another room just to recall my moments…omigod! Where is DVD remote, oh here it is…no…no ssshhuuut! It’s a TV remote….gosh! Let’s do something.

Mission:

Build a centralized media center system or Home Theater PC (HTPC) or Digital Livingroom or whatever it may called with 1 remote control connected to LCD TV via HDMI with limited budget.

 
Options:
  • Apple TV ….geeeezzz! they call it TV ? no TV, it has HDMI but no dvd/cd drive, …funny huh! Cost Rp. 2.8 mio with only 40 Gb storage .
  • Mac Mini with Front Row media center, much better but still no TV and no HDMI. Cost Rp. 5.6 mio .
  • MythTv run on Linux….. hmmm I just want to enjoy an entertaining living room not a computer freak or rocket scientist while my wife just a lady doing cross-stich for killing time! I better stay away from **ux thing if dowan to be bothered by compatibility issue.
I’ve ran this killing time activity from dreaming, research, find the ingredients, test, set the best configuration for 3 month with all pessimistic and funny looks from most of my colleague when I mentioned the idea, not to mention hard to get approval from my wife especially when it deals on the wallet stuff….

Gear Setup:

The Flesh and Bone

  • AMD Athlon X2 4000+
  • 2 GB RAM
  • Simbadda CX-10 mini-tower😦😦 the only reasonable price for HTPC shape casing available in Jakarta market.
  • Biostar TA690G onboard HDMI (this motherboard like “i got all your need” store).
  • ATI X1250 integrated VGA
  • Realtek 5.1 integrated soundcard.
  • 160 Gb SATA II – Seagate
  • Sound Thrower: Altec Lansing ATP 3 and Pioneer HTZ 330 5.1 5600watt PMPO.
  • TV/FM Tuner/Recorder: Hauppauge PVR 150MCE.
  • Digital Set-top Box : Indovision.

The Soul

  • Windows Vista Media Center
  • My Movie 2.4 plug-in
  • Magic DVD ripper
  • K-lite codec pack

Show Time

Sit back, relax and enjoy my Pandora’s Box (Pandora’s Box was a mythical container of plague, sorrow, poverty, crime and hope. Pandora opened the box and released everything but hope – * from Memory Alpha, the free Star Trek reference). Yeah it release me from all pain about lots remote, storage and player of different medias and leave me hope for enjoying my living room.

Let’s start with TV, yeah its a TV the de-facto entertainment device,a must have device, remember TV stands for Television, Tele – Vision, having visibility of pictures broadcasted from its station away from your place, so I don’t get the point why Apple call it’s device AppleTV while can’t receive a broadcast, do you get what I meant? Vista media center provide interesting guide, unfortunately since I’m living in Indonesia I couldn’t get this service available on Vista, I was start to blame Microsoft for having cynical marketing strategy on my country, but after googling arround I found that no one provide centralized TV guide services here in Indonesia, so its not MS fault, well then i see an opportunity if somebody able to provide a service for collecting TV schedules (about 10 nationwide free-to-air services and 4 pay-tv services) then sell it and surely you can make money just buy collecting at least a week schedule man..nothing more than that.

Sometimes I missed a show, my favorite show or other interesting show, but not now since the TV tunner also have capability to record live TV then watch it later, so I’m not gonna miss Happy Feet on HBO and my wife will never miss Star World’s Desperates Housewives every Tuesday.

Now about the FM radio, my media center should have ability to bring live entertainment from outside into my livingroom, that’s the main objectives my livingroom should receives and plays any-taining from outside as well as stored, so FM radio does matter too, “video kill the radio stars…” yea yea….not in my case, the radio star should always be alive so if my eyes got tired or i need to do something else then switching on the radio will keeps me entertained and keeps updated about anything happen outside my livingroom, oh yea … while cleaning house on saturday, I listens to Kiss FM’s Saturday rock week end, with a single remote control offcourse…

Movie..movie, I know the best place for movies is going to the theater with a cup of popcorn, sometimes I’m just too lazy to go out for movies, mostly because of traffic, for people living in suburb like me, going downtown on week end is not always a good idea and staying home become a better choice, so having a bunch of ripped video clips and DVDs will help a lot, only hard drive size is your limit.

I uses MyMovie free plug-in to copy my favorite DVDs and the easiest to use Magic DVD ripper for ripping video clips into hard drive, whenerver I wanted to watch, its just a click away, in my livingroom video don’t kill the radio stars, rather they live together under one command..one remote control everything on my finger tip. Lots of plugin out there to chose for managing digital movies but i found the two mentioned above just suite my need.

Ears that matters! hmmm..tired sitting on the couch so let’s wake up and do something dude! …let the music play out loud! Just scroll over the wall of music and sing it loud Metallica, sing it softly Nat King cole!…..sssshut up! Now listen somebody sing for Jesus…praise the Lord! all from the same remote on my finger tip. With internet connection available I can maintain album art and other infos regarding my music library automatically.

…and the memories remains, all the pictures taken from my Dynax 5D and scanned old pictures sits on same place, viewed with the same display, picked by the same remote control, when friends or relatives comes its so easy to show them up, plus background music while playing slideshow..oooh sweeeeeeet! But…shuuuuuuuuut! where is my sexy models I shoot in Batavia’s toilet…why my wife filling up my hard drive..geeeezz!

Thanks to all geniuses for the invention of remote control…hail to Vista media center for playing anything over single remote control….still I need to sleep nite nite..

5 Responses

  1. Blog bagus !

    Senang menemukan teman sehobi😉 — sebagai alternatif untuk remote control bisa pakai mouse Logitech MX Air –> http://www.logitech.com/index.cfm/mice_pointers/mice/devices/3443&cl=us,en

    Mouse ini keren banget karena nggak perlu meja/alas untuk mengontrol HTPC

  2. Wah…. koq baru sekarang ketemu blog ini yah….

    Isinya menarik, senang akhirnya ketemu teman-teman di alur yang sama. Boleh tau kang, gimana caranya mengurangi noise dari kipas casing?

    Soalnya pas putar film tertentu, suara kipasnya kadang mengganggu.

    • Wah sama, saya juga senang ada yang tertarik dengan media center.
      Kalo untuk masalah noise dari casing, saya memang awali dengan pemilihan casing yang pas,trus saya ganti PSU bawaan casing dengan PSU Silverstone ato PSU lain yang pakai kipas dengan diameter blade 120mm, begitu juga exhaust fan dari casing, juga saya ganti dengan fan optional yang punya blade 120mm, kipas bawaan dimatikan saja

  3. […] 2 tahun berselang sejak pertama kali membangun HTPC berbasis Windows Vista Media Center (VMC) yang sekarang sudah jadi bagian tak terpisahkan dari […]

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