For some time now I have been trying to set up an inexpensive media center PC to record from Foxtel and manage my multimedia collection.
I find it amazing how many hurdles I have encountered on the way.
I had already Windows 7 Home Premium so this was the obvious choice of operating system.
First up I tried to use a Pentium 4 system that I had spare but it was difficult to find an AGP video card that was compatible with Windows 7 and that could display 1920x1080. I did end up getting a Matrox card to work, but it required some hacking.
I planned to connect the Foxtel set top box to the composite video input of a TV tuner card. I was also going to use the Foxtel remote to change channels. I bought a digital TV tuner card with an analog input and plugged it in. I then found out that the analog input of many DTV tuner cards will not work in Windows 7 Media Center. So that card was sold on eBay and the search for a compatible card started. Apparently Hauppauge are one of the few that work.
In the meantime I acquired a Pentium Dual Core specifically for the Media Center PC role.
Eventually I found a used Hauppauge WinTV PVR 250 which I thought would be compatible. It was delivered but found to be faulty. Surprisingly the seller had another and swapped it for me.
With the replacement card in finally I could get composite video input in Media Center. Unfortunately I came across a new problem which was that I needed IR hardware to control the Foxtel set top box. I wasn't going to use this hardware so I found it annoying that Microsoft demanded it.
More hacking was required, this time the installation of a virtual IR device, which resolved the problem. (You can download this driver here
.) I did have to choose a set top box from a list and pretend that it was working before I could finish set up of the TV tuner.
So things were progressing... straight to the next problem. I have a widescreen TV but the picture was 4:3. There is probably no resolution to that problem as I think it is due to the old analog card. I will look into that later.
Now I am ready to move the new PC to the main TV. I plug it in and it is forced back to 1280x1024, with no option to increase the resolution past 1366x768.
Will I ever get this going?