MCE 2005 Mini Review
The first iteration worked well but sounded like a Jet Plane taking off. After a hunt around I settled on a new case and fitted a Q-Technology silent PSU and a Zalman Copper Heatsink/Fan with the speed set at 1800 rpm. Choosing the video card without a fan had already helped a degree. The PC is now quieter than either the Tivo or a Sky+ .
My first “Gotcha” was that MCE is not supplied with an MPEG codec for DVD playback – This was sorted as I had already decided to use TheaterTek and the nVidia codec works a treat.
Second gotcha was driving the AV receiver with a digital signal and retaining the DTS/DD5.1. The SoundBlaster sorted this out for the DVD but I still need to bottom out 5.1 mp3 files.
In use, I am more than happy (but with one exception – see later) with the dual channel TV recording and the media (mp3, VCD, xVid, etc) playback. This PC can happily replace the old DVD, MVP and Netgem freeview boxes.
However, I am finding that the playback is not quite as reliable as Tivo. On three occasions so far Media centre (the front end application only) needs to be restarted to clear an error in playing back video (any format). I hope to track this down but it is annoying.
Finally, I love the front end and find it a breeze to navigate – probably easier, and definitely faster than Tivo. I think that it has earned a permanent home under the TV.
Now need to see if there is a web front-end to xPLHal that I can integrate! (Homeseer do something for MCE so I am hopeful!)