My first HTPC in 2003 was based around a VIA M10000 “Nehemiah” mini-itx motherboard and a Hauppauge WinTV PVR-350 tv tuner. After trying some different media center software I found GB-PVR which was the only one that could use the hardware MPEG2 decoder on the PVR-350 without crashing every other minute. This turned out to be a perfect match, the VIA mini-itx motherboard was power efficient and silent, the PVR-350 made nice recordings (hardware MPEG2 encoder too) and it looked very nice when outputted to my Sony CRT. GB-PVR took care of all the recordings and made et easy to control it all on the TV with a remote.
However after a couple of years I decided that it would be nice to be able to play games on the machine too, and be able to play back other formats than what the PVR-350 could output (MPEG and MPEG2). So I build a new machine around an Asus micro-atx motherboard (Asus N4L-VM/DH). The tv tuner was soon upgraded to a DVB-C (digital cabel tv) tuner, ‘cos I didn’t need the hardware decoding on the PVR-350 anymore and I wanted to improve the quality of the recordings. The DVB-C tuner was a cheap Twinhan DVB-C (Mantis 2033) which I found on an auction site (it turned out that at the time people had a lot of trouble with the DVB-C cards, so they were selling them cheaply…). This worked perfectly in GB-PVR and was soon joined by a Terratec Cinergy DVB-C 1200, bought the same way.
At this time (2008), most channels on digital cabel from YouSee was encryptet. So I had to get a smart card reader and I spend a lot of time making it work. In the end it worked though I made a couple of posts about it on my old blog:
- Yipii, GB-PVR, multidec, Yankse and NewCS is working! – 2008-02-18
- ACamd v0.5.0.9 multidec cardserver – 2008-04-09
- Newcs cardserver in Linux – 2008-07-25
- A little (late) update, DVB-C multidec recordings now works in GB-PVR – 2009-01-02
After that the encryption was lifted on most channels, and I didn’t bother moving the smart card reader to the next build.
In 2010 I build my current HTPC, which is based around another Asus motherboard (P7Q57-M DO). This is using the same “old” Twinhan and Terratec DVB-C cards, but where the two first machines ran Windows XP, this one is running Windows 7, and GB-PVR has been upgraded to NextPVR (newest version of GB-PVR). I also run Boxee on it, which is perfect for navigating my DVDs and online content.
For music I use iTunes, mostly because there are some great remote apps for the iPod Touch and Android (see My favorite Android apps right now). This lets me listen to music without having to turn on the TV.