SageTV Reviewied - Replacing Windows Media CenterYou are viewing Page 1 of 3 -- Go to page 1 , 2 , 3

SageTV Reviewied - Replacing Windows Media Center

Earlier this year I was faced with a dilemma. A year earlier I started using a computer running Windows XP MCE (Media Center Edition) a year earlier to as my DVD/CD and general audio/video player. Sort of an all-in-one set-top box. As a Netflix customer I was also taking advantage of the streaming service that's included with my rental plan. That's where the problems started.

In January Netflix made a change to their streaming video service. They began using improved DRM which requires Windows Media Player 11. This is something of a problem if you happen to have a version of Windows XP MCE prior to 2005. These older versions run on the same Windows XP operating system as the 2005 release, but due to Microsoft's decision not to provide an upgrade to the Windows Media Center application, Windows Media Player 11 can't be installed on the older versions. If you're paying for a service like Netflix you'll probably find this somewhat a surprising decision. I certainly did, and I immediately set about figuring out how to solve the problem.

Installing Windows Media Player 11

The first part of the problem, installing Windows Media Player 11 on Windows XP MCE 2004, was relatively simple to solve1. However, as I researched the issue I quickly realized it would mean finding a replacement for Windows Media Center, which would cease to function properly with the new WMP version installed. As I looked around for a program that would do everything I used my HTPC for I quickly came to the conclusion that only SageTV met my requirements, in particular the requirement that I be able to keep using my MCE remote. The MCE remote that came with my computer isn't particularly special, but is perfectly usable and I didn't see a reason to replace it unless I absolutely had to. As it turns out it's well supported in SageTV

What Is A HTPC?

A home theater PC, or HTPC, is a computer used to play video through a home theater display (usually a TV or projector). In common usage HTPC has come to mean a computer used for video capture or media playback through a TV (or other display) and home theater receiver. Most people also assume it to mean a dedicated computer, typically controlled by a remote control instead of a mouse and keyboard. It's a sort of all-in-one set-top box that may be able to record TV shows as a DVR, store and play your entire music collection, as well as storing and playing a variety of video formats in addition to DVDs and possibly Blu-ray or HD DVD.

Why Use a HTPC?

For me the decision to use a HTPC is based on a number of factors. Rather than a DVR, it's used to hold my library of nearly 300 CDs, a selection of DVDs, XviD and AVC files, home movies from our DV camcorder. and photos from our digital camera. In recent months its also seen increased use for streaming video. Between network streams and the Netflix service (where I could get Heroes in higher quality than through my satellite dish) I've spent many hours watching some of the same content I would have gotten from regular TV in the past. Eventually I may even add a DTV card for over-the-air captures. This is a combination of features that no DVD player or set-top box can match.

Continued On Page 2

Next I'll give my impressions of installing and configuring SageTV, including screenshots.

Page 2 - Installing SageTV

SageTV Reviewied - Replacing Windows Media CenterYou are viewing Page 1 of 3 -- Go to page 1 , 2 , 3

1Installing WMP 11 on Windows MCE 2004

If you'd like to see how I installed Windows Media Player 11 on my computer running Windows XP MCE 2004 you can read our guide on the subject.

Table of Contents

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Installing SageTV
  3. 3. Running SageTV
Written by: Rich Fiscus