Build Your Own Media Center PC - Part 1

Microsoft's idea for a computer that acts as the central nervous system for you home theater is a great one. Having a personal video recorder (PVR) to store my favorite television programming for later viewing makes sense. Offering a convenient solution for playing back video and audio from my PC through my home theater makes sense too. On the other hand, buying a new computer specifically designed for this purpose is silly; I've already invested money in most of the components required to make the equivalent of a Media Center PC, why not adapt what I've already got?

Starting with the next issue, I'm going to take you through the steps involved in turning your computer into a home theater system capable of being integrated into your existing component home theater, or acting as a standalone home theater without using any of your existing components. Home theater PCs have been outlined in other publications, but most of them expect you to build from scratch, hand picking components as you go. If you're in the market for a new system anyway, building a new system is obviously ideal. Chances are, you've already got most of what you need in your existing machine, so it's silly to expect you to throw out your old PC and replace it with something new each time you come up with a new computing project.

My goal is to show you what's need in building a Media Center, so you can establish which hardware and software components you already have and add on accordingly. For the user interface, we'll take a look at MythTV, creators of an outstanding substitute for the Media Center interface.