MCE 2005 general setup questions

fredweston

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Ok, I just recently bought a copy of Windows MCE 2005 and the MCE remote control to put together a simple media center box for use in the living room. I have a lot of video stored on my network that I would like to be able to play back on my TV.

So here are a couple questions, I'm just looking for simple answers instead of googling each one.

1) I assume you don't need to have TV tuners installed if you don't care about watching/recording TV with MCE?

2) Do I need anything other than a standard PC with TVOut and the MCE remote control?

3) Does MCE support DivX, QuickTime, AVI, etc the same way Windows XP does? I.E. can I install the same codecs I'd use on a regular PC, or is MCE somehow different?

4) Real world system requirements? Does MCE add any substantial overhead, or can I just go by what I would need to play the content on a regular XP box?

5) From what I have read, it seems like MCE is just XP Home with an added front-end for accessing content using a remote control. As I understand it, it still functions as a regular PC that you can play games on, or run any other standard Windows app?
 

exit2dos

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Ok, I just recently bought a copy of Windows MCE 2005 and the MCE remote control to put together a simple media center box for use in the living room. I have a lot of video stored on my network that I would like to be able to play back on my TV.

So here are a couple questions, I'm just looking for simple answers instead of googling each one.

1) I assume you don't need to have TV tuners installed if you don't care about watching/recording TV with MCE?

2) Do I need anything other than a standard PC with TVOut and the MCE remote control?

3) Does MCE support DivX, QuickTime, AVI, etc the same way Windows XP does? I.E. can I install the same codecs I'd use on a regular PC, or is MCE somehow different?

4) Real world system requirements? Does MCE add any substantial overhead, or can I just go by what I would need to play the content on a regular XP box?

5) From what I have read, it seems like MCE is just XP Home with an added front-end for accessing content using a remote control. As I understand it, it still functions as a regular PC that you can play games on, or run any other standard Windows app?

1) No, you don't need a tuner. The tuner card is nice, however as it gives you TIVO-like functions (Pause/rewind live tv, DVR capability, etc.)

2) As long as your PC is a decent speed, then you shouldn't have a problem. MCE is a little picky about graphics, however. As long as you have a 9600/x800 (ATI), 5200 (Nvidia), or better. If you're using integrated graphics, make sure it's MCE approved.

3) DivX and Quicktime are not supported out of the box, but there are plug-ins available.
All standard Media Player formats (AVI, WMV, etc) are supported.

4) The only overhead process is "ehome" which is basically checking your remote for pressed buttons. No noticable loss on any of my machines, but you can always kill the processes if it does cause a lag if you have a low-end computer.

5) It's actually XP-Pro with an added front-end. (The only difference, internally, between Pro and MCE is that MCE does not use "domains" - which isn't a problem unless you have a Windows NT or 2000Pro computer on your network.)
Unless you're using the Media Center functions, your computer is just a regular PC running XP.
 

fredweston

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Thanks for the info. I have a 128M Radeon 9200, I assumed it would work since it plays video and rudimentary games just fine. I always thought MCE was XP Home since it didn't support domains or remote desktop. The two reasons I'd actually need XP Pro, heh...
 

exit2dos

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Thanks for the info. I have a 128M Radeon 9200, I assumed it would work since it plays video and rudimentary games just fine. I always thought MCE was XP Home since it didn't support domains or remote desktop. The two reasons I'd actually need XP Pro, heh...

I think during setup you can choose to include domain support. The reason it is off by default is that the extender boxes and the Xbox 360 require fast-switching, so you wouldn't be able to stream media with domain support.
But, I wouldn't try installing with a 9200 anyways. :(
 

fredweston

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I'm pretty sure it doesn't support domain membership at all, but thanks for the info. I'm going to give the 9200 a try tonight, seems logical to assume that since it works great in XP Pro for playing videos that it would work equally good in MCE.
 

fredweston

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Ok, so I stand corrected, it is XP Pro. :) And the 9200 isn't cutting it, I get an error that the video card isn't supported. I'm definitely gonna have to check out that domain hack because entering a password everytime I reboot or logoff is already tiresome. Do you know where I could find a list of supported video cards?
 

fredweston

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So, when they're talking about compatability, what exactly does that mean? The O/S works fine and can play videos and all that. The media center front end even comes up and everything works, except for playing video, but only through the media center. If I play the exact same video through regular Windows Explorer it works fine. Seems like software designed *not* to work on older cards even though there's no technical reason it couldn't. *sigh*
 

exit2dos

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MCE wants a hardware based mpeg decoder, and at least a dx8 card. I don't know why since video playback is based on Media Player. At least you should be able to find a used 9600 or 9800 for next to nothing.

I would stick with ATI on the low end. I've had systems with the Nvidia 5200 and the 5900 and have had random lock-ups playing video - so I stay away from the 5000 series. I've never had a problem on the ATI 9600 or 9800, or the Nvidia 7800.