My friend Ajai has quite the little home theatre set up in his basement. Big screen HD TV, a couple of DVD players, full 5.1 surround sound, and a couple of other components that I didn’t even recognize. But the latest very cool thing he has is the Windows Media Centre PC. It’s a standard PC running Windows XP, with an application called Windows Media Centre. He’s got his digital cable running into the PC, and he can use it as a PVR. He’s got the PC set up to “broadcast” throughout his house on channel 80, and you can then use the remote control to control the PC output – get live TV (including pause and rewind), or set it up to record stuff to the hard drive and then watch it at your leisure later. He’s got tons of his CDs ripped so he can play any of them at any time, and even has tons of digital pictures saved on there, so he can do slide shows.
I don’t have the need (or the money) for a brand new computer, but since most of the processing power is in the PVR card anyway, I don’t need one. I can get a card and a new hard drive (one hour of TV is about 1 GB), and if I can get the PC to broadcast out over the cable, then all I need is a way to send the remote control signals upstairs to the TV, and I can do that with a remote control extender – about $40 at Radio Shack. This could be extremely cool.