The last couple of weeks have seen some additions made to the Home Theater PC I built in the spring. One of the things that I wanted to add from the beginning, but held off on due to my budget, was a TV tuner. I got a good deal on the one I wanted at a local Fry’s and got it set it up with my system.
I am using the external HDHomerun tuner and I am very impressed so far. The tuner has two tuners built in which allows me to watch and record two different shows at the same time. Currently, my input signal is the free channels provided by our local cable provider. I tried using my rabbit ears to get the over the air channels, but the signal was not strong enough for recording. The free cable channels work well and the networks are all in HD. I used a splitter to take advantage of the dual tuners. I am using Windows Media Center to manage all my recording and I am pleased with the results thus far.
The only issue that I have run into is that sometimes my recordings do not play back very smoothly in Windows Media Center (Windows 7 x64, RC). This is not a huge issue because I can simply minimize WMC and place the files in Windows Media Player from the desktop.
The tuner has been an awesome addition and I highly recommend it, especially if you just get the free channels and don’t want to pay your cable or satellite provider extra for a DVR and channels you never watch. The tuner effectively completed my HTPC so anything I add to it now will be upgrades.
In the area of upgrades, Newegg had a great deal on Samsung 1.5 TB drives a couples of weeks ago. I was able to pick up two drives for about $95/drive shipped. This upgrade was necessary because ripping HD movies to the HDD typically takes anywhere between 7-10 GB using the method I prefer. That starts taking up space on a HDD very quickly.
I am very pleased with the Samsung drives. I now own three Samsung drives (a 1 TB and 2 1.5 TB drives) and have not had a single hiccup yet. The addition of the Samsung drives raised the internal storage on my HTPC to 5 TB with a 500 GB external that I record TV shows on.
Below are some pictures of the guts of my HTPC as it is now. I’m not very good at cable management but it works and everything stays cool.