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View Full Version : Time to move from BTV to MCE/XBOX's??


Duc Hunter
08-15-2006, 11:28 AM
A friend is running a MS MCE2005 system and an XBOX with the Media Extender and an XBOX360 with a Media Extender. His server sits in his closet in the garage and his 2 TV's have the Xbox’s attached to them. He simply powers up the XBOX with the ME Remote and he has full access to his server as if he was sitting at its console. His wife can be on the other TV and do the same thing and have her own full access to the server. See, with the ME's the Xbox’s act like BTV Link systems for the MCE2005 Server. With MCE2005 he has everything we have with BTV and Beyond Media. This seems to be a very elegant and simple solution to running a central server feeding multiple TV's. So elegant in fact that I am considering switching. Now he has a wired network in his house but this can be done wireless as well.

The kicker is I know nothing about MCE. The only big caveat I see is that I have all my shows in DIVX format to save space and not looks quality and it does not appear that MCE2005 can read DIVX files. What are your thought on this though everyone? Seems pretty slick to me, esp. with the price of the old Xbox’s no-a-days.

Rich A
08-15-2006, 11:41 AM
A friend is running a MS MCE2005 system and an XBOX with the Media Extender and an XBOX360 with a Media Extender. His server sits in his closet in the garage and his 2 TV's have the Xbox’s attached to them. He simply powers up the XBOX with the ME Remote and he has full access to his server as if he was sitting at its console. His wife can be on the other TV and do the same thing and have her own full access to the server. See, with the ME's the Xbox’s act like BTV Link systems for the MCE2005 Server. With MCE2005 he has everything we have with BTV and Beyond Media. This seems to be a very elegant and simple solution to running a central server feeding multiple TV's. So elegant in fact that I am considering switching. Now he has a wired network in his house but this can be done wireless as well.

The kicker is I know nothing about MCE. The only big caveat I see is that I have all my shows in DIVX format to save space and not looks quality and it does not appear that MCE2005 can read DIVX files. What are your thought on this though everyone? Seems pretty slick to me, esp. with the price of the old Xbox’s no-a-days.

I wouldn't switch from BTV to "anything" else, especially MCE. I have it, used it, got rid of it. Be careful when saying it will do "everything" that BTV could. It can't. Why just in your post you mention a problem with DIVX files.

When you start comparing cost / feature list AND all the little things BTV does, then you'll find MCE not as nice.

Duc Hunter
08-15-2006, 11:46 AM
Ok, Rich, interesting point. I was looking for that list of things BTV is better at as I am very unfamiliar with MCE 2005. I know the old MCE was crap. Can you produce that list in short form?

Lets be clear too, I love my BTV.........MCE 2005 just seems to be a very elegant solution.

bits
08-15-2006, 12:09 PM
I wouldn't switch from BTV to "anything" else, especially MCE. I have it, used it, got rid of it. Be careful when saying it will do "everything" that BTV could. It can't. Why just in your post you mention a problem with DIVX files.

When you start comparing cost / feature list AND all the little things BTV does, then you'll find MCE not as nice.
Keep in mind that when you talk about what BTV does you are mostly talking about HTPC which is quite different than running a media extender like XBox 360.

There are advantages to both (HTPC vs media extender). For me and my likes/dislikes the media extender route wins hands down. I use BTV as a scheduler for recording shows and that is it. It does a great job of doing that. So, when talking specifically about XBox and using BTV as the scheduler for recording shows you can in fact do 98% of what you can do with BTV+HTPC only in IMHO it is cheaper and easier to go the media extender route. In addition you no longer have overlay issues, no need for a PC to be anywhere near your TV, no need for a dedicated PC for viewing watching TV...

BTW I do not recommend MCE. Stick with XP and use BTV as your scheduler.

btvfreak
08-15-2006, 12:38 PM
There a ton of MCE vs BTV threads here. Just do a search. For control freaks MCE 2005 is not a good solution. It has some limitations (DVR-MS files, only 2 analog and 2 HD tuners, etc) that some hate and others can live with. I used MCE 2005 for awhile just for it's OTA HD support. Once BTV4 came out I ditched MCE and came back to BTV. MCE Vista looks promising and the new extender seems much better (2005 extender sucks), but will still have some of those limiations.

Rich A
08-15-2006, 01:32 PM
Ok, Rich, interesting point. I was looking for that list of things BTV is better at as I am very unfamiliar with MCE 2005. I know the old MCE was crap. Can you produce that list in short form?

Lets be clear too, I love my BTV.........MCE 2005 just seems to be a very elegant solution.

Well off the top of my head, the HD streams it produces are proprietary. Yes you can get hacks and external programs to work with them, but out of the box it doesn't handle digital recording as well as BTV.

Oh by the way. Here's a little bit of M$ XP history for you. (and some would call it irony) When Bill Gates demonstrated the then new Windows XP operating system back in 2001, guess what he was using as a PVR software during the showcase? Yes he actually demo'ed the SnapStream PVR software. Back then before it evolved to Beyond TV, it was called Personal Video Station. Can you imagine it? BG himself standing on the stage, unveiling the new XP and showing how great it was and how you too can turn your XP computer into a Personal Video Recorder .. with Snapstream's original product !!

Back to the downsides: MCE 2005 was released to be sold only as an OEM product bundled with a new PC. Now we all know we can still buy it ourselves. But the important thing is WHY they did that. The answer is that it has strict hardware requirements. That way we, who are building our own stuff have no "official" recourse when we can't get it working. If you bought a Dell with MCE, and had a problem it would be supported as the original hardware was "certified" to be MCE compliant. Yes, we also can get around that too. But it is a point.

How about the flexibility of BTV's showsqueeze? MCE doesn't come close.

How about the Smart Chapter generation ?? This alone is a big deal for me.

Also, your tuners must have Mpeg-2 hardware encoders for MCE 2005 plus closed caption support and a number of other restrictive requirements.

How about your choice of remotes? Lot's here with BTV actually. MCE really works best with an MCE compatible keyboard, and remote.

It's limited in how many tuners you can run. Only a max of 2 digital and 2 analog. AND, even with 4 tuners, it can only record from a max of 2 at a time.

And the biggie for me is how MCE adheres to DRM and laughs in the face of "fair use".

There are probably more, but that's what comes to mind at the moment. When B. Gates show cased the original Windows XP in 2001, there were only 3rd party PVR applications available. Once AGAIN, the M$ philosophy of taking other's ideas and incorporating them into the operating system has happened. It's been 5 years and IMHO their PVR solution is still catching up.

Knowing M$, I have to ask, where do you want to be? Locked into a PVR software that is highly integrated into the OP system, where you WILL be at the whim of M$? Or using any one of the dozen or so 3rd party PVR programs where you can pretty much not have to worry about big brother telling you what you can and cannot record ?

merrypig
08-15-2006, 01:37 PM
AFAIK, MCE2005+xbox360 caption support is far more flexible than BTV's support of only the PVR250.

mourdor
08-15-2006, 03:06 PM
If you want to use Media Extenders, like the Xbox, Dlink_DSM-320, and other, then you need to setup a UPnP server software on your BTV computer. This allows the media extender to access your media on the BTV computer.

There are a few UPnP server softwares out there, like:
Windows Media Connect, Snapstreams builtin UPnP in BTV, Nero's MediaHome, Dlink's, and Tversity (my personal favorite).
www.tversity.com (http://www.tversity.com)

Tversity has a ton of features. The one feature I like best is, On-the-Fly transcoding. Tversifty knows which media extenders you are using (and what media they can natively handle). Thus, when you try to play media that the extender can not natively handle, it converts the media to a format the extender can handle on the fly. I bet it will be a long time before MCE 2005/Xbox can do that!

BTV Link is still the best solution for watching LIVE TV and recorded TV remotely. But, Tversity on a BTV computer and some media extender(s) work pretty well, plus it doen't require a 2nd computer and is much cheaper.

Duc Hunter
08-15-2006, 04:03 PM
Now these are the posts I was looking for. To be clear though I meant to use the Xbox's as clients into the MCE2005 software, for live TV as well as recorded shows. Great info here guys.

btvfreak
08-15-2006, 04:31 PM
Be sure to get Xbox 360s since the media extender software for the old Xbox sucks.

RiderFan
08-15-2006, 06:15 PM
My BTV Link solution is much cheaper than an XBOX 360, and if you are a good shopper, you could build one for a similar cost of an XBOX.

My Link Box cost me less than $400, from scratch (canadian$), look at my sig.

As a "media extender", it is much more powerful than an XBOX 360, and much more flexible.

I have an XBOX 360, and I use it strictly for games. Media Connect is much too restrictive for me to use with the XBOX 360 as a media extender.

bits
08-15-2006, 07:53 PM
My BTV Link solution is much cheaper than an XBOX 360, and if you are a good shopper, you could build one for a similar cost of an XBOX.

My Link Box cost me less than $400, from scratch (canadian$), look at my sig.

As a "media extender", it is much more powerful than an XBOX 360, and much more flexible.

I have an XBOX 360, and I use it strictly for games. Media Connect is much too restrictive for me to use with the XBOX 360 as a media extender.
Does that $400.00 include the OS software?

My LP2 cost me $250 plus about $40 for LAN wire and connections and that was it!

I could have done it using the MediaMVP which cost me $60 + $40 for LAN cable and connections.

tscales
08-16-2006, 09:41 PM
You're all forgetting the HUGE MCE weakness that makes it almost completely useless.

It can only have ONE EPG for all tuners. My setup has one cable box, 6 SD tuners on regular cable and two HD tuners OTA. All three have different guides.

MCE can't do it. One guide for all services. Period.

Oh, and it can't handle these tuners either.

It is a nice display engine. I use MCE on my laptop to play BTV files and it is great. BTV Link won't run locally, so MCE is a better solution to take recordings with me.

Tom