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Moving to Media Center – Call for Questions

My post on moving to a Media Center solution is bigger than I expected.  As I am writing the feature I keep referencing questions that were posed in the comments awhile back such as “How did you network your house"?”, “Can you use your PC while Media Center is running on an extender?” and “What hardware do you actually have?”.

So as I wrap up my feature I wanted to make one last call for questions.  What do you want to know about moving to Media Center?  What’s the one thing that is just not clear or you have not been able to get a straight answer about?

Please leave your questions in the comments.  I will take the questions and incorporate them into the feature and post it Monday afternoon.


7 Responses

  1. I would like to understand the implementation of QoS and traffic priority between the WMC PC and Extenders or for the Play To features in Windows 7.
    1. Is Microsoft using any kind of QoS technology for its ecosystem to enhance the HD video experience?
    2. Do the Ethernet switches need to support something like 802.1 or some other form of QoS to take advantage of it?
    3. Does one need to configure any TCP port or physical link port parameters to accommodate what they are doing?



    Derek R. Flickinger
    Interactive Homes, Inc.

  2. Are you going to use extenders? I would be interested in hearing about that and if you plan on distributing Blu-Ray content. I've found that my M2TS files have a higher bitrate than what the 360 will handle as an extender.


  3. (Once again, Derek is way over my head 🙂 )

    I think some questions the common-folk might ask are:
    1) I have a tight TV situation in the kitchen – what can I use instead of a 360 for extension?
    2) Should I run a headless server in the closet with an extender in the den or put the server in the den (I am really enjoying running Hulu desktop and the Netflix app in the den – big factor in favor of server in the den for me)
    3) How crappy is wireless? (none of the extenders do N-wireless, do they??)
    4) What is the best remote ctrl to use? (BTW, I followed your suggestion to get Harmony 550's around the house, programmed them to send "Stop" codes with power off, and saw a big increase in stability – as you predicted)
    5) Will my iTunes-formatted mp3 library show up in Media Center?
    6) Direct TV has a remote access channel guide. Does Media Center have that?
    7) Will I be able to watch premium cable channels from every room in the house without renting a ton of cable boxes?
    8) Can I get surround sound from extenders? How about HD video?
    9) Can I archive my special CBS HD recording of UNC winning the National Championship, baby? What about the ESPN-HD game when Danny Green teabagged Paulus? Can I keep that one and send it to all of my Dookie friends?
    10) If I record a show in the den, can I watch it in the kitchen?
    11) Can I watch these recordings on my Mac? What about my iPod or iPhone?
    12) Can I control my thermostat and home lighting from Media Center?
    13) Can I block certain channels in some rooms but not others?
    14) Can I get pop-up caller ID in Media Center?
    15) Can I listen to voicemails in Media Center (ie from Vonage).
    16) Can I watch Netflix Watch Instantly movies through Media Center?
    17) Can I watch show I purchased in iTunes in Media Center?

    (of course, I know the answers to these questions, but I think these might help future enthusiasts entering).

  4. How about how to use IR on your main media center at your TV?

  5. @David

    Extenders (especially the 360) are a good way to visually test the performance of a network. However, they do use UDP-based streaming, so the network’s traffic characteristics are a bit different than what you would be able to evaluate using most of the standard TCP-based validation tools.

    We too have seen issues with TS files, among other types. I guess the real questions are, “What is the best way to stress the network to see if it performs under a variety of circumstances? If there are problems, how does one isolate the cause and put remedies into place until as many bottlenecks have been eliminated as possible?” This encompasses both the WMC PC hardware itself in addition to the network infrastructure and components.


  6. We are interested in any information you have on the Secure Hardware Encoder/Decoder (SHED) functionality built into Windows 7.

    1. Are there any SHED-based products available yet and how do they compare?
    2. Does GPU offloading provide as much or more performance benefit when dealing with non-protected content?
    3. Is it only used for transcoding or are there benefits when performing other operations from within the Windows Media Center experience?
    4. Does it offload some of the processing resources required by the Extender model or is it for local sessions only?
    5. What kind of performance increases (or resource decreases) can we expect to see when using the associated vendor add-ins for Blu-ray playback?


  7. Thanks for all the great comments. This has definitely helped set the context that I needed. Now I need to get back to work!

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