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Cable Card Works on My Old Laptop

Now that Microsoft has opened up the flood gates on Cable Card usage in Media Center there are a lot of people that may be wondering if that old PC could be repurposed as a Media Center.  I have thought about it as well as I talk to friends about adopting Media Center so I decided to run a test.

I took my almost 5 year old laptop which is currently running Windows 7 RC and setup Media Center on it.  Since the tool to enable Cable Card has not been released yet I used the Cable Card hack to get my ATI Cable Card running on my laptop.  Here is the equipment list for the test:

  • HP Pavilion dv4000 Laptop running Windows 7 RC (1.73 GHZ Pentium M, 1 GB Ram, 1.0 System Rating)
  • ATI Digital Cable Card Tuner (1.17 firmware)
  • Linksys DMA2100

Step 1 – Install the TV Tuner:  The first thing I did was install the Cable Card hack which worked like a charm with no hiccups.  I think unplugged the ATI DCT from my main Media Center PC and plugged it into my laptop.

Step 2 – Run TV Setup: The next step was to run the TV tuner setup.  I only setup the one ATI DCT so the test was with a single tuner.

Step 3 – Test HD TV on an extender:  My laptop does not do well with HD video.  I know this from testing Home Group in Windows 7 with HD recordings from my main media center PC.  Because of this I used the extender as part of this test.  The extender was connected wirelessly while the laptop was hard wired via Cat5 to the network.  Below is a picture showing system resources while watching Hellboy on HBO HD.  There is also a YouTube video demonstrating the performance.

Low Power Media Center

Not bad huh?  This should definitely give hope that the cost of entry into Media Center is going to be low.  Of course you can buy a cheap desktop PC that blows this laptop out of the water and just add a cable card tuner to it.


2 Responses

  1. Plus laptops don't upgrade too well. An old desktop might be perfect. Just add an ATI 4670.

    I would love to build a htpc using onboard sound and video. That seems like the best option.

  2. nice! so all i need is to wait for ceton..

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