DirecTV Tuner for Windows Media Center coming soon?

So this is old news – but hey, it may be great news, so why not bring it up.

If you have yet to be initiated to the Windows Media Center experience, then you’re missing out.  Why?  Well, for TV programming it’s a lot like Tivo – but with more features overall.  Since there’s a whole friggin’ computer behind it, it’s capable of all sorts of things (playing DVD, Blu-Ray, HD-DVD, DivX video, games, etc.).

“Yeah” you say, “but what about my DirecTV?”.  Ah hah – well, there’s the catch.  Apparently there’s no easy way to get anything but ATSC or NTSC TV programming (Over the Air broadcast digital or analog TV).  Of course you can try and get encrypted digital cable going – but for that you have to buy a whole new PC just so it’s got a special chip to allow the playback.  And you can’t build your own for that – those special motherboards are only available to system builders.  Grrrr…

But on the horizon, life just may get a bit better…

So what’s the big deal?  If Tivo is cool, why not just stick with Tivo for DirecTV?  Well – If you’re cool, then obviously you want as much HD as you can get.  And that’s where that plan falls down – there is no Tivo-based DirecTV PVR that can get all those new HD channels DirecTV put out there.  And there’s no other content provider with as much HD as DirecTV.  So you gotta have DirecTV, but now you’re stuck with their PVR box that leaves a LOT to be desired for any self-respecting techno geek, and even for someone that just wants a nice PVR.

So… you’re set on DirecTV to get the HD, and you’re set against using their PVR because the interface and feature set is bad and Tivo isn’t about to make another DirecTV-integrated unit since their no longer friendly… who do you turn to?  Apparently, to Microsoft.  The Media Center interface is pretty awesome – better than the DirecTV PVR hands down, and just about as user friendly as Tivo (not to mention a heck of a lot faster than Tivo).

I built up a HTPC (Home Theater PC) using Vista Ultimate to get the Media Center portion, and so far I can only get those ATSC-based over the air HD channels.  Works great for that, by the way, but I’m dreaming of the day I can get DirecTV through that interface.  And lo and behold – it looks like it may not be just a dream (though who knows how long it will take to hit the market).  Over on the DBSTalk forum site, there’s talk of a DirecTV tuner to work with Microsoft (and Media Center).

The only problem is… it’s not out yet!!  ARGH!!  But, for those of you looking to build the absolute best Home Theater setup – you have got to keep your eyes and ears out for this.  From where I see the state of things right now, this will easily be the best thing you can do for the entertainment system – provided they get this bundle of joy out the door sometime soon before another provider gets more HD content out there, and links up with Tivo!

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  1. Why does Vista get such a bad rap?? » Epotter.net — May 31, 2008 @ 2:52 pm

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