I received my Dell Media PC this week. I’m looking forward to using it as a DVR. The computer came with what seemed like an abundant 9 USB ports, 5 in back, 2 in front, 2 on LCD Monitor, though I’m quickly using them up:
- Infrared receiver for Media Center Remote
- Extender from monitor to enable the USB ports on the monitor (1 for 2 swap)
- Digital camera docking station
- PC Video Camera
There was lots to plug but it was all straight forward. Setting up the OS, I only had one criticism and that was how they tried to lead you to sign up for one of the Internet access trials from various 3rd party providers that were pre-installed. I read that the Media Center edition of Windows was closely protected against pre-installed crapware but I didn’t find that to be the case. The choice for Internet access made it seem like you didn’t have a "bring my own" choice but I canceled the screen and the next one allowed me to use my existing Cable connection.
My TV Tuner didn’t work the first time, but after I ran through the setup wizard a second time and selecting manual setup, it worked. I selected all the same options that the automatic-setup asked me to confirm.
Played with the Media PC Guide to view TV. I really like it. Selecting shows to watch and record is very easy and intuitive. When you select a show to record you can record a single instance or the entire series. Probably my favorite feature of a DVR is for each recorded show to be saved independent of each other and to be able to quickly locate and playback a recorded show.
Pausing live tv is cool. I had some problems where the program did not play back properly after pausing it. I never had expectations that a PC based DVR would be BETTER than a dedicated DVR (i.e. TIVO) device so it didn’t bug me too much. It works pretty well, just not perfect.