Recommended specs (not official)
Pentium 4 2.XGHZ or better or equivalent AMD processor
Fast Direct-X video card (ATI or nVidia) with SVideo and/or DVI output
Supported TV-Tuner card(s) (Hauppauge, eMuzed, ATI ehome Wonder)
Large hard disk for PVR capability (200 GB)
Minimum 512MB RAM
Supported remote control and ir blaster
Windows Media Center 2005 is an OEM only product, and hence the bits are not available at retail. You can obtain the OS bits from MSDN Subscription (subscriber downloads).
MCE 2005 setup, by default, does not support joining the machine to a domain, unless this is done during OS installation, which can be problematic. However, you can install MCE 2004 OS, join a domain, and then upgrade to MCE 2005, and the domain functionality will continue to work. Note that if you join an MCE box to a domain, you can no longer use that MCE box as a host for Media Center Extenders.
Remote Control and IR Blaster:
To use TV functionality with a set top box (external tuner), you need to obtain an IR blaster and Media Center remote control. Microsoft sells these to OEM System Builders.
You can also obtain these through IHVs, such as Gyration (http://www.gyration.com). Another common way to obtain these devices is through replacement parts from various Media Center vendors, such as HP.
Check with your local hardware vendor for availability (Canada Computer frequently sells these parts)
DVD Decoder Software:
For DVD playback, a supported DVD Decoder is required. The following lists the commonly used MCE compatible decoders:
- Intervideo WinDVD
- nVidia nDVD
- Sonic Cinemaster
Other decoders may work, but for best results, go by this list.
Canadian Users Note:
The TV Tuner in previous releases required that you set up MCE regional settings to match the country you are watching TV in, in other words, Canada. The problem with this approach was that while TV worked just fine, you only had access to Canadian content from the online spotlight (which is very very thin right now).
In MCE 2005, this is no longer required. For Canadian users (or any users that wish to see the online content for the U.S. market), let setup’s default region apply. You can change your region under the TV settings in media center to match your local provider area.
TV Tuner cards:
Media Center 2005 supports multiple TV Tuner cards, to support record and watch on different channels, for example.
You can mix and match cards, however, Media Center does not support multiple different sources for TV. For example, if you have Bell ExpressVU as your source, all cards that will input TV signals need to be hooked up to a satellite receiver. For cable, without a set to box, all need to be connected through co-ax. For digital cable, all need to be connected to a digital cable box.
The connection between the tuner card(s) and the input does not need to be identical. You could connect one card via co-ax, and another card via SVideo In.
You cannot mix input types, however. For example, you cannot have ExpressVU and digital cable at the same time. All inputs need to come from the same media source.