What HTPC /MCE / Media Center should you chose?
I was already using Vista and xp MCE and I use that as reference.
Can do almost everything including TV time-shift & recording
Takes no time at all to setup if you know ms win. Works with remote and everything out of the box.
You have to do some advanced tweaking to enable multiple rdp sessions. Crazy.
It takes a lot of power. Vista is heavy by it self and if you start MCE it is very slow. You need a modern computer. (3GHz + 2-3G RAM)
You need to pay. You shall not steal? I if you do, it is extra work anyway.
The most known system. Very advanced, has a frontend/backend setup which I like.
It support PVR and all kinds of TV functionality.
I tried the Mythbuntu installation CD. It worked ok out of the box, but I did not like it much. E.g. you have to type paths, no browse available. If you are going to test it you should probably know that Mythbuntu does not read media files directly from disk by default, it relay on the library. Change this setting unless you want to figure out how to load the library before you know if you have sound & picture. I could not get it to delete files from disk. I was intending to test a manual installation to learn more but moved on.
I never tried the TV functionality.
I have not tested it. It has PVR / TV functionality.
Of course the name is from Tivo.
Gave it a quick test run only. It is a native gnome application and I think it could be very light weight. It is not finished yet and I could not get it to do much. Very easy to install since it is included in Ubuntu default sw sources.
Could be the way to go in the future at least if you are running on a desktop computer and do some tasks with keyboard mouse. I mean library maintenance etc.
XBMC is now ported to linux and ready for use. Pre-compiled runtime is available for ubuntu which is a pre-req for me for the moment.
It looks and works great! It is working better better than Vista. E.g. in Vista you cannot delete a folder, no problem in xbmc.
It does not have PVR / TV functionality though. I understand it is possible to integrate with mythtv, this is not a prio for me right now.
Compared to other applications it is working much better out of the box. However, you do not get the full package out of the box. Lirc has to be installed which is pretty easy if you know what you are doing but to get it to interact correctly with the OS takes some more work.
XBMC features not found in Vista
Resume video from where you stopped viewing
If playing video from a shared folder it works much better than in win. The player is buffering the file much better. On a good day it even works ok on wifi.
It is possibly a bit heavy on the HW but much less than Vista MCE and also a bit less than playing a video directly in the Vista desktop. It does get the fan going though. I think it rates somewhere between XP & vista (ubuntu gnome + XBMC compared to win without MCE)
Popcorn is the most popular pre-built consumer media center. I have not tested it, but maybe I should?
I am not sure that using a PC as media center is the best way to go. It is loud and uses a lot of power. It is also expensive and to get it silent is more expensive.