Build Your Own Windows Vista MCE CableCARD Certified PC… Kind of

eHomeUpgrade | Build Your Own Windows Vista MCE CableCARD Certified PC Alexander Grundner has a post out at eHomeUpgrade about customizing your own new Vista Media Center PCs. As previously announced, only CableLabs certified (an expensive process) PCS will be able to ship with HDTV CableCARD support when Vista is released later this year.

Many of the most extreme Media Center enthusiasts/hobbyists are looking for something more than what Dell or Gateway or others might ship standard. If you are looking to really build the ultimate Vista CableLabs certified PC and customize beyond what will probably be possible with the Dells of the world, Grundner is suggesting that a user could buy a low end CableLabs certified PC and then hack the case and move the components on an after market basis into a new case and upgrade to your hearts desire.

This *could* theoretically be possible. While it wouldn’t be the route for me (I more than likely will simply just buy a high end Dell) for those that really love to tinker and mod out their unit this could be an avenue. On the other hand, before attempting this I’d get more clarification on how it might or might not work.

Central to the idea of a CableLabs certified PC was the notion that Microsoft exec Jim Allchin suggested of a “protective path.” My guess is that it theoretically could be possible that in order for the PC to work the original components only would have to be used. I’m not sure if there is a way to (for instance) specify on a hardware basis which hard drives could be used, etc. But it may be that unless all of the original components are intact as is, hard drive, memory, motherboard, graphics card, sound card, etc. that the unit will not work. Changing a case of course could probably be done, but maybe not much more beyond this.

I of course have no idea on whether or not this will be possible but it is an interesting idea.

I do think though too that we will still see some higher end OEMs going through the expensive CableLabs certification process. High end OEM Niveus, for instance, has already announced that they are coming out with a CableLabs approved PC. More than likely a Niveus box would have more than enough horsepower and glamour than anything an individual could build on their own… of course at a very steep price, I’m sure.

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6 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Booooo! I better be able to add onto my HTPC as I can today or I see tons of people moving to something more “free”.

    We have CableLabs locking down the cable card & system which OEMs love. We have Vista locking down your OS, which MS loves. We have DRM locking down your media which the content providers love. What next?? Where is the users love?

  2. Stephen Speicher says:

    Thomas,

    You’ll want to check out my column later today once it’s posted.

    Cheers,
    Steve

  3. Bryan "Accident" Socha says:

    Actually, I’m starting to wonder if all this power is even needed.. Majority of the power in my machine is actually around the ability to shove a ton of cards into it. I couldn’t mind a couple small external boxes with a unit that has a huge hard drive in it. That would make a great media center setup. i’m thinking something around $400-500 plus replacement drive and whatever the tuners end up costing. then downgrade my existing mce machine.

    That is of course assuming that directv support when its finally here even requires this.. I still think everything is leading to the hdtv dvr actually being an mce vista machine with stbs that are tuners and extenders thus making the mce machine small, and just full of drives.

  4. Bryan "Accident" Socha says:

    Actually, I’m starting to wonder if all this power is even needed.. Majority of the power in my machine is actually around the ability to shove a ton of cards into it. I couldn’t mind a couple small external boxes with a unit that has a huge hard drive in it. That would make a great media center setup. i’m thinking something around $400-500 plus replacement drive and whatever the tuners end up costing. then downgrade my existing mce machine.

    That is of course assuming that directv support when its finally here even requires this.. I still think everything is leading to the hdtv dvr actually being an mce vista machine with stbs that are tuners and extenders thus making the mce machine small, and just full of drives.

  5. Bryan "Accident" Socha says:

    Although an afterthought is your only really after that version of vista to put it onto another machine. All the cablecard tuners I have seen are external usb devices.. So theres nothing decoding wise in the pc, except for maybe the hdcp support in the video card.

    i’m thinking the $300 on sale dell or hp model with no tuners should get you what your after. Its a little more than double the os cost but thats all your after.

  6. Bryan "Accident" Socha says:

    Although an afterthought is your only really after that version of vista to put it onto another machine. All the cablecard tuners I have seen are external usb devices.. So theres nothing decoding wise in the pc, except for maybe the hdcp support in the video card.

    i’m thinking the $300 on sale dell or hp model with no tuners should get you what your after. Its a little more than double the os cost but thats all your after.