Well my new Dell XPS 420 Arrived on Monday and I’ve begun to assemble my new home media strategy.
I’m going to be blogging more about this in the near future, but at present I’ve got the new Dell set up in my home office in my attic. It’s a fast, well running, quiet machine. All of my media is held on two drobos connected to this Dell with 4 750GB internal drives each. Effectively,(after accommodating for the storage space needed for file replication), I’ve got 2TB of primary storage on each of my drobos. One is used for my RAW photo files and the other holds my music and finished JPG photo files.
I was able to import all of my digital media (about 100,000 mp3s and 70,000 JPG photo files) into Windows Media Player 11. This took over 24 hours, but is well worth it as Windows Media Player 11 handles my super large digital media library flawlessly — much more than I can say for iTunes. It’s fun to finally begin rating my music again. I’ve got about 7,000 of my 100,000 mp3s rated from one star to five star.
I’ve got three XBox 360s which will be responsible for streaming media to the rest of my house. One in my living room with a 58″ Panasonic Plasma HDTV. One in my kitchen connected to a smaller Samsung HDTV. And one in my bedroom connected to a 43 inch Phillips plasma.
Each of these three XBox 360s act as Media Center extenders and will stream my media to these rooms in my home. I’m going to add a 4th XBox 360 for the guest bedroom at some point, but I’ll probably wait to see if a Blu-ray XBox 360 might be making its way to market here in the future before buying my next one.
My next step is to connect all three XBox 360 extenders to my Dell. It can take about a day for each Dell to import my large library (my living room XBox 360 is importing digital media as I type this).
I’m also in the process of installing an HD Home Run dual HDTV digital network tuner. This tuner will work with an HDTV OTA antenea and will pull television into my Media Center PC with its built in DVR. Once I get this set up I will probably cancel my DirecTV. DirecTV is dropping support for my DirecTV TiVo and I don’t want their crappy non TiVo DVR and plus I’m tired of paying them $85 a month. Between the free network OTA programming that I can get and record (and skip commercials with Media Center) and my Netflix account I honestly don’t think I’ll be hurting for content.
Once I get all of this finished and set up I’m going to start getting back into Media Center much more seriously than I’ve been for the past few years. There are so many great plug ins and programs for Media Center that I’ve neglected over the past few years because my old Media Center PC (the very first Media Center PC ever released, the HP 873N) didn’t have the horsepower to handle my large library.
I’m excited about how well my home media strategy is working and look forward to blogging lots more about it in the future.
My home media set up is a work in progress of course and I’d be remiss without thanking once again bloggers Ed Bott and Charlie Owen for the advice and support along the way as I’ve set this up. Ed is one of the top Microsoft Windows bloggers out there today and Charlie works on the Media Center team at Microsoft.