The Master Plan
Most PVR's have a similar general purpose in mind. They also have a narrow focus of functionality, cost and character that reflects the environment they will be placed in, temperament of the builder and many other factors
My PVR is meant to be expandable. I don't want to be locked into any limitations with this iteration of the project. HDTV is on the horizon and I'm not ready yet, but I want the upgrade to support HDTV to be fairly painless. The system should be a drop-in addition to my existing 7.1 home theatre system and CRT TV. Can the same thing be said about Tivo's or HP/Sony HTPCs?
I don't really want to spend more than $1000 on this project. $600 is more economicaly reasonable, but because I am not starting with any existing parts common to most PC's, I can expect to spend a little more than the base line.
Here are the general features, component characteristics and hardware specs I'm looking for. For some of the video and audio pieces, Linux compatibility is paramount to anything else.
- ATX Case with 2-3 silent fans, no water-cooling
Water-cooling should only be necessary for overclocked PCs. Overclocking is not required for good video recording and playback. Even HDTV can be accomplished with fast, even-clocked modern processors.
- Daul-Core AMD processor and ATX MoBo
Two hardware threads will be nice to have ween performing simultanious tasks like recording and playback
- 1GB DDR Ram
- Standard cable compatible Tuner card with hardware MPEG2 compression
A lot of CPU power/heat can be saved with hardware MPEG compression
- 7.1 compatible sound output
Surround sound for DVDs is a must
- Average video card with standard S-Video out
The video card won't be used for gaming or HDTV output, so something used or older will do just fine
- 300GB of SATA HDD space
More storage equals less deletion of programs you never got the chance to watch
- Wireless connectivity
The internet connection is too far from the living room to run cable
- RF Wireless Keyboard/Mouse Combo
Requiring a keyboard for normal operation is silly enough, nobody need to worry about loosing the remote control AND the mouse
- RF or IR remote
Most functions should be able to be performed by the remote
- DVD-R only
I don't have a camcorder, so DVD-RW would just be wasted on me
Similarly, these are the software requirements I am putting forth:
- Fedora Core 4
The PVR Software will be difficult enough to set-up, the last thing I need is Gentoo configuration bogging the process down
- Linux 2.6 Kernel compatible PVR software
FreeVo, MytTV, I have not settled on a final candidate yet, they all look pretty nice
- DVD Ripping Software
I have a Netflix subscription and it would be great to get 5 DVDs per week by getting them from the mail, ripping them and back in the mail within an hour or so
- Internet received programming updates
TiVo subscriptions suck
I plan to take 2-3 weeks to research all the parts, gather a buy plan and then no less than a week to put it all together. Stay tuned, it's going to be a fun adventure.