XP Media Center & DirecTV DVR connection/set-up
April 18, 2006 8:37 AM   Subscribe

Need help connecting my DirecTV DVR and my new laptop with Windows XP Media Center.

I would like to make this a wireless connection, if possible, so I don't have to be near the TV to watch a program. (It seems pointless to me to have to plug in my laptop to my TV to watch my TV.)

The computers are networked, running on an SBC/Yahoo! DSL connected router...all XP computers.

I would like to be able to watch and record TV on my laptop. (I'm not as interested in using the laptop as a giant remote control.)

I would also like to be able to burn a DVD on my laptop of programs that I've recorded on my DVR.

Any help and/or advice you can give would be greatly appreciated.

I don't know much at all about Media Center Edition at this point, so any tips or tricks that you would like to pass along would also be appreciated.

posted by Mrs. Smith to Technology (7 answers total)
A DirecTV DVR will not directly interface with WinMCE in any interesting way, so you're looking at an analog-only solution. (Let's put aside any notion of "hacking" your DirecTiVo--if it even is a TiVo--since that's likely to exceed your patience. Besides, there are better places to go to get those questions answered.)

Wireless is not really an option. There are solutions to beam TV signals across your house, but the quality is beyond poor. WinMCE is designed to take a wired TV signal and turn your PC into a DVR. It is not DirecTV-friendly. It's best to harness your DirecTV DVR for all your time-shifting.
posted by deadfather at 9:18 AM on April 18, 2006

Sorry, I should speak in English: the only way to make this work is to physically connect your laptop to both your DirecTV DVR and your TV. I'm guessing that there is some kind of third-party remote-control gizmo that will allow your laptop to control your DirecTV DVR, but even that might not work like you'd want it to.

Windows MCE is designed to work as a standalone DVR, not in conjunction with another. While there are plans to make it more DirecTV-friendly, it looks like it's not quite there yet.
posted by deadfather at 9:25 AM on April 18, 2006

Response by poster: So, how can you watch TV on your laptop/computer with this software?

If the only purpose of MCE is to control your TV and use it as a DVR while tethered to your TV, I'm thinking I wasted a lot of money for nothing. My DVR already does those things.

What are the "good" points about this OS? (really hoping someone has something good to say about it here...)
posted by Mrs. Smith at 10:33 AM on April 18, 2006

There are a few problems:

1) XP Media Center Edition and DirecTV don't play nice together. (That is changing, supposedly, but there is no firm timetable and everything is subject to change.) This means that because of the way DirecTV delivers its signal, your computer doesn't have a good way of telling DirecTV which channel it wants to record.

2) XP Media Center Edition (generally speaking) isn't designed to work with other DVRs. DVRs use different forms of copy protection and they have enough going on without having to worry about working with another company's product.

3) XP Media Center Edition is best used for recording and watching shows on a computer. To watch them on a television, as you noted, you would need to tether the computer to the TV.

4) You have XP Media Center Edition installed on a laptop, which is designed to be mobile. In order for your laptop to record a show, it needs to be hooked up to incoming television signal, be that an antenna or cable or whatever. It can't do that if you've taken it into the living room to read news and drink coffee. You'll miss the show you scheduled it to record.

This is what XP Media Center Edition was designed for: a desktop computer that is always hooked up to cable television or HD antenna. You tell it which shows to record, it records them, and when you're ready to watch them you sit down in front of the computer and watch them. If you happen to have a TV nearby, you can run a cable over and watch it on that.

Unfortunately, we are not at the stage where any computer can directly interface with any TV or DVR and vice versa. We need more time and more cooperative television execs before that can happen.
posted by deadfather at 11:01 AM on April 18, 2006

In some ways I agree with you Mrs Smith. I too have been slightly disappointed with MCE despite paying a premium to get it and thinking it would be fab!

I agree with the above implied suggestion that it is less effective on a laptop than a desktop machine that is dedicated to being the home media function. However, the benefits are:

- Record TV whilst connected and then watch it later whilst disconnected
- Show photos without having to use a PC interface
- Play music in a non PC way

Whether the above is worth the premium - I am not too sure.
posted by pettins at 12:00 PM on April 18, 2006

Response by poster: Hmmm...guess I should have done more research about 2-3 weeks ago.

Thanks for all the good information, though.

Is there a way to watch TV through the internet? I know I can listen to streaming radio through various sites, but I don't know about options for watching TV programs online. I'm sure there are shows you can download with bit torrent, but I'm always a little leery about the legal issues with stuff like that.
posted by Mrs. Smith at 12:12 PM on April 18, 2006

wow sorry to add my question to the mix but its very much related. If you have MCE and you connect a DirectTV signal to it the MCE can not download the DirectTV program listing and record shows from that signal?

I have a desktop with a very large 24 inch screen that I plan on using as my tv - entertainment center because I live in a studio (A VERY SMALL studio) and dont want to buy a tv... ugg am I up a creek?

How will these two work together if not in the way I assumed they would.

thanks guys & gals
posted by crewshell at 4:51 PM on April 18, 2006

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