— 11:33 PM on November 5, 2003

Andy's Snapstream PVS review got me hooked like a crackhead with a bad caffeine fixation on the idea of building myself an HTPC. I've had parts laying around for just such a project, including an old NVIDIA Personal Cinema, but never sufficient time/motivation. After editing Andy's article the other night, I stayed up late and mated the Personal Cinema together with an ATI Remote Wonder and my XPC SN41G2. Not long after buying Snapstream PVS, some coax, and a splitter, I had a TiVo-like setup up and running. It's really quite nifty when it's all working.

However, the Personal Cinema seems a bit flaky. Even with the latest drivers, DX9, and the like, I often get sound with no video. Older drivers don't seem to help much, either. Not only that, but the Personal Cinema's breakout box is a bit kludgy for this application. Because it's external, it has to feed sound back into the PC via an audio input. On the SN41G2, the only analog audio input is the microphone jack on the front of the unit—as far as I can tell, at least. The ports don't appear to be software configurable to serve different purposes. As a result, the Personal Cinema plugs right into the front of the PC. Ugh.

I expect I'll drop 63 bucks or so on an ATI TV Wonder Pro PCI card, so I can plug coax into the back of the XPC and forget about it. The TV Wonder VE doesn't have stereo sound, and the more expensive tuner cards with hardware MPEG2 encoding preclude the streaming of live TV to other computers. The TV Wonder Pro seems like the best compromise, especially for someone as cheap as me.

On another front, the new TR web server box is here, and I have the (3GB worth) of RAM and processors installed. This thing is a 1U server, and I've used a lot of 1U servers in my day. I feel safe saying that this is, without exception, the single loudest computer I have ever heard in operation. The airflow must be amazing. I get the impression I could stick it face first to the wall, and the force of the blowers would hold it there. Thank goodness for co-location.

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