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Cutting the Cord Part 4: Building Your HTPC - Installing and Configuring Windows Media Center

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Microsoft

Configuring Windows Media Center - Part 1

Once you begin the Custom setup, you’ll be greeted with the Media Center Setup screen describing the two primary portions of setup, “Required Setup” and “Optional Setup”.  The “Required Setup” will check and configure required things such as networking and playback software while “Optional Setup” will allow you customize settings that are specific to your Media Center such as tuner cards, displays and speakers.  Click on Next to begin.

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You’ll first be asked if you want to join the Customer Experience Improvement Program.  Since Microsoft seem determined to let Media Center fade away, I don’t know how useful it is to join, but I click on “Yes, I’d like to join” just to raise my hand and let them know that there still is someone out there using Media Center.  Make your choice and hit next.

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Next you’ll be asked if you want Media Center to use “Enhanced Playback.”  Enhanced Playback includes capabilities like getting TV Guide listings online and automatically getting cover art for DVD’s and CD’s online.  If you plan to use your Media Center to record television shows I’d suggest selecting “Yes” as trying to scheduling recordings without guide information is not a fun experience.  Once you’ve decided, make your choice and hit “Next.”

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Now you’ll see a simple status screen telling you that your Required Components have been set up successfully.  Hit “Next” and we’ll start the Optional Setup.

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For optional setup we are able to customize settings in Media Center for your specific HTPC configuration.  First up, assuming you have tuner cards in your HTPC, let’s configure them.  Click on the radio button next to “Configure tuners, TV signal and Guide” and hit “Next”.

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By default, Media Center will select the United States as your region.  If this is correct, select the “Yes” radio button and hit “Next.”  If it’s not correct, select the “No” radio button and get the correct region selected before moving on.

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Media Center now asks for our Zip Code so it can go online and get the correct Program listings for TV in your area. 

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Accept the Terms of Service for the Program Guide information by clicking on the “I agree” radio button and hitting “Next.”

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Next, you’ll need to accept the EULA for Microsoft’s “PlayReady.”  PlayReady is a basic DRM that Microsoft has put in place that can flag television recordings so they can’t be copied if the station sets certain broadcast flags .  I’ve never had a problem with this ever causing me any problems with the broadcasts in my area, and don’t think I’ve ever even seen any local station use any of the broadcast flags.  Select the “I agree” radio button and hit “Next.”

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Media Center will then install PlayReady, download TV setup information for your area, and then examine your television signals.

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December 11, 2012 | 01:25 PM - Posted by HTPC User (not verified)

If you map your photos or videos as a shared drive they will show up nicely in MCE instead of clicking the shared folder first. The downside to this i've noticed is that some applications don't like to install/uninstall if your photos folder location is mapped as a network drive.

December 31, 2012 | 07:50 AM - Posted by Kara (not verified)

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December 12, 2012 | 11:18 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The next Part of these articles should be right up my alley, I can't use a HTPC without My Movies now.

December 25, 2012 | 06:37 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Can someone give me a link to the WMC guide data? Before installing WMC, I want to see the quality of their guide data for my zipcode. Or must I install WMC on my win7 system to get it in a format that I can read?

April 11, 2013 | 11:03 PM - Posted by Nick (not verified)

I'm getting an error in Windows Media Center "Video Error: Files needed to display video are not installed or working correctly". This happens when I click on the live TV button. I've updated the drivers and followed the instructions, the only change to the hardware specs is an A10 processer. THanks.

December 10, 2013 | 02:11 PM - Posted by David S (not verified)

hey guys im running a bone stock hp touchsmart 520. i just hooked up my new att uverse wireless receiver to my computer via cable. i set up some recordings with all settings to make it grab the best quality it can. i had the recordings set to the hd channels offered with the service.

my problem is that when i go to play back the recordings, they are BAD quality. the audio is at a low echo, the picture is compressed it doesnt go to full screen and the quality of picture is just wrong and it seems to be ghosting.

any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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