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

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Microsoft

Hooking up to your TV and Wrapping Up

Now that we’ve finished most of the setup, we’re ready to hook our HTPC up to our TV!  Simply reconnect everything and hook your HTPC up to your TV (or receiver).  You don’t need to hook them up, but it’s a good idea to keep the keyboard and mouse handy to the HTPC as you may infrequently get a pop up box that either you can’t close with the remote, or is just easier to use a keyboard/mouse for.

As we’re hooking up our HTPC, consider where you are placing the box.  While your HTPC is likely low power, and therefore low heat, it is not “no heat”.  Be sure to have decent airflow around your HTPC or you can quickly run into heat related issues, up to and including frying the machine.  Have the box somewhat accessible because it’s a good idea to check the HTPC for external and internal dust build up every month or two.

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Once everything is hooked up, turn it on and your HTPC should boot up and automatically load right into Windows Media Center on your television screen.  We want the Windows Media Center interface to be full screen and on top of any other windows, so if you have not already done so, maximize Windows Media Center window to full screen.  Now that we’re getting Windows Media Center in all its glory, we’ll run through a few final settings for your TV and audio.

Head on back into our Settings menu and drill down into “TV.”  Then select “Configure your TV or Monitor” and this will launch the Display Configuration Wizard that will walk you through adjusting both Media Center and your television to get the best display image possible.

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Finally, after you’ve configured your Television settings, hit up the “Audio” menu in the TV section as well and tweak any settings as needed.

My Experience: If for some reason you notice that your Windows Desktop/Media Center is not filling up the entire screen on your television, you need to check for something called “Underscan/Overscan” in your video card control panel.  You should be able to expand or contract the image so it fits perfectly on your screen with those settings.

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And there you have it, your own fully working Home Theater PC with Windows Media Center!  Explore your Media Center and check out all the options available to view and listen to your Video, Television, Music and Picture content.  In our next and final installment, we’ll be looking at some Media Center Add-ons, plug-ins and other options that can expand your Media Center experience even further.

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Missed any installments of our Cutting the Cord Series?  Catch up on them here:

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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