Ditching Cable, Using Media Center


I’m cheap, watch a lot of network programming, and all my favorite cable shows are on hulu or elsewhere on the web. To save a few bucks, I spent the week between Christmas 2008 and New Years 2009 upgrading my house to digital TV and canceling cable for all but my Internet connection. My home’s primary TV is attached to a Windows Vista based Media Center. Something that I’ve hated since switching was the craptacular viewing guide. I had a hard time believing that Microsoft hadn’t put out an update to Media Center where they could handle the new channel format. While looking for solutions today, I found out about something called TV Pack 2008 (yeah– I’m a Media Center user, not a fanatic. I’m late to this party…). The more I read, the more aggravated I got that my Windows Vista installation didn’t get this upgrade. You see, the upgrade included an update to the guide that allowed one to find out what was happening on all the local digital channels. Microsoft has put this out for OEMs only. Enthusiasts, like me, weren’t given access to this stuff. While I’m not a fanatic about Media Center, I build all my own PCs (newegg.com loves me!). Part of the upgrade involved installing a digital, over the air tuner. It’s a minor note in the articles I’ve read, where most writers focus on the clear QAM cable and over the air enhancements for England and Japan. Still, cheap guys like me care about the US digital TV enhancements.

Anyhow, I eventually found a site that contains links to the files so that I too could use the updates. http://digiex.net/guides-tutorials/699-windows-media-center-tv-pack-2008-download-installation-guide.html.

First, the good news: this works. The guide shows me everything– no more "missing data" on channels. The bad news– any scheduled shows will be forgotten. That’s OK, just write down your schedule and then add things back in. If you miss something, well, the web will have it or the show will repeat.

It took me about an hour to install the updates and get my shows scheduled back in. My little ones will be happy that the guide now knows when Arthur is scheduled.

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