When we last left our Windows Media Center PC, we had just added more
memory and a video card
. We closed up the box and rebooted, just to
make sure all is well. So what's next? Well, at the rock-bottom price
of $650, our base WMCE system
didn't come with a TV tuner of any type,
so we'll be adding one and then working on the configuration.
an HDTV tuner card, we had to go with a PCI card, since that's the only
expansion slot we have left. Like many others, we settled on the ATI
HDTV Wonder card
, which we picked up for $99, bringing our total system
cost to $947. This is the last basic component we need, so we've met
our budgetary goal. Let's get that card installed so we can start watching some HDTV!
Catch the next steps after the jump.
The ATI HDTV Wonder card
is simple to install and has the basics
for what we need. At this price, it can only tune in free over-the-air
digital programming, although it has an analog NTSC tuner in addition
to its ATSC tuner. Keep in mind that within a year, we should see
CableCard support for Windows Media Center
, so the expectation is that
we'll be able to upgrade this card in the future.
Aside from the
card, ATI also includes a RF remote-control as well as a USB receiver
for the remote. I did test the remote and it works well. However, the
remote is really geared towards ATI's media software and we're not
using that for this project since our goal is to use Windows Media
. Additionally, the Xbox 360 Media Extender
only works with
Windows Media Center for television viewing, so ATI's software isn't an
option for us.
To install the card, we simply unscrew the two
hand-tightened screws on the back of our Gateway case and we place the
unit on its right side. We follow the same procedure as before by
removing the metal cover next to the empty slot and then we simply
insert the ATI tuner card. Once the card is in place, we secure it with
the single screw that we removed from the blank cover and then close up
the case. This pic from the back shows the finished work.
can see that the ATI HDTV Wonder gives us inputs for unencrypted cable
as well as our OTA digital television feed. Additionally, there is an
AV-in port for other standard inputs, such as composite feeds, but
we're goin' digital baby! We won't be using them for this project, but
they're a nice-to-have.
Once we insert the power cord and
boot-up, we have some drivers to install. Use the included CD with the
ATI card and you should be all set. I should point out that I typically
run Windows Update
after installing any new hardware, just to ensure
that I have any updates needed. You could also check with your
manufacturers website, but I personally prefer to let Microsoft do the
work if possible.
Once the computer recognizes all of the new
hardware and the drivers are installed, we can configure Windows Media
Center for television viewing. Or can we? Here's where it gets
you see, Windows Media Center
requires at least one NTSC
(or analog) tuner in order to configure the television settings.
Although the HDTV Wonder card
has both an NTSC and an ATSC tuner, only
the digital tuner appears to work with Windows Media Center.
So do we get this card to work with Windows Media Center or do we end
up returning the card and potentially breaking our budget? Tune in to
the next installment of our project to find out if we're stuck in a
customer service line or we find a way to fake Windows Media Center out
and use the ATI HDTV Wonder card!