We’ve covered a few ways to build a media center on a budget, but with AppleTV and GoogleTV launching soon, we have another superb media center tutorial for you. But with some versions of DIY media centers, usability isn’t always targeted toward the non-tech savvy. So, here’s a media center build that is so user friendly, your grandma could use it.
Starting with Windows Media Center software, extras are added such as Netflix, media sharing with Windows 7, plugins , and more. The step by step instructions show how to install, download and organize content, and showcase movies, music, and shows (thanks to Hulu or a TV tuner).
A spare computer that can pull off high-resolution, TV-sized graphics is ideal. The author recommends the Acer Aspire Revo that runs on an Intel Atom with NVIDIA ION graphics processor. If you have your Windows Vista or 7 installation discs with you, installation should only take a few minutes.
Installing UltraVNC on the home theater machine makes it remotely available from any computer on the home network. For sharing of media files between the home theater and the home network, you have to setup network sharing between the machines. You can also tweak the file sharing protocols to use BitTorrent or UseNet so you can automatically download and deliver media files in the correct format and folder.
Extras and Plugins:
One hassle-free thing about WMC is that it works smoothly with Hulu, Netflix, Boxee, and XBMC. Thanks to third party apps, the plugging in is seamless so you can switch back and forth between these apps and WMC with a click on the remote. You can add-on utilities like a TV tuner for recording shows, the Remote Potato app to access and watch from anywhere with a browser, and the Media Browser for interface skinning. Enjoy!