Well, I got everything done last night and actually got to watch an episode of Criminal Minds on it. I was happy :)
However, with the good, there comes the bad. I am not happy with the IR extender’s performance when using Media Center. It controls my AV receiver just fine, but there was entirely too many skipped button presses and lagged responses for me to consider using it full time for Media Center. I tried everything I could possibly think of to get it to work more reliably, but it just would not. I think it could have to do with the SmartHome branded dual emitter I bought instead of the Xantech branded one, but I’m not paying $20 to see. I simply snaked my third-party Microsoft-compatible IR receiver (it’s MUCH smaller than the Microsoft one) out the top corner of the closet door and used a piece of two-sided velcro to fasten it to the corner of the molding. It’s barely noticeable and Media Center responds perfectly with it being placed there. I’m sure I’ll tinker around with it a little more, but for now, it’s considered “fixed” for me.
Second problem – with all the wiring and DVI-HDMI adapter sticking out the back of my current ATX-cased HTPC, it just doesn’t fit on the shelf it’s on. I had to sit it at an angle to keep it from flipping off the shelf and I still can’t guarantee my wife that it won’t brain her as she’s walking in to get clothes sometime. So, I need a smaller case which, subsequently, requires a smaller motherboard. I have solved both predicaments.
Fry’s has a very nice ITX case for just $39.99! It’s the Raidmax ITX-0907-BP and it even comes with a 300W PSU. I don’t expect that to be much, but it will do. The case also accepts full-size 5.25″ DVD and 3.5″ HDD, which is good since I don’t have any slim/notebook drives to use for this. There’s not a whole lot on the Internet about this little case, so I will be sure to write as much about it as I can once I get everything in it. For $40, I don’t see how I could go wrong. It’s not even on sale! There is one write-up about it at the SilentPCReview forums in this thread. That’s about as extensive as it gets and it’s used as a file server, not an HTPC. Still some good (if not only) info.
Media Browser. In the end, the integrated GeForce 9300 video coupled with a more powerful processor will be more of an advantage to me…as was saving $25. I’ll toss 4GB of DDR2-800 at it and I have a spare 120GB SATA drive to use, so I can actually set this whole thing up without even taking my current HTPC offline…always a plus.
I may get around to starting some of this tonight…my wife’s cousin is supposed to be staying over, so she’ll keep the kids busy. I will be sure to take pictures and post next week on how it all went!