Hauppauge’s WinTV-PVR-350 is only part of the puzzle. The Best Computer of 2005 has the power and capacity to record and playback video, but what about the other televisions in your house?
Enter Hauppauge’s $99 MediaMVP (see the figure). This little box is designed to connect your PC with a TV via a network. Although the MediaMVP has an Ethernet connection, wireless bridges can be used as well. All you need is speed; a way to record the video; and lots of storage. Our Seagate Barracuda provides plenty of space to store video recorded by the WinTV-PVR-350.
The MediaMVP can actually access digital music, videos, pictures including slideshows, plus Internet radio via the network connection. It handles standard multimedia music formats like MP3 and ASX. The box has composite and S-Video outputs that can connect to most TV sets or home-theater multimedia amplifiers. An infrared remote control comes with the MediaMVP. This is used with a menu driven interface to play and move through multimedia content.
You will need one MediaMVP for each system, but you then have network equipped TVs. The software handles up to 12 units. Installing and setting up the box is relatively trivial. It will probably be harder to get Ethernet cable to your TV unless you have wireless or other network technologies like HomePlug Powerline networking.
MediaMVP handles the multimedia decoding itself, minimizing the bandwidth of the data stream over the network. DHCP provides plug-and-play operation. It’s simply a matter of connecting the cables to the MediaMVP and the TV, a CAT-5 network cable to the nearest switch, and then plugging in the power brick. Cables are included with the package.
MediaMVP works with Windows on the PC. There is also an open-source MVPServer that can run on a range of platforms including Linux.
The feature that is really fun is the ability to set up recording via the MediaMVP using the menu system and the infrared remote. The PC server has only one TV board so it cannot record two shows at the same time. Of course, if you get multiple boards or the WinTV-PVR-500, then simultaneous recording is possible.
If you pick up a WinTV-PVR board, make sure you get a MediaMVP. It is definitely worth the price.