I've got a rather old machine that has been serving as my HTPC for about 3 years and is starting to show it's age. I'm running SageTV on winXP to do all of my recording with video coming in through a pair of cable STB's via svideo. My wife has grown very comfortable with our current setup and want to get a feel for what the current state of hardware is before I make any decisions. The uncertain future of SageTV has me thinking of switching over to windows 7 media center but I don't have a lot of experience on that end.
How is functionality in windows media center comparable to SageTV? My primary concern is with external control of STB's. My SageTV setup does channel switching on the STB's via firewire. Is this possible in win7 media center? Are there drivers available for the STB's that will work in win7? I have heard there are issues with 64 bit.
On the hardware side, my tuners are pretty ancient (nvidia dualTV tuner) and could use an update as well. I've seen alot of talk about the ceton cable card tuners, but I am hestitant to go cablecard because of all the potential DRM issues. If I went cable card, would i able to grab recorded files off of my HTPC and watch them on another machine? We tend to grab a bunch of recorded TV and throw it on a netbook when we travel. What are some options other than the ceton cablecard tuners? I think my preference would be internal tuners, but an external tuner isn't out of the question.
I haven't had much time to think about hardware but I'd likely be grabbing some middle of the road components because the machine is really only used for viewing/recording TV an occasional DvD and light web browsing. My current setup is using a DVI connection to get video to the TV but I've been considering adding bluray capability so I'd have to switch over to HDMI and verify HDCP compatibility. Any suggestions on graphics? Are onboard graphics to the point where i wouldnt have to worry about a discrete card?