I have almost finished building my first HTPC.
It's a microATX system based around the MSI K8NGM2-FID motherboard (on-board S-Video, Component, VGA and DVI). I'm just waiting on the S/PDIF adaptor (on it's way from the US) to complete it. I've tested the S-Video and Component, both of which work really well. I used a DVD-RW drive i had spare (Asus DRW0402P/D). TV tuner is a Blackgold GDI DVB-T (which works fine in Windows MCE). The CPU is an Athlon64 3000+, with a Zalman CNPS7000B-CU cooler, 2 x 512 MB Corsair Value Select sticks of RAM, and storage provided by a Samsung SpinPoint 80gig SATA2 hard drive. All wrapped in the lovely Ahanix MCE-302 case, and controlled via an Accuratus Saturn wireless keyboard/trackball (very nice). No remote yet, i've got to research that.
The idea behind it was to get a HiDef media/DVD player that could replace my stand-alone DVD player, freeview box, MVP and Freecom media player (for playing DIVX/XVID). It does play DVDs (and ISOs via daemon tools) fine. Can't figure out how to make my drive (or GBPVR / MCE) region free, any help on that count would be nice. I'm more than willing to buy a new DVD-RW/ROM drive that can be made region-free more easily. It does have to be able to take different "front bits" (not sure or the terminology). The nice aluminium cover for the optical drive has a sticky pad for attaching to the optical drive.
I was hoping to configure it to get all it's recordings/music/video library from my server (which now has 5 tuners), and have LiveTV and DVD dealt with locally. So, i set GBPVR up following the instructions here. The thing is, since i've pointed GBPVR to the database on my server, it's recordings sources are on the server. Also, any new recordings made by the server have the local path in the database, which will not get picked up by the client. It may be possible to get around this by using a combination of subst and network drive mapping.
Is it possible (via plugins / future GBPVR version) to acheive this. In my view that'd be a killer app. I'd be able to have my server doing all the recording and a number of client PCs each with their own freeview tuner for live TV, and optionally their own DVD for playing DVDs locally. But all clients could access common recordings/music/videos. Since each client can only watch one live channel at any one time, this make perfect sense to me, as it leaves all the tuners on the server free for recording from the "shared" guide.
I would be happy to develop a plugin to do this, but i thought i'd find out first if it's even feasible. Maybe someone has already done this or made a start. I'd also be happy to help out with any efforts by either doing some development or testing it.
If anyone has any experience of this type of setup, i'd like to hear from you.
On a non-GBPVR note, when playing HiDef (720p or 1080i) content via 720p component out, it seems slightly jerky, like it's missing the odd frame. It's only really visible on large panning shots. My guess is that it's down to the on-board GeForce 6150 not quite being up to the job of putting out HiDef resolutions. It works fine when played at 800x600 via S-Video. I could be missing something in terms of setting up memory timings or video codecs optimally. The CPU runs at around 34-36 Celsius, so there might be room for a little overclocking to get that little bit extra it seems to need. I've never overclocked a PC myself, so am a little unsure of what to do.