Rolling My Own: My HTPC Adventures

My Xbox One had wronged me for the last time. A few months ago, I needed to change my credit card info in order to renew Xbox Live. No biggie, right? Well, the new credit card info would never accept and every week or so I received an e-mail from Microsoft about how they couldn’t take my money from me, no matter how much I tried to hand it to them. So, I traded it in for Steam gift cards. All was well with the world. Except…

The one thing I enjoyed about the Xbone was its TV capabilities. With my humble Winegard OTA antenna, I had an on-screen guide, pause capabilities, etc that many people pay a shitton for if they have a cable box. Now I didn’t have that, so I began thinking about getting back into the HTPC game. I had made one in my spare time many years ago with limited success, but the scene has changed significantly. For the most part, HTPCs are easier to set up than before and the community is getting stronger.

I cobbled my most recent attempt out of a few spare parts combined with a new mobo, budget Pentium processor and a new case that looked nice by my TV. I first installed Ubuntu for the OS but soon discovered that the TV tuner card I was using (Hauppauge HTV-1265, I think) did not work under Linux. However, the USB dongle I used on the Xbone worked fine. Odd. Either way, Ubuntu eventually didn’t work out so I ended up with Windows 7.

For the actual HTPC software, I went with Kodi, formerly known as XBMC. It’s always been a great system, and it’s pretty great today. It melds with my PVR software well, it gathers metadata for my media on my NFS share almost flawlessly, and looks good, too. However, it does occasionally hiccup in places causing the app to completely freeze, which in turn causes frantic Ctrl+Alt+Deleting and/or Alt+Tabbing to bring it back to life. This tends to occur when Kodi is trying to change a channel in order to record a program, which may be able to be blamed on the PVR software.

Now, I have a fairly reliable HTPC with great video quality, plus a full PC experience if I want. Also, I can plug in my Steam controller and play all those games I’ve bought on Steam with those gift cards. 🙂