Our freeview / hdd recorder box is about to give up the ghost (very flaky, won't start sometimes, won't record programs more than 1 hour ahead).
Rather than just going and buying another one I'm wondering whether building a media centre PC might be a better solution, both in terms of the features it would have (e.g. managing a whole media collection inc music, pictures etc; internet tv and so on) and also its future upgradeability to cover technology progressions.
Due to limitations of space in our lounge, and also to consolidate kit where possible I would be looking to replace an ageing windows XP desktop-based file/print/IIS web/SQL database server which lives in a kitchen cupboard with a more up-to-date windows 7 machine. I would then have an xbox 360 in the lounge to act as an extender to stream content to.
My biggest uncertainty at the moment is in what I would need to buy/build to replace the desktop machine in the cupboard, and how much this would cost. I think it needs to have the following:
* Enough beef (processor / memory) to run media centre streaming duties and also cover existing file/print/web/database server duties (web/ db processing is all lightweight stuff - I can't remember the spec of the existing box but it must be 6-7 yrs old now and handles everything fine)
* at least 2x internal 3.5" sata bays (preferably more).
* as it will always be on, as low a power consumption and heat output as possible.
* as small a case size as possible.
* Support wake-on-lan. I.e. hibernate when not being used, then automatically wake up when a client tries to connect to it.
* plenty of PCI slots to expand the system in future.
* TV card (dual tuner) to allow viewing / recording of TV. If the base build didn't have one I could always add this.
* Obviously as cheap as possible!
Anyone have any experience / advice to share? Any desktop machines which fit the bill to recommend?
Oh and please don't say buy a mac!