You’ve probably got a few dozen CDs and DVDs lying around. Oh, and there’s probably thousands of digital photos and videos on your computer. Then, there’s the… hey, do you have a Media Center in your family room? Marcelo Litovsky is making a name for himself by making them for folks:

I read your article about the upcoming of Media Center PCs. Although this is not new technology, it is catching up in 2006. HP, Dell (Alienware), Gateway – they all have them. Microsoft Released the OEM version of MCE, giving a lot of people the opportunity to build and sell their own Media Center PCs.

Last year, Bill Gates gave Windows Media Center Edition a big push at CES. Microsoft started to promote this product and PC vendors followed. That demand triggered a competition at the component level. CPU and video card vendors joined in. You can see this reflected on all the computer publications out there. Ads for MCE based PCs are countless.

You can run into any computer store these days and buy one. Or, just order it online – no shortage there either. But, unlike a limited-purpose DVR, you are buying a PC. This comes with its own problems; when Microsoft releases a fix, patch, update, etc. it is not possible that they have tested it on every possible combination of hardware out there (things do break). Same goes with other hardware and software vendors. If you are like me, the whole family suffers. The kids cannot watch TV or their recorded show – and you come home to a “Send this error report to Microsoft” message, or a device driver that no longer works.

We want the flexibility of a PC combined with media we can enjoy without interruption. Now that ample hardware is out there, the focus should be on making it reliable. We should educate consumers to help them keep their systems running smoothly! The PC will soon become a centerpiece in the living room; visitors will want to see dynamic slide shows from your trip (not to wait for a system reboot).

A few months back, I started building Windows Media Center PCs. I removed my Tivo from the living room and placed a new Media Center PC in its place. This became a quest to find the right components and build something I did not need to care for. The focus soon turned to keeping the system up, and learning the simple features that would make the change worthwhile. This passion has now turned into a business that I enjoy tremendously. I sell my Family Media Center PCs online. We work with our customers to understand how the family uses the PC and provide the information they need.

We want flexibility from the products we buy. We also want them to be as reliable as the car we drive. Buying a MCE PC with the intention of replacing a DVR, DVD/CD player, etc. is a challenge. For me, it is one worth taking.

I can’t think of a reason not to run MCE as a primary or secondary system. It’s pretty much Windows XP Professional with all the Media Center goodness integrated. Windows Vista will pretty much be MCE right out of the box, so if you’re not used to the idea yet – you will be soon enough. Plus, with Xbox 360s acting as Media Center extenders? Fuggetaboutit.

[tags]dvr,pvr,mce,hardware,dell,oem,tivo,alienware,media center,pc vendors,media center pc,living room pc,media center extender,custom built pc[/tags]