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The primary hard drive in my Vista media center (Dell XPS 410) died a hard death, so I got a new drive and started rebuilding.  Well, it turns out that my Vista DVD is pre-sp1, which means the SATA driver I needed wasn't there.  I tried getting one from Dell downloads, but it didn't work.  I got to the point in setup where it SAID it was copying files, but nothing happened - overnight.

Since I have only a small amount of time late at night for personal projects, after the second day my wife was ready to cut off body parts.  Twin 2 year old boys, no TV... not a pretty picture.

So I decided that the TV/DVR wasn't going to be a hobby any more, and bought a TiVo HD unit from Best Buy.  I called Verizon to see if I could replace my two STB's with cablecards, which would also give me the high def capability the Dell box lacked (you can do the cablecard/HD configuration with the XPS 420, not 410).  I have to say, the Verizon rep (working in Pittsburgh), was GREAT.  I don't remember every having a better customer experience.  While we were talking, he was reviewing my account - I have phone, internet, and TV service.  After reviewing options, he was able to give me the same service - except for swapping the two STB's with two cablecards (they didn't have multi-cards, so I needed two to record two channels at once) - for $178 instead of the $252 I've been paying.  Then the bad news - it would be about 2.5 weeks before a technician would be able to come with the cards and install them.  Great, those body parts were history.

So the next day just before noon, the rep calls me on my cell phone.  He made some calls that morning and a technician was scheduled to come the next day.  Sure enough, around 2pm the tech came and an hour or so later got the cablecards installed and TiVo was all set.

The only real issue with the TiVo is that it's only got a 250Gb drive, whereas I had 1.2Tb in my Vista box.  The only "approved" way to expand it is to get a 500Gb external drive from WD, called the My DVR something-or-other, and plug it into the eSATA port.  It's about $199, so is an option when I need the space.

All is not lost on the XPS 410 box.  Once I have the time to get it up and running, I'm going to add a few Gb of RAM and turn it into a video editing machine.  I have an HD, 60Gb video recorder and my little laptop doesn't do well editing the movies from it.

Posted on Tuesday, April 1, 2008 10:28 PM Cool Stuff , Vista | Back to top


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