As I wrote in a previous post, I first tried to assemble a useful centralized multimedia system in my home with free tools like MediaPortal, Openelec / XBMC etc. – but it didn’t work (various hangups, SMB problems, standby problems …).
So I decided to try Windows 8 Media Center in combination with DVBLink to realize a central TV Server. It works very fine, with 1 disadvantage:
DVBLink has its own TV recorder included in the server, but you cannot manage the recordings via WMC EPG. I hope there is a better solution in the next versions, but as a workaround I use the Android mobile app for this. As an alternative, you can run both DVBLink and MediaPortal server services, so you can e.g. use DVBLink with WMC to watch TV and XBMC for recordings, movie database etc.
To set up, follow these steps:
Install DVBLink Server, you get it here.
Open the web interface, you find the link in your start menu. In my case, the Windows service didn’t run by default and I also couldn’t start it (timeout). The solution was to manually run the various executables which are located in the DVBLink installation directory – suddenly the service worked (cannot reproduce this behavior more exactly at this time).
Configuring via the web interface is quite simple.
Make sure you have internet access on your server, then load the plugin “DVBLink Connect! Server”, and you might also need “TVSource” to configure your TV devices. They are all available as trial version.
Run a channel scan on your TV cards and configure EPG, the web interface should be self-explaining.
vPlug also runs as a plugin under DVBLink, but use it only for testing purposes.
Install Windows 8 and enable the Media Center feature.
Important: Install .Net 3.5 Framework, DVBLink needs it.
Maybe also useful: Automatic Windows Login.
Install the DVBLink network client.
Open the DVBLink configuration accessible via Start Menu. Enter the IP (not the hostname to avoid PlayReady problems!). You should see a channel list after waiting about max. 2 minutes (be patient); then click OK.
Open Windows Media Center.
Follow the official wiki to configure the virtual tuners and synchronize channels.
You should now be able to access EPG and Live TV.
I find XBMC very useful for movie / TV series database and various add-ons, which of course do not run under WMC by default. So I decided to include XBMC with a link from WMC, to be able to switch easily. Have a look at this integration tool, which also works for Windows 8.