Home Gadget Roundup

I have recently setup some new gadgets at home and had not had a chance to give a little write-up on my current media/computing setup.

I just had enough of the horrible Comcast DVR that I finally went out and orders a Tivo HD. I have to say it was a great buy, sure I had to buy the hardware, and there is a monthly service cost, but as the math worked out it was not much more per month than the DVR from Comcast. And it works, I can transfer un-encrypted shows from the Tivo HD to my computer using TivoToGo, I have yet to miss a show, get it cut off, have it reboot, or have the device be unresponsive to remote commands (all features of the Comcast DVR).

It did take a few days to get the CableCards working correctly, but Comcast was great and helped get it fixed pretty quickly. It turns out the Motorola dual-tuner card does not play nice, so we had to go with two single tuner cards. Not a big deal Comcast did not charge me for either card. Btw, I know I have been slamming Comcast’s DVR, but their customer service is great, they just need better hardware solutions, or buy Tivo.

A more recent upgrade was my purchase of a HP MediaSmart - Windows Home Server. I have had NAS for the last couple of years but had been wanting what WHS was offering since I heard about in internal beta at Microsoft. My first NAS was a old white-box computer I purchased for $60 from my last company, I installed Window 2k3 put 3 120 GB hard drives in a RAID-5 configuration and things were good. Of course things were also complicated, I was administrating a server, technically not a big issue for me but still not the thing I want to be dealing with at home. Next I decided to go with a Buffalo Technology LinkStation 500 GB NAS. I attached two additional 500 GB USB drives and life was good, for awhile. The LinkStation solution worked pretty well, the things I did not like about it was that I was maxed out on hard drive space, and I did not feel all that comfortable with the weekly backups between the LinkStation and the USB drives.

I could have built my own Windows Home Server, but decided that based on the price of the HP MediaSmart Server it would be worth it to have someone to call if it fails. I ordered the 500 GB HP server from Buy.com surprisingly they had some in stock. Currently I have two 500 GB drives in the installed within the server and two 500 GB USB drives attached, that gives me 1.82 TB, with 2 internal drive slots, two USB connections and a eSATA connection available. How I configured my server seems better left to another post.