I too am in the UK and am a little behind you with the purchasing of equipment (as well as understanding of some of the terminology around HD - WTF is 1080p etc stuff about???) so I'm watching your thread with interest.
You aren't behind me
... I'm proposing to use this stuff. The core PC spec is based around stuff I have lying around but I'm wanting to get on & buy the right kit for a least-hassle media-director machine (or two).
Anyway, I have been kicking around both the LinuxMCE and the Pluto forums for a while, keeping an eye on what's happening and trying to learn as much as I can before I waste any time and / or money installing this in the wrong way.
Me too, I've tried to build a hybrid on the Athlon3200+, but couldn't get it going an any useable way. I got U1 menus, but they were corrupted, sort of duplicated icons but also had incredibly slow response time.
Looking at your spec. and comparing with what I've read, I think you should bin the HDDs for the players (Media Directors). The idea is that these use PXE to network boot from the core. Not only will this save money, but it will also mean they run cooler and quiter. This also saves on a lot of setting up, since they become "plug and play".
That sounds ideal to me! Actually I could possibly try my current HTPC as a media director if I'm able to work out how to "PXE boot". I'll search the forums on this.
For my directors in "non-main" areas (bedrooms, kitchen etc) where they are likely to be linked via a composite video lead to a small 14" portable or via VGA to a cheap(ish) LCD TV, I've been looking at the mini-ITX form factor. A lot of these have TV out on board, are designed to run quietly (many systems based on these use a laptop-style external PSU so have no fan) and are much smaller than a normal PC. I have yet to start the ball rolling deciding on exact spec. yet, though, as I don't have the finances in place yet to make a start!!!
If anyone comes up with a very quiet Mini-Itx solution that display the full U2 menus, can play 1080i/720p and x.264/h.264 media (I don't know much about this yet just what others have been saying) that can be used with USB-UIRT I'm there!
I'm particularly interested in UK-Specific issues. (I can't seem to find DVB-S card, will the EPG work properly? (One of the myth systems allows you to have a "wish list" that will record certain films / shows if they EVER come on, dunno if it works in the UK though) etc etc.)
I had the Haupage WinTV-Nova-T-500 (Dual Digital TV Tuner) recommended to me as it apparantly has good linux support and 2 tuners on 1 card from 1 RF input. I already have a Nebula DigiTV card in my Windows HTPC and the TV listing for that work just fine, I can't see why there won't be a solution to getting basic TV listings to record under LinuxMCE on the Haupage. Perhaps someone with a TV card in the UK could comment?
I want my system to go MUCH further than TV though. I eventually want to include control of Network & Local CCTV cameras, VOIP Telephones, Gate Entry, X-10 & Z-Wave Home-Automation control so I reckon I'll need a beffy core PC plater on.
For now the 2 big questions are:-1/ "Can the Core PC listed above do a good job as a Core machine at these specs?"
2/ Can the OnBoard NVidia 6150B graphics on the proposed Media-Directors fully use the prettiest of the U2 menus (with transparencies etc.)
I'm thinking I'll wait for the 7.04 compatible installer to become available before another install attempt but still want to get buying some hardware (especially as my birthday is in a few weeks & some bits may make it onto my "List"