Just when I was about to write off my lowly single cpu Dell Pentium 4 desktop machine, it gets a reprieve. In this case, the reprieve comes from an unexpected source, Windows Vista HDTV recording. As you'll recall, I purchased the HDHomeRun product a little over a month ago. I started using it with MCE 2005, then started testing it with some of the more powerful laptops I have. HDHomeRun has been a joy so far.
The laptop comment should get your ears perked up. Even if you don't have a high definition TV, you can still record and watch high definition programming with Windows Vista. You see, Windows Vista doesn't force you to install an analog tuner first. Therefore you can start using the dual high definition tuners of HDHomeRun rapidly. Since it is a network device, there's nothing to plug into your laptop. Install the software, configure and enjoy.
I never bothered to re-test HDHomeRun with my desktop until this week. Like many of you, real work has kept me busy. Although I found my desktop is still underpowered for HDTV decoding and playback for smooth performance, it does a great job of recording. Once recorded, it also does a great job of feeding my Xbox360 so I can watch the recordings on the couch in the den. Best $169 I've spent in a while.