Last night I bit the bullet and decided to try out Vista Media Center as part of the Vista Ultimate SKU. Jeff was warning me against it with claims of slowness and driver support and given the wife acceptance factor has to be high in any decision around the TV I chose the path of least risk and installed on a spare HDD :)
I have to say its great! Much much faster than Windows XP MCE 2005 UR2. What hardware do I have to run it? AMD Athlon 64 3000+ Socket 939, 1.5GB RAM, 200GB SATA HDD, Compro DVB-T200 and an ATI Radeon 9550 256MB Video card.
There was only one issue. DivX just didnt play on Vista MCE. I'd read stories about crashes with DivX 6.4 in Vista MCE (on the xpmediacentre.com.au forums) and sure enough thats what happened when I installed it. I tried ffdshow but that left a very grainy picture and yucky screen artifacts. I read on another forum to use DivX 5.2.1. I found it and it worked great!!
All in all a great experience! Other things Ive noticed are:
1. Channel setup and scan is now separate from guide listing setups which is great!
2. Channel changing between channels works much faster. Like about 5 seconds faster than before.
3. I have a Via AC97 audio driver. SPDIF enables on the driver but doesnt give you 5.1 sound. Additionally it un-enables itself when you reboot! Looks like I might have to "registry fix" that one!
4. The kids love the games in Vista...
5. Sleep refuses to work. It tries to sleep but then automatically restarts again!
6. DVD works great in it. I had heard about slowness in this too but its fine on mine.
7. After the trial on the spare HDD I switched it over to the SATA HDD for the main boot. Starts faster now too.
Anyone have other comments to share about their experiences?