I'm going to have a shot at assembling a media server (pvr/dvr/etc.) running off a broken laptop for my folks.
I just got a laptop off ebay for £55 (Pentium M 1.4 Ghz, with firewire, usb 2 and wifi).
- Keyboard: ~£25 current favourite is a BTC 9019URF with a joystick/mouse stick for pointing from meggydog
- Harddrive: ~250Gb ~£50
- Harddrive caddy/ide-usb adapter: ~£15 from scan or techfocus
- Video capture: £50 plextor convertx m402u amazon it sounds like it's got the best drivers mythtv
- VGA to tv adapter: ~£40 (unfortunately documentation for the laptop: Sharp – Actius MV1214 is hard to come by, if I'm lucky the i855GM chipset will be able to provide tv-out through the vga port)
- Surround sound card: ~£40
- Speakers: ~£50
- DVD writer: ~£30
- Power supply: £20
So that's a total of £345
The objective is to put together a very capable and extendable low power media server cheaply and using as many second hand parts as possible. I'm hoping to get most of this second hand except the harddrive. Naturally this is going to be running the Linux based MythTV which is really what makes such a thing possible at all. Being a bit of a pythonista myself I quite like the sound of freevo too but it doesn't seem to have so much bling. I believe the major differences between the platforms are that mythtv is mainly written in c++ and makes heavy use of a mysql database for storing all the program data. Significantly, it also has a mature implementation of time shifting, whereas freevo is mainly written in python and keeps the program data (video metadata?) in xml files which makes it easier to setup and maintain and perhaps also extend. I want this to be a box to stick into my parents living room and forget about so I'll probably try them both to see what works.