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I have been a Media PC user for many years, initially I started of with Windows Vista Media Center until i discovered XBMC in early 2012. Since then I have not looked back due to how much XBMC can be customized. I have setup XBMC (soon to be Kodi) on every PC throughout the house, including on a computer attached to our main TV in the lounger room. With this setup I have no requirement to either use or own a VCR/DVD player as all devices can view recorded TV shows and all of my DVD's are backed up and stored centrally on the network.
The media center setup that I have was not the most difficult thing to setup, although initially time consuming. The biggest hurdle I had making sure it was wife proof. For those of you that don't know or haven't heard of the term it is quite common amongst the computer enthusiast. To put it plainly for those of us who tinker, we will often see the benefits of what we are doing and harmlessly push it onto our wives. The problem with this method is that more often than not what ever was initially a good idea breaks / doesn't work properly or is UN-reliable. This in essence is not wife proof. I must say that after some unforeseen issues (moved house, new neighborhood had too many wireless networks) I got the wife tick of approval (although she will never say so). This was confirmed on a few occasions, one day I return home from work after a power outage, and someone (no name) didn't turn the media server on, our house was immediately a war zone until services where restored-now after using it enough times this has never happened again.
A crucial part of this entire setup is the Media Server. I'm using a Synology DS213j. You don't need to use a dedicated NAS, if you have an old PC laying around you could use that.
The Media Server has been setup to have files accessible via SMB. This could be anything from recorded TV, DVDs/Movies. To receive free-to-air TV, I installed TVHeadend. TVHeadend enables you to receive live DVB-T broadcasts. TVHeadend has enabled me to have a central location within the house to receive all TV signals and each PC can receive the broadcasts, either via XBMC for My PC's or if i have guests over they can use VLC.
The Media Server also has MySQL installed. The Database for XBMC is stored here. Using MySQL as the Storage Database for XBMC enables you to pause a video on one device and resume it on another device. It also enables you to keep track of watched shows across multiple devices.
Currently I am using XBMC 13.2 Gotham, with the default confluence skin (with a couple of my own modifications). I have setup XBMC to be as easy to manage as possible. Held on the media server is the settings for addons that are the same across all media centers. For addons whos settings change between users or media centers these are stored within the users profile.
TVHeadend is a PVR that is installed on a computer/NAS. This software is purely designed to provide a central location where all TV signals whether it be DVB-T, DVB-C,DVB-S or analog video are collected and distributed to clients. Please see their website for more details