For a while now I’ve been living in HTPC-world with my Amitech Windows Media Center. It’s feature packed, but I haven’t really used all the features. Photos, videos and music? I have all my music in there, but I can’t remember the last time I listened to anything on the media center. The photo feature, I have never touched.

There are, however, three features I use a lot: Pausing live TV, the program guide (EPG) and recording. The pause function is excellent when you’re in the middle of watching and something else screams for your attention. With the EPG, it’s quite easy to record a show and because of this I’m recording all kinds of stuff that I wouldn’t normally watch. I’m actually watching more TV now than I used to, but I never watch anything when it’s aired, everything is recorded. The only problem with recording shows is that it’s impossible to schedule anything if there is no EPG information available for the channel.

The only major problem I have with the media center is that it turns itself on whenever it feels like it. It’s not to update the EPG or to record anything – it just turns itself on, which is quite annoying. I called Amitech support and told them about the problem. Their suggestion was to insert the recovery CD, something that would of course wipe the hard drive and erase everything on it. They didn’t tell me that the media center is configured to update the EPG automatically in the middle of the night by default, something I had figured out by myself before calling. If I hadn’t known this, re-installing everything might have sounded like a good idea and something I might have done. Only to find out later that it wouldn’t have helped at all. Now, the problem is not the EPG updates because it’s waking up from sleep long before the scheduled EPG update.

To wipe the hard drives was also the approach they suggested when I called them about a constant static noise in the speakers, something that was obviously hardware related. If you plan to buy a Windows Media Center box, I recommend that you stay away from Amitech because of the incompetence of their support department.