For many years the holy grail for a lot of Media Center users has been a mythical creature known as ‘Soft Sled.’
This was muted quite a few years back as a Software version of a Media Center Extender that was supposedly being developed by Microsoft. Where that rumour came from or even where the ‘Soft Sled’ name came from, and why it was supposed to be called that, are lost in the mysts of time but the ‘fairy-tale’ remains a compelling one for many people.
Over the years people have set out on their own quests to discover Soft-Sled, with the noble knight WebGuide still being much lamented, and recently with the advent of Windows 7 and Homegroup most of the mystic spells softsled was supposed to be able to cast have been achieved:
Shared Music – check
Shared Video – check
Shared Recordings – check
Shared Live TV – ah still an issue but wait…
Into this mythical world has ridden a white knight with the name of DVBLink Network TV Source and now I can share live TV (well at least the tuner) from my main media center to another PC (in my case an Acer Revo NetTop screwed onto the back of a multitouch monitor) This works well, at least if your mythical world is located in Europe, but one thing remains that differentiates this from a true extender:- centralised recordings.
Now on a true extender if you hit record the recording occurs on the Media Center PC that is hosting the extender session – alas not so with our ‘Soft Sled’ variant. If I schedule a recording on the NetTop that recording will take place on the NetTop not on the main Media Center.
This might be fine for some people, after all Home Group will share those recordings round the network, but I want all my recording on the main Media Center. Fortunately I remembered some software that the amazing Babgvant (of DVRMSToolbox fame) had written a while back and which I had featured on this blog. Recording Broker allows you to schedule a recording on one PC but if it is unable to record due to a tuner conflict then have it ‘brokered’to another pc to do the recording. It also in its later version has a great feature where you can broker all recordings. I did have one issue in that I couldn’t find a Window’s 7 version but a quick tweet at Babgvant got me the reply that it could be found in the forums at www.babgvant.com.
Armed with this I quickly installed it on the main media center and the NetTop, set the NetTop to broker all recording and pointed the NetTop Recording Broker to the Media Center. I then set a recording and sat back. Low and behold the magic worked and my recording was handled by the main media center.
Now there are still a few issues the prime one being that the recording schedule is not shared between media centers so i can’t change the main Media Center’s recording schedule without being on the Main Media center. Another being that at the moment DVBLinbk doesn’t prioritise recordings over live tv. So despite having two tuners in my Media Center PC and having only scheduled two simultaneous programs to record, I still lost a recording the other day because one of the tuners was being used by the NetTop. DVBLogic are aware of this latter issue and are working on a solution for the next beta.
Oh and one final thought on this the good Knight DatabasJase has successfully installed DVBLink on his Window’s Home Server with a Virtual Version of Windows 7 being hosted on the same box seeing those shared tuners which bodes well for people wanting a one box serving solution.
So foresooth and such we are nearly there and perhaps we can all live happilly ever after.
For those of you who have asked you can follow me on twitter as well www.twitter.com/garrywma