software really isn't a big issue, pretty much all tuner cards come with software adequate for what you want. i've had good experiences performance wise with the Leadtek WinFast series however i would be lying if i didn't tell you i went through a lot of problems with them as well. the problems were virtually all related to the Leadtek software rather than the cards with the three WinFast cards i have owned (2x DTV1000-Ts and a TV1000XP). for performance and price i also like Avermedia cards. i have owned an analogue Avermedia card it works quite nicely.
check out "Media Portal" it's a freeware alternative to MCE, best of all it doesn't require a re-installation of windows if you already have a windows installation. it is just a program. it has a very nice interface and comes with a few skins, one of which mimics MCE.
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