A FEW questions answered, a few questions asked...

Discussion in 'Windows Media Center' started by Paul Bilsborough, Jan 31, 2004.

  1. Hi there, i live in the UK, and about 2 months ago, bought a HP Media
    Centre PC m380uk. Overall the system works well and after a quick scan
    through this Newsgroup i have decided to answer a few common questions and
    at the bottom i have some questions of my own which if i get no answer too
    here, will be taking up with Microsoft directly and will post the answers
    into this thread.



    Freeview on MCE???



    If you have a Freeview box it can be connected to the PC and works very
    well and it does NOT just come on 1 channel and then you have to use the
    Freeview remote control, EVERY channel is listed in the guide and you use
    the MCE remote throughout.



    HP Provide you with and IR Blaster cable which runs from the IR receiver
    to your Freeview Box, then when you change the channel on the Guide, it
    sends the correct IR data to the Freeview Box, changing the channel.



    Can you copy, sorry, "Back up", Videos onto DVD's using MCE?



    Yes and no is the answer to this, let me explain.



    Yes you can link up to your MCE a video player through the video and
    sound inputs at the front and then record the incoming "unprotected" video
    such as home videos and recordings made off the TV on your video, BUT the
    problem is this, alot of Videos you may have bought from the shop and want
    to copy, ahem "BACK UP", have copy protection on them called MACROVISION.



    Macrovision is a data scrambling protection which alters the brightness
    settings to the picture making it appear on any tuner light and then dark
    repeatedly, and the TV tuner card in this PC is just the same as any other,
    and so, the picture becomes very blocky and scrambled.



    The solution for this is a device logically called a "Macrovision
    remover" or for the techies, a "Time Base Corrector". This device sits
    in-between the Video and the pc and, you guessed it, removes the macrovision
    protection! enabling you to convert all those VHS Videos onto lovely DVD's!



    Do you get RDS on the radio part of MCE?



    Unfortunately, no. This is a disappointment to me as RDS seems to be on
    everything from the cheapest stereo all the way to the most expensive but
    not on a new state of the art £1500 pc????



    Once again the conversion between analogue and digital seems a slow gate
    to open, if only a digital tuner complete with a DAB radio was installed
    instead of the analogue card.



    Now for my major grumbles and a possible solution...



    1. The alarm clock you can download from Microsoft has a sleep and an
    alarm function, and a nice touch it is that you can select different music
    to go to sleep to and wake up too, BUT ,my major grumble with it is that you
    cannot set 2 different volume levels, one for sleep and one for the alarm.
    Anyone got any ideas?? Microsoft??



    2. DivX films seem to be a problem for MCE, for what reason i know not,
    but whenever you watch a DivX movie and then want to exit it to do whatever
    you want to do, MCE freezes!!! Then, if you press Ctrl+Alt+Del, wait a few
    seconds, it will unfreeze and away you go. This however it not something i
    want to be doing everytime i watch a DivX film as i have quite alot of them,
    Anyone got a solution?? Microsoft?? Divx??



    3. The Media Libary function where it gets the information from the
    internet about CD's you copy onto your MCE works well most of the time
    BUT...... IT DOES GET IT WRONG FROM TIME TO TIME!!!! Beware of this and
    check all the details of the track listings BEFORE you copy the CD.



    You can easily edit track listings and artists but the Major grumble i
    have with this is the apparent inability the user has to change ALOT of the
    details about a CD, Most importantly, THE ALBUM ARTWORK!!!



    When I have a CD that is not in the Internet database of CD's I have to
    put up with a generic picture of a note or even worse, the WRONG PCTURE!!
    WHY??



    I have a scanner and could quite easily scan in the image of the album
    artwork and could copy THAT into the Media Libary, surely?? PLEASE give me t
    he ability to change this unhappy situation.



    4. On numerous times i have left my MCE to record the TV programs i have
    left it to record, and then come home for a nights worth of recordings to
    find that it has recorded the Picture but with NO SOUND!!!!! You do not know
    the annoyance factor involved here until it has happened to you!!! TRUST
    ME!!!!!



    Now no one wants to leave MCE running in there user area unattended just
    so they can be sure they get a recording with sound, so I have this
    suggestion until someone at Microsoft sorts out this HUGE, ENORMOUS,
    PRACTICAL, COLOSSAL, ANNOYING, MAJOR PROBLEM WITH MCE!!!



    I have noticed that if you just simply turn on your PC and not log on
    then I can guarantee to you that this problem will occur, so, if you....

    1.. Power on
    2.. Log on
    3.. Launch MCE
    4.. Watch some TV on MCE
    5.. Close MCE down completely
    6.. and then instead of Logging off completely, "Switch users"
    This also requires you to have a password on your user account to make
    your PC secure.



    THIS IS SURELY NOT WHAT YOU WANTED PEOPLE TO HAVE TO DO ALL THE TIME MR.
    GATES??? SORT IT PLEASE!!!!







    In conclusion



    After personal experience with this setup, I would have preferred it if
    HP had have put a Freeview TV Card with a DAB tuner in the PC then there
    would be no need for IR Blaster cables and having to know what the frequency
    of the station is that you want. This i belive should have been a
    requirement from Microsoft to the builders of a Media Centre PC and was an
    opportunity missed.



    As for Microsoft, MCE 2004 is a worthy 2nd attempt but MCE but still has
    a long way to go to become "Complete Media Centre" nirvana!



    Improvements i would like to see from personal experience:

    1.. Addition of Digital TV Tuner Card
    2.. Addition of Digital Radio Card
    3.. An Alarm that can be set for one volume and sleep that can be set for
    another. (I don't go to sleep with music at the same volume as i want to
    wake up too!)
    4.. Get rid of the mysterious and extremely annoying problem of NO SOUND
    on a recording!!!
    5.. Give people the ability to put there own album cover pictures in the
    Media Libary
    6.. Sort out compatablility problems with DivX recordings
    Thanks for reading this i hope someone found it usefull, please feel
    free to add additions, solutions, grumbles, e.t.c... to this thread.



    Paul Bilsborough - paulbilsborough2003 (@noSPAM) hotmail.com
     
    Paul Bilsborough, Jan 31, 2004
    #1
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  2. Hi Paul,

    Thanks for your contributions. I'll try to answer your questions, see
    inline.

    not,


    Which DivX codec do you have? Have you tried a different DivX codec?
    True, I've seen such cases. You need to go go an amnually change the name
    and author in Media Player. Very good advise. However, such a big library is
    poised to ae errors every once in a while.

    You are fortunate here, I have the answer you've been probably looking for.

    You can use your scanner, scan the CD cover artwork and put it inside the
    folder conatining the CD tracks, Just make sure you name it "folder.jpg",
    both Media Player and Media Center will recognize it and use it inmediately.
    I do it all the time, as sometimes I don't like how the images downloaded
    from the internet look, or the image stored in the database belongs to a
    different edition of the CD with a different cover artwork. Also, when I
    create my own "CDs", I also create my own artwork, and add it there that
    way.

    I hear you. Microsoft is aware of the problem, however, the random nature of
    this issue makes it more difficult to find and fix. Recently, someone from
    the UK posted an article in this group where he was mentioning that this
    seems to be a problem specific to the HP, I don't know if this is true or
    not, but so far, all the reports I've heard about this issue come from HP
    users, including myself. But it could be just a coincidence.
    I don't really understand this.. you are leaving your MCE logged on and it
    guarantees that the recordings will have audio? I leave mine logged off
    (mine is in domain mode also) and most of the time it goes and return from
    standby mode to perform the recordings, and 99% of the time they have audio,
    it just seems to happen randomly. Could you please comment on that?

    Interesting, you say you can replicate this behavior that way.... I cannot
    test it right now since as I said before, my PCs are part of a domain, so
    switch user is not available. But I'll transmit that to the product team.
    Oh I agree, no question about it. The Complete Media Center Nirvana, as you
    call it, is by definition, and unreachable dream, but a good goal worth
    persuing, and I believe MCE is going in that direction.
    Sounds pretty fair. Number 6 is available now, so you don't have to wait.
    The divx problem...well, I would try a different codec and see if that fixes
    the problem.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with us, and not only post your
    suggestions, but also contribute to others with very god answers to common
    questions.

    Regards,

    Luis
     
    Luis A. Burgos [MVP], Jan 31, 2004
    #2
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  3. Thankyou Luis for you contribution to this thread.

    I am extremly happy that you can put your own album cover images into the
    media libary by doing that. That was something that was one of those
    niggling annoyances that ends up ruining a good idea.

    As for the No Sound Problem, like i say, i can pretty much garuntee that no
    sound will be recorded if i just Power On, leave it on the welcome screen,
    don't log on to any user, and let it record, as my Media Center did this the
    other day with a full days worth of recordings, yet i have had no problems
    recording tv if i'm logged on, and switching users enables me to be logged
    on whilst still keeping my pc secure when unattended. But this is not how it
    is meant to be, if anything, the PC should, if off, turn itself on to record
    the TV, record it without the need to log on, and then turn itself off when
    the program finishes. Now that would be impressive, the situation as it is
    now is a big let down. I am part of the old school PC users who where taught
    this "Nothing happens Randomly inside a PC, It does something for 1 reason
    only, cause a human told it too" Therefore, it is someones fault, nothing
    random about it.

    The Divx Codec i have is the free one, downloadable from
    http://www.divx.com/divx/?src=toptab_divx_from_/index.php and from the link,
    "Standard DivX Codec, Free" and is Version number 5.1.1 and i have not
    touched any of the settings in the configuration utility as i have no idea
    wha to tick/untick in there. If there is something i should tick in there
    that isn't ticked that would solve this problem, then please, let me know.

    What about the Alarm Clock? Do Microsoft plan to update the current version
    to one that you could set to 2 different volume levels, surely this can't be
    THAT difficult for all those clever people at Microsoft to do??

    If is was to go out and purchase a Digital TV Tuner card, (which should have
    really come with the PC, and was a requirement Microsoft should have
    insisted on for the builders of MCE's and was an opportunity missed) I
    presume i would get all of the FreeView Channels, but what about DAB Digital
    radio, i hate having to look at frequency numbers of Radio Stations, can i
    get it to list Digital Radio Station Names under the Radio function or could
    this be a feature of MCE2006?? Or at least give people the opportunity to
    replace the frequency number with a Radio Station Name.

    Once again, thankyou for your time in reading this, i'm glad that the
    development team are listening to users feedback. I am one person who
    belives that Media Centre Nirvana is not impossible, far from it, it just
    requires a perfectionist attitude to it to get it right, Once they get it
    right it will always be right.

    If they want anything else testing, please feel free to send me one of them
    lovely smart screens, a tablet laptop, and one of them Windows Powered
    Phones would be nice, maybe a Beta version of Longhorn, and anything else
    Mr.Gates has stashed waiting for future release.

    Thankyou once again,

    Paul Bilsborough -
     
    Paul Bilsborough, Feb 1, 2004
    #3
  4. Paul Bilsborough

    Nigel Barker Guest

    Mine does exactly that. It is what MCE is supposed to do. It is dependent on the
    BIOS supporting this function of waking from Standby or Hibernate. If yours
    doesn't then log a fault call with your suppliers technical support. They should
    fix it.
    I have that one too & XViD the open source version. I do not see the problems
    that you have with DiVX movies. I can only suggest that you try removing & then
    re-installing DiVX.
    DVB-T is only important in the UK market for MCE & 30-40% of the UK can't
    receive it anyway so I guess that it's reasonable to give manufacturers the
    choice. There are certainly manufacturers in the UK shipping systems with DVB-T
    tuners. Possibly a multinational company ship similarly specified models in all
    markets whereas a UK based company would be aware of the popularity & importance
    of Freeview in the UK.

    While googling I just discovered an excellent site reviewing MCE in the UK.
    http://www.mvps.org/marksxp/MediaCenter/2004/harmony.php The author particularly
    makes the point that if you are able to receive Freeview that you buy a digital
    system whereas if you have a cable or satellite STB then you can buy an analogue
    system.
    DAB is an almost exclusively UK-only thing so probably didn't loom large on the
    Microsoft radar. In fact even in the UK it has only taken off in the last year
    or so now that the price of receivers is sub 100 pounds. It would significantly
    increase the price of an MCE machine AFAIK there is not DVB-T plus DAB card only
    a DAB only card.
     
    Nigel Barker, Feb 1, 2004
    #4
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