Will USA (NTSC) Extender work on UK (PAL) TVs?

Discussion in 'Windows Media Center' started by CJSnet, Oct 24, 2004.

  1. CJSnet

    CJSnet Guest

    Hi, I'm keen to buy an Extender device soon and can import from the USA to
    the UK. However as we use the PAL system, and USA uses NTSC (which has
    fewer horizontal scan-lines thus lower resolution), I need to know how
    configurable the Extender devices are.

    Specifically, does the Settings menu give an option to choose the country
    the box is living in, and the output format PAL vs. NTSC?

    Or, is this predetermined from the factory?

    I note on the HP page at http://tinyurl.com/6cctn it states the output
    connectors feature 'NTSC Composite', but the rest do not say NTSC. As I
    will be using S-Video direct to my TV, will this work and give me a full,
    PAL picture?

    On another note, does anyone know if the "Component Out" mentioned is
    standard phono jacks for R G & B?

    And if so, will I be able to use that output simultaneously to the S-Video
    out? (My aim here is to bounce on the picture using a standard TV-sender to
    smaller TVs in the house.)

    Sorry for all the questions! Hope someone here knows the definitive answers


    (Remove TEETH to reply by e-mail.)
    CJSnet, Oct 24, 2004
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  2. Sorry but these are NTSC only devices.

    Barb Bowman [MVP-Windows], Oct 24, 2004
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  3. CJSnet

    CJSnet Guest

    Thanks Barb. Could you be a little more specific? They will work on a PAL
    TV that can support NTSC I assume?

    So what you are saying is that Linksys and HP are not going to be able to
    sell the same devices in the UK? I would have thought they just had a
    software setting to specify the TV format, like most DVD players do?

    If anyone can go into the menu to have a look, that'd be great :)


    (Remove TEETH to reply by e-mail.)
    CJSnet, Oct 24, 2004
  4. CJSnet

    Nigel Barker Guest

    You may be better off getting the Xbox MCE Extender package. It's much cheaper
    for a start & provided you have a modified Xbox it shouldn't matter that it's an
    NTSC title. The Xbox will give you RGB out to your TV via SCART.
    Nigel Barker, Oct 24, 2004
  5. there is no option setting in the menus. it's NTSC only. the devices
    are only going to be sold here in the US. there is far more going on
    here than just the PAL vs NTSC. These devices have embedded wireless
    as well and it's specific to the US FCC wireless specturm and as you
    probably know, different channels are in use elsewhere.
    Barb Bowman [MVP-Windows], Oct 24, 2004
  6. The Media Center Extenders will only be sold in the US. They are not
    compatible with the PAL format. Thanks.

    Andy Vanosdale
    Microsoft MVP - Windows XP Media Center Edition
    Microsoft Student Ambassador - University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
    Microsoft Associate Expert
    Expert Zone - http://www.microsoft.com/WindowsXP/ExpertZone
    Andy Vanosdale [MCE MVP], Oct 24, 2004
  7. CJSnet

    Nigel Barker Guest

    Media Center Extenders are to be sold in Europe "sometime next year" to quote a
    press release from Linksys.
    Nigel Barker, Oct 24, 2004
  8. Note that MCX for Xbox is only sold/supported in the US and Canada (i.e. if
    you decide to try it in Europe, you're on your own :)
    Todd Bowra [MSFT], Oct 24, 2004
  9. So the MCX for the Xbox is not going to be released in Europe ?????

    Ari Protheroe, Oct 28, 2004
  10. not another kick for the european customers. I have to say in all my IT life
    so far MCE has got to be my single most regrets - and I have even owned an
    imac !

    David Cleland, Oct 28, 2004
  11. Not at this time.

    This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.

    Todd Bowra [MSFT], Oct 28, 2004
  12. CJSnet

    CJSnet Guest

    Well, the general consensus from this thread was that it definitely won't

    I have news for everyone here - it does :)

    I live in the UK and received my USA Extender box from www.outpost.com
    today. Here's the process I went through:

    1) Power Connection
    Hmm, worrying this as it has a USA plug and I know they tend to use the 110
    Volt supply, however on checking the manual it said it supported 100-220V.
    UK uses 200V so I purchased a £5 adapter plug, connected it to the mains
    and... NO EXPLOSION! Yay. Power lights on, all systems go.

    2) Audio/Video
    I connected the S-Video cable from the Extender direct to my TV using a
    SCART adapter that has an S-Video socket on it. Note this was connected to
    an S-Video compatible SCART socket. Not all TVs have them, but most UK TVs
    have an S-Video input. The picture came up -- beautiful! Filled the screen
    perfectly, and a lot crisper than I was used to using the analog TV sender I
    had before. Audio was connected via optical digital to my Receiver, which
    again worked perfectly.

    3) Network
    This was the tricky bit as I first tried using an ad-hoc peer-to-peer
    network just with a network card transmitting to the Extender. Doesn't
    work. I therefore purchased a Linksys Wireless-G Router and set it up.
    Suddenly the Extender picked up the connection and gave me a setup key. I
    proceeded with the install from the PC-side and it connected within 2
    minutes! :)

    PAL recordings play back perfectly via the NTSC Linksys Extender - full
    screen, no problems. It seems the box is doing converting nicely. Note, my
    Hitachi TV is 5 years old and may well be NTSC-compatible so I can't
    guarantee this will work on all PAL TVs, but I understand most modern ones
    do support NTSC.

    My only grumbles I hope someone can help with are:
    * I can see the scan lines slightly due to the lower NTSC resolution, but
    this will do until the UK boxes come out at which point I'll swap it for a
    PAL Extender. This is just the nature of NTSC vs. PAL so no advice needed
    cheers :)
    * The compression appears higher than before, as pictures move slightly
    more wishy-washy than before. They leave a 'ghost' of themselves behind,
    but this is only very slightly noticeable and women won't even notice it at
    all (don't ask me why!). I suppose wireless video is inherently more
    compressed. Could this be due to bad network performance, or is the video
    transmitted via Wireless-G in a 'one-size fits all' method? I.e. does the
    compression change dynamically depending on network performance? The
    network tuning wizard reported I had good enough signal, and the Extender
    box reported it as 'Very Good'.
    * All the fun animated menus and visualisations are gone :( Bad move
    this. On the Extender when you access menus, they just flick in a static
    manner to the next option. Even the 'egg timer' doesn't spin. And no
    chance of visualisations when playing back music in your living room then
    :( Anyone know if there are plans to improve this, or is the processor too
    * There is no Zoom option! If I press MORE I just get Settings,
    Messenger, etc. How can I tell the Extender box I have a 16:9 widescreen

    Other than that I couldn't be happier. To all the nay-sayers out there, my
    advice would be don't say "it won't work" unless you know for sure. I hope
    this info is useful to the optimists in the UK! ;)


    (Remove TEETH to reply by e-mail.)
    CJSnet, Nov 8, 2004
  13. Hmm, there is one thing I don't understand: PAL is 50Hz, NTSC is 60Hz. If
    the box outputs 60Hz NTSC from a 50Hz PAL input, you can't get smooth
    motion. Every once in a while, it would have to display the same frame
    twice to make up for the lack of new incoming frames. Are you sure you
    don't see an effect like this?
    The Extender is running a Remote Desktop session. If you have a second PC,
    make a remote desktop session to your MCE PC and run the Media Center in
    it. You should get the same cut-down UI that you see on the Extender.
    That's because the Extender doesn't render the UI itself, it only "copies"
    the frames rendered on your PC. Since network bandwidth is limited, you can
    only transfer rather static images in an amount of time that still allows
    for good enough responsiveness when using the remoted UI.
    Umm, not at all? I still wonder if anyone in "NTSC world" actually has a
    widescreen TV set. I wouldn't know how widescreen is signalled in NTSC. In
    Europe, we have line 23 WSS (Wide Screen Signalling) and SCART pin8 for
    this, but neither exists in NTSC...

    Robert Schlabbach, Nov 8, 2004
  14. CJSnet

    CJSnet Guest

    Well, it's not noticeable, but the picture isn't as smooth as if watching it
    on the PC itself, but I put that down to higher compression. In any event,
    it's better than the analog TV Sender and will keep me going nicely until
    PAL boxes come out :)
    Thanks for clarifying. A shame that.
    We shall see! Linksys say the PAL box will be out "sometime next year"
    (2005). Until then I have the perfect interim measure, which according to
    many would not work, and according to MS must not be sold outside the USA.
    Thanks www.outpost.com for such speedy delivery to the UK then! :D


    (Remove TEETH to reply by e-mail.)
    CJSnet, Nov 8, 2004
  15. They leave a 'ghost' of themselves behind, but this is only very slightly
    noticeable and women won't even notice it at all (don't ask me why!).

    By any chance do you notice the 50 or 60 cycle flicker of flourescent
    lights? I've noticed that most of the people that can see it are male. Very
    few females have ever complained about it. Must be a genetic thing, much
    like the "photic sneeze reflex" where a transition from a dark room into
    bright sunlight sets off a series of sneezes. Supposedly this only affects
    males, although my daughter had the problem when she was younger...

    Dana Cline - MVP
    Dana Cline - MVP, Nov 8, 2004
  16. CJSnet

    CJSnet Guest

    Interesting! And yes, fluorescent lights can sometimes really bother me!
    CJSnet, Nov 8, 2004
  17. CJSnet

    CJSnet Guest

    Robert, something just occurred to me...

    If it cannot cope with animated screens and visualisations, why can it cope
    with full motion video!! :-S

    I really hope someone at MS can say this is being looked at. The Extender
    device seems lifeless without those cool things. Even the background clouds
    don't move slowly across the screen any more :(


    (Remove TEETH to reply by e-mail.)
    CJSnet, Nov 8, 2004
  18. Because that runs outside the RDP session. Extenders are basically the good
    old RDP with "hacked on" audio/video streaming running outside the actual
    RDP session.

    If what you're getting at is why not run the entire UI this way - for that
    you'd have to MPEG-2 encode the screen contents on the MCE machine to
    transfer it to the MCX. Consider that up to 5 MCX can be connected to an
    MCE machine. I think you'd need about a 10GHz CPU to encode 5 MPEG-2
    streams in parallel...
    All by design, AFAIK.

    Robert Schlabbach, Nov 8, 2004
  19. You are correct - the raw encoded video is streamed to MCX (it is not
    Todd Bowra [MSFT], Nov 9, 2004
  20. CJSnet

    CJSnet Guest

    PS: Teletext is not supported either, nor is DVD playback :(
    CJSnet, Nov 10, 2004
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