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PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2010 7:02 am 
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Has anyone had any experience using a DVB-S or DVB-S2 satellite tuner card with Windows 7 Media Center in the UK? In particular, recording the BBC and ITV HD streams?


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 Post subject: Blu Ray Playback
PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 11:39 am 
In a previous E-mail I reported that I was using a 30-day trial version of DVD9 Ultra to test Blu Ray playback performance on my Windows 7 Media Center.

Being a miser I unistalled this before the 30 day period was up, rather than pay the £60 for a pukka version.

However I still have the free DVD Ultra which came with my LG Blu Ray player. I installed this to see how it would behave. This updates almost immediately, so I'm not sure if the resultant thing is DVD 7 or 8, or some sort of hybrid.

It doesn't integrate with Media Center, but it doesn't seem to clash either.

If I have Media Center running and drop a Blu Ray disc into the drive, Media Center automatically minimises and DVD Ultra opens up. The only wrinkle so far is that Windows reports that it can't cope with the Aero colour scheme and it resets to Windows Basic colour. I can't see any difference.

If I have Media Center running and drop a standard DVD into the drive, it plays in Media Center as normal, i.e. DVD Ultra does not try to take over.

I can happily live with this until a better alternative comes along.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 6:55 am 
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I'm pretty sure Total Media Theater integrates itself into Media Center with a Play Blu Ray option if you fancy trying that...


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 Post subject: Blu Ray
PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 7:55 am 
As I said, I'm a miser. By better I meant cheaper or free.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 27, 2010 2:41 pm 
Gordon asked whether anyone had experience of DBS Satellite reception in Windows 7 Media Center.

Herewith a few initial observations.

As reported in earlier postings I am running Windows 7 (32 bit) on an ASUS M4A78-HTPC board, and using the onboard Radeon HD3200 graphics chip.

There are well documented problems with the ATI drivers, causing break-up on reception of BBC HD. This was supposedly fixed with the recently issued 10.2 driver update.

So I've updated the drivers, and installed a TBS 8920 S/S2 satellite card. A friend is using the Hauppauge cards, and recommended those, but the TBS card has had good reviews on the Amazon pages, and was about half the price, so I went for that instead.

First problem - I downloaded the latest drivers from the TBS site and tried to install them. Windows 7 tried, but then returned a message saying that the drivers were "not compatible with this platform". So I tried the older drivers which came in the box with the card, and these installed without difficulty.

Ran the setup procedures in Media Center, it found the card, found and scanned the satellite, and downloaded the TV Guide. No problem. Stable satellite TV on my LCD TV screen.

Some time later I tried again to update the drivers, this time by going into Device Manager and running the Update Driver procedure, pointing it at the downloaded drivers on my hard drive. Same result - "not compatible with this platform". Worse than this, the next time I started Windows the driver would not install - it was as though the driver had been corrupted by the update process, because I couldn't roll back to the earlier driver either. I had to use System Restore to get back to a working system.

This is when I realised that the TBS support is not all that it could be. The Support part of website has been under construction for a couple of years, the Forum link is broken, and they haven't responded to an E-mail sent to their customer support address.

But the card is working using the older drivers, and nomal satellite reception is very good. However BBC HD still breaks up - sometimes. And replaying recorded material seems to suffer from the same problem. At other times it seems to be stable. The recommended solution seems to be to use an NVidia Graphics card instead, but I haven't tried this yet, because in truth, there seems to be very little on BBC HD worth watching.

My friend with the Hauppuage cards reports that his system is stable all of the time since the ATI update.

I can pick up Lux HD without problem, including the surround sound.

Media Center will not cope with ITV HD, and reports it as a Digital Audio channel. There is a Registry hack which is supposed to get around this problem, but in my case I then either get the picture, or the sound, but not both at the same time. Others on the web have reported the same thing. I did come across one report by somebody with 64 bit Windows 7 installed who reckoned he was getting ITV HD, plus sound, perfectly, so perhaps this is only a 32 bit problem.

So I'm part of the way there, but still with some problems. More idc as I work through these.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2010 9:09 pm 
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Hi Vince, you may find this guide to setting up Freesat including ITV HD under Windows 7 MC helpful. I'm still waiting for the latest Back Gold all-in-one tuner card before implementing this myself...


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 Post subject: DBS Set Up
PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2010 9:21 am 
Thanks for that Gordon.

The link gives an interesting write up, but with two important omissions as far as I can see - he doesn't say which graphics he's using, and he doesn't say whether it's 32 or 64 bit Windows 7, both of which can have an impact on whether it works or not.

His ITV HD registry hack is the one I tried, but in my case it didn't work successfully, giving me video or audio, but not both.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 26, 2010 9:05 pm 
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Hi everyone, I finally updated my XP MCE media PC to Windows 7 and it was thankfully a pretty smooth experience.

The hardware is detailed in this article, but basically consists of a Gigabyte GA-E7AUM-DS2H with integrated Geforce 9400 graphics, an Intel Core2Duo E8400 and 4GB RAM. Note some of this RAM is used by the on-board graphics, so I didn't need a 64 bit OS to access it all. The system was also fitted with an LG GGCH20L Blu Ray / HD DVD / DVD drive.

I did a clean installation of Windows 7 Ultimate 32-bit onto a 1.5TB Samsung hard disk which went smoothly. I then installed the latest Nvidia drivers and updated those for a Hauppauge analogue TV card I had installed. I then installed Arcsoft Total Media Theater 3 Platinum (with SIM HD plugin) ($99 USD). Finally I installed Slysoft Any DVD HD for multi-region playback.

That's it. A pretty simple install.

The machine is connected to an ageing projector over VGA with a 720p desktop size. (1280x720x60)

The system plays standard definition recorded TV and DVDs without a problem, and Blu Rays are perfectly smooth and look great. Obviously I'd really like to see it outputting 1080p, but my current living room display can't handle it. While installing the software though, I had it connected to a PC monitor which could do 1080p and it worked fine and very smoothly. Note when playing Blu Rays from 7MC, there's an Arcsoft Blu Ray / DVD option on the main scrolling menu which when selected drops out to the main TMT interface (albeit redesigned with big text and icons for use in the lounge). When you stop playing it returns you to the 7MC interface. It works pretty well.

This system will only be used for playback, so it's already pretty complete. I have another in the UK which is used for recording though, and that one is earmarked for an XP to 7 clean install to support DVB-S and HD, so it'll be a bit more complex. I'll report back on that one when it's done.

But so far, so good for a clean install of Windows 7 on my Media PC, and a thumbs-up for Total Media Theater for anyone who wants Blu Ray playback.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2010 2:30 am 
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Hi folks,

Ever have one of those days? I decided to refresh the audio and video solution in my original Media PC by replacing my Nvidia 9600GT and Asus HDAV1.3 cards with a single ATI HD5450 card. The absolute requirement was to insert sound into the HDMI cable, something that had become increasingly flaky with the HDAV card to the point where I'd reverted to optical.

Got it all set up and installed the latest ATI drivers. A quick test showed it was working and then I got down to getting all the sound settings just right. DVDs still played very nicely with Media Player but when I tried using Media Center I got a few seconds of stuttering sound followed by a message that some files were missing. Couldn't fix it so I thought to myself I'd do a fresh install of Windows 7 and fix the issue but not until I'd put Windows 7 (also x64) onto the new Media PC.

This one has integrated graphics, courtesy of Intel (Asus P7H55D-M EVO motherboard plus a Core™ i5-661), and also inserts sound into the HDMI cable. The install went fine, I played a DVD in Media Player in order to get the Intel driver's video settings tuned up, started Media Center and went through it's initial setup and pointed it at a DVD. Played it and got, incredible but true, "a few seconds of stuttering sound followed by a message that some files were missing". :shock:

Same problem on two different machines with two different graphics/audio chipsets. The last piece of information to complete the puzzle is that that HDMI cable goes to my power amp, which deals with the sound, and then on to a plasma TV. Setting up the sound device to mirror the 5.1 speaker setup I enjoy seemed natural as does setting Media Center to the same 5.1 setting.

How stupid I was. :roll: The trick is to set the sound device to 2 channels and Media Center to 5.1. I'm not going to grace the forum with my thoughts about why this might work but I do offer this solution (originally posted here) in the hope that it will save someone else several hours of annoyance.

Bob.

P.S. For the record, I was most impressed with the way the HD5450 handled video and less so by the integrated Intel solution. So much so that I think I might invest in a second HD5450 for the new media PC. Cheap enough and with a guaranteed power dissipation under 20 Watts its passive cooling might not need an extra fan nearby. Or it might. :?

Update: After far too little sleep last night I put the HD5450 in the new Media PC, after attaching the half-height bracket supplied, and all appears well. No extra cooling needed (so far) but I'll keep an eye on it. The benefit is smoother movie playback when frame rates differ from my default 60Hz and more sound options supported. And yes, the same trick of telling Windows 7 x64 to treat the adaptor as a "Stereo" sound device and telling Windows Media Center it's actually 5.1 worked fine. 8)

Bob.

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Olympus OM-D E-M1 + M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8, Lumix 7-14mm f/4, Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH, M.Zuiko Digital 45mm 1:1.8, M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm 1:1.8.
Leica D Vario-Elmar 14mm-150mm f/3.5 - f/5.6 ASPH.
OM-D E-M5, H-PS14042E, Gitzo GT1541T, Arca-Swiss Z1 DP ball-head.
Astrophotography: TEC 140 'scope, FLI ML16803 camera, ASA DDM60 Pro mount.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2010 4:18 pm 
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Hmm! I spoke too soon when I said that installing the HD 5450 media card in the new machine went well. Towards the end of the software installation process I settled down to watch a DVD using 7MC (Windows Media Center for Windows 7) and it was almost unwatchable. Every five or six seconds the picture would skip forward a frame although the sound was fine. :evil:

This skipping/jitter/judder/stutter was restricted to 7MC. Play the same DVD in WMP (Windows Media Player) or TotalMedia Theatre 3 (TMT3 from Arcsoft) and the picture and sound was silky smooth.

Previous experience has informed me that I don't need a whole bunch of codecs and other paraphernalia to perform the limited set of tasks I need my Media PC to do and in any event 7MC uses Media Foundation codecs rather than DirectShow and I'm using 64 bit Windows anyway so little is available. Even so I gave it my best shot spending about three days trying to tweak the ATI Catalyst drivers and turning various bits of Windows off. I even unloaded my security suite (Kaspersky) as a test as the Windows performance monitor showed CPU usage spiking up to about 6% roughly in time with the frame skipping.

To cut a very long (3 days) story short the culprit was a cunning piece of software supplied with my Asus P7H55D-M EVO motherboard, namely ASUS EPU (v6) also know as EPU-6. It can dynamical underclock or overclock the CPU depending on how hard the software asks the CPU to work. In the context of a Media PC the CPU, a Core™ i5-661 in my case, is hardly awake so the idea of using such software is to perform a lazy person's 5% underclock reducing heat production and consequently fan noise.

I had EPU-6 set up to automatically adjust the CPU speed so I assumed that the speed variability was causing the 7MC DVD playback problem but even setting EPU-6 to command a fixed underclock didn't help. Shut EPU-6 down, however, and 7MC started producing the same smooth video that WMP and TMT3 were able to do all along.

Before you decide that EPU-6 (or 7MC) is a load of rubbish it's also a fact that I run it on my main PC here and 7MC has no issues on that machine. The main differences are a more powerful CPU and a high end Nvidia graphics card. The implication is that there's bad karma when 7MC, EPU-6 and an ATI HD 5450 graphics card are asked to play nicely together. I may have also seen the same problem with the motherboard's integrated (Intel) graphics but I had already decided to get the ATI card so I wasn't really paying attention at that point.

Hopefully this post will be of help to anyone Googling in search of an answer to stutter on DVD playback using Windows Media Center. With my problem solved I'm more and more impressed with the HD 5450. It has plenty of horsepower in an HTPC context, it inserts sound reliably into the HDMI output (TMT3 will play Blu-rays and push out Dolby Digital TrueHD sound) and picture quality is superb whether from genuine HD content or from upscaled DVDs. And best of all it uses less than twenty watts and doesn't need a fan provided your case is well ventilated. Recommended. 8)

Bob.

Addendum: On reflection I don't think the conflict was just restricted to DVD playback as the "Visualisations" available when playing, say, a radio station (mcShoutcast) also run more smoothly. It looks as though EPU-6 was compromising 7MC's general rendering speed. :?

Update: And now that the build is complete and I don't need to use any of the Asus "tools" I've uninstalled AI Suite and PC Probe II for good measure. 8)

_________________
Olympus OM-D E-M1 + M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8, Lumix 7-14mm f/4, Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH, M.Zuiko Digital 45mm 1:1.8, M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm 1:1.8.
Leica D Vario-Elmar 14mm-150mm f/3.5 - f/5.6 ASPH.
OM-D E-M5, H-PS14042E, Gitzo GT1541T, Arca-Swiss Z1 DP ball-head.
Astrophotography: TEC 140 'scope, FLI ML16803 camera, ASA DDM60 Pro mount.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 31, 2010 11:00 am 
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Hi folks,

Another issue with DVD playback in 7MC (Media Center, Windows 7) occurred just recently whereby 7MC would stop responding several minutes into a DVD and this wasn't just down to one faulty DVD.

Turned out that the System Event Log was being flooded with DVD_OV messages. A driver update didn't help but a little Googling turned up a registry fix:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\Atierecord\ - set eRecordEnable to 0 and reboot
That stopped the dozens of Event Log entries per second and DVD playback is back to normal.

Not sure why this problem surfaced when it did. I hadn't done a Catalyst (driver) update in quite a while so the finger may need to point towards a Windows Update or a combination of other factors (I'd recently set the Gamma manually). Of course that Event Log spam may have been occurring for a long time but hadn't, for some reason, been enough to cause 7MC to freeze. In any event, quite apart from fixing the playback issue, I'm pleased to have stopped the Event Log DVD_OV messages as they couldn't have been doing my SSD any good and they also potentially hide more useful messages.

Update: Looks like I might have been a bit premature with my diagnosis. The freeze of Media Center occurred again this evening and now that I can actually see the wood for the trees in the Event Log it turns out that the freeze was coincident with the following Event Log entry: "The WinHTTP Web Proxy Auto-Discovery Service service entered the stopped state". A quick Google elicited an observation that that event can cause a CPU usage spike so maybe that is what was causing the problem. Anyway, I don't need that particular service so I've changed its start type to Disabled. I'll report back if that still hasn't fixed the problem but I'm hopeful.

Update 2: That hope may have been misplaced as I saw the problem again last night. My chief suspect is now a network driver update for the onboard Ethernet chip, delivered by Windows Update, which threw away my custom settings. With those settings restored I've sampled three DVDs and over three hours of playback which have been picture perfect today so, again, I'm hopeful but I've been wrong before. :oops:

Bob.

_________________
Olympus OM-D E-M1 + M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8, Lumix 7-14mm f/4, Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH, M.Zuiko Digital 45mm 1:1.8, M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm 1:1.8.
Leica D Vario-Elmar 14mm-150mm f/3.5 - f/5.6 ASPH.
OM-D E-M5, H-PS14042E, Gitzo GT1541T, Arca-Swiss Z1 DP ball-head.
Astrophotography: TEC 140 'scope, FLI ML16803 camera, ASA DDM60 Pro mount.


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