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Media Center

Vista Media Center

Vista Media center is mostly joy (apart from lockups when we use the skip fwd/back buttons on our extenders - XBOX360 & Linksys).
Compared to MCE 2005 its extremely stable and reliable. My main Vista work PC contains our 4x HD TV tuners, and we use a XBOX-360 as a MC Extender to take the Video to the our HD TV.

The following related to Vista MC in Australia.

Multiple TV Tuners

By default Media Center supports a maximum of 2 tuners, but you can configure more by using registry settings published by in the Microsoft Media Center Team blog.
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center\Service\Video\Tuners

Best HD TV Tuner for Australia (PAL DVB-T)?

Today I ripped out the Divco Fusion PCI Dual tuner card and installed a pair of the latest Tinytwin USB devices from DigitalNow.
Don't let the size fool you — it delivers perfect HD TV. Two tuners in a single 3 inch USB stick with a single RF connector. I bought 2x
so have 4x tuners. The Digitalnow tuner is very stable and reliable (especially compared to the Divco Fusion tuner).



Here's my setup steps
  1. Uninstall the old Divco Fusion software; Shutdown and rip out the Divco Fusion TV card (I left my old Digitalnow software installed)
  2. Rename the "Tuners" registry item (see above) to clean out your old tuner card info (which tend to stay around and makes setting up multiple cards confusing).
  3. Using the Digitalnow Install CD (comes with Tinytwin) install the DNTV app and drivers. You will be prompted to plug in the USB Tinytwin tuner. I have 2x Tinytwins (total 4 tuners) so I plugged them both in (using an ariel T-connector to split the TV cable).
  4. Reboot
  5. Go into Media Center Setup and setup the TV (it will ask 1 or 2 Tuners. I said 2).
  6. Download and run "Media Center Tuner Extender" (see above) to enable the 3rd and forth TV tuners.
  7. Reboot (so Media Center will see the new settings)
  8. Try recording 4 programs at once  :-)

Debugging

Problems:
  • PC keeps rediscovering the USB device every time you startup.
  • USB Tuner is not always recognized, or changes USB address every time you startup.
As a result you see extra entries in "Media Center Tuner Extender".
If this is the case try other USB ports (not all USB ports are equal). Eventually you will find USB ports that is reliable. And try to use USB ports on your PC (not on a hub).

Media Center Tuner Extender - Shows Multiple Tuners

As I said above, clear your registry, reboot and rescan. Then on reboot you will see just your actually tuners.

Alternatively.. you can easily find out which tunes to enable / disable by opening device manager and checking your tuner hardware IDs. You can also enabled all tuners in the list (real and phantom) — Vista Media Center will happily record on all tuners. When you fill up all tuners the next recording will fail (instead of the showing the usual Warning exclaimation mark).

To find out which tuners to enable
In the "MCTuner Extender" select each tuner and take note of the "Root Device". If you have a dual tuner package then 2 entries will share the same ID.


Open Device Manager. Right+click on a tuner device and select properties.



In the details tab select "Device Instance Path". This will show an ID that will match one (or 2 for dual packages) of the tuners listed in "MCTuner Extender".


There are other IDs you can check bit that's what I use.
So in this way you can discover which tuners should be enable and which should be disabled.

MyMovies

Installed My Movies. Work very well — When you play a DVD or ripped DVD the artwork is downloaded automatically. Use the separate manager application to build your DVD database. You can download cover art, artist info etc. You can make Movies open from a drive, a folder, or an ISO (using 3rd party Daemon Tools).
I was hoping they had a solution for running DVDs over XBox 360 Extender but they (and many others) are still trying to solve that one.

Media Center "DVD Library"

There is a hidden Media Center item called "DVD Library" which displays any mounted DVDs movies, as well any movies recorded from TV.

I like that my ripped DVDs that are mount using Daemon Tools) show up there.

To enable The feature make the following registry change:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center\Settings\DvdSettings
Change ShowGallery from Play to Gallery.
Restart Media Center then you'll see "DVD Library" next to recorded tv.



Very cool feature. Why isn't it enabled by default?


IceTV Guide Problems :29-Aug-2007

The IceTV Guide is a good choice for a guide in Australia. Microsoft usually privide a free guide however in Australian TV stations wont yet give permission to have their guides published for Media Center. So in the mean time IceTV is a great service and not too expensive.

This week the "IceTV Interactive" program (formally called Pimp) has been hogging CPU time and slowing Vista down. The event log is full of thousands of errors. I rang the IceTV people and was told I could should clear it's cache by removing all folders from the following directory.

C:\Users\Robert\AppData\Roaming\IceTV\IceTV Interactive\tasks

Now it runs without errors. It's not a CPU hog and it's memory foorprint is smaller. I've think I'll also set "Update Frequency" setting to "Never" so it's not talking to the server all the time.


Vista Media Center losing Channel 7 and SBS

Finally Microsoft have fixed the bug where MC keep's losing channel 7 and SBS every few days.


KB938927 is a hot fix you can ask MS support for. One assumes it will also be bundled into Vista SP1 early 2008. Call MS support on 13-16-30 and ask for the KB938927 fix. You will need to explain the problems you are having.

Once you install the Hotfix, add the following key to disable Opportunistic Scanning. The hotfix allows the key to work.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center\Service\GLID

Create DWORD Value called "DisableActualStreamOpportunisticScanning"
Give it a value = 1



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