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Media Center Recording Woes

Discussion in 'Microsoft Windows' started by Mark153, Jun 25, 2005.

  1. Mark153

    Mark153
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    I've got a Packard Bell iXtreme 2101 Media Center PC.

    The basic spec is as follows:
    3.4Ghz Intel P4 processor
    1Gb RAM
    2x 180gb SATA HDDs
    ATI Radeon X300 graphics card
    Conexant 2388x DVB-T tuner/capture card

    Running the latest version of XPMCE, with (as far as I am aware) all recent patches and updates applied. I have had the computer for three weeks.

    I have been recording programs and films via the Conexant card for a fortnight now, and haven't yet had a decent recording.

    About 10-15mins into a recording, the picture will skip badly for a few seconds and then go back to normal. At the 40-50mins mark, the skipping/stuttering will start again, but this time last for at least 20 minutes, before smoothing out again.

    This is obviously not a Freeview signal problem, as it would be more random. It affects all recordings, on all channels, recorded at any time of the day or night. The timing of the problem makes me think it is a resource issue on the PC... or possibly even the Conexant card is naff?!

    I've searched Google, the newsgroups, various MCE-related sites - all to no avail. I've tried rolling back Windows XP to the state it was in before installing the latest ATI Catalyst drivers, and have removed the pre-installed Norton AntiVirus and Security suite just in case. I have switched from the Cyberlink MPEG2 decoder to nVidia to a "freeware" one. I have defragged both of the hard drives. No difference whatsoever on any of these.

    What else can I try?!?

    :lease:
     
  2. DaveP

    DaveP
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    Does DECCHECK give you three green ticks?

    Also, I doubt very much that anything free would be MCE compatible!

    Dave
     
  3. Mark153

    Mark153
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    Currently back on the latest Cyberlink decoder and yes, DECCHECK gives three green ticks.

    I have just ascertained that the card is actually a Leadtek LR6650, with a Conexant chipset.
     
  4. DaveP

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    ISTR that these cards can be troublesome. There was a time when you could pick them up on ebay for very little money. I thought about buying one but was advised against it.

    As the PC is so new it may be worthwhile you taking it back and getting them to swap for a better quality card on the basis of it not being fit for its purpose and not being of merchantable quality.

    I assume it's from a DSG store so that could be a stressful exercise!

    If you don't want to do that it maybe an idea to consider buying a USB adapter and see if it solves your problem. That wouldn't invalidate your guarantee.

    Dave
     
  5. Mark153

    Mark153
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    Think I might have sussed the cause of the problem: the Sweex USB wireless LAN dongle attached the PC.

    At the time of making my original post I was doing another recording test - monitoring a "live" recording with a five minute delay. The stuttering started on cue at around the 45 minute mark, so this time I tried disabling all wireless LAN activity and hey presto: the stuttering immediately stops. Switch it back on, the stuttering resumes.

    I am now going to leave it alone to record a full film without the device in to see if it completely solves the issue.

    In the meantime, I wonder if there is anything I can adjust in order to keep networking enabled at all times?
     
  6. Mark153

    Mark153
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    Two damns and a blast! Unfortunately disabling the wireless LAN device did not cure the problem after all. It does make a notable difference, but instead of twenty minutes of stuttering approximately 45 minutes into a recording, I now get random jumps/skips every 5-10 minutes.

    I have now tried the following to remedy the problem:
    - fitting an aerial signal booster, plus trying three different flyleads
    - running the system without any firewall or anti-virus apps enabled
    - removing the pre-installed Norton Security 2004 altogether
    - disabling all non-essential background software in Windows
    - installing/testing various MPEG2 decoders (NVIDIA, PowerDVD, WinDVD etc)
    - moving the LR6650 into an alternate PCI slot
    - installing latest known drivers for LR6650 card
    - completely reloading the PC to factory defaults
    - applying latest driver updates for all hardware
    - applying a firmware update for the motherboard
    - disabling and then removing wireless LAN device
    - disabling USB, parallel and serial ports completely
    - disabling onboard firewire/LAN sockets
    - removing factory-fitted PCI modem from the PC
    - recording to the secondary HDD instead of the primary one
    - buying flowers and chocs to appease a very disgruntled wife

    What use is a Media Center PC if I have to run it with half of its onboard hardware disabled and barely any software running in order to achieve a stable recording?! I can't believe the machine itself is under-specified - when the stutters do occur, there is no noticeable surge in CPU activity nor are there any problems noted in the MCE log.

    The only things I can think of trying next is either buying a USB-based Freeview adapter as suggested (would the Nova-T-USB2 be the way to go perhaps?) or trying a set-top aerial in case it is something to do with reception, despite the fact my standalone Freeview receiver confirms I have a strong signal (varying between 85-95%) on all six muxes. Even "weak" channels like QVC display properly on both the standalone receiver and via the LR6650 in the PC.

    I am rapidly coming to the point where I would like to put this PC in the nearest skip and buy a HDD-DVD recorder instead. :(
     
  7. lisag

    lisag
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    Looks like you have tried almost everything, I would recommend just trying another tv card before giving up. I have the Avermedia A800 USB2 DVB-T card and it works really well for me. I am in a fringe area with no official Freeview signal, but get less stutter with my MCE box than with my STB.

    Or the Black Gold or Sweetspot MCE cards have a good reputation. Maybe you could buy one online from someone with a good returns policy... but you may need to remove your existing PCI card first in case it conflicts..

    lisa
     
  8. Mark153

    Mark153
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    Yes, I think I've tried almost everything - aside from disassembling the entire machine and trying different hardware (which I am not prepared to do), or running it on a different aerial (unfortunately don't have any friends/family close by). As is probably obvious, the machine didn't cost me anything, and I am trying to keep it that way - otherwise I might just as well have purchased a DVD recorder!

    Anyways, I think I am going to have to splurge on a USB2 device - fingers crossed I can acquire one from a local store and return it if it makes no difference.
     
  9. Mark153

    Mark153
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    Managed to get my hands on a shiny new Nova-T-USB2 at the second-nearest PCWorld in the area :rolleyes:

    The device was a doddle to install using the latest drivers from Hauppauage's website - I was tuned and up-and-running within MCE2005 inside of five minutes! :smashin:

    My initial reaction with a quick recording on News24 was "oh crap, its no better" - jerkiness and stuttering abound, worse than on the Leadtek card in fact! :thumbsdow

    Then I realised that I had only installed the Nova-T drivers and not run the 'setup.exe' file.

    :oops:

    Even though I am pretty sure I won't use the Hauppauge WinTV2000 app, there is a configuration program called 'Primary' included in the file set. After referring to this link, I enabled "Use DXVA" and "Use HW Motion Comp".

    With MCE2005 restarted I began recording Wimbledon at 1:40pm, paused it for a few minutes, and then started watching the delayed recording. Here we are 80 minutes later and its been flawless so far: I have not seen a single frame jump or stutter! Best of all: wireless networking has been enabled the whole time!

    I will report back once I have done a "proper" recording, but things are certainly looking a bit more positive at last.

    After two weeks of time and energy, I sincerely hope that any other people suffering with a Leadtek LR6650 will find this thread and heed my advice: take it out of the machine, install it in the nearest waste receptical, and then fit a proper DVB-T device!!! :devil:
     
  10. Mark153

    Mark153
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    Another update: scanning through the various channels after finishing my initial test recording, I discovered that channels on Mux A (ie. Five, QVC, ABC1 etc) were jumping every few seconds. Following much clucking and tutting with WinTV's 'Primary' tool, I gave up (!) and tried switching Media Center back to my "default" Cyberlink PowerDVD Decoder in place of NVIDIA. Now all jumping issues seem to be resolved... again!
     
  11. Starfury

    Starfury
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    I dont know if this is of much relevence, but I have the same leadtek digital tv card in my MCE2005 machine and had frequent skipping and stuttering of the picture.

    It all started to happen after I had installed a new Ati graphics card driver and the 'Catalyst Control Centre' that accompanied it on the ati download page.

    Long story short, getting rid of the 'Catalyst Control Centre' part in exchange for the 'Ati Control Panel' fixed it. Hasn't jumped, skipped or generally stuttered since.

    I only post this here to give anyone else who suffers this type of problem an altenative recourse to try before parting with money for a new TV card.
     

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