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Newbie to MCE's first impressions - help with issues please

Discussion in 'Microsoft Windows' started by Roaders, Aug 19, 2005.

  1. Roaders

    Roaders
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    Well, I have finally got my MCE installed in the living room and for the most part working.

    I have been using Sky+ for a while so that is what I am comparing it to. I think Sky+ is great, about the only thing I woudl add to it is the ability to share the recorded programmes through the house. That is where MCE comes in, along with sharing my music.

    The things that I am not too pleased with:

    • MCE doesn't turn my sky+ box on when it starts a recording - I'll obviously need to get in the habit of never turning it off.
    • The wireless keyboard / mouse only work when I drag the USB box half way across the living room.
    • I can't get 5.1 to work. I have exactly the same speakers (creative inspire digital 5700) in the study and it works fine, both machines have a Audigy 2 of some description. The closest I have it working is all channels but the rear 2 working in the Creative Speaker settings dialogue.
    • The sounds doesn't seem quite right, seems quite "boomy" or fuzzy. Possibly jsut need to fiddle with the settings.
    • The sounds is not properly in sync with the video, I have sound / audio going into the tuner card and coming out of the audio card so wired up right.
    • Doesn't seem to be any way of handling widescreen tv's. I can't see the top and bottom of the screen. most of the time this doesn't matter. Woudl be nice if you could change the resolution to work on a widescreen tv. I can obviously turn my widescreen tv to 4:3 format to get round this though.
    • The machine is quite loud (it's an HP media PC m1107.uk). I have ordered a new case fan and CPU cooler form quietpc which I hope will fix this.

    All in all it's really not much of a competitor to Sky+. Hopefully I'll be able to get it set up properly to overcome most of these issues but it is certainly not just a plug and play type box like it should be.

    Eventually I plan to get a 2 tuner tv card to replace the one that is in there. Not sure if the sound problem is with the tuner card or with the sound card.

    Would very much appreciate some feed back on some of these issues.
     
  2. lisag

    lisag
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    Well the mouse/keyboard problem is easy to solve - get ones with better range. The gyration suite is very good, there is a new MCE keyboard due out soon that will use the same reciever ast he MCE remote, so far untested so we don't know yet what the range/performance will be like.

    For the other stuff can you give more info.

    What display device are you using, how is it connected, and what resolution are you running it at. How have you got your sound/speakers connected, and what dvd codec are you using? Oh graphics card and drivers details may be useful too.

    lisa
     
  3. Roaders

    Roaders
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    The spec canbe viwed here:

    http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/genericDocument?cc=uk&docname=c00268899&lc=en

    The display I am using is a 32" widescreen Sony connected via an Svideo cable (and audio but I put audio through creative amp). It is running at 1024*768.

    My speakers areconnected via Digital Din (via the digital output on the sound card). As I said it is the same set up as I have in my study so that is a bit of a wierd one!

    DVD codec is the one that was installed when I got the system. Acording to the above page it is Win DVD 5 player (is that the codec?).
    I am actually pretty pleased with the DVD output, good picture and sound (although not 5.1 which IS a problem).

    Graphics card is ATI Radeon X300SE. Driver version is 6.14.10.6467

    I have been watching it a bit more since my last post and some of the issues aren't as bad as I thought:

    • The sound now seems ok and it does match with the video. I've not doen anythign to change this, mayeb it jsut needed a restart or something.
    • I seem to have got my head around the widescreen thing but it woudl be nicer if you could jsut make the screen shape coming from the PC to match the tv screen shape instead of chopping bits of!

    I have noticed somethign new though, when there is a lot of movement on the screen it does get VERY blurry / streaky. I suppose I'll have to get a new gfx card or tv tuner to fix that!

    My bargain Media PC is not oginto be so cheap if I have to replace the gfx / sound / tuer card!!

    THansk for your help!

    For the wireless mouse / keyboard I think I'll just get an extension usb cable and have the box behind the sofa or somehting. Or may just pull it out when I need it, don't plan to use it much anyway.

    One other question. When I am using messenger whilst watchign TV how do I type a space? Seems like a compleatly stupid question but I can't work it out!

    Thanks
     
  4. lisag

    lisag
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    Well one thing that should help is that you are feeding a 4:3 resolution to a 16:9 screen, try a widescreen one like 1024 x 576 or 1280 x 720, or even 854 x 480.

    I asssume you have gone through the media center set up and told it what display type you are using?

    Are you getting the blurriness on dvd's and tv or just on tv? Are you watching sky or freeview, or analogue tv?

    You should be able to get 5.1 sound, there are sound settings in the sound card drivers, in windows, in the dvd codec and in MCE, so check they are all set properly. Do you have 5.1 speakers directly off the pc or are you going through an amp, what connections are you using?

    lisa
     
  5. Roaders

    Roaders
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    The blurring jsut seems to be on TV, I watched a DVD last night and the picture was very good. THis indicates that maybe when I get a better tuner card the picture will improve. As I said I plan to get a dual tuner card. I am watching Sky+ via composit.

    Bizzarely I also got Dolby Digital coing out of the speakers (the DD light on amp came on) but when I am not watchinga movei it is not on and the creative speaker test fails!

    As for the resolution I only seem to be able to set it to 1024*768 or 800*600. Perhaps I need a better vidoe card? :(

    Where do you tell meia centre that you have a widescreen tv? I didn't see that setting anywhere!
     
  6. Roaders

    Roaders
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    got a few more questions about playing DVD's:

    First of all bizzarely the vloume control doesn't affect how loud a DVD plays!!!
    I can mute it but not turn it down.

    Secondly how do I get subtitles to appear?
     
  7. lisag

    lisag
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    Composite is not a good option for picture quality - upgrade to s-video if you can. Some people on here also use a converter which is supposed to improve things even more.

    You may just need a program called powerstrip installed which will enable you to set custom resolutions. However are you using s-video out of your graphics card? I am not sure what resolutions that supports, but a widescreen one would help.

    No, you're right, I couldn't find it either!

    lisa
     
  8. lisag

    lisag
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    Odd!
    If you are talking about subtitles on a DVD, I think you just enable them in the DVD main menu?

    lisa
     
  9. Roaders

    Roaders
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    I did try S-Video in and out of the PC but both were black and white. Out (to TV) might have been as I was using the wrong scart on the TV. In (from Sky+ box) seems to indicate that the Sky+ box doesn't support scart?
     
  10. nigelbb

    nigelbb
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    The Sky+ box has an s-video output it does not deliver s-video output from the SCART.
     
  11. Roaders

    Roaders
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    Hey, you're right. When I was buying cables (my MCE didn't coem with ANY AV cables). I asked the man in the shop if it had an S-video out. He looked and said it didn't.

    I've connected S-video now som ehopfully I'll get a better picture!
     
  12. MajestiK

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    That is how it works for me too - the reason being that the system is set up to pass the audio straight out via the SPDIF to the amplifier attached to the speakers. The audio signal it sends out is just the 'raw' signal and so gets decoded by the decoder attached to the speaker set rather than the soundcard and is therefore not available for modification (IE changing volume!) by the PC. I don't know how your speakers work, but It sounds like they've got a digital decoder built in. From memory, you need to activate a setting called "Digital Output Only" somewhere in settings - well that's how it used to work with their LIVE! products.

    Hope this helps
     
  13. Roaders

    Roaders
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    Yeah, I have that digital output only turned on and I get Dolby digital when I watch DVD's but not other times.

    As I have said the speaker test in the creative app doesn't work although it does on my almost identical set up in my study!

    Very odd!
     
  14. rdhir

    rdhir
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    its normal to not get Dolby Digital unless you are playing a DVD. The explanation goes like this.

    For a DVD, the publisher/filmmaker mixed a sound track containing the 6 channels (5.1) This was ENCODED with Dolby Digital and written into the VOB files on the DVD. This encoded track is passed straight through your system out to your AV Processor with nothing done to hit (hence no control over volume).

    When you listen to music, the two channel stereo is again sent through in what's called PCM format and is more or less the original bitstream from the CD with abit of munging from whatever format you store the music in eg AAC, MP3, OGG Vorbis.

    Finally if you play a game, the following happens. The author of the game has written some sound effects and maybe some music. It feeds this to the soundcard. The soundcard basically mixes the music and the sound effects digitally and also applies any 3D processing such as EAX which allows the clever stuff to work like hearing an enemy in the room next door, or hearing sound reflections behave differently depending on the materials used in the room (yes some of the sound is that sophisticated). Now this can only be fed to your local PC speakers, unless you have a clever 5.1 encoding soundcard. These soundcards can take the 6 channels and in realtime wrap up the signal into a dolby 5.1 stream. If you have analogue as well to your amp eg 5.1 pass through then you can have the games with effects from any soundcard as long as you switch to (6 channel) analogue input.

    The know clever soundcards are nVidia nForce motherboard sound when enabled with SoundStorm drivers, and then I think Mystique and a couple of others, but they have to explicitly state they can do this.

    Otherwise if a game has Dolby Pro Logic or Pro Logic II, which is more common on consoles, then the processor can extract 5.1 channels from the stereo it is fed. Although this is pseudo 5.1, its not as bad as it sounds, as there were orginall 5.1 channels which were professionally encoded to two channels and then encoded back to 5.1. This is really no worse than say SVideo to Composite to SVideo. Sure there is loss but its not the end of the world.

    Cheers

    Rajiv
     
  15. JonMace

    JonMace
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    Sky+ has 5.1 on some material, but you are not feeding 5.1 into MCE, only stereo therefore you will only get stereo or Pro logic back out from recorded or live TV played through MCE
     

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