I have posted in the past on getting my XP Media Center PC running – not really a product for the novice. So it was with high hopes I decided to upgraded to Vista – Media Center functionality is now standard, it must be easier!
The initial update was fine, I ran the upgrade advisor and it told me to remove Nero and Mcafee which I did, it then took about an hour, but asked no real questions after the license key. It seemed to pick up my old XP settings OK, it then got a few newer drivers from Microsoft update site and I thought great it has all worked.
Then I started to find the issues:
My Hauppauge HVR 1100 TV Digital TV card is meant to be supported (the newest driver is pulled down from Microsoft Update), it detects all the channels I should see (about 70) but there are problems with the driver. It only allows me to view a few channels, thus far only BBC1, 2 or 3, I get no signal on anything else. On checking the newsgroups it seems that there is a problem with any channel that is on Mux C (which seems to be most of them in my region) – there is a new Vista driver promised by Hauppauge but no date as yet.
It is a good job my TV has a digital tuner built in as well. Lets see how long I last before I buy a replacement card.
If a put a DVD in to play there is about 50% chance it will work. If it fails I just get a blank screen and my TV says unsupported format (the PC is not generating the message). If a try to play the DVD in Media Player in a non full screen window, I get a message box that the DVD digital rights management is not support but either the codec, DVD hardware or display driver. It seems it is an issue to do with Blu-ray digital rights management. The message box recommended I updated the display driver.
I checked at the ATI site and found I have 7.x Radeon drivers but there is an 8.x beta. Once I updated to the beta the DVDs that were failing work – at last a success!
On XP I ran everything at 1280 by 768 and widescreen TV fitted OK. On Vista I was getting a thin black band at the top and bottom of the screen. This was fixed by leaving the PC set to 1280 by 768 but in Media center TV setup setting it to 1152 by 648. Maybe XP did this behind the scenes.
My USB based Microsoft media center keyboard and remote seem to just go to sleep and the base unit has to be unplugged and plugged back in again to get any activity lights on the base station – this might be my hardware but never happened on XP.
By default Vista sleeps the PC after an hour, but will restart to do recordings – nice idea and the recording wake up bit works. The problem I had was that if the PC is in sleep mode it does not restart when you press the on button. PC PC seems to start but the screen remains blank. However, but this might be due to my USB keyboard issue or ATI drivers – I will monitor this.
I installed AVG as my anti virus (one of the few with Vista support), but when I boot the PC I get an AVG kernel cannot initialize message. However I can start it manually OK. So guess there is a timing issue, it has been mentioned to me that it might be trying to poll the Internet for possible updates and times out waiting as the network layer is not up. I tried setting the AVG services to delayed started but it did not help – Other people have reported it on the AVG forums, so lets wait for an update I suppose.
I might be imagining it but when I play a DVD it seems to sound louder spinning than it did on XP.
So what do I think of Vista, well it would be nice is all the drivers did what they said on the tin. I think is could the the big issue across the board – getting the right driver and/or hardware support. Then again XP media center was very driver specific. Vista is certainly easier than that and does look nicer.