Wednesday, June 11, 2008

List of Vista Media Center bugs

Here are my list of complaints. Feel free to add to them or comment :)

1. ATSC Subchannels. Considering we are capable of recieving many more channels than Media center will show you this is a huge problem. FYI with High Definition over the air channels, they are subdivided so that each channels can play up to 5 streams on the same channel. For example Channel 8 actually is sent digitally as Channel 8.1 , Channel 8.2 and so on. Vista Media Center not only is hard coded to use channel 8.1. In addition to missing channels, it messes up the guide listing on some channels because it uses the wrong listing source from some channels most notably PBS. There is a workaround (hack), but to me this is an embarrassing one for media center.

2. DVD Resolution. Whenever you play a DVD, my media center changes resolution down while watching the video. This seems OK (well not really I wish it would be scaling it up using the ridiculously powerful hardware I have) but when the DVD is over and it returns to the menu it is still at the low resolution. It doesn't return to high resolution until I select a high resolution video. This makes the Video Preview Icons unreadable and look sloppy.

3. DVD Library. For whatever reason I have still not been able to get my ripped DVD collection to show up. I have tried numerous suggestions but to no avail. I suspect the part of media center that scans for new media hangs on my system for whatever reason or the part of vista that tracks the library is corrupted (It also shows things That are not in My Library configured directories). It is almost annoying enough to reinstall Vista at the cost of losing everything.

4. Netflix streaming media Plugin (HD DRM issue). According to what i have read this is because the (Microsoft) DRM that netflix uses to stream the movies does not allow some HD hardware? This seems crazy but alas I cannot get the videos to work (even without the plugin straight off the website) due to DRM issues. This pluging would be such an awesome selling point to Vista Media center PCs but instead it is a thorn.

5. Sound / TV / On Off Integration. This is something Tivo got right but most PC Media Centers didn't including Vista. With Tivo, you got one remote and you programmed that remote to learn your TV on/off and volume buttons. Then your Tivo remote would turn off and on the TV and control the volume. The media center green button remote that I have just simulates the TV going dim and turning off. I am not stupid, the TV is still on. I have to manually turn the TV off with another remote. Theres a thousand workarounds including having a universal remote, using a IR Blaster, etc, etc but none of those options are out of the box. I'm OK with configuring winlirc or girder but my Mom couldn't. Maybe I just bought the "wrong" Vista media center Green button remote.

6. Video Icons for Network Shares. I watch TV shows often from a network share. The strange thing is how slow it seems to be to generate the preview Icons "first frame picture" from the share. I thought these icons were saved as hidden files in the directory so it didn't have to generate them again every time so its strange how slow it is.

7. Magical Integration of multiple vista media centers is unclear. I am hoping to eventually have a media center in every room in my house, and perhaps more than one room will be running VMC on a computer instead of an extender. The problem is I don't really know much about how to integrate two VMC computers together and I am having trouble finding it on the web. Does one computer become the server and the other is a client? Can I have distributed tuners? How does VMC choose the tuner if they are distributed? Do shows save only locally, or do they save to the main VMC share? Perhaps I am just using the wrong keywords to search.

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