by simon baird

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Super home media thingy update

As I have previously mentioned I have a computer next to my TV that I use for recording TV shows. Here's a list of good and bad so far.
  • I can pause, rewind and fast-forward live TV. This is cool. Eg I watched Double Jeopardy the other night with Ashley Judd on Channel 7 and fast-forward the ads...
  • ...but not while watching Austar. The Austar comes in through the svideo input and there's no way to timeshift that.
  • The remote control that comes with the card is excellent. It works via an IR usb thingy.
  • I can't figure out how to use it with VLC player or Media Player Classic. I think perhaps it's possible though. The remote says it's preconfigured to work with certain other programs like PowerDVD or something.
  • It's excellent for watching bit torrented divx files straight from the hard disk to the TV...
  • ...but my wireless network bandwidth isn't good enough to watch a show from my disk upstairs via windows sharing. I can play iTunes shared music downstairs from my main iTunes upstairs though. That's pretty cool.
  • I'm still fighting with WindowsXP and dual monitors. I have nvidia desktop intstalled which has a control panel for saying "Open all new windows on monitor 2". But too often I end up with a window or a dialog opening on monitor 1 which is my TV. Then I have to turn on the TV (if it's not already on), change to the right channel drag my mouse over to the tele and try and retrieve the window and drag it over to the monitor. I have the TV as the primary monitor because FusionHDTV seems to want to go fullscreen on the primary monitor only.
  • I have some fun with aspect ratio. My (SD) TV is running 1024x768 but at widescreen. So for a 16:9 video I have to set aspect to 4:3. It looks squashed on the monitor screen but correct on the TV. And sometimes the player doesn't want to use the aspect ratio I tell it to. I've found the VLC player is the best for this reason. Other players sometimes won't go to 4:3. Windows Media Player, doesn't even seem to have an option for setting the aspect.
  • The FusionHDTV software is a little flakey. It's recording scheduler is just barely useable. But they seem to be releasing new versions regular so hopefully it will improve. I've downloaded WebScheduler to see if it's any better but haven't tried it out yet. I've been looking longingly at MythTV but so far I've decided not to take that plunge. I don't want to risk not being able to actually get my hardware to work.
I will update this post later with some photos.

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