8/23/2008

Rage Against the Machine, pt. 2

This is the follow up to my Rage Against the Machine post about my fight against technology. I decided to keep the HTPC. None of the original bugs were resolved. I just found work arounds instead. The work around for the blu-ray discs not playing was to buy SlySoft's Any
DVD HD software. That software strips the HDCP copy protection from the BD discs. This allows the discs to play flawlessly on the computer. Turns out I think the problem is with the display's HDCP compatibility and not the computers. Both computers experienced the same issue but had different chip manufacturers (first was AMD, current is Intel) and video cards. A new bug has reared its ugly head with the HP BD/DVD player software. It no longer plays digital audio. In order to hear the movie, I have to set the player to stereo sound. I've Googled the issue and found others that have experienced the same problem, but no solutions. I think the bug stems from the latest player software version update. Of course, HP's customer service is no help. Their solution is always "restore the computer to the factory settings". That's a hassle and a waste of time.

The XM Radio plug in for Media Center worked great for a while, then just stopped playing. The work around is I just listen to XM via the online website. I think the reason it stopped working was either a Windows Vista or Media Center update.

I haven't determined the cause of the networked external hard drive connection dropping out but I think it's the driver & firmware of the Belkin network USB hub that the hard drive is connected to. The software works great on XP, but not so good on Vista. Customer reviews of the hardware confirm this. My laptop's OS is XP, the HTPC's and Chronic's laptop OS is Vista and both experience the same issues with the Belkin hardware that I don't experience on my laptops.

All in all it's been a challenging experience. There are some positives in this experiment. We cancelled cable TV. That's saving the fam around $90 a month. We receive great reception from the indoor HDTV antenna. I have it pointed out the window. The trick was opening the blinds to give the antenna a clear view. The local channels are in HD and the signal is strong 95% of the time. The shows we watch that aren't on local channels are either available on the internet or iTunes. So we don't miss a thing. Blu-ray movies rock. There is a noticable improvement in video quality from DVD to BD. We're adapting to our new home theatre set up. We'll either look back and laugh or my head will explode, whichever comes first.