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Thread: Windows Media Centre Edition - questions about tv tuners and vista upgrades?

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    Windows Media Centre Edition - questions about tv tuners and vista upgrades?

    Quick question for those that might know the answer: how many tv tuners can be supported by Windows Media centre edition? i.e. will it work have dual PCI dual-freeview cards? (4 in total)???

    The other thing is that if I was to buy a bunch of Media Centre extenders (and use my current pair of xbox360s) with the main system, when Vista comes out am I right in presuming that they will still work with it because it uses that same Media Centre software within the main OS.

    Thanks for the help guys!

    ShMeE
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    MCE supports 2 tuners, although they must both be of the same type. I.e. 2 x Digital Freeview or 2 x Analog Terrestial or 2 x Satelite.

    Vista will come with MCE functionality in most of its guises I beleive.
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    So that means that it is absolutely not possible to have 4 tuners on it? If your browsing from a remote location via an extender does that mean that you see the option on screen to use either of the tuners as you wish? So it would work with one of the dual-freeview cards?

    Thanks for the help,

    ShMeE
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    No, 2 tuners are the max, plus the guide will only source from the main tuner, which is why you must have 2 the same.

    The tuners are completly transparent though, you cannot select them, it just automatically uses them if it needs to: i.e. if you are watching TV and something to set to record starts, it will automatically use the second tuner to record it in the background. I presume it will work like that via the extender as well (have never watched live TV via an extender before).

    That would limit you to 1 viewing via the extender + 1 viewing OR recording on the main MCE machine simulteneously.
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    Right, thank you for that, although it's just thrown me a lot off buying one - doh!

    Don't know if you will know, but from the main media centre computer can you record more than one program at once? I.e. only do recording from there, where 2 tuners would be fine, and presumably can schedule to do more later on...? But watch the files back from any room anywhere?

    Does Media Centre get the names of programs through a guide of sorts and save them appropriately (maybe dependent upon the specific card?)

    Thank again,

    ShMeE
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    I am 99% sure you can record 2 programs at the same time, but you will have to watch one of them if you want to watch live TV whilst doing it.

    You find your recording Via the recorded TV section, where it lists its name from the EPG.
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    Answering one of my own questions here... but according to this scan product page for the Hauppage dual freeview WinTV thingy:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Produ...oductID=176820

    For Windows XP Media Center Edition users:
    - Watch TV with the MyTV button on MCE
    - Watch one TV show while recording another to disk using the WinTV-PVR-500's built in dual hardware MPEG encoders.
    - Record two TV shows at once.


    Looks like it will sort of do what I want it to...

    But do you know the answer to the question about the guide?

    Thanks,

    ShMeE
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    Perfect - thanks - looks like we posted at the same time

    Thank you very much for your help,

    ShMeE
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    You can hack the registry to allow MCE to use more than 2 tuners, I've currently got 5 tuners (all dvb-t, i.e. freeview) working seamlessly with MCE for the past year. Have a look at my guide on http://www.hauppauge.co.uk/board/showthread.php?t=5002. There's no theoretical limit to the number of tuners you can have installed, but there are some practical considerations. Chief amongst them is the consideration that TV recordings need to be made to another hard-drive or even possibly a RAID0 array. This makes building an MCE system a little more complicated affair, and given the increased risks of data loss with RAID0, you can begin to understand why MCE doesn't officially support more than 2 tuners.

    DVB-t tuners are different to analogue tuners. DVB-t is broadcast as an MPEG stream, so there's no need for any encoding to be done by the tuner. The tuner is just a mechanism to copy & paste an MPEG file down to a hard-drive, meaning that the CPU is hardly used at all. To view a recording it needs to be decoded, this isn't done by the tuner it's down via the software decoder (i.e. CPU & Graphics card are heavily used). When you watch LiveTV, you are actually watching a recording (the resultant file on the hard-drive is temporary), this is why you can rewind LiveTV. So with 4 tuners, you can record 4 programs at a time. At the same time you could watch a previously made recordings, or watch one of the programs being recorded (either live or timeshifted). Just remembed that recording and watching are two independent processes.

    MCE doesn't use the EPG data that's broadcast over-the-air by freeview, it uses a downloadable EPG which it gets from the internet daily. This EPG contains more data, and it's used by MCE to allow you to do keyword/genre/title searches, as well as allowing you to set up recording events. In essence it builds up a relational database.
    Last edited by kojak71; 20-03-2006 at 01:04 PM.

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    Thank you very much, that's perfect.

    I can imagine having possible 3 or 4 500gig drives. So a pair of tuners linked to two of the drives, and the other a boot partition and music and other stuff.

    Even if I wanted to go down the RAID path, I am sure I can work it out because I got the system in my sig working

    Thank you again guys!!!

    ShMeE
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    If the system is going to be running 4 tuners, and being connected to by sometimes 4 extenders at once, what CPU would be advisable? Would rather spend more on hard drives etc... but is something like a A3700 fine? Or something less good also suitable?

    ShMeE
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shmee150
    Does Media Centre get the names of programs through a guide of sorts and save them appropriately (maybe dependent upon the specific card?)
    Yes the EPG connects to the interweb and gets the TV listing for 2 weeks in advance.

    Best thing on here is you can highlight 1 episode and remind MCE to record the entire series ( I did this with life on mars )

    As for your drives, I have MCE installed on 2 x 300 Gb drives and then another Raid 0 Array of 2 x 300 Gb set as where MCE saves all the recording channels too. Works fine and with a 3500+ does not suffer any slowdown

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shmee150
    If the system is going to be running 4 tuners, and being connected to by sometimes 4 extenders at once, what CPU would be advisable? Would rather spend more on hard drives etc... but is something like a A3700 fine? Or something less good also suitable?

    ShMeE
    I've edited my posting to include a little more information particularly on the role of the tuner, cpu & graphics card in MCE. In it I talked about the role of the CPU & VGA graphics card in the decoding of a broadcast. An extender contains the VGA part, but the decoding has to be handled by the CPU in the host MCE machine (don't ask me why Microsoft decided on doing this). Remember just watching a broadcast (be it live or recorded), i.e. the decoding bit hits the CPU pretty hard. Asking the CPU to decode multiple broadcasts is going to hit it that much harder. I've seen the specs somewhere, so I'll try an dig them out, but I think that for every extender you are talking about a hike in CPU grade. However that's only if you are going to be using the extenders at the same time.

    Another way around it is to watch the recording on a networked PC, in this situation it's the networked PC that is going to have to do both the CPU & VGA bit during the decoding.

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    Forgot to mention, that MCE supports a maximum of 5 extenders (whether or not this can be hacked I don't know). CPU wise, it looks like a minimum of 3.4GHz & 1Gb RAM.

    http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/g...name=c00248338

    However this recommendation is probably based on a system that has a maximum of 2 tuners. I haven't got any anecdotal evidence of what CPU would be suitable for someone in your situation, so I can only guess whether a 3.4GHz will be ok, or whether or not a 3.8GHz should be your aim, and maybe up to 2Gb of RAM.

    Networking could prove a problem with 4 concurrent extenders. Go to microsoft's MCE expert zone, there are a couple of articles on this. Reading between the lines, you might have to have a seperate wireless network per extender (they don't recommend b, only g and preferably a-type). To give you an idea of the sort of problems that you can encounter with MCE & Extender networking have a look at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/m...tworkperf.mspx

    Bare in mind that these recommendations are based on standards that existed at the time MCE first came out. So in the future these might drop when you consider dual-core CPU, multi-threaded MCE (maybe in Vista), Type N networking (currently in draft form) and the move to 64bit computing (both CPU & OS). Although any such gains might end up being swallowed up by the processing required to decode HDTV sources (at the moment HDTV on Freeview is being trialled)
    Last edited by kojak71; 20-03-2006 at 02:07 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shmee150
    The other thing is that if I was to buy a bunch of Media Centre extenders with the main system
    They haven't been released in the UK yet. Don't know what Microsoft's plans are either . Can't even get Microsoft's MCE extender kit for the original XBox either.

    Are you planning on building this in your Shuttle case?

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