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Television Media

New Review Compares MythTV to Vista MCE 234

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-other dept.
Parkus writes "There's a nice review on AVS forum of MythTV (Ubuntu) and Windows Vista MCE. The author tried both back to back and explains the pluses and minuses of each system after using them for a month. Helpful if you're thinking about setting up your own home theater rig."
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New Review Compares MythTV to Vista MCE

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  • by dreamchaser (49529) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @09:53AM (#19370825) Homepage Journal
    I've had a MythTV box for a couple of years. It's nice, works well. However, my new Vista Home Ultimate media machine is far easier to use and 'just works'. The ironic caveat, as mentioned in the article, is that MythTV (and it's underlying Linux kernel) have *better* hardware support than Vista! On supported hardware I find the Windows Media Center experience to be far better in general though.

    That being said, if I were building a quiet entertainment center PC, I'd go with a Myth box and customize it to my liking. I can do that because I know how. Most consumers do not.
  • by ERJ (600451) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @10:07AM (#19370909)
    He didn't review HDTV because he was overseas not because Mythtv doesn't support it. I have had MythTV recording HDTV for over 1 1/2 years. Support is very good if you have fast hardware.
  • Re:Digital HDTV (Score:5, Informative)

    by tivojafa (564606) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @10:10AM (#19370933)
    To get cablecard support you need a cablelabs certified PC.

    You can't buy a cablecard tuner for a PC - Vista or otherwise. The only PC-based option is to buy a PC that the manufacturer had certified as a complete system (software, hardware, monitor, etc).

    The fallback option is to use an analog capture card and to prioritize the digital tuners over the analog capture so you get high-def whenever possible.

    Nick
  • by Guppy06 (410832) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @10:34AM (#19371089)
    Vista has driver issues that aren't present in XP MCE. Half of my dual-tuning Hauppauge PVR-500 stops working upon installation of Vista, at least until I remove Vista's bundled drivers and install the XP drivers that came with the card instead.

    Of course, the major problem introduced by Vista compared to XP MCE for me is that, upon detecting that I'm using component video, Vista assumes I'm using an HDTV and "fixes" the resolution for me during the installation process, making it virtually impossible to complete until I crawl around behind my rig and connect my computer to my television with s-video instead.
  • Re:Digital HDTV (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @10:44AM (#19371173) Homepage Journal
    In my area, there is *no* reason to fallback to analog, unless you want to see a touch of ghosting or snow. ALL my area TV stations are broadcasting in the digital, even if it might not be HD, at least it's in a fairly clean digital transmission. I live in a ~#50 ranked "metro" area hastily defined by the feds to lump three counties together, but the cities have a lot of rural area between them in this allegedly metro area, so it's not as if I'm in a high density urban region.
  • by TummyX (84871) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @11:04AM (#19371307)
    He complains about the new menu system in Vista Media Center which uses horizontal scrolling. This is not the first time I've heard this and I agree it does seem to be quite wasteful on a 4:3 display but on a 16:9 plasma/LCD (which people building HTPCs should seriously consider), it's fantastic. The same can be said about the vista wall of music [microsoft.com] interface which is an easy and visually impressive way to navigate music and movies if you have a 16:9 display.

    MCE is probably the best product microsoft has written. It has a pretty interface reminiscent of something apple would design and it suprisingle stable. It does it it's designed for and it does it well.
  • Parent is incorrect. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 03, 2007 @12:30PM (#19371919)
    No, the guy installed vanilla Ubuntu.

    Mods really need to RTFA before they start modding people "informative".
  • my mythtv experience (Score:5, Informative)

    by Phaid (938) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @12:53PM (#19372053) Homepage
    I used a MythTV machine for a while, before I had HDTV. I set up whatever release of KnoppMyth was the latest in the spring of 2005 on an Asus Pundit with a Hauppauge PVR350 board. Setting up KnoppMyth was far from a plug and play experience; I had to update almost everything to make it work, and had to go hunt down patches to things like LIRC to get it working with the rest of the system. The choice of which video-out to use was a study in compromises: I could either use the Asus' built-in ATI S-Video out, which had no video acceleration and thus suffered from visible speed issues during playback; or I could use the PVR350 output, which had excellent TV playback, but had a terrible navigation and recording interface since the framebuffer X server could only render video fullscreen. I wound up choosing the PVR350 out, since I preferred to schedule recordings using the web server interface. Once I got it fully running, the system was pretty nice. The basic menu interface looked good and was intuitive, and the picture quality from the PVR350 over S-Video was outstanding. I really liked being able to connect to its web server to schedule shows, because the scheduler interface was awful when viewed on the TV. On the whole, when it worked, it was brilliant, but it definitely had its fair share of bugs -- the two worst being that it would occasionally just produce a black screen when you rewound a show to the beginning, which you could usually revover from, and the wifi (a usb dongle) would sometimes just up and stop working due to a buggy driver, requiring a reboot to get connectivity again. But on the whole it was pretty nice, the TV interface was OK but the selling point for me was the excellent web interface. Once I got HDTV in December of 05, the MythTV box really wasn't an option any more. Since then I've had HD digital cable from two different providers (Comcast and Optimum) both with the Scientific Atlanta SA8300HD DVR (though Comcast and Optimum load different firmware onto the DVR). Frankly, there's no comparison between the commercial DVR and MythTV. The commercial system does everything faster (powering up, changing channels) and never, ever crashes. Sure, I can't transfer movies to my laptop or whatever, but I guess that just isn't something I feel the need to do. I took the PVR350 out of the Pundit, upgraded it to Slackware, and keep it in my entertainment center as a MAME box. Bottom line, if you have a 4:3 CRT TV and basic cable, MythTV is probably fine. If you have a nice widescreen TV and digital cable, MythTV just can't do the things you need, and you can get a DVR from your cable company for so cheap even MythTV can't compete (since after all you still need hardware to run the thing).
  • by sid0 (1062444) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @02:49PM (#19373021) Journal
    It's no longer possible in Vista, though another way is to install it from the DVD, then upgrade it on top of itself. Since the Vista install is quite faster than the XP one, he would have been done with it quicker.
  • by HeroreV (869368) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @04:51PM (#19374153) Homepage
    It has been pretty obvious for quite a while that Linux has better out-of-the-box driver support than any version of Windows (or any OS really). Many Windows drivers have to be installed from CDs or over the internet.

    When I installed Windows (before switching to Ubuntu) I had to use a CD to install drivers just to connect to the internet, and then I had to use Windows Update again and again (rebooting between each one) to get all the other drivers.

    There's lots of support for Windows, but Windows itself actually supports very little.
  • by PCM2 (4486) on Sunday June 03, 2007 @08:12PM (#19375665) Homepage
    I'm not sure you can lay the blame for this at Microsoft's doorstep. Maybe you can, but maybe nVidia has just been incompetent in developing drivers for an OS that has been in general release for months now. Seriously, if a graphics card company can't write drivers for a graphics card, something is wrong.

    BTW, the reviewer mentioned that he had to roll back to an early-version nVidia driver because he got stuttering video with the newest drivers. I had this problem, too. What happened is that nVidia shipped the earlier versions of its drivers with the Inverse Telecine option turned off. In the new drivers, it defaults to on -- and that's what causes the stuttering video in MCE. Pull up the nVidia Control Panel, go to the "Video & Television" options, select the "Enhancements" panel, and uncheck the box that says "Use Inverse Telecine." Video will play smoothly again.
  • Re:bttv: tuner=-1 (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 03, 2007 @10:30PM (#19376663)
    BTTV isn't identifying your card correctly. It happens. Unload the module (modprobe -r bttv) and reload it with the card and tuner options specified (modprobe bttv card=x tuner=x).

    List of cards here:

    ahref=http://www.linuxtv.org/v4lwiki/index.php/Car dlist.BTTVrel=url2html-22967 [slashdot.org]http://www.linuxtv.org /v4lwiki/index.php/Cardlist.BTTV>

    tuners here:

    ahref=http://www.linuxtv.org/v4lwiki/index.php/CAR DLIST.tunerrel=url2html-22967 [slashdot.org]http://www.linuxtv.or g/v4lwiki/index.php/CARDLIST.tuner>

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