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It’s been a while since I posted anything about the Media Center I’m building.  I was having an issue where the after a few days, the audio & video would start chugging.  The weird thing was that when I ran a WinXP system restore to jump back to a a day that I knew the MCE was not having the issue, it would resolve it.  This made me think “ok, not a hardware issue”.  However, when I finally switched my TV recording folder from my 320GB drive -> 200GB drive, the issue hasn’t come back at all in a few weeks.  I wasn’t too disappointed by this as I moved all my music, pictures, and home movies to the 320GB drive… all this stuff was coming close to filling up the 200GB drive.  So, moving all this data to the larger drive gave me more space and adequate room for TV recordings.

After the MCE Rollup Update 2 came out a few weeks ago, I decided to run that update, make sure everything was running fine for a few weeks, and if no issues came up, I’d move the MCE to the living room and yank the TiVo out.  I’ve been looking forward to doing this for a long time as I really prefer the MCE interface to TiVo’s (and prefer the Vista MCE interface over today’s MCE, but that’s an issue for another time).  On Friday I got the keyboard/mouse combo I’d been waiting for… and might I add, a fantastic bluetooth option!  This was the last thing I needed to do (get a wireless keyboard/mouse) before I moved it into the living room.  Anyway… I hit to snags yesterday morning when I tried to hook it up to my TV and home theater system in the living room.

First, the picture is only coming through in black & white.  I’ve seen in some of the posts where users with nVidia video cards have been able to tinker with the output type… black & white output seemed to be resolved by changing the output type in the video card settings.  I made sure I had the latest drivers for my card (Catalyst v5.10) and checked all the settings, but no luck.  Posted about it on thegreenbutton.com here.

Second, the picture is being cropped so the right & bottom parts of the screen aren’t visible.  This makes the challenging to get through the menus, both in PC mode and in MCE mode.  For example, when going through the MCE wizards, the part of the screen that contains the BACK, NEXT, FINISH, CANCEL buttons is cropped off.  When in PC mode, if I hit the windows key on my keyboard, the first 4 levels are cut off (including All Programs, Shutdown, Run).  I’ve read through some of the posts in the newsgroup which talk about overscan & underscan… not sure if this is my issue as I don’t hav the black bars (I have the opposite problem).  Posted about it on thegreenbutton here.

I have an older TV… about 13+ years old (26” Panasonic tube) that only accepts RCA (component) and coax inputs.  Thankfully my video card came with a SVideo -> yellow RCA cable converter.  I’m using that right now (as the only other outputs on my video card are DVI & PC monitor… which I can’t do in the living room).  I’ve tried reducing the resolution… you name it, I’ve tried it.  I know that I won’t have a good PC experience in the living room with my MCE on the TV I have now… I expected that… I’m going to be in the market for a new HDTV in the next few months.  For now, I’m just looking for the pure MCE experience. 

Once I nail these two issues down, I’ll post my results.  If it’s not one thing it’s something else with this box.  I still think it’s worth it.  I can’t tell you how nice it is to be able to watch home movies right on the TV.  My wife and I didn’t realize how many we’ve done over the last year with our [now] 8 month old.  We were looking forward to spending Saturday night watching all the movies from the past year, but B&W and a cropped screen sank those plans.

If you have ideas for what my issue is, please feel free to make suggestions, either in the posts on TGB or in my NNTP post… heck or even here.  Guess I’m asking for help.  Hardware & A/V issues (drivers/codecs/card specifics) always seem to get me… not my strong suit with PCs.  Thanks in advance to anyone who has suggestions.  I already owe Dustin a ton of thanks for helping me with the drive/video skipping issue.

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