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AIW / Multimedia Discussion and Technical Support Discussion and support forum for all of the All-In-Wonder Radeon cards, the TV-Wonder, Remote Wonder I and II, the new HDTV Wonder, and basically anything with VIVO support.

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Old Dec 21, 2006, 05:07 AM   #1
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ATImeShifter
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Default More thoughts on Theater Pro 650 & Catalyst Media Center

I recently started a thread here about all sorts of problems I was having with my new Theater Pro 650 card after installing it in my PC:

Theater Pro 650 software is horribly BUGGY!

Upon the advice of some of the experts here I uninstalled MMC after being told that it was probably conflicting with Catalyst Media Center, and, what do you know, most (but not all) of the problems I had went away--the worst of which was my system freezing randomly. I also took the opportunity to upgrade to Catalyst 6.12 (but rolling back to WMD 1064).

CMC works reasonably well now, although it's neither as functional nor as bug and quirk-free as I'd like. Here are some observations:

1 - The EPG works, sort of, but not in the nice grid format that we're all used to in Gemplus (or MCE). Instead, you have to look at channels individually, one day at a time, and scroll through the day to find shows you're interested in scheduling. You can also view by show type. But you can't get a daily view that spans a block of hours and channels. Perhaps there is a way to get such a view, but I haven't been able to find it. At least programs appear to be up to date.

2 - Its PIP, called Multiview, also works--sort of. You have to play around a bit to get it to work, and sometimes one of the broadcasts has video but no audio. I could only get it to work when the primary display is Digital and it's not full-size (i.e. with options listed on the left). But when it works, it works pretty well, with instant switching between the two windows (that maps to the OK button on my RW+), and the ability to move the small PIP window to one of 9 positions onscreen.

3 - Contrary to what I first thought, you can create custom recording formats, from a decent selection of standard formats (e.g. MPEG2 HW, MPEG1, Divx). You just have to bore down into recording settings to find this.

4 - Scheduled recordings work--most of the time. A couple of times it failed to start, or recording an unplayable video. Not sure why yet, but it's happening less often now.

5 - The feeds from my 650 work fine, the digital pristine, the analog decent (but not as nice, to my eyes, as my ancient AIW 7200 which is now retired), and no A/V sync issues. The feed from my AIW x1900, though, has problems. When selected, it stutters for 5-15 seconds, and after a while it sometimes develops A/V sync problems, which become especially pronounced during recordings. The workaround I've found is to use the 650 as often as possible, especially when recording. Unfortunately, if it's the last feed you were watching, then it's what the scheduler will use to record.

6 - The RW+ remote works, but is not entirely functional with CMC. There seems to be no way to map the A-F keys, fast-forward or rewind, easily switch feeds, or turn CMC off.

7 - Aspect ratio options are very limited, and there doesn't seem to be a way to change them via the RW+ beyond 4:3 or 16:9. So if you come upon an HD channel that only fills a 4:3 box within the 16:9 box, you have to get up and manually change the global aspect ratio setting to zoom--unless you're willing to endure the agony of using the remote "mouse" simulator button to navigate multiple menu levels.

8 - Volume jumps in large increments with the RW+, so it's hard to fine-tune the volume level.

9 - Scheduled recordings all use the same recording format and destination folder, so you can't customize them as you could with MMC.

10 - There's no "scan" view where you can view multiple freeze frames of sequential channels in a grid like you could with MMC. I think this was called EasyView.

There are other issues with CMC as well. It's not a bad app, in some ways a step up from MMC, in other ways a step down, and reasonably stable. And some of the issues I listed here may well have a solution that others have figured out (or I may simply have overlooked some not so obvious features).

But it's clearly no competitor for retail applications or MCE (from what others have told me about it). I view it as a stopgap to allow me to view HDTV channels (which MMC cannot do) and record shows for now, while I order and wait for the arrival of MCE (and eventually to be replaced by Vista Premium).

Considering that the rest of my system is pretty damn nice, it only makes sense to have an OS and software to match it now, so I think it's worth the extra $110 (which in any case will get me a nearly free upgrade to Vista which I was going to get anyway).

I hope this helps!
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Old Dec 21, 2006, 10:01 AM   #2
Agustus
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Default

Wow,…

A very concise and straightforward overview. Its impressive IMO and likely a big help to those interested or actively dealing with this Hardware software combo.

Its also good to see that you were able to solve some issues by running CMC alone (without MMC being installed).

I have to get back to you about a few things after some checking. For example, there is if I recall correctly, a "scan" view of all channels in CMC.

Anyway good job!
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Old Dec 21, 2006, 03:54 PM   #3
ATImeShifter
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Thanks. I don't doubt that I missed some things in CMC, but not for lack of trying! CMC certainly doesn't make it easy! But I'd more than welcome anything you or anyone else has to clarify or criticize on my assessment of CMC. The feature I'd be most interested in finding out about--if it exists--is a gridlike EPG.
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