Monday, January 30, 2006


Beyond TV -- Intermittant Problem Solved

Remember my mentioning that I was very happy with Beyond TV V4.1 --- with the exception of one relatively minor problem/inconvenience. When playing back recorded HD content everything would be fine until I decided to fast-forward, pause, or in anyway interrupt the video stream. When I did that, the Audio would immediately cut out(as expected), but when I resumed the video ---- the audio was still gone.
In order to get around this nusiance problem, I had to mouse into "tool" and set the audio to 2-channel (I normally use the digital SPDIF option) -- the sound would immediately come back, then I could change back to SPDIF and all was well -- at least until the next time I wanted to ff or pause. A few seconds (5-15 sec) would be lost in this process --- Just an irritable nusiance.

I went over to the Beyond TV forums and posted my experience, asking if anyone else had experienced similar issues and looking for some guidance.
One of the responses that I got back in the forum was asking if I was using an ASUS mother board (and I am!) and if it had ADI Soundmax audio onboard (and it does!). He suggested that I go to the ASUS website and download the latest Soundmax drivers as there was a known problem with the older ones. He also indicated that if that didn't solve the problem that I should look at the SoundblasterLive Ext USB audio as it was know to work with no problems.

After several failed attempts to download and install the undated SoundMax drivers (These failed attempts we're due to my own errors, and not paying attention). I finally located and installed the correct drivers --v

Voila --- problem solved -- no more audio dropout ---- yeah!

Monday, November 21, 2005


I Continue to Be Pleased With BeyondTV-4

I continue to be pleased with BeyondTV-4 and it's HD DVR capabilities and performance. I don't know if I mentioned it, but The BeyondTV package included the Snapstream "Firefly" remote control. It's a remote whose receiver plugs into a usb port on the pc then can be used to control several media-based applications. Specifically, I use it to control BeyondTV (I initially used the wireless mouse to control it, but that was somewhat cumbersome). The Firefly works great with the application, making control very easy and intuitive.

The audio/video sync issue that I previously is still with me, but is intermittant - making trouble-shooting difficult. I'm convinced that I'll get it resolved, but it may take a while

Overall, I'm very happy with the solution.

Monday, November 14, 2005


Beyond TV 4 -- The Solution

I'm becoming more and more convinced that Beyond TV 4 is the software solution that allows me to easily record and playback High Definition content on the HTPC. It just works and almost "out-of-the-box". Little tweaking was required.
I'm learning more about it as I go and continue to be impressed.
One neat new feature that I think is pretty cool is "Remote Recording". The program guide is actually a web-based service and is downloaded periodically to the PC. Being web-based, you can access your Snapstream program guide from any browser, anywhere. Not only can you access the guide, but you can schedule a recording. Once you have scheduled the recording from a browser - the recording request is downloaded to the PC just as the guide updates are downloaded. I tested this feature along with locally scheduled recording and both work like a charm.
I'm still running into some intermittant audio drop-out, but have learned how to quickly resolve that. Over time, I'm sure I can eliminate this quirk permanently.

Once again, I think this project is nearing completion.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


Maybe - A Break-Through - Maybe

In the previous post, I mentioned that SageTV was selling and obviously supporting the AverMedia 180 HDTV capture card; and that I also ordered one.
I installed the new card --- and gained exactly nothing.
It functions (doesn't) just as the Fusion 5 card. I'm now convinced it's in the Front-End software.
To date, I've not been successful at getting either card to work with Meedio or SageTV. While not ready to give it up, I was getting pretty frustrated.
One of the blogs I follow is: HD Beat and they recently had a post announcing the release of Beyond TV 4 from Snapstream - SnapStream . Beyond TV 4 had received PC Magazine's Editors choice award, and according to the product specs - supported both the Fusion 5 Card and the Avermedia 180 card. So, what the heck - I downloaded a twenty one day free trial of Beyond TV 4.

The darn thing works, with both cards - wow. I set it up on both cards, and found that the Fusion 5 card indicated the best signal strength, so I'm using that card as the default tuner/capture card.
I still need to play with it some more to understand how all the features and functions work.
I'm seeing some inconsistency in audio, but that may be corrected by trying alternate drivers.

So far, I like the interface, the guide is nice, and once I work out a few kinks, I think I may have an HD Tivo-like capability.

Monday, November 07, 2005


Recording HD Sounds so Easy .... But!

Like I mentioned before, I've successfully recorded and played back HD content using the Fusion card and the Fusion software --- but, it's very cumbersome.

Meedio ( my current media front-end of choice) now supports HD recording and play-back and supposedly supports the Fusion 5 Gold Plus card. I've really tried to make it work, but to no avail. I've even uninstalled both Meedio and Fusion and re-installed them several times. I just can't get it to work.

SageTV, another well know front-end software package has had their "HD supporting" software in beta for some time and have just released it to production. Sage has a very nice interface, and supposedly(again) will work with the Fusion5 card. I have downloaded the released version, and once again -- I just can't make it work.

SageTV actually sells an HD Capture card -- the AverMedia AC180, PCI capture card. It sell for $89 -- so I ordered one. My assumption is that it should work with the new SageTV if they are selling the card.

I've made several incorrect assumptions previously -- so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Members of a number of technical forums have suggested that I re-install the OS, but that seems to be a pretty drastic measure to me. No can explain why they think that might solve the problem -- sounds a little like black-magic to me.

I'll try the new card when it comes in and go from there. I won't rule out the OS re-install, but it'll be a last resort

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


So, We Begin . . . . . Again

I think I mentioned that I bought an HD Capture card. Actually/technically, it's an HD tuner/capture card. The card is a Fusion HDTV5 Gold Plus card from DVICO.

There were actually several cards to choose from and my choices were narrowed down to two. It was either this card, or the MYHD card (with daughter board for HD). The MYHD card is strictly a hardware decoder where-as the Fusion card is a software decoder. That mainly means that the MYDH card would require less CPU, RAM, etc. The MYHD card was also more expensive and since I wasn't totally convinced that this would work at all, I wanted to minimize the cost. I also have plenty of CPU and RAM, so wasn't concerned about that with the software based Fusion card.

The Fusion card installed without a problem along with it's accompanying software. I had read, before purchasing, that the software supplied with this card was pretty weak ---- I can confirm now that that was significantly understated.

I wasn't too concerned with that as Meedio (my chosen front-end software) had released their Meedio TV module which has HD support, and supports the Fusion 5 card. I also wanted to try the Beta version of SageTV's software which does HD and supposedly also supports the Fusion

I have been able to record and playback HD content using the Fusion software, but it's very cumbersome. It can, however, be made to work.

Just a point of interest --- one hour of HD content consumes about 8-9 GB of storage on the hard drive. I planned for that though -- using the mirrored 200GB Sata drives.

Future posts will document my progress with the Fusion card and Meedio TV and or SageTV.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Ahhhh, And You Believed Me When I Said It Was Done

When I closed this project down about a year ago, I still hadn't accomplished one of my major objectives. That objective was to be able to record High Definition Content and turn the HTPC into a HD TIVO. At the time, there were virtually no HD capture cards for the PC, and no software to support them.

That is starting to change now; there are several HD capture cards and two or three software packages claim to support them.

So, I've purchased one of the new HD capture cards and am re-opening the project.

If you have interest in the progress, check in occasionally.

It will likely be pretty slow-going. Bring Wine and cheese, or beer & chips depending on what suits you.

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