Recently my wife got a new Creative Zen Vision. No matter what she tried, it would not sync video. The computer we were using has had a lot of video software and codecs installed over time, plus we were already using it to sync a Creative Portable Media Center and a SmartPhone. She called Creative and they were no help. They actually told her to try someone else's software besides Creative.
It was time for a rebuild.
The current configuration was running Windows XP Pro with Beyond TV to record. I thought I would give a Windows Media Center 2005 build a try since we have an Xbox 360 now. This is how I did it.
First the hardware rundown. I am using a Dell Dimension 3000 with a WinTV PVR 250. Nothing special here. The machine could be built from scratch for about $600.
Now the agonizing install process. Let me state that these final results were not found on the first try. It took two installs and several system restores to get it working.
After installing the base OS I needed to get the MCE specific drivers (not the latest) for the PVR 250 from their site and install them through device manager. Next, I needed to install WinDVD 7. I started with the OEM version of WinDVD and that didn't work, I needed the full retail version. Next Microsoft provides a codec checker for MCE, I needed to run that to set WinDVD 7 as the primary. Next I needed updated drivers for my video card. Without these all I got was a green screen. Finally, run Media Center for the first time and walk through the install process, crossing your fingers the entire time.
If you're trying to build your own my advise is:
- Make sure your TV tuner card is supported and download the MCE specific drivers.
- Get the latest video drivers for your video card.
- Install WinDVD 7, the full version.
- Run the decoder check utility from Microsoft.
- Treat System Restore as your best friend, setting restore points before each software config or install.
PS: If anyone finds a dual HDTV tuner that also acts as a digital cable card, please let me know.