I installed Vista yesterday on my HTPC. My previous installation of XP went "kaput" Monday afternoon when I started trying to update the video drivers. I kept trying to find a version that didn't have a "rolling screen" after I updated and somehow XP got messed up. I kept getting a "RegPerm Writer" error when I tried installing any ATI drivers (probably anything else, too). I did a restore point before I got started, and I was able to use it once, but after a while I tried to restore back again and it was gone. I also couldn't go back to any time before Monday. I tried installing SP3, but in the end it would uninstall and say it couldn't be installed. Then I tried updating to Vista; that didn't work either. In the end, I'd have to choose "Previous Windows Installation" and once XP booted it would say that Vista could not be installed. So I was left with no choice but to install Vista from scratch instead of upgrade. However, I didn't do a clean install, but maybe I need to; more on that in a minute.
With Windows 7 just around the corner I know it's kind of late to be talking about Vista as an HTPC, but here's what I found. If you remember, I was on a quest at one point to find a solution to using SPDIF and analogs at the same time without using 2 sound cards. Turns out, in Vista I'm able to do this pretty easily. I have Vista set to 5.1 and the sound card's utility to use SPDIF. I can switch my receiver back and forth and sound plays through both. That part is pretty nice. Also, in XP using SageTV I was never able to use VMR9 as a renderer without problems, so I had to use Overlay. In Vista, what little bit of OTA HD I got to watch, I was able to use EVR in Sage and it seemed to work fine.
Everything was not peachy however. For some reason, later last night I was not able to tune in any OTA HD channels. I kept getting a "No Signal". But switching over to my DirecTV receiver, I wasn't having any signal problems, so I don't know why one was able to tune in the channel and the other one wasn't. I've never had that problem before; usually if my signal's bad then I can't pick it up with either (and I'm not talking about a borderline signal strength; my meter on DirecTV was showing an 80-some% signal). When I first got Vista going and SageTV installed and set up, the HD channels were doing fine. I tried playing some of my HD recordings from my previous incarnation of HTPC; with Cyberlink as the decoder, the screen was black but I could hear sound. With the Microsoft decoder, the picture would come up, but was still while the audio kept going. With the Sage decoder, the video played very jerky while the sound kept going. When it was working earlier in the afternoon, I was using the Microsoft decoder as I hadn't yet installed PowerDVD. I don't know if that had anything to do with it. I don't think so, because as I think about it, we were able to watch some of American Idol on the PC with Cyberlink as the decoder until it just froze (after that point it claimed I didn't have a signal). As I tried different recordings that I had I found something odd; most of my recordings consist of Chuck, Hereos, a couple of CSI, and Fringe. All of the Chuck, Heroes, CSI episodes played as I described above. Fringe played fine. Now think about it, what do those first 3 shows have in common vs. Fringe? All 3 of those others are 1080i; Fringe is in 720p. Maybe that's a big coincidence, but could that be it? All of my SD recordings made through the S-video played fine as well. Another problem was that the guide didn't download for SageTV even though I set everything up and picked my location and all of that stuff. At first I thought maybe it'd take a while, but as of 10:00 last night (and I started around 5:00) everything still said, "No Data".
All of that stuff was using SageTV. Before I went to bed I was curious as to how VMC would do. I went through the set up first; all of that went OK. After I was done, I tried playing one of the recordings that I mentioned above; they would not play. I tried seeing how it would do with an mkv, as I had installed Haali Media Splitter; it said I did not have the available codecs to play the file. I then tried to set up the tuner. It said there was no tuner found. I was using my VistaView DA-1in1-I. I assumed this tuner was supported since I know that it works in MCE XP.
Other things I got, several times while having SageTV open I'd get a message saying I was running low on memory. While trying to run VMC, I got a message several times saying the receiver had stopped working; I assumed it was talking about the IR receiver but I was always able to use the remote so I don't know why it thought it wasn't working. I noticed while playing a bluray and trying to do something else, the movie video would pause for a few seconds and then catch back up. I defintely think I need to upgrade my RAM from 1gb to 2gb. I noticed the hard drive was constantly churning the whole evening it seemed. Do you attribute that to the RAM or do you think something else was going on? Any thoughts on all these problems I mentioned? What kind of stuff do you install after the OS and drivers? I like to keep things to a minimum. I still could not get SageTV to play an mkv with 5.1 sound, but it should be able to, right? Do you think I need to do a clean, clean install by reformatting the drive and then installing Vista? I'm thinking some of that lingering stuff from the previous XP installation may be doing something, because all it did was put that stuff in a folder.