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Summary:

About six weeks ago, I was ranting and raving about Vista’s Media Center functionality still requiring an archaic NTSC, or analog, tuner in order to configure and use a digital TV tuner. I don’t know if anyone here was listening, but I’d like to think that […]

Xp_wmce_tunerAbout six weeks ago, I was ranting and raving about Vista’s Media Center functionality still requiring an archaic NTSC, or analog, tuner in order to configure and use a digital TV tuner. I don’t know if anyone here was listening, but I’d like to think that someone on the Microsoft MC team was.

I just got around to installing the latest Vista build (5456) on my WMCE Desktop and guess what: no NTSC tuner was required and I didn’t get the annoying screen shown here that XP WMCE gives. C’mon: it’s not very "cutting edge" of a company like Microsoft to force an analog tuner purchase to watch free digital television signals for those that can recieve them, now is it?

To be honest, Vista didn’t recognize my ATI HDTV Wonder tuner card right out of the gate, so I figured once again we were stuck with the silly NTSC requirement. However, I did go into the Device Manager in Vista and ran the "Update Drivers" command on all of the Unknown Devices and sure enough, that did the trick. Once the ATSC or digital TV tuner card was recognized, I knew I was in the homestretch so I opened Media Center in Vista and went directly to the Settings. Instead of the rude and inappropriate error message shown above, I received the following screen and went along my merry way.

Vista_mce_tuner

After a few minutes of configuration and downloading of my program guide info, I was blissfully watching pure and free digital and high-def content on Vista without a hitch. Granted, this functionality is only useful for those folks that can receive (and know about) free digital signals from their local broadcast affiliates, but I still think this would present a major marketing faux-pas if not fixed.

While most people do and will continue to receive their digital television content from cable and satellite sources (and we need better support there MCE team!) can you imagine trying to sell the next generation operating system like this:

Microsoft: We’re including Media Center in Vista so you can watch and record DTV and HDTV!
Consumer: That’s great since analog TV is over in 2009! So I can view my locals in DTV with Vista?Microsoft: You sure can, but….uh….you need to buy an analog tuner first OR you need to work with a cable or satellite provider and pay for that signal which is free if you can tune it in over the air. Sorry…heh…

Way to go Vista MCE team! Oh and lest you think this has nothing to do with mobile technology, today I can place-shift that HDTV signal to either of the HDTVs in my house via WiFi and an Xbox 360. I’d bet money that you’ll see future Vista functionality to extend that feature beyond your LAN and you’ll be watching DTV wherever you are on your Windows Mobile device, a notebook or Tablet PC or (dare I say it) a Microsoft iPod killer PMP-like device. Expect to see Microsoft fight back a little against Sling Media’s Slingbox and the free place-shifting software from Orb; did you think that Microsoft only wants to be in your living room knowing that you’re not there most of the time?

-kct

  1. Its nice ATSC was included, but in my 5600 build RC1, I can’t access NTSC at all. I too have the HDTV all in wonder. But very few ATSC signals nearby. But I do have cable, and ch 2-99 are analog. Not to mention Sci-Fi and other channels are only on cable, and not broadcast over the air. The ATSC tuner will not pick up anything from a cable broadcast, even digital cable, as it is a different dig signal. (BTW, I tried, just in case something was hiding in there, and there wasn’t)

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