Yet Another Media Center Upgrade

Yes, I’m at it again. I’ve added something to my Windows Media Center. When I said it was “complete,” I suppose I was wrong.

Last month, we rented a Blu-Ray disk from Red Box and it wouldn’t play on our stand-alone Sony Blu-Ray player. We thought it was the disk and sent it back. Then, I got a copy of the latest Narnia movie on Blu-Ray… which also didn’t play. Hmm. That was frustrating, but the package included a DVD version which we watched. I thought a system update might correct whatever problem there was. We talked to technical support and they were most unhelpful

We then tried it gain earlier this week with yet another movie, which we didn’t have a DVD version for. It failed. Hmm. I thought I’d try to re-flash it. It wouldn’t work. I tried an old Blu-Ray that used to play and has played before on that player. It didn’t work. Very bad.

Now, I had justification to invest in a Blu-Ray player for the Media Center. I bought a cheap player, installed it and the included PowerDVD software and it worked. Mostly.

I wasn’t happy with the way that the stripped-down OEM version of PowerDVD worked, especially when it came to sound. The sound was supposed to be Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. Instead, it was simple 2-channel stereo and that was way uncool. So, I tried the latest and greatest version of PowerDVD. Funny thing, though: it did the exact same thing. I then downloaded an evaluation copy of Arcsoft Total Medea Theatre 5, which worked WONDERFULLY and was fully integrated as a plug-in into Windows Media Center instead of a pop-up stand-alone program. All the sound was now channeled digitally though my system.

I had thought to save some money by using the included software, but that doesn’t look possible anymore – especially since the full version of PowerDVD is the same price as Total Media Theatre with much fewer features.

All this took place a week after I had a hard drive failure on the machine which meant I had to replace the data storage drives with new ones. I now have 1.5TB of DVR storage. 🙂

So: barring a RAM upgrade which may happen in the future, maybe this time I really am done with the system.