Sunday, January 20, 2008

following up with Linksys DMA 2100 problems

Late into the first night of DMA 2100 ownership, after setting it up and writing my first blog entry / review, I took the somewhat definitive step of moving my HP z552 back to my office so we could enjoy a living room without the incessant fan noise of the z552 and its sick-sounding USB hard drive companion. I continued to test, tweak and research the DMA 2100 and can report some additional findings:

Zoom not working on non-broadcast materials (XviD stuff from Video Library):
This guy suggested that the component video hook-up was the problem; when my HDMI cable showed up I found that it was not. Information \ Zoom does not do anything with videos in the Video Library in component or HDMI mode.

Xvid start delay:
According to TGB, this is very common. To me, it's not a big deal, a bigger deal is the delay in changing channels, but so far the primary DMA 2100 user in my apartment hasn't noticed that so if she isn't complaining, I'm not complaining.

Audio drop-outs:
I have noticed a problem with XviD more annoying than the start time. I have been watching Deadwood obsessively, and converted a bunch of, uh, downloaded episodes so I could watch them on my iPod on my way to work. On my commute I can watch about 15 - 20 minutes of Deadwood, so if I start one in the morning, and watch more on the way home, then I might want to finish it in the evening, so I'll launch it on the TV and skip ahead 40 or so minutes. Unfortunately, my Deadwood episodes consistently have audio that drops out every 8 seconds or so. Usually this problem seems to be with AC3 audio content, but GSpot shows that these episodes are just normal XviD and MP3, and should play the same as everything else. I was able to successfully watch most of them after converting them with AutoGK (just, literally, not changing anything except maybe the MP3 audio bitrate), but the season/series finale, which I am 12 minutes into, is still having the dropping audio problem. Not sure what the problem is but I will continue to investigate.

Network speed:
After a day or so of DMA 2100 ownership, I found XviD videos to be unplayably slow, and even recorded TV was extremely sluggish (taking seconds to register the skip). The reason, as I determined by going to the Network Test thing in Tasks, was very poor network performance. The first day it didn't give me any trouble but by the second day Network Test only showed 2 to 3 bars, below the "acceptable for TV" threshold. I remembered that the DMA came with a printed piece of paper saying that the MCE PC might have problems on Gigabit networks without following a certain KB article, but since I couldn't find the piece of paper, I figured it was far easier to pull the MCE PC's network cable out of my Gigabit switch and into my 100Mbit switch. This I did, and found my network problems resolved and the playing of recorded TV far snappier. (Xvid was still messed up when I tried to forward to 40mins on the sample Deadwood 3x04.)

Music:
A commenter noted problems with album art and other metadata that I haven't seen, but yesterday and today I've been listening to music (specifically the new Black Mountain record "In the Future", which is really growing on me, and I'm also obsessively playing the song "Dunwich" on the latest Electric Wizard record "Witchcult Today") and have seen a problem several times now. Stopping a song doesn't "take" -- you are listening to music, press stop, the song stops, and then you press the green button, and after a few seconds the song starts playing again. Once this happens, you can't press stop to make it stop; it's like it's playing in some stealth mode that you can't interrupt. I've been going to Tasks and choosing Close, which logs the extender out of the MCE PC, and then logging back in, but of course I shouldn't have to do that. I suspect playing a video or going to Live TV would stop it also, but haven't checked.

--sbreck

P.S. I am slowly assembling posts on the DMA 2100 from random problems, annoyances, bugs and fixes that I see. I'll keep posting them when a fully formed post on one or more issues appears, and will update this ending as I see them:

DMA 2100 initial impressions

converting Canon camera videos and DVDs for use with the DMA 2100

Canon video conversion revisited

OTA HDTV and the DMA 2100

following up with Linksys DMA 2100 problems

…or just click the DMA 2100 label over on the right.

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Comments:
You are right about ZOOM not working on XVid BUT a workaround is to play some "Recorded TV" and change the zoom to your wanted XVid setting while watching the recorded TV.

When this it done you can then start your XVid movie/show which now will use the zoom you just selected.


Thomas
e-mail: th(at)dpp.dk
 
The Gigabit issue appears to be at the PC end, something like a buffer overrun perhaps. I was getting stuttering and randomly any played media would just stop. I forced my card in my PC to negitiate at 100mb duplex and the issues ent away.
 
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