A Windows Media Center TV Screen Size Fix

May 27, 2011

Recently I cleaned the slate on my PC and performed a reinstall of my operating system (Windows 7 Home Premium). Following the installation, which went very well, I did experience a TV Screen Size issue, in the Windows Media Center, where the TV display aspect ratio was locked into the 4:3 (square display) mode and would not let me change it to the 16:9 (widescreen display) mode.

After researching this on the internet, I discovered that many people have experienced this issue; especially, with various HP computers with the NVidia video cards. What I discovered is that the fix, in most cases, is really an easy fix, but is not what you think it would be . Now, this may not work in all instances; however, I felt compelled to put the fix (that worked for me) out there in the event someone else is troubled by this problem.

A fix to this issue requires you to go into Windows Media Center, startup the TV and when the TV display is on your monitor screen, simply right mouse click in the middle of the display. After you right mouse click, you will see a blue band appear at the bottom of the screen. You can’t miss it.  On the right side of this band you will see a right and left arrow. Click on the right arrow and the band will change with various options available. When you see the option for Zoom, stop at that point. By default, it will be on Zoom 1. Give the other zoom levels a try. I found that Zoom Level 4 perfectly aligned my display to match the size of my widescreen display (16:9 ratio).

Windows Media Center

I know this fix may not be a fix for everyone who is experiencing this issue; however, in most cases by following these steps will fix the problem. The option to change the display is right under our noses; however, there is nothing readily visible to let you know this option is even there.

If you are wondering how I am watching TV on my computer, then check out this article Watch Cable TV on your Computer .

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Watch Cable TV on your Computer

April 1, 2011

Did you know that with minimal investment [CLICK HERE], you can watch HDTV, Analog & Cable TV on your PC (or laptop)? Many people are unaware that it is possible and are also unaware that you can purchase a PC with a TV tuner already installed as part of the package.

WinTV

Ever since my first tuner card (in a Packard Bell computer many years ago); I have not been without one since. It takes your PC to another level. It impresses your techie friends that you can watch TV (in a sizeable window) AND record TV while you work on your computer; plus, it is a definite must if you want to get the most out of your Windows Media Center installation.

If you do not want to open your PC to install a tuner card (OR you have a notebook PC), a new technology is the portable TV tuner that plugs directly into one of your USB ports. Now keep in mind, you will have to run the actual wiring from your cable or analog service source to the PC. There are several manufacturers of tuners out there, but my choice is the tuners made by Hauppauge. I have had good luck and support with their products in several PC’s that I have owned.

If you are looking for an easy way to bring TV to your computer, I encourage you to take a look at the WinTV-HVR-950Q hybrid TV stick that brings over-the-air high definition ATSC digital TV plus analog cable TV to your PC or laptop! What you see in the picture below is the actual tuner that plugs into an USB port on your PC and the included remote control.  This is a really cool option for your computer!

You can get it [HERE]

WinTV

  • TV tuner allows for viewing and recording of television on PCs via USB 2.0
  • Compatible with 32 bit and/or 64 bit Windows 7
  • Accepts video feeds directly from a camera or satellite box
  • Small size makes it easy to carry and ideal for laptops
  • Includes Personal Video Recorder software for scheduled recording of programs and remote control

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How To Burn A Recorded TV Show in Windows Media Center

November 11, 2010

Many people out there that have Windows Vista and Windows 7 based computers have never tapped into the Windows Media Center component that is right under their noses.

Windows Media Center

Windows Media Center is a software component that is included FREE in Windows 7 Home Premium, Ultimate, Professional, and Enterprise; and in Windows Vista Home Premium and Ultimate. By using the Windows Media Center component, an inexprensive TV card (or TV adapter) and a broadband internet connection, you can turn your computer into a very powerful media center where you can watch regular TV, watch Internet TV (and online video), play music, play internet radio; AND, play (and manage) your personal video and photo collection.

Also included in Windows Media Center is a DVR (Digital Video Recorder) where you can record your favorite TV shows (for later playback). The recordings are stored directly onto the hard drive of your computer where they can be managed and played directly from Windows Media Center.

imageA question that I recently was asked; “Can you burn (or save) the recorded TV shows to a DVD in Windows Media Player?”.  The answer is a straight out YES and the steps to perform this task is reflected below. If you never experienced Windows Media Center, you can read more about it [ HERE ] .

You can burn recorded TV shows or other video files that appear in your media library in Windows Media Center to a DVD that you can play in a DVD player or on your computer.

When you burn video files to a DVD, the files are converted so that you can play them in a standard DVD player. Burning a TV show to a DVD can take a longer amount of time—the time it takes to burn a TV show to a DVD depends on different factors: the length of the added video files, your computer system resources, and the speed of your DVD burner. – [Source: Microsoft]

  1. Start Windows Media Center. Insert a recordable DVD into your DVD burner.
  2. Click the Burn a CD or DVD notification that appears in Windows Media Center, or, on the start screen, scroll to Tasks, and then click burn cd/dvd
  3. On the Select Disc Format screen, click Video DVD, and then click Next
  4. Using the keyboard, type a name for your DVD, and then click Next
  5. On the Select Media screen, click Recorded TV or Video Library, and then click Next
  6. Click the TV show or video that you want to add to your disc, so that a check mark appears on the selected TV show or video file, and then click Next
  7. If you want to add more video files to the disc, on the Review & Edit List screen, click Add More
  8. Repeat steps 5-7 until you have added the recorded TV shows and videos to the disc that you want to burn.
  9. After you have added all the video files that you want to burn, on the Review & Edit List screen, click Burn DVD
  10. In the Initiating Copy notification, click Yes
  11. After the disc is burned, in the Completing Disc Creation notification, click Done

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TuneUp Blog: Building the Perfect Media Center

July 8, 2010

If there is one thing that I enjoy doing and that is using my PC to its’ fullest potential.

If you have Windows 7 installed on your PC, did you know that you can turn your PC into a TV platform with the proper hardware (such as a TV Tuner)?  This is possible, using Windows Media Center.

Windows Media Center

I currently use Windows Media Center to manage all of multi-media needs, including watching TV on my PC while I work.  The advantage of Windows Media Center is that you can create an awesome media Center, with remote control and all, right in your own living room.

Where to start?

Tibor Schiemann, President and Managing Partner of TuneUp Utilites, contributed the following article to be posted here at What’s On My PC that deals specifically with “Building the Perfect Media Center”.

These days, it’s common for people to have sophisticated home entertainment systems that include DVD players, TV tuners, and Blu-ray players. But rather than managing so many gadgets, did you know that you can consolidate all of these standalone parts with a PC? You can, and it doesn’t even have to be complex or confusing.

All you need is a PC with Windows Media Center (WMC). After all, PCs can play all video and audio formats, including DVDs, Blu-rays, and streaming video. Your system can serve as a personal recorder for watching and recording videos, while saving the files to your video library. You can also access all of your photos and your entire music library from your home PC. Essentially, PCs have become one-stop media shops.

Beyond this, PCs have excellent upscaling capabilities. WMC and its codecs can easily convert standard-definition content to a full, high-definition (HD) screen. You can also add a variety of applications and games to WMC, in addition to using it for watching trailers, streaming videos, and listening to online radio.

‘Screening’ options

So clearly, WMC has far-reaching and diverse capabilities. The first step to making your WMC is finding the right screen. In the last few years, there has been a proliferation of screens, like HD projectors, LCD (LED) TVs, and plasma screens, in the market. But, ultimately, your selection depends on your preference and the size of your living room.

However, there are some factors to consider. If you need monstrous screen estate, go for a projector. It really is the best option if you watch movies or play games for long stretches of time, but they are too labor-intensive for casual, intermittent TV watching.

If you prefer a larger TV, like 50 inches or more, you should consider a plasma. For larger screens, it will produce much better black levels and a higher picture quality than LCDs. But, sometimes plasmas do not work as well in daylight, so make sure you can darken the room if you go this route. Finally, if you’re only interested in 46-inch displays or smaller, LCDs offer the best picture. Let your eyes and ears be the final judge.

The right PC

If you want your PC to play DVDs, your music collection or slide shows, then you can go with the Atom-based nettops. Unfortunately, the processors in the nettop machines are on the weaker side, but thanks to ION-based Nvidia graphics chips, nearly all of these machines are capable of handling 720p and 1080p HD video.

But don’t feel the need to fork over money for these new machines. Many people use older laptops or PCs for their media centers. If you use an older PC, make sure you have a dual-core processor with at least 2 GHz or a graphics card with H.264 hardware acceleration. This will be enough for your regular Blu-ray movie.

However, if you’re a heavy gamer, go for a Core 2 Duo, Core i5, or Core i7 machine. If you use this with a decent graphics card, you should get the most graphically-intense game running at full speed.

Software that works

If you’re serious about home cinema, Windows 7 Media Center is the way to go. Luckily, this is integrated into every version of Windows 7. Microsoft has been developing this media center interface for more than eight years, so it’s become a really solid solution for home theaters that are based on a single PC.

If you haven’t upgraded to Windows 7 yet, there are very good alternatives like XMBC. But the advantage of Windows 7 Media Center is that it’s an all-in-one solution and very compatible with a variety of TV tuner cards. It also does not require excessive fiddling to work.

Installation

For setup details, visit TuneUp’s blog at: blog.tune-up.com. There, you’ll find easy, step-by-step instructions, but I’ll leave you with a final pointer here: As part of the installation process, Windows will ask if you’d like to send anonymous reports about WMC’s performance to Microsoft. I highly recommend answering this with ‘yes.’ It hardly takes any time at all, and it will let WMC download cover art and, most importantly, the Electronic Program Guide that you will not want to miss while watching TV.

For more on how to do things like screen resizing, color adjusting and getting WMC to access all of your libraries, visit TuneUp’s blog at blog.tune-up.com.

Building the Perfect Media Center (Part One)

Building the Perfect Media Center (Part Two)

Building the Perfect Media Center (Part 3)

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Watch HDTV, Analog and Cable TV on your PC (or laptop)…

October 13, 2008

Did you know that with minimal investment, you can watch HDTV, Analog & Cable TV on your PC (or laptop)? Many people are unaware that it is possible and are also unaware that you can purchase a PC with a tuner already installed as part of the package. Ever since my first tuner card (in a Packard Bell computer : ); I haven’t done without one since. It takes your PC to another level. It impresses your techie friends that you can watch TV (in a sizeable window) AND record TV while you work on your computer; plus, it is a definite must if you have Windows Media Center installed. If you do not want to open your PC to install a tuner card (OR you have a laptop), a relatively new technology is the portable TV tuner that plugs directly into one of your USB ports. Now keep in mind, you will have to run (the actual wiring) from your cable or analog service source to the PC. There are several manufacturers of tuners out there, but “what’s on my pc” is a tuner card made by Hauppauge. I have had good luck and support with their products in several PC’s that I have owned. The links below will take you to their site and directly to the page where they are promoting their new USB TV Tuner stick…


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