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Unleashing Microsoft

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For most Windows Vista users, Media Center is unknown territory. Unleashing Microsoft® Windows Vista® Media Center shows both newbies and experienced Media Center users how to use Media Center to experience music, photos, videos, movies, TV shows, and games in a whole new way. Windows Vista Media Center takes full advantage of the latest multimedia features: widescreen displays, HDTV, and Media Center Extenders. Mark Edward Soper shows you how to use these and other new and improved features to make the most of your Windows Vista multimedia experience. You won’t find a single book that devotes this much attention to Media Center. Unlock your PC’s hidden multimedia talents and turn your office, living room, and whole home into a multimedia paradise that will leave your friends drooling.

Unleashing Microsoft® Windows Vista® Media Center is your indispensable guide to Vista Media Center! Here’s a sample of what you’ll find inside

  • Complete coverage of every feature of Windows Vista Media Center

  • Learn how to import video, photos, and music to enhance your entertainment experience

  • Discover better TV viewing and recording with new support for HDTV signals

  • Share the fun of Windows Vista Media Center with Media Center Extenders

  • Create customized CDs and DVDs of your favorite videos, TV shows, audios, and photos

  • Feature checklists help you design the perfect Media Center PC or upgrade your PC for Media Center

  • Use your Media Center PC with Microsoft Windows Home Server

  • Troubleshoot common problems with Media Center

  • Tips and tricks to help you get the most out of Media Center

  • Introduction 1

    Part I: Getting Started with Windows Vista Media Center

    Chapter 1: Introducing Windows Vista Media Center 9

    Chapter 2: Equipping Your PC for Media Center 19

    Chapter 3: Setting Up Windows Media Center 53

    Part II: Enjoying Media with Windows Media Center

    Chapter 4: Viewing and Recording Live TV 85

    Chapter 5: Watching and Recording Movies 137

    Chapter 6: Importing and Playing Audio 165

    Chapter 7: Importing and Viewing Photos 189

    Part III: Beyond the Basics of Windows Media Center

    Chapter 8: Enjoying Sports with Windows Media Center 223

    Chapter 9: Playing Games and Enjoying Online Resources 251

    Chapter 10: Creating CDs and DVDs 289

    Part IV: Adding Windows Vista Media Center to Your Home Network

    Chapter 11: Adding and Using Media Center Extenders 315

    Chapter 12: Connecting with Windows Home Server and Other PCs 337

    Part V: Enhancing Windows Vista Media Center

    Chapter 13: Using Windows Media Player with Windows Media Center 375

    Chapter 14: Creating Photo and Video Content for Media Center 393

    Chapter 15: Extending Media Center with Third-Party Apps 435

    Chapter 16: Troubleshooting Media Center 469

    Part VI: Appendices

    Appendix A: Using Windows Anytime Upgrade to Get WMC Features and More 499

    Appendix B: Moving from Windows XP Media Center Editions to Windows Vista Media Center 503

    Index 509

    Table of Contents

    1. Copyright
      1. Dedication
    2. About the Author
    3. Acknowledgments
    4. We Want to Hear from You!
    5. Reader Services
    6. Introduction
      1. Maximizing the Potential of Windows Vista’s Multimedia Control Center
      2. How This Book Is Organized
    7. I. Getting Started with Windows Vista Media Center
      1. 1. Introducing Windows Vista Media Center
        1. A Brief History of Windows Media Center
          1. Windows Vista and Windows Media Center
        2. Where WMC Fits into Vista’s Multimedia Experience
        3. Starting Windows Media Center
          1. The WMC Interface
          2. Features of WMC
      2. 2. Equipping Your PC for Media Center
        1. Essential Components for Any Windows Media Center PC
          1. WMC’s Favorite Processors: Fast, Multi-Core, and 64-Bit!
          2. RAM-a-Rama: Bigger Is Better!
            1. Scanning Your System to Determine Memory Upgrade Options
            2. Other Methods for Analyzing Your System’s Memory
          3. Hard Disks—Bigger, Better, More!
            1. Crunching the Numbers: TV Recording
            2. Crunching the Numbers: Digital Photography
            3. Crunching the Numbers: Digital Music
            4. Summing It All Up: How Much Space Do You Need?
        2. Customizing Your WMC PC for Particular Tasks
        3. Wireless Input Devices and Remote Controls
        4. Watching and Recording Live TV and HDTV
          1. Internal Versus External Tuners
          2. Internal Tuners—PCI Versus PCI Express
          3. NTSC TV and ATSC HDTV
            1. Digital Cable TV: QAM and OCUR
            2. Hybrid and Dual Tuners
          4. Video Card and Integrated Video
            1. DVI and HDMI Ports
            2. HDCP and Your Video Card or Integrated Video
          5. Displays and Monitors
            1. HDCP and Your Display
          6. Surround Sound
        5. Working with Digital Video and Photos
          1. FireWire (IEEE-1394) Ports
          2. Card Reader
        6. Scoping Out Your Hardware
          1. Using MSInfo32
          2. Using an Online System Scanner
        7. Building or Buying a Media Center PC
      3. 3. Setting Up Windows Media Center
        1. Making Sure Your PC Is Ready to Rumble
        2. Starting WMC and the Setup Process
        3. Custom Setup: Required Setup
        4. Custom Setup: Optional Setup
          1. Optional Setup: TV
            1. Manual TV Channel Setup
            2. Activating the TV Program Guide
          2. Optional Setup: Optimize Display
            1. Adjusting the Preferred Display
            2. Optimizing for Your Preferred Resolution
            3. Adjusting Display Settings
          3. Optional Setup: Speakers
          4. Optional Setup: Music, Pictures, and Videos Library
            1. Adding Folders on Your System
            2. Adding Folders on Other Systems
          5. Wrapping It Up
        5. Using Settings to Reconfigure Your System
          1. Using the General Settings Menu
            1. Configuring Startup and Window Behavior
            2. Configuring Visual and Sound Effects
            3. Configuring Program Library Options
            4. Rerunning Windows Media Center Setup
            5. Other General Settings Options
          2. Using Other Settings Menu Options
    8. II. Enjoying Media with Windows Media Center
      1. 4. Viewing and Recording Live TV
        1. Understanding Your TV Viewing Options
          1. Broadcast and Basic Cable TV
          2. Digital Broadcast TV (ATSC)
          3. Digital Cable TV
            1. Clearing Up the Confusion About Clear QAM
          4. HD Cable TV
          5. Satellite TV
        2. Setting Up Your TV Signal
          1. Configuring Cable/Satellite TV Using a Set-Top Box
          2. Digital Cable Tuner
            1. Using a Converter Box with an NTSC TV Tuner
        3. Configuring the TV Program Guide
          1. Checking ATSC Channel Signal Strength
        4. Watching Live TV
          1. Using the TV Program Guide
            1. Viewing and Using Program Info for Current and Upcoming Shows
            2. Guide Tips and Tricks
          2. Editing Channel Listings
        5. Recording Live TV
          1. Configuring TV Recorder Settings
            1. Recorder Storage
            2. More TV Locations
            3. Recording Defaults
          2. One-Touch Recording
          3. Scheduling Recordings Using the Guide
          4. Recording a TV Series
            1. Dealing with Recording Conflicts
            2. Viewing the Episode List
          5. Configuring Recording Quality and Other Settings
            1. Recording Settings for an Individual Program
            2. Recording Settings for a TV Series
        6. Watching Recorded TV
          1. The Recorded TV Menu
          2. Viewing Scheduled Recordings
            1. Using the Series View
          3. Deleting a Recording
          4. Canceling Recording of a Series
          5. Add Recording
        7. Watching Internet TV
        8. Parental Controls
          1. Enabling and Using Parental Controls
          2. Configuring and Using TV Ratings
          3. Understanding TV Ratings
          4. Configuring and Using Movie/DVD Ratings
          5. Specifying a New Access Code
          6. Resetting Parental Controls
      2. 5. Watching and Recording Movies
        1. How to Find Your Favorite Movies Your Way
        2. Introducing the Movies Guide
        3. Watching a Movie from the On Now Menu
        4. Using the On Next Menu
        5. Using the Genres Menu
        6. Using the Top-Rated Menu
        7. Using the Search Tool
        8. Recording Movies
          1. Recording from the Movies Guide
          2. Recording Movies Not Listed in the Guide
          3. Recording from the Search Tool
          4. Customizing Recording Options
          5. Canceling a Recording
        9. Watching Recorded Movies
          1. Resuming or Restarting Movie Playback
          2. Saying “Goodbye” to Your Recording
        10. Watching a DVD Movie
          1. Selecting Zoom Settings
          2. Using Other Menu Options
        11. Creating a DVD Library with My Movies 2
          1. Installing My Movies
          2. Getting Started
          3. Blu-Ray and HD-DVD Support
          4. Adding My Movies to the WMC Interface
          5. The Settings Menu
        12. Watching Blu-Ray Movies in WMC
          1. Hardware
          2. Software
      3. 6. Importing and Playing Audio
        1. Overview of the Music Menu
        2. Using Existing Digital Music Libraries
        3. Playing and Ripping Music CDs
          1. Selecting a Visualization
          2. Working with Music as It Is Being Played
        4. Playing and Editing Individual Album Tracks
          1. Editing Song and Rating Information
        5. Working with Albums
          1. Editing Album Information
        6. Creating and Using a Queue
          1. Editing the Queue
          2. Creating a Playlist from a Queue
        7. Using and Managing Playlists
        8. Searching for Your Favorite Music
        9. Listening to FM Radio
          1. Selecting Stations and Creating Presets
          2. Pausing and Recording FM Radio
        10. Listening to Internet Radio
        11. Synchronizing with Portable Players
      4. 7. Importing and Viewing Photos
        1. What’s Cool about Photos with WMC
        2. Using the Picture Library
          1. Using the Folders View
          2. Using the Tags View
          3. Using the Date Taken View
          4. “Date Taken”—What It Means and What It Doesn’t
        3. Viewing and Importing Pictures in WMC
          1. Viewing Pictures Before Importing Them
          2. Importing Your Pictures and Videos
        4. Viewing and Working with Individual Photos
          1. Using the Picture Details Menu
          2. Rotating Pictures
          3. Deleting Pictures
          4. Touching Up Photos
        5. Playing a Slide Show with WMC
        6. Supercharging Your Picture Viewing Capabilities with Photoshop Elements for Windows Media Center
          1. Viewing Photos with Photoshop Elements for Windows Media Center
          2. Viewing Slide Shows Created in Photoshop Elements
          3. Displaying Other Pictures as a Slide Show
          4. Tweaking Photoshop Elements for Windows Media Center
        7. Using More Pictures
    9. III. Beyond the Basics of Windows Media Center
      1. 8. Enjoying Sports with Windows Media Center
        1. The On Now Menu
          1. Viewing Sports Programs and News
          2. Pausing and Resuming Live Sports
          3. Watching TV Sports on the WMC Desktop
          4. Recording Live Sports TV
          5. Hanging Out in the SportsLounge
            1. Viewing News Stories and Photos
            2. Viewing Sports Videos
            3. Viewing Scores and Game Details
        2. Watching and Recording Games with the On Later Menu
          1. Dealing with Recording Conflicts
          2. Setting Advanced Recording Options
        3. Viewing and Managing Sports Recordings
          1. Viewing Your Recording Schedule
          2. Viewing Your Recording History
          3. Managing Scheduled Series Recordings
          4. Burning DVDs of Your Favorite Games
        4. Keeping an Eye on Scores and Games
        5. Adding Players to Your Fantasy Team with the Players Menu
        6. See More Sports Stories on Internet TV
      2. 9. Playing Games and Enjoying Online Resources
        1. Tracking Down WMC’s Games Menu
          1. Compatible Games
          2. Playing the Games
          3. Getting Access to More Games
        2. MSN Games for Media Center
        3. EMUCenter
          1. Adding Your Favorite Games to EMUCenter
          2. Playing Games Through EMUCenter
        4. Exploring Online Media
          1. Fox Sports
          2. HSN Live
          3. AOL for Windows Media Center
            1. AOL Music on Demand
            2. AOL Pictures
          4. Showtime
          5. Discovery Media Center
          6. Live365
          7. TVTonic
            1. Viewing and Subscribing to Channels
            2. Changing Viewing Modes
          8. NPR
          9. Movielink
          10. MSN TV Today
          11. CinemaNow
          12. Promotional Features and Limited-Time Offerings
      3. 10. Creating CDs and DVDs
        1. Creating Music CDs
          1. Choosing Music or Data CDs
          2. Burning an Album to CD
          3. Burning Selected Tracks to CD
            1. Burning a Playlist to CD
            2. Selecting Tracks Manually for Burning
          4. Editing a Queue
        2. Transferring TV Recordings to DVD
          1. Creating a Video DVD
          2. Playing Your Video DVD
          3. Burning a Recorded TV Data Disc
          4. Reclaiming Disk Space by Deleting Recordings
        3. Burning a DVD Photo Slide Show
          1. Creating a DVD Slide Show from a Folder
          2. Creating a DVD Slide Show from Various Folders
          3. Editing the Slide Show
          4. Adding Music to Your Slide Show
        4. Burning Data CDs or DVDs
        5. Creating a Mixed-Content CD or DVD
        6. Burning Tips and Tricks
          1. Make Two!
          2. Make One Now, More Later
        7. Troubleshooting CD/DVD Burning
          1. Drive Compatibility Issues
          2. Media Compatibility Issues
          3. Error Messages
            1. “Unable To Add File” Error
            2. “Invalid Application CD/DVD Writer” Error
            3. “CD/DVD Full” Error
    10. IV. Adding Windows Vista Media Center to Your Home Network
      1. 11. Adding and Using Media Center Extenders
        1. What Is a Media Center Extender?
        2. Types of Media Center Extenders
          1. Connecting a Media Center Extender to a TV
          2. Connecting Your MCE to Your Home Network
        3. Setting Up Windows Media Center to Work with an MCE
        4. Using a Media Center Extender
        5. Adding an Xbox 360 as an MCE
          1. Configuring the Xbox 360 as a Media Center Extender
          2. Adding a Remote Control
            1. Xbox 360 Universal Media Remote
            2. Logitech Harmony Advanced Universal Remote for Xbox 360
          3. Upgrading the Xbox 360’s Video Support
        6. Improving Performance of MCEs
        7. Troubleshooting Media Center Extenders
          1. Can’t Finish the Configuration Process
            1. Can’t View Some Types of Content Through the MCE
            2. My MCE Has Stopped Working
            3. My Picture Quality Is Not Acceptable
            4. There’s No Audio
      2. 12. Connecting with Windows Home Server and Other PCs
        1. Configuring PC Shares for Media Sharing
          1. Configuring Windows XP for Media Sharing
            1. Is Your Network Already Working? Skip the Network Setup Wizard!
            2. Configuring Windows XP Manually for File Sharing
            3. Configuring Media Folder File Sharing
            4. Using the Shared Documents Folder for Shared Media
          2. Configuring Windows Vista for Media Sharing
            1. Enabling Sharing of Media Folders
            2. Sharing Media Folders
          3. Configuring Other Operating Systems for Media Sharing
            1. Accessing MacOS X Media Shares from Windows Vista
            2. Accessing Linux Media Shares from Windows Vista
        2. Setting Up Windows Home Server for Media Sharing
          1. Storing Media on Windows Home Server
          2. Accessing Media Stored on Windows Home Server
        3. Boosting Network and Internet Performance
        4. Choosing the Fastest Internet Connection
        5. Understanding Wi-Fi (Wireless Ethernet) Network Standards
          1. Boosting Signal Strength—Inexpensively
          2. Checking for Interference from Other Wireless Networks
          3. Finding Out What Wireless Standards Are on Your Network
          4. Changing Your Router’s Configuration
            1. Changing the Channel
            2. Using Wide Channel Settings (802.11n)
            3. Changing Network Mode Settings
            4. Using WPA or WPA2 Encryption Instead of WEP Encryption
        6. Using Gigabit Ethernet Instead of Fast Ethernet
        7. Upgrading Your Router
    11. V. Enhancing Windows Vista Media Center
      1. 13. Using Windows Media Player with Windows Media Center
        1. Why WMP and WMC Are “Made for Each Other”
        2. Configuring Audio Ripping
          1. Format and Bit Rate Options
          2. Other Options
        3. Creating Playlists
          1. Creating a Custom Playlist Manually
          2. Filtering Your Collection to Create an Auto Playlist
          3. Viewing and Editing Playlists
          4. Using New Playlists in Windows Media Center
        4. Editing Track and Album Information
          1. Rating Audio
          2. Adding/Changing Album Art and Track Information
          3. Adding and Editing Genres
        5. Downloading Visualizations
      2. 14. Creating Photo and Video Content for Media Center
        1. Using Other Vista Features to Make Media Center Even Better
        2. Why Tag Your Photos?
        3. Windows Photo Gallery, Meet Windows Live Photo Gallery
        4. Importing and Tagging Photos
          1. Selecting Import Options
          2. Import All New Items Now
          3. Review, Organize, and Group Items to Import
          4. Completing the Import Process
        5. Using Gallery Mode
          1. Tagging Pictures in Gallery View
          2. Creating a Panoramic Photo Montage
        6. Using Preview Mode
          1. Using Auto Adjust
          2. Using Adjust Exposure
          3. Using Adjust Color
          4. Cropping Your Photos for HDTV Viewing and More
          5. Other Fixes
        7. Using Windows Movie Maker
        8. Creating Slide Shows Quickly with AutoMovie
          1. Creating an AutoMovie from Your Photos
          2. Selecting an AutoMovie Style
          3. Saving Your Movie Project
          4. Adding Audio to Your Movie
          5. Adding and Editing the Title
          6. Editing Transitions
          7. Working with Timeline View
          8. Adding Narration to Your Movie
          9. Adding Narration to a Movie Containing a Music Track
          10. Creating and Editing a Slide Show Manually
          11. Publishing Your Movie for Use with WMC
        9. Converting WMC TV Recordings to Save Space
          1. Publishing Your TV Recording to a Different Format
          2. Publishing Your TV Recording to a DVD
      3. 15. Extending Media Center with Third-Party Apps
        1. A Word of Introduction
          1. Codecs 101
          2. Working with Converted Files
          3. Software Installation Notes
          4. Find It Useful? Donations Welcome!
          5. Getting More Help
        2. TV, Video, and Movies
          1. clipShow
          2. DVRMSToolbox
          3. In the Movies SE for MCE
          5. Lifextender
          6. MCEBuddy
          7. Movie Collector MCE
          8. MSN Remote Record
          9. My Blockbuster
          10. My Trailers SE for MCE
          11. My TV to Go
          12. MyNetflix
          13. MyTV Genie
          14. Recorded TV Manager
          15. Recording Broker
          16. TV Manager
          17. TV Toolbox
          18. Video Browser for mce
          19. WebGuide
          20. Yougle
        3. Music
          1. MCE Tunes
          2. RadioTime
          3. Music Player
          4. Web Media for Windows Vista Media Center
        4. Photography
          1. Big Screen Photos 2
          2. Photato
        5. Mapping
          1. Google Maps for Media Center
          2. My Mapquest for MCE
        6. System Utilities
          1. FrontView for Windows MCE
          2. MCE Customizer
          3. MC Menu Customizer
          4. Media Center Communicator
          5. Media Center Health Monitor
          6. System Monitor for Vista
        7. Gaming
          1. Accedo Broadband Funspot
          2. GameEx
          3. MCEJoy
        8. Business and Information
          1. Big Screen Contacts 2
          2. Big Screen Headlines 2
          3. Big Screen Weather 2
          4. mceContacts
          5. mcePhone for Skype
          6. mceTapiRex
          7. mceWeather
          8. My Tracker for MCE
          9. Remind Me for MCE
          10. Vista Media Center Outlook
          11. Vista Media Center Email
          12. Vista Media Center RSS Reader
          13. Vista Media Center Video Phone
          14. Vista Caller ID
        9. Home Automation
          1. HAI Home Control for WMC
          2. Life|Ware
          3. mControl
        10. Hobbies and Special Interests
          1. New Rides for MCE
          2. Lottery Results SE for MCE
          3. mceAuction
        11. Tracking Down Additional WMC Add-Ons
      4. 16. Troubleshooting Media Center
        1. Solving Performance Problems
        2. Optimizing Power Management
          1. Enable High Performance Power Plan
          2. Improving Performance in Balanced Power Plan
        3. Improving Disk Management
          1. Freeing Up Space on Your System Drive
          2. Defragging Your System on the Right Schedule
        4. Optimizing Screen Display Settings
          1. Switch to the Vista Basic Color Scheme
          2. Disabling Windows Sidebar
        5. Solving Network and Internet Problems
        6. Solving HDTV Viewing Problems
        7. Solving TV Tuning Problems
          1. Troubleshooting Basic Cable TV Problems
          2. Troubleshooting Set-Top Box Problems
          3. Troubleshooting Set-Top Box and Remote Not Recognized Problems
          4. Troubleshooting Broadcast TV
          5. Troubleshooting Digital Broadcast (ATSC) TV
        8. Solving TV Recording Problems
        9. Solving Audio and Music Playback Problems
        10. Solving Codec Problems
        11. Useful Troubleshooting Resources
    12. VI. Appendices
      1. A. Using Windows Anytime Upgrade to Get WMC Features and More
        1. The Benefits of Windows Anytime Upgrade
        2. The Windows Anytime Upgrade Process
          1. Control Panel Versus Website Anytime Upgrade
          2. Checking Your System with the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor
          3. Other Preparations to Make Before Upgrading
      2. B. Moving from Windows XP Media Center Editions to Windows Vista Media Center
        1. So, What’s New In Windows Media Center for Vista?
        2. Can Your XP MCE System Run Vista?
        3. Everybody Can Upgrade, but not Everybody Should Perform an Upgrade Installation