Resources

Resources include our media center add-ins, links to Internet sites and other media channels for information concerning Media Center and digital entertainment.
Please see bottom for answers to frequently asked questions.   We hope that you find them useful.  Please feel free to email us with requests to add links to other
valuable resources or websites.  We are always interested in pursuing links to this website with reputable webmasters.  Please report any broken links.
resources
Media Made Easy Media Center Add-ins are programs you launch from within Media Center’s More Programs area to perform additional tasks not available in the
standard Media Center.
Media Made Easy Audio Recorder allows you to record any audio playing on your Media Systems’ sound card.

Media Made Easy DVRMS Toolbox MCE Version allows you to convert your favorite DVRMS format recordings into mpg, wma or wmv & you can remove
commercials!  These windows programs have graphical user interfaces designed for operation on your TV display using a mouse and keyboard.

Download them to your Media Center system and start enjoying their new features.  Click on the MCE Add-ins link at the left to learn more about each program or to download.

mce add-ins
resource links
Media Made Easy Home Theater Design Guide
Our design guide takes you step by step through the process of designing your own custom home theater system.  Topics covered are project scope, site planning,
component selection, budgeting and includes sample designs. http://www.mediamadeeasy.net/htdesignguide.html
The Green Button
The Green Button is the foremost community forum on the Net for users of Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005.  You will find helpful information, community forums to
answer questions and the latest news about Media Center related topics.  Coming soon to your TV via a plugin.  We are members so what are you waiting for?
http://www.thegreenbutton.com/

XPMCE.com – Everything about Windows XP Media Center Edition
News, information, tips, tricks and guides all centered around our favorite entertainment platform.  Check it out and you’ll find a helpful user community to answer all of your
questions about Media Center Edition.
http://www.xpmce.com/

Windows XP Newsgroup Media Center Edition
Need to get a question answered?  This is the place.  Full of great information from the people who actually use the product everyday.  A good place to make sure someone
in Redmond is listening.
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/expertzone/newsgroups/reader.mspx?dg=microsoft.public.windows.mediacenter

Thomas Hawk’s Blog
One of the great blogs out there concerning digital entertainment and photography.  Check out the interview the MCE Development Team!
http://thomashawk.com/

AutoDVR Convert
This utility takes advantage of Microsoft’s Graphedit to convert DVR-MS files to mpeg or wmv format.  It’s not as stable as our mce add-in but it sure is faster than any other
programs that we’ve found.  Check out Heimiko’s post on the Green Button community forums for additional information and instructions.
http://heimiko.com/AutoIndex/index.php?dir=AutoDVRconvert/

Microsoft Power Toys for Windows Media Center Edition
Checkout the tweak MCE program to access system settings not available through the regular menu.  Also includes solitaire, a playlist editor and an alarm clock.
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/downloads/powertoys/mcepowertoys.mspx

frequently asked questions
If you don’t see your question answered, please contact us and we will do our best to answer your questions.  You can help us
grow this section so everyone is better informed in a timely manner.
Topics listed in order include: TV signal, video display, recording, Internet, wireless, audio and surround sound, computing.

TV Signal Questions

Q: Can I record in HDTV?

A: Yes but only the free-to-air terrestrial broadcasts not cable or satellite HDTV (which is recorded at standard analog resolution).  The Media Made Easy HDTV
system provides an HDTV antenna and an HDTV tuner for watching and recording HDTV broadcasts via UHF transmissions.  The FCC has mandated that all
broadcasters switch from analog standard definition to DTV digital high-definition broadcasting.  Availability of channels depends upon your location and the strength of
the signals available in your area.  For more information check out www.antennaweb.org or www.checkhd.com.

Cable card technology is being developed to allow you to record cable/satellite HDTV signals.  It should be available at the end of 2006.

Q: Can I use a cable card?

A: Not currently.  It should be possible to switch to cable card support for receiving HDTV broadcasts from your cable/satellite provider in the Longhorn version of
Media Center (current codename Vista).  Cable labs (the licensing and testing body) and Microsoft have agreed on a platform specification and will be conducting
testing for a release at the end of 2006.

Q: Can I use standard RF coaxial signals from my cable or satellite company?

A: Yes.  Media Center will support standard cable and satellite service via the RF coaxial wire installed by the service provider.  Be aware that you will only be receiving
and recording standard definition programming through this pipe if you don’t have a digital set top box or cable card.

Q: Can I use set top box signals from my cable or satellite company?

A: Yes and this is the most widely used configuration for Media Center or any DVR.  Your set top box is connected using a choice between – coaxial RF/composite RCA
audio and video/SVideo and composite RCA audio – to the tuners in your Media Made Easy System.  An infrared channel changer is used to switch the channels on the
set top box for watching live TV or scheduled recordings.  Be aware that you will only be recording standard definition and HDTV digital programming at standard
definition resolutions and not HDTV resolution.  HDTV channels may be recorded in most cases but only at standard definition resolutions.

Q: Which connections offer the best video signal quality for watching and recording TV with your systems?

A: Your best bet is to use the highest resolution connection that you can get from your broadcast signal provider.  A set top box that is offered by the cable/satellite
provider for a monthly fee usually provides the signal.  Over-the-air HDTV broadcasts from the networks require no monthly fee but there are limited channels available.
Check and see which of the output options your equipment supports:

Coaxial RF – This signal provides the lowest resolution and carries both the audio and video on the same cable.
Composite RCA – This signal provides higher resolution than coaxial but requires separate connections for video and audio.
SVideo – This signal carries the black on a separate channel from the red, green, blue color channels for improved video quality over composite video.
VHF/UHF HDTV antenna – This signal carries very high-resolution video and often also carries surround sound audio.  Requires our HDTV System tuner.

Q: What are the standard and high-definition resolutions and who broadcasts at each resolution?

A: Refer to the table below

TV Format     Resolution        Display Types                                                                 Progressive Scan        HDTV        Widescreen        Broadcasters
1080p        1920 X 1080        Flat panel LCDs, DLPs, LCoS                                         Yes                             Yes            Yes                     Very Limited
1080i         1920 X 1080        50” or larger plasma, 32” or larger LCDs, DLPs, LCoS     No                              Yes            Yes              CBS, NBC, HBO & many others
720p          1280 X 720          42” HDTV plasma                                                           Yes                             Yes            Yes                  ABC, ESPN, Fox
480p            852 X 480          42” EDTV plasma                                                            Yes                            Yes            Yes
SDTV          720 X 480NTSC    Analog TV                                                                    No                              No              No                             All

Video Display Questions

Q: I noticed that your systems use a video card.  Can it really output in a resolution that my high-definition display requires?

A: The video output from our systems is configurable to match what is supported by your display (up to 2048 x 1536).  Our HDTV System featuring the Giga-byte 6600DP
video card will support 1920 x 1080 at a maximum refresh rate of 100Hz.  High-definition displays will look great using our video output.

Q: Will my display have scaling problems?

A: Most likely you won’t have any problems.  We try to configure the system to match your displays native resolution before you receive the system.  This gives you the
best picture quality and lessens any chance of scaling problems that can mean oversized or undersized pictures with black bands on them.  If necessary, you can even
force a resolution and aspect ratio using the video card settings in our systems, but that shouldn’t be necessary in most cases.

Q: What video output should I use to connect to my display?

A: We recommend that you use the highest resolution connection and if possible a digital connection.  DVI is a pure digital connection so if your display supports this or
HDMI (another pure digital format), then use it.  If that won’t work, then check if your display will accept VGA 15-pin connections since you will still get excellent resolution
even though the video will be converted to analog and then back again.  Worst case you should use SVideo for decent analog resolution.  If you only have component
(red, green, blue) connectors then you will need to use a VGA to component or SVideo to component adapter.

Our HDTV System comes equipped with a DVI-I Dual Link connector.  This connector is suitable for connection with analog or digital displays (you need to know which
type you have) so potentially could connect to high resolution – analog – displays or high-resolution – digital – displays.  Your user manual or system documentation
should tell you which type of connector is available on your display.  It is likely to be a DVI-I, DVI-D, DVI-A or HDMI connector.

If you have a DVI connector then you will want to use the appropriate cable for that type of DVI connection (our DVI-I connector accepts all three types of DVI cables).  The
cable used should exactly match the connector available on your display.

frequently asked questions
If you don’t see your question answered, please contact us and we will do our best to answer your questions.  You can help us
grow this section so everyone is better informed in a timely manner.
Topics listed in order include: TV signal, video display, recording, Internet, wireless, audio and surround sound, computing.

TV Signal Questions

Q: Can I record in HDTV?

A: Yes but only the free-to-air terrestrial broadcasts not cable or satellite HDTV (which is recorded at standard analog resolution).  The Media Made Easy HDTV
system provides an HDTV antenna and an HDTV tuner for watching and recording HDTV broadcasts via UHF transmissions.  The FCC has mandated that all
broadcasters switch from analog standard definition to DTV digital high-definition broadcasting.  Availability of channels depends upon your location and the strength of
the signals available in your area.  For more information check out www.antennaweb.org or www.checkhd.com.

Cable card technology is being developed to allow you to record cable/satellite HDTV signals.  It should be available at the end of 2006.

Q: Can I use a cable card?

A: Not currently.  It should be possible to switch to cable card support for receiving HDTV broadcasts from your cable/satellite provider in the Longhorn version of
Media Center (current codename Vista).  Cable labs (the licensing and testing body) and Microsoft have agreed on a platform specification and will be conducting
testing for a release at the end of 2006.

Q: Can I use standard RF coaxial signals from my cable or satellite company?

A: Yes.  Media Center will support standard cable and satellite service via the RF coaxial wire installed by the service provider.  Be aware that you will only be receiving
and recording standard definition programming through this pipe if you don’t have a digital set top box or cable card.

Q: Can I use set top box signals from my cable or satellite company?

A: Yes and this is the most widely used configuration for Media Center or any DVR.  Your set top box is connected using a choice between – coaxial RF/composite RCA
audio and video/SVideo and composite RCA audio – to the tuners in your Media Made Easy System.  An infrared channel changer is used to switch the channels on the
set top box for watching live TV or scheduled recordings.  Be aware that you will only be recording standard definition and HDTV digital programming at standard
definition resolutions and not HDTV resolution.  HDTV channels may be recorded in most cases but only at standard definition resolutions.

Q: Which connections offer the best video signal quality for watching and recording TV with your systems?

A: Your best bet is to use the highest resolution connection that you can get from your broadcast signal provider.  A set top box that is offered by the cable/satellite
provider for a monthly fee usually provides the signal.  Over-the-air HDTV broadcasts from the networks require no monthly fee but there are limited channels available.
Check and see which of the output options your equipment supports:

Coaxial RF – This signal provides the lowest resolution and carries both the audio and video on the same cable.
Composite RCA – This signal provides higher resolution than coaxial but requires separate connections for video and audio.
SVideo – This signal carries the black on a separate channel from the red, green, blue color channels for improved video quality over composite video.
VHF/UHF HDTV antenna – This signal carries very high-resolution video and often also carries surround sound audio.  Requires our HDTV System tuner.

Q: What are the standard and high-definition resolutions and who broadcasts at each resolution?

A: Refer to the table below

TV Format     Resolution        Display Types                                                                 Progressive Scan        HDTV        Widescreen        Broadcasters
1080p        1920 X 1080        Flat panel LCDs, DLPs, LCoS                                         Yes                             Yes            Yes                     Very Limited
1080i         1920 X 1080        50” or larger plasma, 32” or larger LCDs, DLPs, LCoS     No                              Yes            Yes              CBS, NBC, HBO & many others
720p          1280 X 720          42” HDTV plasma                                                           Yes                             Yes            Yes                  ABC, ESPN, Fox
480p            852 X 480          42” EDTV plasma                                                            Yes                            Yes            Yes
SDTV          720 X 480NTSC    Analog TV                                                                    No                              No              No                             All

Video Display Questions

Q: I noticed that your systems use a video card.  Can it really output in a resolution that my high-definition display requires?

A: The video output from our systems is configurable to match what is supported by your display (up to 2048 x 1536).  Our HDTV System featuring the Giga-byte 6600DP
video card will support 1920 x 1080 at a maximum refresh rate of 100Hz.  High-definition displays will look great using our video output.

Q: Will my display have scaling problems?

A: Most likely you won’t have any problems.  We try to configure the system to match your displays native resolution before you receive the system.  This gives you the
best picture quality and lessens any chance of scaling problems that can mean oversized or undersized pictures with black bands on them.  If necessary, you can even
force a resolution and aspect ratio using the video card settings in our systems, but that shouldn’t be necessary in most cases.

Q: What video output should I use to connect to my display?

A: We recommend that you use the highest resolution connection and if possible a digital connection.  DVI is a pure digital connection so if your display supports this or
HDMI (another pure digital format), then use it.  If that won’t work, then check if your display will accept VGA 15-pin connections since you will still get excellent resolution
even though the video will be converted to analog and then back again.  Worst case you should use SVideo for decent analog resolution.  If you only have component
(red, green, blue) connectors then you will need to use a VGA to component or SVideo to component adapter.

Our HDTV System comes equipped with a DVI-I Dual Link connector.  This connector is suitable for connection with analog or digital displays (you need to know which
type you have) so potentially could connect to high resolution – analog – displays or high-resolution – digital – displays.  Your user manual or system documentation
should tell you which type of connector is available on your display.  It is likely to be a DVI-I, DVI-D, DVI-A or HDMI connector.

If you have a DVI connector then you will want to use the appropriate cable for that type of DVI connection (our DVI-I connector accepts all three types of DVI cables).

The pictures above are the cable connectors so they show male pins.  Your display connector will look just like these but with female slots instead of pins.

For example most people with a flat panel HDTV display will find that their display connector is a DVI-D Single Link.  In this case they should use a DVI-D single link
cable that supports 1920×1080 resolution.  Those who have a DVI-D Dual Link connector on their display should use a DVI-D dual link cable that supports up to
2048×1536 resolution.

If your connector display supports HDMI, then we recommend that you use a DVI-D to HDMI conversion cable.  The DVI-D end is connected to the HDTV System and
the HDMI end is connected to your display.

Conversion cable – DVI-D on left, HDMI on right

Q: What video settings work best with my display?

A: Check your displays manual or documentation to find the native resolution.  It is a good idea to match this resolution and refresh rate when setting the video output of
the media system.

Q: How does DVD playback compare between media center systems and progressive scan DVD players?

A: This can be a really tough question to answer.  Let us begin with a simple answer to give you some context and then we will provide some detail.  DVD playback using our
systems with the nVidia DVD decoder offer video quality superior to most basic progressive scan DVD players and much better than the $30 models sold at
your local big box stores.  They are nowhere near as good as a high-end DVD player like a $700 retail Denon DVD-2910.  That being said the video quality is getting
better all the time as the new drivers and decoder algorithms are improved.

Unfortunately it also isn’t as simple an answer as whether the decoder does a good job of interlacing, noise reduction, cadence and so on.  You have to keep in mind
that in addition to the decoder, you are dealing with a video card that processes the video output and finally the display itself, which usually adds it’s own upscaling
capabilities to the mix.  This means that the entire process can be complex and results vary depending on the mix of the three.

What high-end video processing does in most cases is make educated guesses on the fly to determine such things as what pixels are noise (and should be thrown away
versus displayed), whether an image is still or in motion (and therefore needs flicker reduction and diagonal filtering to avoid jaggies ), how much sharpening
should be applied (using complicated mathematics to restore lost detail) and so on.  An argument can be made that unless you are using a high-end video processing
system to do all of these things well, you are much better off with a low or mid-level video processing system that just displays what is actually on the DVD.  We tend to
agree that in some cases the source itself is the problem and if you can’t compensate for something wrong without making it worse, just leave it alone.

Here’s what you can expect from our systems (taking your display’s video processing out of the mix) – nVidia’s decoder does a good job of removing the most common
de-interlacing artifacts.  It offers a system wide slider for sharpening so we give it a middle score for this but we would like to see improvements.  It does a decent job of
detecting the cadences used in blockbuster movies and television shows so the resolution is usually full.

The decoder does nothing to reduce static or motion noise.  Noise reduction can often be improved by the upscaling technology applied by your high-definition display
(and if you only have a standard definition display why are you reading this?).

Our experience is that combining our systems with excellent high-definition displays results in very good video quality.  If you are a super gear head type that wants a
perfect benchmark, then we recommend you spend around $10,000 and go by an excellent high-end video processing system.  We won’t be upset if you keep your
high-end DVD player.   After all we support maintaining your investment until something better (and hopefully cheaper) comes along.  We are in the business of selling a
complete solution that can usually be trumped by mixes of high-end point solutions costing much more.

Recording Questions

Q: What do the tuners do and why do I need them?

A: The tuners are necessary to watch and record television broadcasts through our systems.  Even though your TV or display may be equipped with it’s own tuners,
they can’t be used to record programs, only to watch them.  Our tuners take the output of your broadcast signal and encode them to digital files containing the audio and
video that make up the program.  Without this capability you cannot record.  The encoding feature also allows you to pause, rewind and skip commercials of live TV.

Q: Can I record in HDTV?

A: Yes but only the free-to-air terrestrial broadcasts not cable or satellite until sometime in 2006.  With the Media Made Easy HDTV system you are provided with an HDTV
antenna and an HDTV tuner for watching and recording HDTV broadcasts via UHF transmissions.  The FCC has mandated that all broadcasters switch from
analog standard definition to DTV digital high-definition broadcasting.  Availability of channels depends upon your location and the strength of the signals available in
your area.  For more information check out www.antennaweb.org or www.checkhd.com        .

Q: Can I use a cable card?

A: Not currently.  It should be possible to switch to cable card support for receiving HDTV broadcasts from your cable/satellite provider in the Longhorn version of
Media Center.  Testing is underway and a product should be available at the end of 2006.

Q: How does the system change the channels when it is time to record?
A: The media system remains on or in standby mode at all times with the scheduler application running.  It knows to launch a recording session at a certain date and
time and has the channel information from the program guide to tell it which channel to use.  For coaxial connections it simply changes the channel to the correct one
listed in the guide.  For set top box connections it uses an infrared receiver/transmitter to send an infrared pulse to the set top box.  This light pulse is matched to your set
top box remote control frequencies during system setup.  The pulse tells the set top box to change the channel to the one listed in the guide prior to the start of the
program.

Q: Which connections offer the best video signal quality for watching and recording TV with your systems?

A: Your best bet is to use the highest resolution connection that you can get from your broadcast signal provider.  A set top box that is offered by the cable/satellite
provider for a monthly fee usually provides the signal.  Check and see which of the output options your equipment supports:

Coaxial RF – This signal provides the lowest resolution and carries both the audio and video on the same cable.
Composite RCA – This signal provides higher resolution than coaxial but requires separate connections for video and audio.
SVideo – This signal carries the black on a separate channel from the red, green, blue color channels for improved video quality over composite video.
VHF/UHF HDTV antenna – This free signal carries very high-resolution video and often also carries surround sound audio.  Requires our HDTV System tuner.

Q: What are the standard and high-definition resolutions and who broadcasts at each resolution?

A: Refer to the table below

TV Format     Resolution        Display Types                                                                 Progressive Scan        HDTV        Widescreen        Broadcasters
1080p        1920 X 1080        Flat panel LCDs, DLPs, LCoS                                         Yes                             Yes            Yes                     Very Limited
1080i         1920 X 1080        50” or larger plasma, 32” or larger LCDs, DLPs, LCoS     No                              Yes            Yes              CBS, NBC, HBO & many others
720p          1280 X 720          42” HDTV plasma                                                           Yes                             Yes            Yes                  ABC, ESPN, Fox
480p            852 X 480          42” EDTV plasma                                                            Yes                            Yes            Yes
SDTV          720 X 480NTSC    Analog TV                                                                    No                              No              No                             All

Q: How much storage space will I need to record TV programming?

A: It works similar to the old VCR idea of selecting High Quality, Standard Play, Long Play and Extended Play.  In this case for standard definition recordings using the
analog tuners in our systems you have the option to setup your recordings using the following approximate recording rates:

Fair – 1.5 GB/Hour = ¼ DVD quality
Good – 1.7 GB/Hour = ½ DVD quality
Better – 2.8 GB/Hour = ¾ DVD quality
Best – 3.2 GB/Hour = Full DVD quality

For over-the-air HDTV broadcasts the rates depend upon the broadcasters since not everyone fills the possible 18MB/second pipe.  For example CBS typically takes
6.9GB/Hour and NBC slightly less.  Both broadcast at 1080i HDTV resolutions.  Fox and ABC, which broadcast at 720p, take 5GB/Hour.  Unlike the standard definition
settings, media center doesn’t offer re-encoding options for setting a recording rate for the OTA HDTV tuners.

Internet Questions

Q: Is an Internet connection required?

A: Yes.  There is no other way to keep a TV schedule without downloading the program guide periodically.

Q: What type of Internet connection is recommended?

A: We recommend that you use a high-speed broadband connection such as a cable modem or DSL.  Dial-up connections are acceptable but don’t provide enough
speed to give you metadata such as album art and detailed movie information.  They also limit your ability to enjoy value-added services such as Internet radio, Online
Spotlight services, music downloads, movie downloads and on-demand services.

Q: What connectivity options do you provide?

A: Our systems come standard with an available Ethernet port for connecting to your Internet gateway hardware.  There is also an available serial port or USB port.

Wireless Questions

Q: What is required to transmit and receive the audio and video wirelessly?

A: To put it simply you need a transmitter attached to the audio and video output from your MME System and receivers attached to each TV/Display/Stereo/Amplifier on
which you want to watch or listen to the output.

The transmitter can be in the form of a wireless network router or a dedicated wireless transmitter device.  In the case of a dedicated device, it must be able to accept
audio and video inputs from our system in the supported formats.

The receiver can be any device capable of receiving the transmission and connecting to a display or audio device.  In order to use the infrared Microsoft remote, the
receiver should support infrared remote controls.  This may mean there are actually two antennas on the receiver – an infrared antenna and a radio frequency (RF)
antenna.

Q: What wireless options are available with your systems?

A: We offer two main wireless options with our systems.  The first option is a media center extender.  It requires a wireless signal from a wireless network router to
operate.  Each TV/Display is connected to a media center extender via audio and video cables including component, composite and SVideo.

The second option is a dedicated wireless audio/video transmitter and receiver.  With this option you are limited to the resolution available using composite RCA
cabling.   This option works well in environments that only use standard definition TVs.  Other options not offered by our company could be used as long as they support
the proper connectivity to work with our system and your TV/Display/Receiver/Amplifier.

Q: Won’t there be interference and poor quality video?

A: Although you may encounter environments with a lot of noise in the radio frequency spectrum, interference is usually infrequent.  Today’s wireless devices are built to
specifications that have enough throughput to handle most video streams without losing quality or encountering delays.

Audio & Surround Sound Questions

Q: What types of sound inputs are available on your systems?

A: Our systems come equipped with a mic in mini-jack connector on the front panel and a matching mic in on the back panel.  Depending upon which system you buy
and how the audio is configured you may also have a line in on the back panel.  In addition to these inputs the tuner cards have their own stereo RCA audio inputs for
listening and capturing audio.  In addition the firewire and USB ports can be used to input audio files or sources.

Music files can be input using the DVD drive for DVD or CD audio.  Our system also offers a 7-in-1 card reader for reading storage cards containing music files.  Mobile
audio devices are typically connected using USB ports.

Q: What types of sound outputs are available on your systems?

A: Our systems come equipped with a front panel stereo line out mini-jack port (normally used for headphone listening).  Back panel outputs vary depending upon which
system you purchase.

Our media systems come equipped with a back panel line out stereo 3.5mm port.  A mini-jack to stereo RCA audio cable allows you to connect to your stereo receiver
or TV display.

Our HDTV systems come equipped with 8 channel 32-bit analog or digital outputs.  The analog outputs offer 7.1 surround sound ports including: center, front, side, rear
and subwoofer 3.5mm ports.  The digital output is via a Toslink optical port and offers 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound.  The digital output can be connected to your
surround sound receiver or TV display.

Our home theater systems come with a bundled THX® certified surround sound speaker set to match the HDTV system output.

Q: Can I upgrade a media system to surround sound?

A: We would be happy to provide a custom quote to meet your audio needs.

Q: What is surround sound and why would I want it?

A: Surround sound refers to a type of sound designed for a movie theater.  The idea is that we hear sounds all around us in the real world (360 degrees and above and
below – surrounding us in all directions) so movie audio would be better if it could simulate that environment to provide an immersive experience.  Movie makers began
recording audio for their movies using directional microphones to match the channels possible in a listening environment.  Over time the number and configuration of the
channels has grown.

Without surround sound the audio you hear will likely be stereo (2 channels only) and oriented directly in front of where you are positioned.  This can sound very good
depending upon your equipment and the source material.  It is not likely to sound very “life-like” as if you were a character inside the movie.

With surround sound the audio you hear will be coming from all directions and oriented to produce the most level sounds possible.  Dialogue will come primarily from
the center and front speakers.  Sounds of vehicles and other moving objects will move around the speakers to sound just like they do in real life when they go by where
you are standing.  Environmental sounds will be output through side and rear speakers to create a sound more like the real world you hear every day.  Deep bass
sounds will come from a subwoofer to give added punch to low frequency sounds in music, explosions and thumps.

Many people think that surround sound is really just about people who want extreme volume.  If you just want volume and sound quality, then invest in a good audio
receiver and speakers.  If you want a home theater experience, then invest in surround sound equipment and speakers.

Q: What is the difference between digital and analog?

A: Digital refers to a data format used by computers.  Literally digital signals are millions of 0’s and 1’s transmitted between machines.  You can’t actually hear 0’s and
1’s of course its just information used to represent analog wave states.  Analog refers to sound (or video) in the form of electric currents between machines.  Everything
we perceive using our eyes and ears is done by sensing analog waves (light waves to our eyes and sound waves to our ears).  This means that regardless of the
audio source (digital or analog) it must be output eventually as an analog wave.

Digital is great because it is easily transmitted without information loss.  Analog transmission can suffer from interference and can lose some of the information during
transmission between machines.  Either type of signal is converted to analog sound waves using the speakers so that we can listen to the source.

Q: How do I setup surround sound?

A: The answer will depend upon your room environment and your equipment.  For more information please refer to the Media Made Easy Home Theater Design by
clicking here Home Theater Design Guide.

Q: How does music work in Media Center?

A: Behind the scenes media center uses the architecture of Windows Media Player (WMP) to manage your music library.  Options for ripping music onto the system
using various file formats (AC3, wav, wma, mp3, pcm, etc.) will vary based upon the decoders used on your system.  Digital rights management features of WMP are
used to enforce copyright protection.  Depending upon the original source of the music you may have limited rights all the way up to unlimited rights to copy and use the
music.

The key functional areas of Media Center for enjoying and managing music are: My Music; Online Spotlight; Radio; More Programs.

My Music is where all of your music files are accessed.  Your library can be sorted by album, artist, song title, playlists, etc.  Album art and track information make the
experience of locating and selecting music for playback more enjoyable.  You can build playlists on the fly using your remote control.  Visualizations or digital
photograph slideshows can accompany your music to make the experience fun.  Changes made directly in WMP are reflected in My Music.

Online Spotlight provides additional options for purchasing and managing your music collection.  You can buy and download music from a variety of sources including
MusicMatch (Yahoo), Napster, MSN Music and others.  You can access paid subscription services.  You can get XM Satellite radio.  You can access free or paid
Internet radio stations.  You can access free or paid music videos.

Radio offers you the ability to access FM radio and Internet radio station broadcasts.  By attaching an FM antenna to the tuners in your system, you can receive local FM
radio.  Recording can be managed using our free Easy Recorder application or applications purchased separately.

More Programs is where you can burn music to a CD or DVD.  It also is where you manage downloading of your music library to a portable player or portable media
center.

Computing Questions

Q: Are your systems computers?

A: Yes they are computers equipped with special hardware and software designed to operate in a digital entertainment environment.  All DVRs are based upon
computer hardware and software concepts but not all DVRs also operate as computers.

Q: Can we use your system as a computer?

A: Yes they can be used as a computer.  We will caution you however that you may not want to use this as your primary computer for work, etc. because much of the job
it is designed to accomplish requires dedicated resources.  You can certainly run applications or surf the Internet without a problem, but your spouse might demand to
watch something and interrupt you.

Q: What expansion capabilities does your system have?

A: This depends upon which system you purchase.  Most of our current systems offer very few available PCI slots.  However there are a wealth of other connectivity
options including USB, firewire, serial and other options.  If you have a specific need, then please contact us and we’ll see what we can do to help.  The good news is
that the platform is open so you can always upgrade as new compatible hardware becomes available.

Q: What about laptop media centers?

A: Although we don’t sell laptop systems currently, we can offer kits or expansion modules that are designed to turn a laptop into a media center.  For standard definition
recording we typically sell our Single Tuner USB kit to laptop owners.  For those requesting HDTV over-the-air recording, we custom quote expansion modules which
can be plugged into a type II CardBus expansion slot.  These modules can offer dual NTSC and ATSC tuners depending upon your requirements.