Feature Examination (Cont’d)

This content was originally featured on Amdmb.com and has been converted to PC Perspective’s website. Some color changes and flaws may appear.

Remote Control

I have used the ATI Remote Wonder package previously and found it be an interesting tool with some real potential in the business and home entertainment markets. Because of this past experience, I was pretty excited to try out the remote control that came with the MSI FX5600-VTDR128. However excitement is short-lived.

MSI's Media Center remote control.
MSI’s Media Center remote control. Even comes with 2xAAA batteries.

After I installed the MSI Multimedia Center Deluxe II software on my computer, I was ready to start using the remote. I hit the power button on the control and the software starts up as expected, but promptly gives me the following error dialog:

Error while running remote on Windows 2000.
Installing MSI Multimedia Center on Windows 2000 causes the error on the left.
Attempting to use the remote control in Windows 2000 causes the error on the right.

That’s not what I was expecting, but nonetheless determined to get this working. So I reinstalled my Windows 2000, the drivers, and tried again. Still nothing. After tinkering around for a while, I decided to check the MSI website for any patches. After looking through their Knowledge Base, I found this:

Q: What OS can MSI Media Center or MSI Media Center Deluxe II support?
A: Currently, it can only support WinXP”

How come this is not documented anywhere except on their website? Information such as this should be clearly marked on the box and in the manuals. Having spent my time re-installing my OS hoping to get the remote to work, I found that I have no chance of running it properly in the first place!

So be warned, if want the remote to work, you must have a copy of Windows XP.

Luckily, I do have a license for Windows XP Pro and proceeded to install it. After installation of the OS and the Multimedia Center Deluxe II, everything worked perfectly. Hitting the power button on the remote, launches the application without a problem.

Unlike other remotes you can buy on the market, this remote control does not control the desktop/mouse. Instead it’s just a control for the MSI Multimedia Center. It’s clear that this remote has limited business use, but has potential in the home entertainment domain where ease-of-use and simplicity is important.

Close-up of remote control.
Detail of the remote control.

The remote itself is quirky. When selecting items on a menu, often an arrow movement resulted in skipping down two items instead of just one. As a result, sometimes you have to try multiple times to get the menu selection you want. The remote also does not have many features on it, especially for DVD playback. There are no buttons for subtitles, audio tracks, or other features we take for granted on a DVD remote. Instead you have to navigate the program’s menu system or use the DVD’s menu. This wouldn’t be so bad if the remote didn’t so often “skip” menu items.

MSI's Media Center Deluxe II.
MSI’s Media Center Deluxe II. Used in conjuction with the remote control.

The remote has to be “line of sight” to the receiver to work. While this isn’t a big deal to some of you, it’s an issue for those who have computers tucked away in difficult spots. The receiver is on a wire that is about 38″ long, which is not much slack to find a good receiving spot. Despite having a remote control, the user still needs to use the keyboard at times to specify options or directories. So if you’re looking to put a computer in your living room with this remote, be sure to keep a keyboard attached too.

For those of you who read our previous review of the MSI Ti4800SE, will know that things did not go smoothly with the video editing software included. This time, it’s the same story. The bundled WinProducer software still does not work properly. There is no way to actually import video within the software and the update patch fails to install properly. So instead I will use Adobe Premiere v6.5 again to test the video-in capabilities of this video card.

We will not be using Firewire this time to compare footage with the footage taken from video-in. Instead we will compare footage from a DVD taken directly from the test machine’s DVD ROM drive against the footage taken from the same DVD on video-in. To ensure the highest fidelity in digitizing, I made sure not to use any video compression.

Original footage.
The original frame.

Digitized footage.
The digitized frame.

Looking at the two comparative images from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, we can see that the quality of captured video is not as good actual footage from the DVD, as expected. However, what I found surprising was that the capture video was darker than the actual DVD. This is consistent with the dark images experienced in DVD playback and video output (see previous page). Though some of you may not find this a big deal, it matters to those who are looking to digitize video with dark scenes or need attention to detail.

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