Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Upgrade from Hell

The Upgrade from Hell

Another title for this post might have been "The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry"!

Because of all the trouble I had, for awhile there I truly believed my PC was Evil!!

To really appreciate and better understand this post, you must read the one from last week where I detail what I was planning on doing: You can click here to read it. Note it will open in a new window which you can close and then return here.

So! You read the previous post? Good!

The multi-media drive arrived Monday and I started the upgrade Tuesday as I was taking a personal day because I had a ton of phone calls to make on some personal matters.

Well, the drive installed easy enough, I simply took the rails off the old drive, installed them on the new one and slid it into the cage in the HP Z 565. I connected the power and then ran the SATA cable and then re-attached the face plate. I was doing this on the dining room table and since I am already loading another PC there I had an LCD Display setup which I attached and booted up to make sure I could see the new drive.

Tech Note: Windows XP users should take note when installing a drive like this if you do not have the UFS (Universal File System) drivers installed the drive will act like there is no DVD in it if you insert an HD-DVD or Blu-ray Disc, but, the movie player software will recognize it. Vista users UFS is included int he system already so you would actually see the files on the Disc. Of course DVD's and CD's would show file systems under XP as they would in any DVD drive without the UFS driver.

Anyway, Windows saw the drive fine. Now it was time to put the rest of the case back together and button up the system. I then, to Tails' dismay, shooed her from her newest perch in the entertainment cabinet where the HTPC usually sites when it is not being serviced, and reconnected power, USB, and HDMI connections.

I was stoked! I loaded the HD (High Definition) Diagnostic software which checks all facets of your system and got Green lights across the board except for the lack of player software which I then loaded.

FYI the LG GGC-H20L drive comes with an excellent software suite including Power DVD Ultra, Power Producer, Power Backup, Label Print, Power 2 Go, Power Starter. Check out the Products section of the Cyberlink web page here for product info on these.

With the Player software loaded I played a standard DVD and it looked gorgeous. I loaded an HD-DVD and hit play, 1 second of glorious HD video was displayed, before the screen went black, and an error box stating "The repeater you are plugged into is NOT HDCP compliant. Playback of High Definition content is prohibited on this device"

For those of you unfamiliar with HDCP it is High-Bandwidth Digital Copy Protection. You can read about HDCP here if you wish to.

What this meant in layman's terms whas that the Power DVD software was errouneously detecting that my setup was not compliant with HDCP. Set Phasers on stun, since I was!

Some testing and cable swapping soon showed me the perceived problem was my Onkyo receiver. I have both my IP TV and HTPC connected via HDMI into my Onkyo AV receiver and it then outputs out to my Panasonic plasma display.

If I bypassed the Onkyo plugged directly into the PC it worked fine. This of course was unacceptable for a couple of reasons, first I need to go through the Onkyo for my 5.1 surround sound setup plus as I have more than one HDMI device I need the multi port inputs of the receiver to switch for me.

Not being fully up to speed technically on HDCP I decided ti try an HDMI switch. I connected that and it worked as well, so my next step was to try connecting the PC to the switch, and the output of the switch to the Onkyo.....but alas I was one HDMI cable short.

I sat down and thought some more and realized that I had two HD devices that were working fine connected to the Onkyo which told me HDC was being processed correctly!

I also found though that my current Onkyo unit was one of the first they made with HDMI but, it was still compliant to the original specification. it should be that word..... should.........

So, I fired off a problem report with Cyberlink and ordered an HDMI cable so I could still approach this on two fronts.

Over the next two days on and off I did a lot of research on HDCP, problems with Onkyo devices, and Power DVD issues. It seems many were having them and many had solved it by plunking down $99 for a piece of software called AnyDVD HD which installs as a driver and removes the HDCP protection. I downloaded the 21 day trial and it worked and I could play HD-DVD through the Onkyo.

HOWEVER I really dd not want to pay $99 so I decided to wait for the cable and to hear back from tech support. The reason I bought the new drive for the HTPC was for an economical alternative to buying a Blu-ray player and another HD-DVD as a backup device to preserve my investment of HD-DVD's and to allow me to pay at fire sale prices HD-DVD's remaining on the market at drastically reduced prices. Spending another $100 was not in my game plan!

I head back from Cyberlink this morning and they pointed me to a patch for the Power DVD software and downloaded it. I was in the middle of a work meeting via WebEx and since the software required a reboot I anxiously awaiting the chance to do the reboot.

Work meeting over I bounced the HTPC, reconnected to the work network, unloaded the AnyDVD HD trial and launched Power DVD. The HD-DVD in the drive played in glorious HD with no issues!

Case closed, and for $120 I now have a unit that plays all existing formats:

My current Toshiba HD-DVD player can be boxed up as a backup unit! I am most pleased with this very cost effective solution considering the costs of buying another HD-DVD player as a backup and a Blu-ray player as well. With current costs I easily came in at 20% or less of those projected costs and have a single unit and another free shelf in the entertainment system!


David Louis Harter said...

Great Scott! I am pleased you found a solution to your problem, my friend. It is particularly good that you did not have to buy the $99 software to make the setup work.


- David

Chris said...

David - It was one of the most fun filled (not!) upgrades I have done.

The two Blu-ray disc's I ordered will be here early according to UPS which means I can double check this evening that I can read Blu-ray as well. Since I can read HD-DVD I would think there would be no issue but i need to make sure.