Struggling with HTPC for video streaming - AVS Forum
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Old 03-21-2012, 07:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Long time home theater guy, but this is the first time to throw a PC into the mix. I want the internet so I can stream the subscription services from the Met and the Berlin Philharmonic with reasonable quality for both video and audio.

For that purpose I have purchased an old Dell Optiplex 745 which has a 3ghz dual-core processor and 3 gigs of RAM. I've added a HD graphics card and a modest sound card (not enough slots for a top audio card).

I should say that my computer skills are limited to plugging in the cables and little more. My LAN connection is wireless, and reports a connection about 50mb/s. However the Speakeasy download test barely lifts the needle off the stop, and actually trying to watch YouTube as an example is impossible.

Where is the bottleneck? The wireless card says it's good for 300mbs.

Another glitch is that I can't get the display above the lowest resolution. The HD graphic card is a Radeon 4500.

Hope one of you can point out some obvious error on my part...I'm thoroughly discouraged just now. I have all the movie streaming I want via an Oppo 95, also on the LAN wirelessly

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Old 03-21-2012, 10:32 PM
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My guess is it is a problem with Wireless Networking, which I just dont trust.

First I did a search on video cards by lowest price and the Radeon 4500 does not even come up. It seems to be older than a Geforce 210. However, I think it is capable of displaying the HD in 1080p. I would suggest you try to find the latest video drivers. A video card with DX11 would be a little better.

When it comes to streaming how are you doing it? Are you using IE9 and the latest Abode flash player or what? That is what I would recommend if it is a site like HULU.

If you tested the streaming with a wired connection like DVI you could probably expect to get 1080p even if the stream over the internet is only 360 or 480. When I watch Hulu or dramafever the stream is only in about 360 over the Internet. You could still test the speed wired with a DVD or Blu-Ray. Or you might be able to download some test video that is 1080p from somewhere. It could just be like a 1 minute commercial or something.

I am using a computer with an Intel Z68 Motherboard and an Intel 2500K and Intel 3000 HD Graphics from the Processor. I just connected it with HDMI. The picture looked good so I did not try to do any kind of a test or anything. Prior to this if the TV was overdriving my 720p integrated graphics on my other computer the picture would cut out from time to time.

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Old 03-22-2012, 07:59 AM
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+1 for the wireless being the culprit. If there's anyway for you to test the setup by temporarily running a cable to your machine I'd do it. At best you've found your problem, at worst you've ruled it out.
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Old 03-22-2012, 09:03 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by rockytt View Post

+1 for the wireless being the culprit. If there's anyway for you to test the setup by temporarily running a cable to your machine I'd do it. At best you've found your problem, at worst you've ruled it out.

The router is on the first floor while the HT is not. I may yet have to run cat 5 to the HT. Because the wireless works beautifully with the media player (an Oppo 95 that streams Netflix and VuDu movies with ease), I wonder if a different flavor of wireless PC card would effect a cure?

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Old 03-22-2012, 09:16 AM
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My wireless router is on a floor below. For surfing the net it's fine. Playing SD content was fine. The playback on any HD content was completely inconsistent. I just spent three hours of running cat5e up to an 8 port gig switch after struggling with a wireless connection for months. Go through the pain it's worth it!
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Old 03-22-2012, 09:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sodbuster View Post

I've added a HD graphics card and a modest sound card (not enough slots for a top audio card).

Where is the bottleneck? The wireless card says it's good for 300mbs.

Another glitch is that I can't get the display above the lowest resolution. The HD graphic card is a Radeon 4500.

Your wireless card should be enough for normal streaming and YouTube doesn't require much.

The video card is probably the HD4550. It has a built-in audio chip to allow HD audio & video to come through the HDMI port. You don't need a sound card.

Have you installed the drivers & AMD CCC for the video card?
It sounds like you haven't, if it won't allow you to raise the resolution.

On a separate note: do you have a receiver or do you connect the PC to the TV directly?
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Old 03-22-2012, 01:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hirent View Post

Your wireless card should be enough for normal streaming and YouTube doesn't require much.

The video card is probably the HD4550. It has a built-in audio chip to allow HD audio & video to come through the HDMI port. You don't need a sound card.

Have you installed the drivers & AMD CCC for the video card?
It sounds like you haven't, if it won't allow you to raise the resolution.

On a separate note: do you have a receiver or do you connect the PC to the TV directly?

I have a receiver, and usually have kept video and audio switching separate. The PC searched for and installed drivers for the Radeon card. What is the AMD CCC to which you refer? The Radeon card I have does not have an HDMI port, but does have DVI. I choose the card because it got a favorable mention in a review of HD cards I found online (an old review, now very out-of-date)...it has support for 1080p and a DVI connector and low power consumption plus it runs quietly with no fan.

It was my hope that I would get the best possible audio, so I found a Xonar Essence STX card recommended by John Atkinson. The card wouldn't install properly, so it's going back. Chances are it will be the streaming bandwidth from the arts organizations that limits sound quality. I did install an old sound card from M-audio which will suffice for now. Thus far the streaming that interests me is from the Berlin Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera...both are subscription services. There is a test video from each to see if the PC and internet connection are up to it.

This morning I lifted the PC off the floor to put the wireless card antennae in a different spot, and low and behold, it worked. Now I have placed the PC on a shelf that's six feet above the floor where it will likely remain. I am encouraged!

Will I install a switch to run CAT 5 to the HT? Maybe...it's a pain that would involve getting into the crawl space to do it right, and I'm too old and creaky to do that myself.

Thanks to all for the comments and suggestions...this forum is such a wonderful resource.

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Old 03-22-2012, 06:32 PM
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I have a similar setup, dell 745 2.8 pentium D, 6g mem. Streaming wireless thru one of these http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16833186012 .

At $15 shipped works great for me. Has a cord and stand so U can set for reception.
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Old 03-22-2012, 08:25 PM
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You have to also make sure the proper video codecs are installed and taking advantage of your card's HD decoding capabilities by turning on DXVA within the codec settings.

Easiest way:
MPC-HC video player -- options menu -> output -> directshow EVR

or

Register the mpcvideodec.ax file and then set it as your default DirectShow video renderer for DXVA using the Windows 7 DirectShow Filter Changer utility. (found on Doom9)

An important thing I also found with ATI while using older processors.. you have to turn off all the 'special' video enhancement features in the CCC settings. (de-noise, deblocking, etc). That can cause lag as well, and is totally unnecessary if you have a properly encoded HD video. It just ruins picture quality anyhow. Some of the ATI cards have energy efficiency features that you should turn off too, and with the network card -- same thing.
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Old 03-23-2012, 02:07 AM
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You likely should wire your home. I am just down the hall from my upgraded network around AT&T U-Verse and the crappy 2Wire AP/Router.

I upgraded to 300Mps (Laptop only supports 150Mbps however). But I have no problems with Hulu Desktop and You Tube in HD, TwIT HD or Reversion3 HD.

I haven't tried any Blu Ray rips yet from the server (lack of space). I did play a 720p WMC recording of a ALMS race from 2009 and no problems with that.

So with wireless it really depends....

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Old 03-23-2012, 05:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akcorr View Post

My wireless router is on a floor below. For surfing the net it's fine. Playing SD content was fine. The playback on any HD content was completely inconsistent. I just spent three hours of running cat5e up to an 8 port gig switch after struggling with a wireless connection for months. Go through the pain it's worth it!

I had the same setup with the same problem. I thought about cat5 but tried a MoCA setup first and it works wonderfully.

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Old 03-23-2012, 12:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by w1retap View Post

You have to also make sure the proper video codecs are installed and taking advantage of your card's HD decoding capabilities by turning on DXVA within the codec settings.

Easiest way:
MPC-HC video player -- options menu -> output -> directshow EVR

or

Register the mpcvideodec.ax file and then set it as your default DirectShow video renderer for DXVA using the Windows 7 DirectShow Filter Changer utility. (found on Doom9)

An important thing I also found with ATI while using older processors.. you have to turn off all the 'special' video enhancement features in the CCC settings. (de-noise, deblocking, etc). That can cause lag as well, and is totally unnecessary if you have a properly encoded HD video. It just ruins picture quality anyhow. Some of the ATI cards have energy efficiency features that you should turn off too, and with the network card -- same thing.

Thanks, I'll look into your suggestions (if I can decode the meaning). Not at home this weekend, but I will get on it Sunday evening.

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Old 03-26-2012, 11:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hirent View Post

Your wireless card should be enough for normal streaming and YouTube doesn't require much.

The video card is probably the HD4550. It has a built-in audio chip to allow HD audio & video to come through the HDMI port. You don't need a sound card.

Have you installed the drivers & AMD CCC for the video card?
It sounds like you haven't, if it won't allow you to raise the resolution.

On a separate note: do you have a receiver or do you connect the PC to the TV directly?

Quote:
Originally Posted by w1retap View Post

You have to also make sure the proper video codecs are installed and taking advantage of your card's HD decoding capabilities by turning on DXVA within the codec settings.

Easiest way:
MPC-HC video player -- options menu -> output -> directshow EVR

or

Register the mpcvideodec.ax file and then set it as your default DirectShow video renderer for DXVA using the Windows 7 DirectShow Filter Changer utility. (found on Doom9)

An important thing I also found with ATI while using older processors.. you have to turn off all the 'special' video enhancement features in the CCC settings. (de-noise, deblocking, etc). That can cause lag as well, and is totally unnecessary if you have a properly encoded HD video. It just ruins picture quality anyhow. Some of the ATI cards have energy efficiency features that you should turn off too, and with the network card -- same thing.

I hope you two helpful folks are still tuned in, because I have not been able to get the graphics card to operate at an HD resolution.

The card is an HD 4550 with an HDMI connector, so I was completely wrong about that. I ran the driver-checker from AMD which says I have the best drivers installed. However when I try to run the CCC program I can't get past the welcome window which asks what language I wish to contend with...the bottom of that window is off the bottom of the screen and none of the usual maneuvers to push it up will budge it, it simply bumps into the top of the main window and goes no farther. The Next button at the bottom of the window cannot be accessed. Somehow I believe that if I could run this, all will be well.

Also I did install the MPC-HD player and looked at the settings window...the directshow EVR choice is grayed-out. I haven't tried the other method...do I need to have Doom9 to do so?

I'm obviously in over my head.

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Old 03-26-2012, 12:19 PM
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It sounds like your resolution is too low, which is why you can't get past the ATI welcome screen in the CCC program. Right click on your desktop and go to the "Change Resolution" selection. I don't know what type display you're using, but for HDTV's, you're going to want to use 1366x768 for a 720p HDTV, or 1920x1080 for a 1080p HDTV.
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Old 03-26-2012, 01:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by w1retap View Post

It sounds like your resolution is too low, which is why you can't get past the ATI welcome screen in the CCC program. Right click on your desktop and go to the "Change Resolution" selection. I don't know what type display you're using, but for HDTV's, you're going to want to use 1366x768 for a 720p HDTV, or 1920x1080 for a 1080p HDTV.

Using a 768 resolution on my old 720p plasma didn't work well. I had to select the proper 720p resolution and let the TV scale it.

I now have a 1080p TV and no longer have that issue.

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Old 03-26-2012, 01:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by w1retap View Post

It sounds like your resolution is too low, which is why you can't get past the ATI welcome screen in the CCC program. Right click on your desktop and go to the "Change Resolution" selection. I don't know what type display you're using, but for HDTV's, you're going to want to use 1366x768 for a 720p HDTV, or 1920x1080 for a 1080p HDTV.

If I go to Display)settings)advanced)adapter)list all modes, I see a list of nine choices, all of them 480 X something. The highest is 848 X480, and I was using that while trying to run the Catalyst installation.

My display is a Panasonic PJ AE-4000 which does the 1080 X1920 resolution with no problem.

The picture isn't bad at 480 X848, but surely better is possible.

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Old 03-26-2012, 01:53 PM
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Well, it sounds like the drivers definitely didn't install properly. Try this guide to uninstall your AMD/ATI driver set, then reinstall the new drivers from AMD/ATI's website for your graphics card.
http://www.overclock.net/t/988215/ho...graphics-cards

If you can't get past that welcome screen on the initial install screen, try hitting the enter key or something to get through it even though you can't click the button since it is off the bottom of the screen. I swear, ATI has the worst drivers.
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Old 03-26-2012, 02:37 PM
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If your monitor isn't being detected properly it might be limiting your resolution options. Go to your monitor settings and try unticking "hide modes that this monitor cannot display."

I don't think you've explicitly stated what OS you are running, WinXP doesn't support EVR.

This will give you a measurement of your wifi speeds:
http://www.totusoft.com/lanspeed1.html
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Old 03-26-2012, 04:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteelWill View Post

If your monitor isn't being detected properly it might be limiting your resolution options. Go to your monitor settings and try unticking "hide modes that this monitor cannot display."

I don't think you've explicitly stated what OS you are running, WinXP doesn't support EVR.

This will give you a measurement of your wifi speeds:
http://www.totusoft.com/lanspeed1.html

XP, of course. Sorry I didn't say so earliier. I'll reinstall the drivers.

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Old 03-26-2012, 10:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteelWill View Post

If your monitor isn't being detected properly it might be limiting your resolution options. Go to your monitor settings and try unticking "hide modes that this monitor cannot display."

I don't think you've explicitly stated what OS you are running, WinXP doesn't support EVR.

This will give you a measurement of your wifi speeds:
http://www.totusoft.com/lanspeed1.html

Blessings on you! Unticking that box allowed me to select 1080 x 1920 and at long last install the Catalast software. As I write this I am watching Dr. atomic from a 2008 performance at the Met. It's not as sharp as a standard DVD on the 9:16 ten ft screen, but I don't know what resolution is being streamed. The picture is better than ok, and not so long ago I would have thought it terrific.

My grateful thanks for all the help...I needed every bit of it.

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Old 03-27-2012, 12:11 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteelWill View Post

If your monitor isn't being detected properly it might be limiting your resolution options. Go to your monitor settings and try unticking "hide modes that this monitor cannot display."

I don't think you've explicitly stated what OS you are running, WinXP doesn't support EVR.

This will give you a measurement of your wifi speeds:
http://www.totusoft.com/lanspeed1.html

I unticked the box and then was able to select 1080 x 1920, and also install the AMD Catalyst software. Remembering why I had undertaken this project in the first place, I spent the evening watching the 2008 Met performance ov Dr. Atomic. Life is good.

A thousand thanks to those who guided me patiently to a successful end!

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Old 03-27-2012, 12:42 AM
 
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Well, doing CAT-5 might have worked a few years ago. Although, I do CAT-6A, it allows for more bandwidth for the future. Any audio/video installer can upgrade you to CAT-6A, but there is an hourly cost. All it takes is an electrician's tape and some time. Sound card, I see you have M-audio. This was the best one that I had in the past. Here is the link for it. http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_u...ophile192.html Also, your video card is rather old. I have an Nvidia GTX 460 on my 32 TB video server now, and it works fine. The early versions of ATI 4000 series had issues with HDMI, so don't expect it to be bluray ready. Although, I plan to upgrade it to either ATI 7000 series or Nvidia that can support 4k resolution. There is some articles online on how to build a HTPC, just google them. Also, download this great application called XBMC. http://xbmc.org/ It is free, and I think you like it. Also if you have an Ipad there is apps that can control xbmc on your pc. Xbmc does all the codecs and it has great built in interface. Yes, it does bluray too.
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Old 03-27-2012, 09:24 AM - Thread Starter
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Well, doing CAT-5 might have worked a few years ago. Although, I do CAT-6A, it allows for more bandwidth for the future. Any audio/video installer can upgrade you to CAT-6A, but there is an hourly cost. All it takes is an electrician's tape and some time. Sound card, I see you have M-audio. This was the best one that I had in the past. Here is the link for it. http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_u...ophile192.html Also, your video card is rather old. I have an Nvidia GTX 460 on my 32 TB video server now, and it works fine. The early versions of ATI 4000 series had issues with HDMI, so don't expect it to be bluray ready. Although, I plan to upgrade it to either ATI 7000 series or Nvidia that can support 4k resolution. There is some articles online on how to build a HTPC, just google them. Also, download this great application called XBMC. http://xbmc.org/ It is free, and I think you like it. Also if you have an Ipad there is apps that can control xbmc on your pc. Xbmc does all the codecs and it has great built in interface. Yes, it does bluray too.

My intention was to keep the cost down and still have decent picture and sound for streaming from the internet. I have an Oppo 95 for various other media. I considered building what I wanted from scratch, but chickened out and purchased a refurbished Dell Optiplex 745 instead...it met the specs suggested by the two arts organizations whose streamed performances were my goal. After some research on video cards, I choose the Radeon 4550 because it did not require much power compared to bigger better noisier cards (many seem to need a fan). The streams I will view are 2-channel only, for now anyway.

I do notice that the video is delayed enough to be out of synch wth the audio. I added 250 ms delay via my AVP, but it's not quite enough. Would the right video card be faster than the 4550?

I'll check out XBMC... Maybe I will do more with the PC than streaming.

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Old 03-27-2012, 01:23 PM
 
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My intention was to keep the cost down and still have decent picture and sound for streaming from the internet. I have an Oppo 95 for various other media. I considered building what I wanted from scratch, but chickened out and purchased a refurbished Dell Optiplex 745 instead...it met the specs suggested by the two arts organizations whose streamed performances were my goal. After some research on video cards, I choose the Radeon 4550 because it did not require much power compared to bigger better noisier cards (many seem to need a fan). The streams I will view are 2-channel only, for now anyway..

Well, the first HTPC that I built was to be placed next to my stereo system, and it was just too noisy for me. Actually, it is quiet easy to build a PC, just that you need a static wrist strap. I build all my PC's now, because the components last longer than any Dell. I change the fans in the HTPC though, and you can change the video card fans. I use Zalman fans. Building a server is a bit more advanced, because I have a hardware raid 6 card. Just takes some time to build. Anyway, As long as you run CAT-6 or the new CAT-6A, then the server could be placed anywhere. Although, there is a distance limit with HDMI, but I used HDMI cable from bluejeans cable. So, I basically just redesigned the system to be a server that I could place in the basement. I still have all the features of the HTPC, but without the noise. All my DVD's and some of my CD's are on the server. Although, I have 3 Sony Bluray megachangers for bluray. I doubt if any video card will match an audio receiver.

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Originally Posted by Sodbuster View Post

I do notice that the video is delayed enough to be out of synch wth the audio. I added 250 ms delay via my AVP, but it's not quite enough. Would the right video card be faster than the 4550?.

I read in the past that the early HDMI in video cards didn't have an audio portion. So I recommend that you upgrade your video card. Some of the HTPC sites will list the best to use.
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Old 03-27-2012, 05:09 PM
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I don't think the 4550 is causing any of his problems and should be fine for what he's asking of it. WinXP on the other hand...
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Old 03-28-2012, 11:18 AM - Thread Starter
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New question:

Just installed a matrix switch so all sources can connect to the projector via the single 40ft HDMI cable. This is a great improvement when programing Roomie, but I have noticed that switching away from the HTPC and returning to it loses the signal. Only rebooting will restore contact.

I will work around this by selecting the HTPC before powering it up, but I am curious about the cause. The same problem existed before the switch was installed, but I thought then that actually unplugging the hardware was somehow responsible. This handshake technology doesn't seem ready for prime time.

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Old 03-28-2012, 11:29 AM - Thread Starter
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[quote="Sodbuster"]

I do notice that the video is delayed enough to be out of synch wth the audio. I added 250 ms delay via my AVP, but it's not quite enough. Would the right video card be faster than the 4550? Quote

Further investigation leads me to reduce the audio delay to around 50ms. Trying to watch the mouths of singers is very confusing...easy to say the timing is off, but not which way. Experimenting is tedious because of the need to reboot after switching the PJ to component so the AVP menu is available (see last post). I found several videos on YouTube for achieving synch, but getting those right on did not properly correct streaming from the Met's opera on demand service.

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Old 03-28-2012, 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Sodbuster View Post

I should say that my computer skills are limited to plugging in the cables and little more. My LAN connection is wireless, and reports a connection about 50mb/s. However the Speakeasy download test barely lifts the needle off the stop, and actually trying to watch YouTube as an example is impossible.

Forget your LAN connection for the moment. What type and how fast an internet connection do you have?

You could have a wired gigabit home network, but that's not going to make a 2mb DSL connection any faster.
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Old 03-28-2012, 01:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Zon2020 View Post


Forget your LAN connection for the moment. What type and how fast an internet connection do you have?

You could have a wired gigabit home network, but that's not going to make a 2mb DSL connection any faster.

It's cable from Comcast. Whatever was happening before has gone away, and I'm now streaming HD video using the PC connected to the LAN using wifi. I don't plan running cable to the HT unless absolutely required, and that seems unlikely now. I do take your point about the speed of the LAN vs. the internet connection itself.

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Old 03-28-2012, 04:23 PM
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I had the same setup with the same problem. I thought about cat5 but tried a MoCA setup first and it works wonderfully.

Can you talk more about your MoCA setup? We have Direct TV in every single room and seven boxes.

I know you need a bridge like the one D-Link/Netgear sells but I heard they operate on freq close to DirecTV so it would slow down/disconnect the AT&T U-Verse (Fiber To Home).

I went with Wireless N as a alternative near field and it works fine. I would like faster file transfer speeds however and since every room has a DTV box, we have RG-6 running all over.

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