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Sony VGX-XL3 - Page 4

post #91 of 3843
Even though this unit does not do "1080p" remember that most tv's have de-interlacing features built in anyway. And most of the good tv's processors are actually, just as good, if not better than some of the video devices outputting this stuff.

But all in all, how is this system. I am considering buyin one of these to replace my aging p4. I have 4 of sony's xl1b2 media changers and want a little faster control.

Also, jon from sony, any news on a blu-ray xl1 to go with these units
post #92 of 3843
Ok Everyone, I restored my computer back to factory settings only to find I would loose 1080p! I even upgraded my drivers nothing... It was not until I put Windows Vista ULTIMATE that the 1080p options came back! You do however loose sound and TV Tuner until you install the Intel Chipset Drivers for Vista Ultimate. I know have my TV Tuner working, 1080p, and High Def Sound. I love this computer, its amazing.

Please stop saying it does not support 1080p, I have posted pictures of my VGN-XL3 in full 1920x1080 60 hz (1080p). Videos look amazing.

So, I have confirmed how I got 1080p: Install windows vista, update your nvidia drivers.
My Nvidia drivers are dated: 4/12/2007

Good luck, other people that have upgraded to Ultimate, please post your results about getting 1080p
post #93 of 3843
Originally Posted by bitz View Post

Ok Everyone, I restored my computer back to factory settings only to find I would loose 1080p! I even upgraded my drivers nothing... It was not until I put Windows Vista ULTIMATE that the 1080p options came back! You do however loose sound and TV Tuner until you install the Intel Chipset Drivers for Vista Ultimate. I know have my TV Tuner working, 1080p, and High Def Sound. I love this computer, its amazing.

Please stop saying it does not support 1080p, I have posted pictures of my VGN-XL3 in full 1920x1080 60 hz (1080p). Videos look amazing.

So, I have confirmed how I got 1080p: Install windows vista, update your nvidia drivers.
My Nvidia drivers are dated: 4/12/2007

Good luck, other people that have upgraded to Ultimate, please post your results about getting 1080p

Thanks for the update. I am interested in purchasing an XL3 but not until it supported 1080p. "Full HD" is a marketing term they started using when 1080p products came out. 1080i is not "Full HD" and has been around for years. Blue Ray is natively 1080p. Sure, I could deinterlace after the fact, like the first Samsung player, or even hook it up to a non 1080p display, but why should I?

I am now only curious to know if there is any merit to Jon's assertions that the new drivers haven't been fully tested by Sony. Are there any problems with this "work-around" or is it simply a matter of installing updated drivers direct from the manufacturer of the video card and all is well? Should one (ME) wait for Sony to release official 1080p drivers?

In other words, is all working well now that you upgraded?
post #94 of 3843
9/11/07 edit: BEFORE YOU UPGRADE, read this post with a big grain of salt and check later posts to learn what happens 30 days after you upgrade!
12/13/07 edit: READ PAGE 7 of this thread to learn an incredibly easy way to get 1080P on an XL3 (or possibly other computers running 7600 series NVidai cards)
Hi folks, been fooling around with my XL3 and have quite a bit to report. As an aside, if anyone else had a dead keyboard (but OK mousepad) let me know as I found no hit on this so it might be isolated*. BTW I can tell you that the little Sony keyboard is NOT Bluetooth, at least not a normal flavor.

*edit UPDATE: After spending two hours on the phone with Sony CA and having three techs and a manager go through the exact same sequence of steps, they sent me a new keyboard free. Good thing because Sony's website lists it as over $400 retail!
**edit SECOND UPDATE: That keyboard died too, replaced it with a competitor, described later in the thread.


SO, had loads-o-fun with Cablevision convincing them unit needed a cablecard and that they needed to install it; my 1 hour+ phone adventure included a supervisor who told me they didn't provide them but I could get one at Radio Shack, and another who said a CableCard was a device that lets me hook a notebook up to a network cable (um, PCMCIA, anyone?). When the tech arrived he gave the card to me to install, and took lots of pictures of me doing it with his cell phone. For which I paid $60.

First note: don't expect your cablecard to work immediately; it has to load up with info on your channels. Therefore digital channels begin to become available sporatically over the course of a half-hour or so. Interestingly, HD channels were available immediately - the tech says that always happens when he is provisioning HDTVs. Picture looked horrible at 1080i.

I'm a tinkerer, but I practice safe tinkering, and that means backup. Partition Commander 8 wouldn't boot at all, the driver for the bootable CD bombed when faced with a SATA Blu-ray. Acronis's version booted and recognized the RAID, but doesn't allow duplicate partitions on a single drive and wouldn't recognize an external USB drive, so back to Staples it went, exchanged for PC 10: "Works with Windows Vista!" said the label, but the fine print said "via free download." In any event, it recognized my USB drive but flaty refused to notice anything inside the XL3; whether due to SATA, RAID, or both, I never learned, because I then upgarded my two-day-old computer to Ultimate (as soon as I made a backup DVD set through the Vaio utility).

Upgrading Vista through Microsoft's Upgrade Anywhere feature could be a genuinely painless experience, but sure enough, there are bugs. After giving my credit card number and downloading a small file, a familiar installation dialog opened: "Installation in progress, follow the on-screen prompts." Problem is, there weren't any. After a few minutes I rebooted (CTRL-ALT-DELETE: serving the PC community since 1985) only to get back to the same apparent hang. This time I let it run for an hour with no "prompt" appearing; but I noticed an explorer window had also opened, and one of the files displayed was enticingly called "setup." I double-clicked on it and away it went - the installation routine had failed to auto-execute! The rest was fairly painless, and here's the big big big news: as soon as the final reboot, the system was running 1080p@60Hz, with no downloading from NVidia required! Fonts look great, and Aero runs smoothly.

And now I was able to do a full system backup (from within Windows, which is a pretty neat trick) through Control Panel|Backup. (It's not really an image like in Partition Commander or Norton Ghost, and you can exclude files, but it's close enough.) To verify that it worked, I booted from the emergency Vaio DVDs (which, for reasons beyond my comprehension, cannot be a dual-layer DVD, much less a Blu-Ray); I re-created a minimum installation, and then - using the same DVD - used the Microsoft restore utility to copy files back off my USB drive to the hard drive. WARNING: while it might be possible to completely kill all the Sony stuff off the hard drive and do a truely clean restore, and I may try this someday, bear in mind that everything is running off a RAID striped disk pair...so it may also be true that by killing the little 6GB Sony partition you lose the ability to boot Vista at all. So make that recovery set with the Vaio utility first!

So far, so good, right? Too bad I had no TV tuner now.

It's partly my fault. In Windows 9X/200X, if a piece of hardware simply won't work, delete its driver in Add/Remove Programs, reboot, and when Windows notices the hardware you can load the driver anew. Uh, that's not quite how it works in Vista. A lot of familiar hardware is treated in unexpected ways; in this case, the ATI OCUR card is actually handled as a network card (which, if it had a two-way cablecard in it, it technically would be). Deleting the driver because I couldn't get it to be recognized in Media Center (even though it showed in Control Panel just fine) turned out to be a really bad idea; this is not a driver you can just pick up off some street corner...no dice at ATI or Sony, and of course no CDs with a big fat .CAB library to hunt around in. So, it was time for another restore and try again - if I hadn't made the backup and recovery DVDs, I would have been absolutely hosed. After a lot of reboots, and attempts to re-install the ATI firmware upgrade (not a device driver, mind you, but firmware flash) from Sony's web site, it finally took. And here's a note that's been mentioned in other threads here: first thing you want to do, it's obliterate User Access monitoring (instructions are elsewhere, but basically you deactivate it in msconfig). This I-wanna-be-Unix feature is seriously not ready for prime-time, as attempting to run the downloaded ATI firmware file kept giving me a "Folder name not valid" error no matter what folder I put it in or how I named the file itself. Once I disabled User Access blocking, it worked, and on the second or third try it actually flashed the card, which at least meant it had found something to flash.

Note: an errata sheet included with my XL3 warned that it could take up to two minutes for the ATI card to initialize. Use that as a minimum, not maximum, figure, especially during initial installation.
edit UPDATE: Newer firmware on Sony's web site promises to speed this up, but beware - if it screws things up, restoring a backup won't help you because it's what's in the card's EPROM, not what's on your hard drive.

So, off into Media Center - which had incidentally forgotten everything I taught it in Home Premium, except oddly enough what TV shows to record - only to be asked for an activation code. No, it's not the Windows activation code, but it's close, literally: it's the digital cable activation code that's on the back of the VL3, just to the right of the usual Microsoft Genuine Windows code. My 3.2mm high code included something that might have been either a "G" or a "6" and a "B' or an "8," but it eventually worked (tip: you can enter the code with or without dashes, and don't worry about whether or not to include the extra characters at the bottom of the label - once you enter the correct number of characters, the input field helpfully greys out).

Finally I hit the dreaded "No audio installed" error, which has been mentioned in this thread BUT although it is technically true that you want to install the Intel chipset drivers first, they're not actually CALLED Intel chipset drivers on Sony; instead, install the lastest update for "SigmaTel," reboot, and start rockin'.

Additional observations:

1. I dump everything to network, and that's a challenge because a) Vista drivers for my Netgear storage center don't exist yet, so I'm having to use my old XP MCE machine as a network share (netgear-to-old PC-to-XL3 works fine receiving recorded TV; how it'll fare recording HD back through that path remains to be seen***); and b) Vista handles networking significantly different than any prior version of Windows. Remember how starting with Windows ME you had to rename your network from WORKGROUP to MSHOME? Well, at least with Ultimate, you'll be naming it back again. It's much easier to rename your existing network WORKGROUP than to try to convince Vista to accept MSHOME, because Vista doesn't seem to have a "network setup wizard" in the classical sense. It's not bad or nonfunctional, just different and, well, obtuse. Of course, you may have some special router setup that makes it difficult to change your workgroup name, so YMMV.

***7/29/07 Update: actually this is "officially" impossible; Media Center never did let you record to a network share, and Vista doesn't even let you use a network share as a watched folder (but you can do essentially the same thing - for watching only, mind you - through the new Vista "Pictures and Videos" feature, which will let you watch a share). I was unaware of this in XP, since my Netgear box showed up as a local drive. There is an article on TheGreenButton giving detailed registry hacks to work around this, but I think I'll just wait for the Netgear SC101 drivers, thanks...
***second Update: new Netgear drivers allow the SC101 to work flawlessly as a netwqork drive under Vista, but recording shows directly to network introduces a strange corruption, explained later in this thread.

2. Sound sometimes comes out of my surround sound and sometimes my monitor via HDMI and sometimes both; it depends on what channel I'm watching. Windows itself sends everything to both. I don't think this was the behavior in Vista Home but I didn't take notes on it. The audio itself is set to go to both (this is an Intel setting; there's actually no option to send sound through HDMI at all in the audio dialogs within Media Center).

3. Sony continues to load ever-increasing amounts of crap on their machines, but with the XL3, it's approaching critical mass: one additional trial version will surely make the machine implode into a black hole. The one possibly useful item in the vast sea of Sony-branded and Sony-partnered stuff (how DO you get that damned AOL searchbar out of IE7, anyway?) is Sony's IE front-end designed for use with the remote control. Kinda superfluous on its own, it could be exactly what owners of Netgear (and possible XB360?) media center extenders need. (Media Center extenders include a utility to remotely control the main Media Center PC, but trying to surf the web using a media center remote on a remote desktop mirroring regular IE is agony). If that works I'll post an update.

4. I planned on installing a duplicate cable tuner (my Happaugue analog-only) to see what happens - it would be nice to be able to watch one thing, even if analog, while recording something else but I can't imagine how Media Center would actually handle this intelligently - would a pop-up say "SELECT A TUNER: The channel you have selected can be recorded by Media Center in (o) clean digital or (o) crappy analog"? If a recording conflict occured, would a Resolution dialog appear asking which show to record in poor quality? If not, then how would it know which tuner to use for which recording? Not a problem if there were two tuners with identical capabilities, but I seriously doubt Media Center's programmers thought about this - especially with no dual-capability CableCards.

At least not yet. In my area, anyway.

Or that anyone at the cable company knows about.

Looking forward to whoever first posts the registry hacks to get rid of all the extra entries that now appear inside the Media Center menus...


post #95 of 3843
Originally Posted by rjeffb View Post

4. I planned on installing a duplicate cable tuner (my Happaugue analog-only) to see what happens - it would be nice to be able to watch one thing, even if analog, while recording something else but I can't imagine how Media Center would actually handle this intelligently - would a pop-up say "SELECT A TUNER: The channel you have selected can be recorded by Media Center in (o) clean digital or (o) crappy analog"? If a recording conflict occured, would a Resolution dialog appear asking which show to record in poor quality? If not, then how would it know which tuner to use for which recording? Not a problem if there were two tuners with identical capabilities, but I seriously doubt Media Center's programmers thought about this - especially with no dual-capability CableCards.

You could give this little utility:

I haven't used it myself but claims to do what you want and would be useful in a situation like the one you proposed.
post #96 of 3843
Hmm, interesting though the link only says XP. I may not have the nerve to try it on Vista, only because I've come up with a different solution - I'm going to split the cable signal off to my old Hush XP MCE box and continue to use the Happauge tuner there, feeding into my Netgear storage, which in turn will show up on the XL3 as a network share throuh the aforementioned "Pictures and Videos." For all practical purposes, this means I can record two shows simultaneously and never get a conflict, and watch anything from anywhere...it's true I won't be able to watch HD from the Vaio on my Hush, but since $##@&##! Cablevision marks EVERYTHING they transmit digitally (HD or not, premium or not) as copy-protected and any attempt to play it on another machine gives a "You do not have the right to view this program" message, that was never an option anyway.

But for people for whom the XL3 is their first Media Center machine, I would suggest they give this program a try - after making those backups, natch - and post the results here.

Oh, and here's a progress report: 1) occassionally (once a week) I get a No Tuner Found error when trying to watch live TV. In fairness, the same thing used to happen on the Happauge when the cable signal went out and then came back on, and so far rebooting has fixed it just like it did with the XP box. Also, with the Happauge I sometimes failed to record shows under those circumstances (i.e. it's not just Live TV that's affected), and although that hasn't happened yet on the XL3 I suspect it will eventually. 2) the stock Ultimate video driver occassionally gives a taskbar notification that the video driver stopped and has "successfully restarted." So far no observed ill effects but that sure is disconcerting...


post #97 of 3843
The second link says it is for Vista. But you may have already solved the problem. My MCE 2005 box is just a Compaq I sprung the extra $20 for MCE 2005 for rather than plain vanilla XP. I am only now getting around to purchasing a TV tuner for it, so I haven't tried this utility but it sounded useful.

Thanks for the updates. There is not much noise about the XL3 compared to the earlier ones. I am not sure if they work great or just aren't selling much. I almost took advantage of the Amazon rebate but got cold feet. Awesome cosmetics, especially when hooked up to multiple VGP-XL1bx's (and hopefully a Blu Ray changer). But it seems that CableCard and the Blu Ray/HD-DVD with the different compression codecs just aren't mature enough for me. Maybe when things stabilize. Sony using a proprietary architecture just doesn't leave enough room for upgrading to prevent obsolesence. For the time being, I am getting more interested in "rolling" my own again and hooking my VGP-XL1B2's to it. Unless the XL4, XL5 ... finally has a video card that can hardware accelerate the different compression codecs, .h264 etc. and they get the whole CableCard 2.0 thing finalized.
post #98 of 3843
This is really a general Vista alert, but since I and others in this thread have discussed upgrading the XL3 to Ultimate (e.g. to get 1080p) this seems an appropriate place to let everyone know the following important information.

When you make a hard disk image using Ultimate's Complete PC Backup (not available in Home), Vista remembers that fact so the next time you try to make a Complete PC Backup, it will create only an incremental image. What I did, out of habit from using Partition Commander, was delete the original backup image and then crank up Windows Backup & Restore.


There is no simple way to make Vista "forget" that it has already made a "full" backup. There are numerous posts on Microsoft, including mine, about this glaring shortcoming. I found a registry folder that you can zero out entries and make Vista give the original "You have not created a complete PC backup" message like when it was first run (search for my post in Microsoft forums, same user name) but the backup created is still only an incremental image. Hopefully M/S will fix this soon in an upcoming patch or Powertoy but meanwhile DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU - keep your first, original backup image!

post #99 of 3843
1. Unable to resolve the Complete Backup and Restore issue described above, I purchased a new Seagate hard drive and, using the provided mirror software (a scaled-down version of Acronis), mirrored the RAID 0 C: drive to it, killed the RAID (press Ctrl-F10 while booting), and mirrored back to just one of the 250GB drives, leaving the 750GB Seagate in as a D: drive to record TV to. The Seagate software also allows imaging to, and restore from, an external USB drive and I can confirm that it works. I could not delete the 6GB Sony partition this way so I still don't know if Vista will load without it, but now that I can restore backups and don't have a RAID to worry about, it's on my list of things to try. (You can't kill a partition through Acronis' mirroring, but when restoring an Acronis backup it appears to be possible to simply not restore a partition. Don't yet know what the actual consequences of that will be.)

What didn't work, unfortunately, was my tuner. It "appeared" to no longer recognize the Digital TV authorization code (mentioned in my post "Pretty much everything you need to know") and told me that every channel was Unauthorized Restricted Content, and repeatedly telling me I entered the wrong code. On a hunch, I fired up Windows Authorization and was astounded to learn that my copy of Windows wasn't activated! I was unable to use the automated authorization process, so I called the U.S. number (India, in other words) and after explaining the situation and reading off a long series of numbers, I was given a new authorization number which not only worked but...my tuner suddenly started to work as well! It turns out that unlike W2K/W98 (which allows you to change anything, even the whole computer) and XP (which allows you to change a certain amount of hardware), Vista Ultimate is especially intolerant of hardware changes; change a hard drive, and you have to re-activate. (Really! Replacing hard drives are specifically listed in Microsoft's Knowledge Base article 925582 as something that triggers re-activation.)

The problem wasn't that my digital cable wasn't working, it was that when it looked to see if it was running on a "legal" copy of Windows the answer was "no," and the ATI OCUR driver then stopped...providing an error message that had nothing to do with the real problem. 9/30/07 update: read additional posts in this thread re: a hidden time bomb associated with re-activating Vista after an upgrade to Ultimate.

BTW I am now happier than a pig in, well, digital cable. I can mirror to the D: drive and external hard disk, and install endless Flight Simulator mods without worrying about hosing the system. The only catch is because the independent drives are marginally slower than the original RAID 0, the first few seconds of watching HD has skips and glitches, but then everything evens out. 9/30/07: there is one minor issue with having your TV anywhere else but the ultra-fast RAID-0 C: drive, and that's you can overload the preview buffer when doing a lot of skipping through shows and cause Media Center to hang for a while. It's most noticable when storing to a network drive but it happens when using an internal D: drive as well.

2. Tried installing the latest NVIDIA drivers, same occasional error about the display driver "stopped working and has recovered." I strongly suspect that when this happens it kills further in-progress recording of a show, but I have only circumstantial proof of that so far; I'll have to catch it in the act first. Hint: I previously said that "rebooting" fixes the problem; it does not. You must power off and do a cold boot to reset the tuner.

3. The XL3 is quiet, but it is not silent. When a Hush or Alienware media PC is not accessing the disk or CD, they cannot be heard without holding your ear to the case (and if the drive has spooled down, there are silent even then). The XL3 doesn't meet that bar, but things have to be very quiet indeed to hear the fan. Ironically, the Blu-Ray drive is actually quite noisy when spooling up or down (but OK while playing a movie).

3. Running analog cable from the Hush as described above works perfectly. The only catch with watching shared video is that MCE doesn't provide any preview image, just a text box description. In both Vista and XP, MCE provides album cover art for music, even when located on a network share; I can't image why that shouldn't (or couldn't) be true of shared video as well.

4. I ditched my Netgear media center extender - for sale $cheap if anyone wants it - because it does not play restricted content. I replaced it with an XBox 360 Elite. FANTASTIC. Incredibly easy to set up, worked with a DVI monitor through the provided DVI/HDMI adapter (see my thread elsewhere on this site on my loads-o'-fun experience with getting DVI and HDMI to coexist and provide a properly sized screen), and is almost identical to being in front of the XL3. It even works with the MCE remote control.

I might even buy a game to play on it!
post #100 of 3843
I have owned my VGX-XL3 for about 2 months and I have updated some of the drivers and have not ventured into the 1080p realm yet. Pretty poor in my opinion to claim full 1080p out of the box and its not, regardless of its potential. MOST people are not computer programmers and don't have the knowledge or time to mess with a brand new computer that we really don't need anyway just to get it to work right. Blu-ray IS choppy right out of the box. WAY TOO MANY trials and who the hell uses AOL anyway? remote is pretty useless with the keyboard handy and no room to upgrade to a second tuner. By the way cable card works great sometimes. It must be installed upside down and has to be programmed in media center. 4 comcast installers and a supervisor and I still figured it out on my own!! HAHA send me a monkey they are more useful! Netflix is awesome downloaded right to my tv and how about checking your Vonage voicemail on the tv.

OK now to my Problem! I use multi-room! I have a set of speakers on my patio. I have a pioneer elite 84 and love my zone 2. I run hdmi from my dvd player, comcast, and now my VGX-XL3. Zone 2s use analog with 99% of receivers so I have a set of those hooked up too. The Problem is the sony does not output digital be it hdmi, optical, or coax and Analog at the same time. I have since placed the sound option from the control panel on my desktop to switch between the two when I want to listen to some of my 10 gigs of music on my outdoor speakers. Is this yet another design flaw. If a simple Dvd player you can buy as an impulse item while waiting in line at Safeway next to the gum can output digital and analog at the same time, why can't my $3200 State-of-the-art Sony VGX-XL3 do it? Any help would be great.
post #101 of 3843
Upgraded to Ultimate, installed the latest Nvidia driver (dated 7/16/07) but still couldn't get 1080p. I must be missing something. In Display Settings, adapter tab, clicked "list all modes" but 1080p or 1920x1080 (progressive or 60Hz) is not a choice. In Nvidia Control Panel, 60Hz is not a choice. What am I missing?
post #102 of 3843
>>In Nvidia Control Panel, 60Hz is not a choice. What am I missing?
12/13/07 edit: read page 7 of this thread to learn how to get 1080P in Vista Home.

Vista seems to have a quirk on this, and it may a reason NOT to upgrade at all.

My first upgrade was online through Upgrade Anywhere. As I stated in an earlier post, as soon as the upgrade finished, Vista was running in 1080p. Since then I received an upgrade DVD in the mail; it did not come with a Product Key, so I presume the key stored in my Digital Locker is its authorization.

A few days ago my digital tuner stopped working; trying to troubleshoot it in MCE told me it wasn't authorized, and my Digital Cable Product Code no longer worked. What's the deal? Is it because the tuner card was defective, or because something has happened to my "authenticity"?

To test this theory, I returned my system to RAID-0 with original 250GB drives and reinstalled the original Vaio software from the recovery disks - everything was back to normal (if 1080i is "normal"), and my Digital Cable Product Code worked. So, the tuner card is not the problem. I then applied the upgrade disk, only to find that

a) my Vista (NOT Digital Cable, I haven't gotten that far) Product Code does not work; the original Vaio code isn't recognized (as I expected), and my Microsoft Digital Locker won't work because it complains that the authorization is "already in use" (argh, going to have to make another phone call to India). So for the moment I cannot even authorize Vista.

b) no matter what I try, I cannot get the screen to display in 1080p. It is unclear if this is an inherent limitation of the version provided on DVD, or if 1080p is considered one of the "premium" features that won't work until Vista is authorized, or even (heaven forbid but I have to consider the possibility) if 1080p is somehow dependent on a valid Digital Cable Product Code.

So, in at least one case I can confirm that your ability to display 1080p is dependent on the exact method you used to upgrade; and I note that my digital tuner stopped working exactly 30 days after I upgraded, so I suspect that upgrading to Ultimate - and thereby negating your original Vista Home Product Key - is a really bad idea because Digital Cable authorization is predicated on the original key. I'll let everyone know how this drama plays out. By the way, while there are many paths to getting Windows authorized, I have found nothing on Microsoft's or CableLabs' sites regarding getting an alternative Digital Cable authorization.
post #103 of 3843
I also upgraded to Ultimate through Upgrade Anywhere. I activated it within a few days because it says that I have 30 days to activate or the program will stop working. I do not use the cable tuner and do not have a cable card. May be that is the difference and I was never able to get 1080p.

The DVD patch on Intervideo BD for VAIO does not work on Windows Ultimate. My blueray disks work under Home Premium but do not fill the entire screen in Ultimate. Regular DVD's do work under both platform. Wonder why.
post #104 of 3843
>>The DVD patch on Intervideo BD for VAIO does not work on Windows Ultimate.

Well that does suck. I don't have any Blu-Rays yet - waiting for Christmas and Lost season 3 - but that's a deal breaker (after you and I already paid for the upgrade that Microsoft really goes out of their way to sell).

I do have a call into Microsoft support on the Digital Cable activation thing but frankly I'm tempted to throw in the towel and just stick with Home.

I restored my backup of Ultimate (not the upgrade from DVD but the original on-line Upgrade Anywhere) to look into your problem. I get the full gamut of screen capabilities that are listed on NVidia's web site. Now, here's the really interesting part: many of the capabilities that show up in the NVidia control panel shouldn't be there - according to NVidia, they are features that are not currently supported in Vista but should only appear in XP. The upgrade from DVD shows only a fraction of the adjustment capabilities (the others aren't greyed out, they simply don't appear at all).

Now you're saying you get the same thing from an Upgrade Anywhere download - I wonder if something eeked by on the day I upgraded? I did have a problem upgrading in that it never auto-executed (see my post "Pretty much everything you need to know") - did you have the same problem? Also, did you lose sound? (The reason I ask this question is because, like Bitz's experience, I lost sound after the Upgrade Anywhere and had to install new drivers...but when I upgraded from DVD I did NOT lose sound, which reinforces my belief that there are different Ultimate upgrades out there.) If not, then you didn't download the exact same thing as I did. I tried to provide you with the link to the exact copy I downloaded, but it now says it has expired. Zounds!

At this point my hypothesis about the cable tuner being required to get 1080p is pure speculation and is frankly counter-intuitive, but here's something you can try: start Media Center, go into Tasks|Settings|TV|Set up TV Signal, and try activating Digital Cable using the Product Code on the back of the Vaio. In my case, that Product Code stopped working after the upgrade, but maybe it will still work for you (let me know if it does, because then my problem lies elsewhere). If it accepts the code, reboot and see if 1080p suddenly becomes available.

I presume that NVida will "eventually" have its standard driver supporting 1080p under Vista; I note that certain features will never be released for Vista such as cloned displays because they could circumvent HDMI (this would have been a clever way for me to verify if my Ultimate had a version of NVidia that's not supposed to be for general release, but of course with only a single HDMI port there's no way to see if cloning appears as an option), but I can't see why 1080p would be "forbidden." But that vaporware would work under both Ultimate and Home, so it's unclear what the advantage of upgrading is anyway.

Other than to lighten your wallet a bit.
post #105 of 3843
Bitz, can you confirm that you continue to get 1080p AND that your digital tuner continues to work? (As you can see from recent posts, people are having new problems and mine appeared 30 days after upgrading to Ultimate).
post #106 of 3843
I read your post before I upgraded with Upgrade Anywhere to Ultimate. I had the same problem of the upgrade not auto-executing but I was prepared. I found the same window hidden behind the "Installation in Progress" window which wasn't doing anything. Once I clicked the "setup" icon, the installation went without a hitch.

I could not setup the tv as you have suggested to test the 1080p issue. I do not have any tv signal connected to the XL3 and eventually the setup had to be aborted.

I intend to restore the whole system to the original factory settings with the dvd that I have purchased from Sony. I guess it is back to Windows Home Premium and hopefully the blueray would work again. Some of the driver and patch upgrade on the Sony site only works on Home Premium. The Intervideo BD is one of them. Hopefully, NVidia will come out with a Vista driver that will support 1080p soon.
post #107 of 3843
Forgot one thing. I did lose sound after I upgraded to Ultimate but after I went to the Sony Support Site to upgrade the sound driver, the sound came back.
post #108 of 3843
>>Hopefully, NVidia will come out with a Vista driver that will support 1080p soon.
12/13/07 edit: Read page 7 of this thread to learn how to activate 1080P in Vista Home.

I have some new information on this. Unfortunately, it's not a fix, just information.

Just for S&Gs, I tried installing the NVidia 163 Forceware driver under Vista Home. Mind you, that's NOT the one that you're supposed to use, which is 93.something. Well, it screwed my color up and there were no HDMI options - I believe these are related as I have seen this on other systems when an HDMI connector is receiving a component video signal, with the same pastel blue and pink false coloring - but it defaulted to 1080px60Hz! Because there was no HDMI option I could not change the color pallette in NVidia Control Panel, but WTF, 60Hz under Home. That puts to rest once and for all whether Home is capable...in fact, it even displayed Hi-Def live TV under Media Center (admittedly with some unusual skin tones), so the broader statement is that Home is fully capable of supporting 1080p AND 60Hz AND HDCP all at the same time. Like I said, I don't know exactly what to do with this information, I've tried various freeware tools to try to change the pallette (and, for that matter, to force 60Hz under the 93.X drivers) to no avail.

While my XL3 is now trudging along in 1080i, I can watch the stuff it records downstairs in my gym in true 1920x1080p - on my XBox! That must surely be the epitomy of "ironic."

I currently have one drive with the original Home on it, and another with Ultimate, and I swap them as needed. Why? Well first, in hopes that the recording problem will eventually get solved (but see distinctly unencouraging last paragraph); but more to the point, because everything I recorded in Ultimate won't play back in Home. That's right, even though it is the EXACT SAME COMPUTER, Vista's DRM prevents programs recorded in one OS from playing on the other. Surprised? Then hold on - in my continued experimenting I restored my Home backup and was utterly confounded to find that I now could not play, in >Home<, any shows I had recorded, in >Home<, since making the last backup. This led me down a whole new line of research in which I learned that Vista's DRM licenses are stored separately in a hidden folder, and when you restore a backup (thereby replacing new licenses with older ones) your "right" to watch anything that recorded since the last backup is gone forever! Unlike downloaded music, there is no way to "export" these licenses, and it is completely unclear whether or not making a copy of that DRM folder (Program Data|Windows|Licenses, I think) before restoring a backup and then copying it back after the restore will work or if there are encryptions or checksums or God knows what else to keep that from working. I may try it but I'm getting really frustrated...

...I'm an ENGINEER, for goodness sakes! Do they actually think the general public will put up with this?...

...and here's the Microsoft response to the Ultimate upgrade deactivating my Digital Cable Product Code: "We are sorry you are having problems with digital cable. We suggest you contact your cable provider for a solution." LOL (if it weren't so painful), so they think the Microsoft-logo'd sticker on my computer was provided by Cablevision, the same company that told me to go to Radio Shack for a CableCard?!?
post #109 of 3843
>>Some of the driver and patch upgrade on the Sony site only works on Home Premium. The Intervideo BD is one of them.

Dannyalh, please clarify that statement. Are you talking about the updated video patch to force 1080 in full-screen WinDVD instead of underscanning (= annoying), or the updated encryption key that Intervideo is now requiring to play BRDs of any kind because hackers compromised their earlier codes (= really really bad)? In other words, does Intervideo play BRDs in your Ultimate installation at all (with or without any patches)?
post #110 of 3843
The Intervideo BD upgrade on Sony eSupport is not supported in Window Ultimate. This is the ITAOTH-01460304-US.EXE file dated 06/08/2007. This patch is supposed to do:

This utility updates the InterVideo WinDVD® Blu-ray Disc® Player to version and resolves multiple issues:

* Audio mismatch during Blu-ray Disc media playback
* Video output viewed at 1080i is not smooth
* The Blu-ray Disc logo is not smooth
* Adds support for additional Blu-ray Disc titles
* Adds AACS (Advanced Access Content System) support

NOTE: Failure to apply this update will result in AACS-protected BD playback being disabled.

I only have one set of Blueray disks - Planet Earth from Discovery Channel. It works normal before I upgraded to Ultimate. In Ultimate, the picture does not fill the whole screen and when I played the disks the last couple of times, I have trouble even getting a picture. Standard dvd's works fine with no problem. I plan to restore my system to the factory setting and Home Premium tonight. Shall let you know if my blueray works again.
post #111 of 3843
I have owned two VGX-XL3s. Like most people, I had problems with both. Eventually one of them was sent in so many times, I got my money back. Because I loved the box, I bought another. On both of them, I had the dreaded "Tuner not found" error. I received this error right out of the box on BOTH machines, so I'm sure I'm not alone. To save others the headaches, here are my learnings:

1. Turn machine off and on (restart will not reset the ATI card - thanks rjeffb)
2. Update the Nvidia drivers from the enclosed CD or from the website
3. Reflash the ATI card's firmware. This is key and absolutely necessary. One of the icons in the bottom right is for VAIO Update. Right click on it and left click Go to VAIO Web Support. From there, click "Updates". Download and install ATI Firmware Upgrade dated 05/16/07. The file you will download is called "ATFOTH-01535300-US.EXE"
4. Follow the directions to install and make sure you remove the cable and cablecard. You may get errors. It took me 7 times before it flashed correctly. If you get errors, try again. I would suggest turning the machine off and waiting 30 seconds before turning it on and starting over on this step.
5. When you think you've got it, go to Start - Network - double click the ATI TV Wonder icon. It should say under Firmware 1.15.2007.04051 (as of this date). If it's a higher number, that's ok. You want to make sure it's not the 1.14 version. If so, wash, rinse, and repeat #4 (above).
6. Even if your driver version is correct, you STILL may get some "Tuner card not found" errors. If so, turn the machine off, wait 30 seconds, turn it on, log in, and wait 5 minutes and check again.
7. Don't forget to reattach your cable.
8. Run media center's TV setup before adding your cablecard. Add it when directed.

Good sources:
-If you aren't using Norton and are getting the "tuner not found" error, go to http://www.microsoft.com/windows/pro...cablecard.mspx for directions on how to open up your firewall. In McAfee, for example, you MUST make some changes or it may not work.
-You should also try the step by step solutions at: http://www.iq.sony.com/srvs/autoresp....asp?id=528548 Just be sure to remember that you may need to flash multiple times.

Good luck. These are great once you get them working. I would not recommend them yet, however, unless you are willing to spend 20+ hours fiddling around with it to get it working.
post #112 of 3843
I restored the system with the Sony dvd's to the factory settings and Home Premium, upgraded the NVidia driver and the Roxio driver from the disk that came with the XL3 system. The NVidia driver is not the latest but I am just going to use it for a while. My Planet Earth Blu-ray disks did not work until I upgraded the Intervideo Windvd BD for VAIO driver from VAIO update. Now Blu-ray works fine. My conclusion is that some Blu-ray disks will only work on Home Premium and not on Ultimate because I could not run the Intervideo BD for VAIO patch on Ultimate. Even the VAIO update site indicates that it supports Home Premium only. I assume that Intervideo will eventually come out with a patch that supports Ultimate.

I also updated the driver for SigmaTel High Definition Audio from Sony VAIO Update but my sound stopped working after the update. I had to restore the system to the point before the update and the sound came back. The funny thing is in Ultimate, the opposite happened. I had to update the sound driver before the sound works.

For now I have to run the system at 1080i until NVidia comes out with the suitable driver. I have a Sharp Aquos 92U series LCD tv which I guess takes the 1080i input and doubles to its native resolution of 1080p. It is not too bad but probably not as good as if the input is 1080i. My HD output from my Dishnetwork box is also 1080i and what comes out of my tv is very good.
post #113 of 3843
One more note on reflashing the ATI card. It takes several times sometimes and the last time when it worked, I turned off Norton Anti-Virus and Firewall.
post #114 of 3843
It is a love hate relationship with my VGX-XL3.

My experiences on trying to change the stock setup met with similar outcomes to those listed above.

I replaced the two 250mb Hard drives with two 750mb Hard drives. The cable tuner quit working and the activation key on the back of the machine no longer was valid.

With multiple calls to Sony and Microsoft eating up six plus hours on several occasions I could not get across that Microsoft issues the key that activates the cable card. I also received similar advise to call my cable company. So I have removed the 750mb drives and reinstalled the 250mb drives.

I did change the disk configuration to RAID 1, (Mirrored) and this works without any errors or deactivations happening. It reduces my storage by half but I am going to mirror the 750mb and then plug them in via USB to store the movies and music.

I still can only receive the cable channels that would normally not require a digital cable box. So no channels above 70 and no HD except for the OTA channels that have been remapped to cable channel numbers.
post #115 of 3843
Storage is definitely an issue with the stock VGX-VL3. If you want A LOT of additional storage, you may want to consider the Drobo. You can see a pretty cool demo video at www.drobo.com. It is basically a USB Drive robot that allows you use any combination of SATA drives and it then sets them up in a raid. I have two TB of storage and the best part is you can add capacity by swapping out your smallest drive and replacing it with a bigger one. It's a very nice solution and the drives don't have to match. It also automatically sets up redundancy. The only downside is it is a bit noisy. You wouldn't want it in your bedroom when it's running.
post #116 of 3843
Quick update. While I was successful at installing the video drivers (after many tries), I'm now starting to run into the same problems that haunted me on my first XL3 and resulted in me returning it. 1) The tuner is periodically "not found" and rebooting only sometimes solves the problem. When I do turn it on and off, between 50-75% of the time, it hangs either on the VISTA screen or I get some really scrunched graphics maybe 1 inch high by 1/2 inch on a 46" LCD and it hangs there, requiring a reboot. Has anybody else run into either of these problems? I can't believe I'm having the exact same problem on a second computer.
post #117 of 3843
Mirroring Aharding's experiences, I spent three hours on the phone w/MS India on Friday, followed by two hours Saturday with a "Level 2" (=Super Expert - hah!) and an hour Sunday with customer support. It all started with Online Customer Services - the department I bitched about earlier - telling me to call Activation Services (bookmark this sentence, I'll tell you the cruel punchline in a moment), who said that without an activation phrase (that long series of numbers that tells them about your hardware configuration) they could not help but sending me first to Tech Support in Redmon. That person knew exactly what the problem was, knew why I was having it (touched on by Calwhart in his comment about opening a firewall port: why on earth do you need to do that? Because Vista regularly verifies via Internet that your Digital Cable Product Code continues to be valid), but this informed, intelligent and intelligible engineer then sent me to the "world experts" who could get me a new code: the Vista Product Group in India. Hours crawled by while I explained to a parade of technicians what a digital tuner was, what a product code was, and how Microsoft's product activation worked. They then declared it to be Sony's problem, conferenced me in with Sony, and hung up, with the Sony tech pointing out that Sony does not recommend, provide, or support Microsoft upgrades.

The next day I was called by the super-tech to whom I had to explain the whole thing to all over again. He called me back after finding out the special super secret solution: my cable company had to activate my CableCard! I admit I blew up at him, as the "expert" wasn't even conversant in the basic concepts or terminology.

Over my objections, he then conferenced me in with yet another Sony tech, who not only reaffirmed that Sony does not support Vista upgrades but even pointed to a Sony Knowledge Base article (C537792) which links to the following notice: "During the initial TV Setup, you may be ask [sic] for a Digital Cable Support Product Key. This key is listed on a label [FIG. 1] on the back of the computer. NOTE: Because Microsoft provides the Digital Cable Support Product Key, if the key listed on the back of the computer does not work, you will need to contact Microsoft for further assistance" (dub in F/X of maniacal laughter: "Bwah hah hah!")

Faced with this black-and-white proof that Microsoft is indeed responsible for providing Digital Cable keys, he then tried to send me to...you guessed it, the Product Activation department, where I had started! I then asked for a refund and he tried to ring off by simply giving a phone number. I demanded that he send me an e-Mail stating that Microsoft could not resolve the problem and that I was due a refund.

NOTE: This is CRITICAL. It turned out that, as a final slap, even the phone number provided for a refund was the wrong number as refunds are handled by Microsoft's billing partner (the same company as took your money in the first place) and they will require proof that you are due a refund! As an aside, I was just notifed that my refund has been "approved." Woo-hoo, am I lucky or what?

Um...I think it's safe to say that if I had to do it over again, I would not have purchased an XL3...

1. We still haven't heard from Bitz (who apparently upgraded to Ultimate before anyone else here), but based on what's been reported I would have to say stick with Home and avoid Ultimate. If anyone can get reliable 1080p out of Home please report it! Also, you can swap out hard drives in Home - I'm working fine off one original 250GB and a 750GB as my recorded TV disk and also as my ghost of the C: drive. But as I reported earlier, even Microsoft admits that simply changing hard drives in Ultimate will cause it to stop working, and even if you re-activate, your digital tuner will still be hosed.

2. As Calwhart has pointed out, the ideal storage fix that will work in any event is an external solution (because that will NOT screw things up by invalidating the Windows activation), however his remedy is not practical for an HDTV. Netgear continues to waffle on Vista drivers for its network stuff, and while I have no doubt that a 100/10MBS Ethernet will handle HD just fine (let alone a Gigabit line), it remains to be seen if these units will show up as local drives under Vista. Remember, Media Center will NOT store television to a network drive, it has to show up with a physical local drive letter so that lets SANs out of the picture (unless, like the Netgear SC series under XP, they fool the system into thinking they're local). UPDATE: see later in this thread for info on new Netgear Vista drivers and how they can be used in the XL3

Recommendation: buy a really quiet USB2 drive with spooldown (only a few support that, the WD MyBook comes to mind) or wait a while. Don't get a Firewire drive (even though they spool) as the XL3 doesn't support FW800. Yes, you could add a FW800 card out the back, but I have had multiple experiences with Firewire drives in general, and FW800 in particular, "vanishing" from within Windows. Something you probably don't want in a DVR.

3. Remember, if you reinstall Home or restore a backup, you will lose the ability to watch any digital TV shows you recorded since the last backup even if they are recorded or transferred to a different drive that wasn't affected by the reinstall. I have a theory about this, that you could copy the entire hidden digital license directory to another drive, restore the backup and/or reinstall Windows, then copy the whole directory back...but I have not yet tried it.

4. I talked to a Microsoft support manager - the only Indian who could speak clear English, sounded British-educated - and he did seem to "get" how big a problem this is going to become for Microsoft; specifically, that every single customer who buys and then upgrades a Vista multimedia box, whether hardware or Windows, is going to have their DVR stop working 30 days later and be mad as hell at Microsoft. I predict that this albatross will kill MCE if Microsoft doesn't address it aggressively right now before tens of thousands of customers start returning units.
post #118 of 3843
>>I get some really scrunched graphics maybe 1 inch high by 1/2 inch

Calwhart, that happened to me when changing resolutions when I deliberately installed the "wrong" NVIDIA driver. I had to reboot (hint: it's helpful to memorize the key sequence needed to shut down), hit F8, and load Windows in low resolution, then work my way up the resolution chain. Check that you have the right video drivers, including downgrading if you have to. Also, I think you may be mixing metaphors because I don't know why you would have to repeatedly try installing the "video drivers" in relationship to the "tuner card," they're two different things. Do you perhaps mean the ATI tuner card software and EPROM (which are not the NVidia video drivers)? That's a well-documented problem that I think all of us have had. If I misunderstood and you did indeed have to try installing the NVidia video drivers repeatedly, that sounds like a more serious problem and one that you really should check the version or go back to the ones provided by Sony.

It also happened to me regularly with another monitor whenever the XL3 came out of screen shutdown. Because of the limited capability of the remote - actually, the "zero" capability of the Sony remote - to control other things via IR, I had rigged a program called Wizmo to turn the screen off when I hit a certain key combination. But when "waking" the screen, I'd just get those garbled graphics. This had something to do with monitor's scan rate stability, however, because turning the monitor off and on would fix it; whereas the driver-created version could not be fixed.
post #119 of 3843
You are absolutely correct, I was talking about re-flashing the ATI video capture card. I have now spent 20 hours or so trying to get this machine reliably working and I'm still "losing" the video capture card or "tuner card" as MS calls it. This is frustrating. I'm running the stock operating system (Home Premium Vista) and have updated all the Sony drivers twice and all the MS drivers once. The last VGX-XL3 I owned had the same problem even after being sent back to Sony several times for repairs. They finally bought it back when it couldn't be fixed. I bought a new one and... same problems. This is frustrating. If I can't get the tuner card issue resolved soon, I'm going to return this one before it's too late. Best of luck!
post #120 of 3843
Jeff, I should have mentioned that Sony customer support is horrible. I kept a log of my phone calls and some of them are funny, except for the fact that it's my time being wasted. The number you call gets answered pretty quickly, but they have to transfer you to the Level 2 group in San Diego to solve most problems. I've been on hold for 1 1/2 hours several times trying to get through to Level 2. After buying a $3,200 computer, you'd hope the service would be a bit better. Even with all this said, the box is clean, quiet and when it works it is great. I still hope to get it running.
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