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TheaterTek's registration key scheme is seemingly deliberately annoying, buggy, and results in an unusable product.


After months of screwing around with TheaterTek reg keys, frankly I've had enough of it. At this point I am strongly recommending to friends etc. to avoid TheaterTek.


I'm sure some folks will say they haven't had any reg key problems, but if you're one of the lucky ones, count your blessings. Maybe you haven't upgraded or changed your hardware, maybe you're running a different operating system, who knows. My friend Phil has had the same problems as me, so I know it's not a single instance.


On installation, TheaterTek requires a 16-digit alphanumeric serial number, and a 44-digit temporary key which does NOT allow you to use the software that you paid for, for more than 7 days.


Those 60 digits generate an 8-digit "SoftLock" key which is apparently based on your EXACT hardware configuration. You then have to MAIL the 16-digit alpha serial number and 8-digit SoftLock key, along with your username and organization, to TheaterTek, and in a day or so they send you yet ANOTHER 40 DIGIT "permanent" key.


This is software specifically designed for an HTPC, mind you. Who has EMAIL on their HTPC? So to send them the permanent key request, you have to write down the serial # and softlock, send it via your real PC, write down the resulting 40 digit key, and enter all of this precise stuff using some dinky wireless keyboard perched on your lap.


If this whole procedure actually WORKED, it would be a forgettable pain in the neck. However, TheaterTek's reg system is so buggy that it "forgets" your permanent registration on a regular basis. Since the SoftLock key appears to be based on hardware, it's probably hardware changes that do it. Both my friend Phil and I change our hardware fairly often -- trying out new video cards for DVD playback, new sound cards, etc. That's about the only thing we know we have in common apart from both running Windows XP (side note: everyone grouses about Windows XP product activation but at least it transparently reactivates on hardware changes, unlike TheaterTek!)


I just installed the latest TheaterTek patch (the install procedure is undocumented on their site except in the discussion forums) around the same time I switched out my video card to a new FX 5200. Lo and behold, it hosed my permanent registration again. So, I requested a new key, and waited to receive a new permanent code via email. Well, it wouldn't accept the new code!


I decided at this point the "scorched earth" policy was best, so I uninstalled the player completely (even though TheaterTek won't post a new, up-to-date version so every time you reinstall you have to install 2 patches). This time, the reinstalled version won't take my ORIGINAL SERIAL NUMBER off of the original CD I purchased!


This is just such a freaking nightmare. My wife wanted to watch The Transporter tonight and I ended up messing around with the damn TheaterTek for an hour instead of watching the movie! As far as she's concerned, we should just junk the HTPC completely now and go back to a regular DVD player.


In 25 years in the computer industry I don't think I've ever been so frustrated with a piece of software. TheaterTek seems to have a "critical need detector" where it always seems to hose its registration right when we decide to watch a new film.


I just ordered WinDVD Platinum, since it's getting a very good rep in this forum lately. I'm going back to mainstream products and hopefully this will save my HTPC wife acceptance factor. Besides, TheaterTek wants ANOTHER $25 for the 1.5 upgrade -- Zoom Player Professional is only $19.95 for the whole damn player! Oh sure, TheaterTek includes a codec, but codecs are $14.95 from all the major companies.


Goodbye TheaterTek, it was nice the couple of times that it worked.


Kai
 

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Whatever :rolleyes:
 

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My advice is to get a dvd player with good interlaced output, a flyvideo 2000 capture card, and download the free Dscaler software. Video quality is suprisingly fantastic, it works, and none of this registration key nonsense (though we should donate to the DScaler folks). IMO none of the software dvd players are usable products at this point (though windvd is pretty close except for its lack of a good video deinterlacing mode). Like you, I'm pretty fed up after having spent $$$ on them only to get a pile of frustration in return - and I also am a computer programmer by trade.


Mike U.
 

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You really think that a standalone-capture-dscaler setup is better than ZP, WinDVD filters and ffdshow?


The only problem I have with software DVD's is infrequent micro-judder. Small price to pay for awesome PQ, imho.
 

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Hi !


Never owned Theater Tek but my humble advice to software companies is this:


Don´t make it more complicated for a user to buy and use a registered version than to get and use a pirated version.


I don´t want to discuss morality or law here. Those points have been discussed alot and nothing new will come out of discussing it again.


I am stressing another point here:


The customer has decided to pay for a program. If he has more trouble to get through the paying/registration/using registered version on different hardware/applying update process he will eventually ask himself why he has to go through all this and a user who uses pirated software does not. And rightfully so !!


I will gladly give my money to companies who ask a little and make it easy for the customer ( Zoom Player for instance ). Companies who make it so complicated and painful for the customer to use a registered version are shooting into their own foot in the long rung.


A paying customer should have NO trouble using the product even he changes hardware/software/looses his key etc.

Logic also tells us that so far there has not been any registration scheme that has not been cracked.


So if you combine those two experiences that should lead you somewhere.

Or not. But then don´t blame the customer. Blame yourself !


Just my 2c.

midiboy
 

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KC, thank goodness you're bringing this up. I was about to send them my money. It's NOT going to happen now.


Look, TheaterTek people, Microsoft can afford to get away with it because they're the only game in town. You're not! And you just lost a sale because of this.


I'm in the same boat as KC. When I buy a software, I don't want to mess around registering and re-registering to get it to run from time to time when I re-configure my system.


Btw, I've dumped Turbo Tax for Tax Cut this year. Tax Cut was not as easy to use (subjectively). But in the end, I still got my tax filed and my money back. :)


I look at DVD sw player the same way. The others may not be as sleek. But in the end, I still get to watch my movie.


Get the point?!


Cheers!
 

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Can anyone comment on Mulveling's remarks about using of a flyvideo capture card with Dscaler instead of using a software DVD player and ffdshow?


From the other threads, I had always assumed that the ZP+ffdshow+(software player of choice) was the only real game in town for picture quality. Is the flyvideo approach really a strong alternative with respect to PQ? If so, it would sure simplify my setup.
 

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I have no problem with theatertek and am quite happy with it. I would reccomend it to people because I had an easy time installing it and had it running with ffdshow very quickly.

FREAK!
 

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I'm sorry that Kai has had an unfortunate experience with Theatertek. We have a siginificant number of customers out there and the vast majority do not have an issue with our registration. For the record, as this type of criticism comes up every once in a while, here are all the pertinent points about our registration.


When you buy TheaterTek, you get a serial number included in the download confirmation email. This is the only code you need to enter to begin running the program. This allows the player to run for 7 days while you verify it meets your needs and is compatible with your system. It's not a crippled version and does not time out after 5 mins like most other DVD trial software.


Any time during this 7 days you can request a permanent activation code or a refund. Once activated TT will run quite happily. Changing video cards, sound cards, LAN cards etc. will NOT require new activation. Changing things like the hard disk or re-partitioning WILL require new activation. HOWEVER, the player does not become unusable at this point, it just reverts back to a 7 day countdown mode, leaving plenty of time to request and enter a new activation code.


As for needing to write everything down, we have two methods to get your activation code. The easiest is if your PC is on the internet, there's an email button on the registration dialog. The second is to use the Save button to dump this info to a file (no personal info, just name, serial# and code#). You can then send this file from another PC.


Regards,
 

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Since I must be in the mood to get flamed, I'd like to try to bring some balance to this thread:


1. TheaterTek's reg scheme does seem annoying when you reinstall, but this market (despite all the activity on this forum) isn't that big.


2. By making the key specific to your hardware, it makes pirating the product difficult (nothing in the digital world is impossible, but it is difficult), which allows Andrew to protect his investment.


3. You are allowed "infinite" licenses for your personal use, once registered (when you change hardware, you get a new code. If you install on a second computer, you get a new code -- for free).


4. The e-mail response from TheaterTek has been very quick, when I found myself in Kai's situation (new processor/mobo/hard drive) I had a new reg code in about 12 hrs. I actually think that many people have e-mail access from their HTPCs.


5. The TheaterTek forum is no AVS Forum, but it is one of the best sources of information on this topic I have found on the web. Karnis, your moderator here, is about as active there as well. Sometimes you get what you pay for.


6. If you don't like the product or choose not to use it, that is your decision (that's why there is a trial version). I happen to really like it and choose to support the developer. If you don't like it, you can use the other players on the market. I just don't think that the situation is as onerous as you make it out to be -- how many PC games require you to insert a CD as a hardware key before every use, even if the whole game is installed on your HD? Now that sucks!


Just my two kopeks worth.
 

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Sorry to hear you are having all these troubles. As a beta tester for Theatertek, and also having done a major HW upgrade recently, I have probably been thru the re-registration process as much as anyone, and I have never had a problem.

"TheaterTek's registration key scheme is seemingly deliberately annoying, buggy, and results in an unusable product. "


I would submit that there are thousands of happy TT users who would disagree with this statement.
 

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What happens to the paid registered users of this program, if/(when) Theater Tek goes out of business?


They are screwed, are they not?
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Karnis
"TheaterTek's registration key scheme is seemingly deliberately annoying, buggy, and results in an unusable product. "


I would submit that there are thousands of happy TT users who would disagree with this statement.
As a paid and registered user who pre-ordered 1.0 I can say that the utility of using the theatertek player outweighs the futility of the registration process. BUT, the balance is damn close. It got better with 1.5, but only for new users -- 1.0 upgraders just got an extra layer of futility for their loyalty. Although this sillyness is apparently in process of being addressed, a year later we're still stuck with it.


The only thing keeping me with TT today is that Zoom has butt-ugly, non-intuitive aspect ratio control and despite thinking of myself as a smart guy I can't make it handle all the scaling mixes that go with a 4:3 projector plus 1.85 and 2.35 panamorphs. If Blight ever brings that up to snuff, I'll probably drop $20 his way and other than keeping the extracted codecs, write off my much larger investment in TT.


I wouldn't be surprised if a significant minority of other "happy" users had similar reservations.
 

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Loss of convenience is the price one pays for the best software DVD player available. Stop your whining. If you want convenience use the throw away programs WinDVD and PowerDVD that come free with virtually every DVD rom drive, sound card or video card.


At least the snot nosed hackers haven't raped TheaterTek to point of bankruptcy by cracking it and distributing it all over the Internet like mostly everything else. The people that complain the most are generally the ones that can't find cracked versions to steal.


Yes, it's a major pain in the ass for someone like me that has several PC's networked and is always rebuilding and changing them but I have learned to live with it.


And as always, user error has a lot to due with things not working. People that can't manage or understand the intricacies of Home Theater computers should stay away from them or pay someone to personally support them. That would cut down dramatically on threads like this one.
 

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The people that complain the most are generally the ones that can't find cracked versions to steal.


This is the kind of personal attack designed to silence dissent. No different from statements like, "Only criminals fear the loss of privacy," and "War protestors are traitors," and "Anyone who supports drug decriminilization is just a druggie."


It has no place in an intellectually honest discussion.
 

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Quote:
What happens to the paid registered users of this program, if/(when) Theater Tek goes out of business?
As long as the registration process remains difficult it will be nearly impossible to crack therefore unlikely they will go out of business. I have worried about this myself plus I believe there is a contingency plan in place to prevent users from being screwed as you say.


Jerry,
Quote:
The only thing keeping me with TT today is that Zoom has butt-ugly, non-intuitive aspect ratio control and despite thinking of myself as a smart guy I can't make it handle all the scaling mixes that go with a 4:3 projector plus 1.85 and 2.35 panamorphs. If Blight ever brings that up to snuff, I'll probably drop $20 his way and other than keeping the extracted codecs, write off my much larger investment in TT.
I mostly use Bsplayer because the versions of Zoomplayer I tried in the past refused to keep audio and video in sync on 1-pass quality XVID and DIVX files. BsPlayer would play media files perfectly every time. So, to get to my point, if you are familiar with simple batch files you can actually launch your movie forcing a specific aspect ratio though the batch command line. I am not absolutely sure if Zoomplayer does it but I can't see why it won't if Bsplayer will. In your batch you include the switches to run Zoomplayer full screen and at what aspect ratio you need.


On some movies I saved to disk I force a perfect aspect ratio by including in the batch file the powerstrip setting for desktop resolution, the aspect ratio of Bsplayer and register any codecs needed to play that specific file. Since the codecs needed to decode DTS encoded AVI files conflicts with TheaterTek audio decoders I unload and reload as the movie is launched. Then upon exiting Bsplayer the batch file continues to re-establish my standard powerstrip desktop setting, unload and re-load the appropriate codecs and bring me back to my menu.
 

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Jerry, interesting examples especially when you consider it an personal attack? Something you wish to share? :)


I guess your opinions on honest vary from mine.
 

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By the way people, diplomacy isn't my strong suite so I have news.


In general, if you're going make a major upgrade or change to your HTPC hours before expecting a big party to come watch a movie you're seriously out of your mind. I can't count the times I've read people bitching in the various forums on how they can't play a DVD when they had plans because they decided to play around with things before hand and then blamed the software designers. Common sense would cut down on support threads too. Regardless of personal opinions, if you have even enough computer skills to be dangerous you should have the sensibilities to know not to screw around with things when you intend to host something and don't have adequate time to fix your mistakes.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Shawn Pilichis
The people that complain the most are generally the ones that can't find cracked versions to steal.
I find the generality of the statement insulting! :mad:


I'm a software professional so I know a thing or two about the value of intellectual property. Thank you.
 

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Gentlemen:

This type of thread always seems to envoke heated emotions. Please keep the discussion civil or the thread will be closed. Thanks.
 
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