Yesterday I installed Windows Vista Home Premium edition on my home theater PC and yes, the wow starts now. Lot’s of eye-candy and a look-and-feel like the Mac, I say ‘like’ because it’s not on par with the Mac but getting there. Is Vista more than a Windows XP Service Pack 3 with a new look and feel?
I went through the setup of Media Center, which is my only use for Vista at the moment, and the setup was simple and much the same as the previous XP version. The interface has some new features and all the existing features have a nice new polish, sophistication and ease of use. Setting up a program guide provider for Australia is still painful and I wish there was something simpler as the whole process seems clunky and the quality of the guides vary greatly. The whole process from beginning to end where I was sitting on the couch watching my favourite program was about four (4) hours. Your read correctly, four (4) hours. This includes stuffing around to see why Vista ready drivers don’t work and looking to find out what to do as an alternative. However, Vista Media Centre edition is well worth the effort as things are more polished, simpler, quicker and somehow I got a better picture. I say somehow as I simply can’t put my finger on why the picture is better. Maybe the improved support for different resolutions is the key but I don’t know. So in answer to the question of should you get Vista on a home theater PC, the answer is yes, but it’s not for the uninitiated as there is some fiddling to do which I don’t think should be necessary in a Windows installation at this stage of the game.
I put the Vista DVD in and rebooted and off went the installation. This was a little unusual as the startup slash screen doesn’t say “Vista” at all so I wondered what was going on. After a while I got a GUI that did say Windows Vista which was refreshing. The part of the installation took about 40 minutes and I recommend having the PC connected to a network if possible. Vista will get lots of updates and drivers for you which is nice but it’s what it doesn’t get that causes the problems. The install was effortless as you don’t need to do anything but there isn’t a lot to tell you what is going on. So you just wait and wait and then wait some more. Eventually everything looks installed and you need to check that all things are connected and available. I had a few drivers to download and install manually which was annoying, since I had been waiting so long already. For example, I have a DLINK DWL revision C wireless card and Vista could not find a driver for this so you need to get it yourself. So a quick trip to the DLINK web site and I found the Vista driver but this doesn’t work, so I looked around the net and find that people are using the XP driver instead. Hmmmn, maybe Vista really is XP SP3 with a new look and feel?
I’m used an evaluation version of Vista with 30 days until purchase or activatation. A friend has pointed out that you can get a further evaluation period using the command
slmgr -rearm. At least until Microsoft turn this ability off.There are a lot more things to learn about Vista and the best site I have found is http://www.tweakvista.com/
A few friends have pointed out that if you are running XP when you choose to install Vista then a lot more information if provided by Vista on the things you need to do for a successful upgrade.
I have also received reports of others getting better picture quality. This is a real plus.