2007-05-23 Choco Blog
This page was last modified 2007-11-16 15:55:18 by Puchu.Net user Choco. (Show history)

Vista Media Center EPG

It's been a few weeks since my wife and I started watching over-the-air HD programming. For the most part this has been great. We got our UHF antenna installed, have good signal strength on all channels; I built a new computer with 2 digital tuners to record all of the shows she likes using Vista Media Center. When the baby is crying we just pause and go take care of him.

The only annoyance involves the EPG, or electronic program guide in Vista supplied by Zap2It. First, it shows fewer channels than available (it only mapps to analog programs, it seems); a digital major channel can have several minor channels, and only the first one is listed. Second, some channels are not listed at all.

This by itself isn't terrible, because Vista allows manual adding of major and minor channels. But once I added them all I realized that I am not getting any guide data for them. Further comparison (since my job right now is digital TV-related, I have a lot of reference data to work with) shows that even for the channels that do have guide data, they can be wrong.

So the issues that makes this experience less-than-perfect came from the fact that:

  1. Which channels you can view is determined not by channel scanning and collecting information from VCT. Instead, a company aggregates this information and send this information over the net.
  2. Instead of using the EIT, the analog channel guide data is used. For some stations they do not simulcast on the analog and digital channels.
  3. Every time new guide data is downloaded something may break. For example, some of the channels went away.

This isn't exactly the fault of Microsoft or Zap2It. Their products are not perfect. One cannot expect the data aggregator to be right 100% of the time for the entire nation, but there should be choices for an alternative EPG provider so that consumers can decide which one can serve them best. Or do what most of the TV's do, a channel scan of all frequencies to discover available channels.

If somewhere a Microsoft Media Center engineer reads this, please fix this issue.... Thanks!


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