Dell Mini 9 Hardware and Upgrades Discuss Dell Mini 9 Hardware and Upgrades.

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Daniel Daniel is offline
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Default Cinergy HTC USB XS HD (DVB-T, DVB-C, Analog TV, Radio) - 12-15-2008, 05:47 PM

So finally the Cinergy HTC USB XS HD (ordered for 84€ on Amazon) arrived.

I've got mixed feelings about this.

I installed the hardware and I was able to scan the DVB-C transponders. After scanning finished I was able to watch at a channel, and the image quality indicated that this would work way better than expected.

Now the bad news.

While trying to sort the channels, things started to break. I noticed that channels with a high data rate would start to stutter, then to freeze. The only way to recover from this was to pull out the USB cable and stick it back in, then restart the TV application. The problem here is that the last channel watched is the channel which gets activated after restart, so you need to restart in a special mode, which just means to doubleclick another link which adds a parameter to the exe.

So I installed the USB-TV on my real PC to check it out. But I soon noticed that the problem was identical on that quad core, 2.4GHz, 4GB RAM PC. Sticking it into a USB Port connected directly to the Mobo improved the situation, so I believe that the real problem lies in the USB throughput.

I scanned the channels on the PC, custom-tailored the channel list. Then I exported the channel list with a tool which also gets installed automatically, which allowed me to import the list on the mini.

Back on the Mini, I changed the renderer to be Overlay Mixer, instead of one of the Video mixing Renderer 7 or 9, which improved the situation a lot. I was able to watch any channel for a couple of minutes until the stuttering started again. Keep in mind that I have the same problem on a real PC.

Now, I'm not sure if it's the USB Adapter or maybe USB just isn't fast enough, but I believe that I'll send the Adapter back for a replacement, to ensure that it's not the new hardware which is faulty. On the other hand; I have watched Transport Streams stored on USB Sticks without any problem.

Analog TV works OK, but quality is obviously pretty analoguish-bad.

I have not checked the radio, but digital radio is also causing problems. Up to now I have not been able to listen to it.
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Daniel Daniel is offline
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Default Re: Cinergy HTC USB XS HD (DVB-T, DVB-C, Analog TV, Radio) - 12-15-2008, 09:42 PM

It appears to be the USB receiver.

DVB-T is working without problems. Overlay Mixing is used, DxVA is enabled. The software is able to use multiple cores (at least there is the option in the Advanced Settings), but I have it disabled. Standard DVB-T Channels (ie WDR, SWR) with a bitrate of 3 - 4 Mb/s work without glitches. Pausing the video and then resuming it (timeshift) will cause glitches during playback, making this feature unusable, even if the timeshift folder is set to the SSD and multiple cores are enabled in the Advanced Settings. Content which is being viewed can be recorded with no glitches to the SDHC card in the slot, even with multiple cpu support disabled. So the problem with timeshifting is the simultaneous playback and recording. I'll check recording to an external usb-attached HDD soon.

Analog TV is also working without problems, and it is enjoyable. I have not tested timeshifting on analog TV, but I presume that at least recording will work just as well, even tough I'm not sure if the mpg encoding is done on the chip or in software. I'll check that later on.

Now to DVB-C. Even though the bitrate is at least doubled on DVB-C channels, I noticed that the "signal strength bar" shows a signal strength of 0%. DVB-T is showing at least 80% which gives a signal quality of 100%.
The signal strength bar of 0% still gives a signal with a quality of 100%, during the time which I'm able to see the channel. I then see the bitrate climb up slowly to about 6 Mb/s, and at that point the signal quality starts to stutter, I start getting packet loss (ie 4% packet loss), until no more packets arrive, at which point the image freezes.

The insteresting point is that the signal strength is at 0%. I have another DVB-C card in another computer which uses the same cable which I used to test the mini, and the app on that computer shows a signal strength of 100%, so the issue is clearly in the USB receiver.

I will contact Terratec tomorrow to see what they have got to say about this, and contact Amazon to have them send me in a replacement. So it looks like there is still hope.
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zeroprime zeroprime is offline
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Default Re: Cinergy HTC USB XS HD (DVB-T, DVB-C, Analog TV, Radio) - 12-16-2008, 02:08 AM

wow, thanks for the in depth detail of what seems to be the problem. Too bad it didn't work well, but hopefully the unit is just defective and the replacement works for you.
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Daniel Daniel is offline
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Default Re: Cinergy HTC USB XS HD (DVB-T, DVB-C, Analog TV, Radio) - 12-16-2008, 02:32 PM

Yes, I sure hope so. Amazon confirmed the replacement and I believe that it should arrive on thursday, or maybe even tomorrow.

I checked Analog TV recording and that doesn't work at all. This just freezes the TV. Looks like the mpeg encoding is done in software and the Atom just isn't powerful enough.

I while I was watching a bit of DVB-T yesterday, I noticed that CPU usage was at about 40%. It was ok to surf the web and download stuff while the TV is on without having glitches.

Terratec also offers DVB-T only USB Receivers, which are lower in price, so for those who have got a good DVB-T coverage in their area this might be a nice item to buy.

Their software is great, I've tried several DVB TV softwares on other cards and I must say that this is the best one I've come across.

The included remote control also works. Too sad that the ir receiver is on the USB Receiver and not in the Mini...
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Daniel Daniel is offline
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Default Re: Cinergy HTC USB XS HD (DVB-T, DVB-C, Analog TV, Radio) - 12-18-2008, 04:49 PM

Replacement arrived an hour ago. Exactly the same issue.

I didn't even bother to test it on the mini since the same problem was occuring on the other machine (tyan k8we, 2 x Opteron 280, 4GB ram)

Either Amazon got a batch of faulty devices, or the PC and the mini are broken. Or the cable has some issues. But the cable works very good on a KNC One DVB-C PCI card... it may be the usb. Even though I connected it directly to a mobo usb (no hub in between)

And it's not the bandwith. I saw digital radio had 2 Mb/s on Cable, and it did not work without packet loss, while the 3 Mb/s DVB-T worked without a glitch, just perfect. It may be the connector. There's a little adapter which you plug onto the cabletv cable, and it scales the whole thing down to about 2 mm in diameter.

During the scan it finds all the cable channels, and even when I select a channel and open the signal information option, I can see that the information of the channel (all the ID's, transponders and rate) match exactly the information which the working KNC One shows. So there are no errors. IV'e got no idea which could be the problem.

Newest drivers, newest software... I'll try again in a couple of years.
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Daniel Daniel is offline
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Default Re: Cinergy HTC USB XS HD (DVB-T, DVB-C, Analog TV, Radio) - 12-18-2008, 06:03 PM

I tried it on another pc, the one which has got the KNC-One in it, and there it works. The Signal Strength is also shown as 0, but the Signal Quality always stays at 100%. So maybe 0 does not matter.

Since I also tried it with the mini in another room, the environment does not seem to be the cause of packet loss.

On the pc mentioned above, channel switching is horribly slow. About 8 sec.

1 out of 3 is not good enough.

SDTV (720x576) goes up to a continuous stream of 10 Mb/s (Das Erste), but on some channels, depending on the content it is streaming, it hangs around 4.5Mb/s peaking up to 9Mb/s (ProSieben, ZDF) (it always starts slowly at about 2Mb/s then climbs up steadily), some channels hang around 4Mb/s and slightly below (RTL)

Comparing this to the 2-3Mb/s I mentioned from DVB-T, which works just fine on the Mini, it looks like it's the USB chipset on the mobo which is causing the problem.

I'll try it again on the tyan k8we on other USB ports as soon as the Simpsons are over.
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Daniel Daniel is offline
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Default Re: Cinergy HTC USB XS HD (DVB-T, DVB-C, Analog TV, Radio) - 12-18-2008, 07:48 PM

Ok, it seems to work.

I downloaded the latest driver (duh!), and even with the old card, that fixed the problem. Almost. On channels with high data rates ( > 6 Mb/s ) there are occasional glitches. About 1 sec of audio and video gets lost, not that you don't get any av during that time, but it is as if the av runs a bit too slow so that this lag accumulates and then in a moment it just drops a few frames. This happens at a rate of 1 per 10 sec to 1 per minute. I don't enjoy that.

Channels with relatively low data rates ( < 6 Mb/s ) with occasional peaks during most of the time don't have those problems, well, hmm, looks like they have the same problem, too. Yes they do, nut not so often.

You can record the stream, but it takes a couple of seconds (about 15) until the system has settled to it's new state and runs almost smoothly afterwards. You can't timeshift.

Considering the improvement given with the driver update, which was a change in the 5.8.4xx.0 -> 5.8.6xx.0 range, it gives the feeling that there's some headroom for more improvement. Probaby better versions of the Cyberlink codecs may also improve the experience.

Turning off Skype seems doesn't help.

There is still the problem with the extremly long channel switching times.

Pros: Very high quality TV with many many channels on the Mini. Remote control. Recording to SDHC (tv and radio). Radio channels have excellent sound quality and you can switch them at about 1-2 sec. Low overall power consumption (compared to turing on a pc just to watch tv).

Cons: Occasional drops, no timeshifting (tv and radio), horrible channel switching times (tv only). Radio channels, which also have some glitches (they run at 2.45Mb/s). Bind your mini to another cable in addition to the power cord...

I'll keep it this weekend to decide if I'm going to keep it or not. Even though I believe that I won't since Zattoo offers almost all I want, without a cable and without a 121 USD price tag.
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