Getting Windows 7 media center to work on Hauppauge PVR 150

I was one of those crazy people downloading Windows 7 RTM from MSDN on Aug. 6 when it was first available. Even though it is dog slow, I have to say it is well worth it. I am very impressed by Windows 7 so far. Yes, the UI is cool, but more importantly, it is super fast and responsive. I was running Win XP before on my work laptop. After switching to Windows 7, I felt everything, including startup/suspend/resume, happens much faster. Windows 7 also uses less memory. I used to only be able to run one VM at a time before I max out my 2G memory, but I now can run two VMs comfortably at the same time while all my development tools are loaded.

I am so impressed that I decide to upgrade my home PC to Windows 7 as well, which leads to the topic of this post. My home PC has a Hauppauge PVR-150 which I use to record TV shows. Unfortunately, Windows 7 does not work out of the box. First of all, Windows 7 does not have the driver out of the box. This is no big deal, I simply download the driver. (Note, the driver does not work if you have more than 4GB memory on 64bit OS). The more serious problem is that Media Center would hang when you start watching live TV or record new shows. The first picture may show, but it would not show any video or audio. Worst of all, there is no error message, so you cannot tell what is going on.

After tinkering around with it for hours, I start to suspect that the codec is not working properly. So I installed the Nvidia PureVideo codec. Then I used the Media Center Decoder Utility to switch the codec from the default to PureVideo. Guess what, it now works. I believe there is also a free codec on sourceforge, but I have not tried it yet. It is surprising that the default would not work out of the box. I guess Windows 7 still has a lot of kinks to work out, but overall, it is the best Microsoft OS I have used.