Thursday, November 13, 2008

Media Center, or not?

Q: When is a media center not a media center?
A: When it can't handle that most fundamental of HTPC functions: DVD playback.......

This is an interesting article, which shows how bad a HP customer feels about using the HP media center.

It is extract from APC Magazine: is the online reader community of APC Magazine, one of the world’s longest published personal computing titles, continually published since May 1980.
This is what was feedback by one user of the media center,
Scott Walker from perth, WA

I am currently pursuing my complaint through Consumer Protection but thought you might be interested in my HP Media Center experience, and if all else fails, be able to help or offer suggestions.

I purchased an HP M9170A Media Center in March. On running it I discovered that DVD playback in Media Center stuttered; that is, the sound was perfect but the picture stalled and skipped frames. The problem only occurs when DVDs are run in Media Center(the DVD software is perfect when run separately), but for those who are not familiar with Media Center, It is designed to run all your media from one user-friendly (and remote control) packages without the need for a mouse, keyboard or multiple applications to open and tinker with.

I made calls to HP on number of occasions, each time trying the same thing, including a re-format, which was ridiculous as the unit is straight out of the box, with no installs or third party software added. Finally, my case was referred to the hardware team, who were brilliant but obviously, as all the hardware worked separately to the media center, there was nothing they could do but re-format and send the unit back.

I then called HP again. They told me that the hardware was fine (no surprise there) and that it was fixed, a little surprising as it was still stuttering.

I was then referred to an ‘expert’ who was helpful. On the phone, we discussed the problem in detail: CPU usage, RAM usage, video card settings, software that worked and registry changes I’d experimented with and their effects. He even called me. We left with him setting off to test the system with my settings. But then his promised callback date came and went, and guess what? Nothing.

The straws that broke the camel’s back occurred today when I was told by HP helpdesk that it was a software issue. Therefore they would not accept return of the item, there was no fix, and I should use a different software package outside of Media Center to watch DVDs. They said that as the unit was older than 14 days old it was no longer covered by their return policy, even though the first calls were logged less than four days after I registered the product.

HP head office cannot be contacted directly, at least by consumers. The helpdesk will not escalate calls directly, they will only ‘refer’ calls, and they make you call back to ‘see’ if there is a response.

It’s day 47. I’m tired.

Scott Walker, Perth, WA

We referred Scott’s complaints to HP to find out what the go was with his less-than-functional media center and received the following response:

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the email from Scott Walker.
HP was concerned to hear of the less than satisfactory experience Mr Walker discovered when attempting to play back DVDs in his HP Media Center. We have been working with Mr Walker directly to resolve the matter to his satisfaction.

The HP Media Center the customer owns is in working order, however, it is not designed to play back in the highest resolution setting through the external device he is attempting. A lower resolution, or disabling Aero, or upgrading the RAM and graphic cards could improve the experience.

HP recommands customers who requires HD output to consider HP systems with HD DVD and/or Blu-ray drives.

Brad Swiney
Public Relations Manager
Personal Systems Group
HP Australia.

We Referred Scott to HP’s response, but he’d already devised his own unique way of having the "last laugh”

“oddly, the HP Media Center had an HD drive and also boasted 1080p, of which I was using 1080i. I was also the one who discovered the memory was insufficient, which HP refuses to admit to or rectify.

“I was eventually told that it was a Microsoft problem, not an HP problem, and that to resolve it I would have to go to Microsoft. Microsoft told me the HD playback software was Hp’s and the circle continues.

“On day 47 I got Consumer Affairs involved, as HP insisted the machine worked. They even told me that I was ‘expecting too much’. I was also told to use Media Player until Microsoft fixed the problem.

“After some massive arguments, the Good Guys in Joondalup got involved and returned the product, taking up the fight themselves. They were told not to by HP but did it to keep a customer happy. I commend then for their assistance.

“I have since built a media center from scratch. And as a lovely act of revenge, rewritten a machine spec(I ‘m a project manager) to exclude HP PCs. This affects around 23 machines with between two and five Pcs per machine. So in short, I feel validated, and would never use an HP product again.

Reference: APC Magazine, published by APC Magazine Pty Ltd (ACP), November 2008 issue, feedback page 18

Does this sounds familiar?

I used to own a HP notebook myself 4 years back. This is because of upgrading, I got a HP business notebook NX7010. It is a high performance notebook, but it later keep on restart by itself, and sometime just stick at the blue screen. I sent it back on many occasion, and the only thing that the people there could do is just reformat and send back. After a third time, I do not install any more program, but using halfway, it can even shows the blue screen, made me lost my precious document.
After some heated argument, I asked for a refund from them, because the product have to be sent back almost every month, and even twice in one month. I was frustrated and they do not even admit it is a product failure even when I showed them a photo of the error message.

I was later referred to the Microsoft, and the Microsoft says it is the hardware problem. In the last straw, I sell it off to the second hand seller, and was dealth with a loss of $1600. In such, when my company boss was asking in the meeting for recommendation of getting a notebook, I told him not to include HP notebook, because of my experiences. I even showed him the proof of the service sheets, and photo, and then he withdrawn HP from the list. After that, it is decided that the company shifted from Compaq PCs to IBM PC during the PC upgrading projects for the entire IT system in the company. The valid reasoning for it is that one of the colleague who uses it finds it good and although it is more expensive than the market, it is a very stable system.

Hearing his comment, I tried Lenovo. It is a part of IBM, and I got a good price for it. After using for six months, I find it great, I put in a few more dollars in upgrading the PC. Now the Lenovo is the server of my house. It have multiples hard drives, 13 cooling fans, and the network server for the Acer laptop.

As for HP? Nah, after the given chance of the HP Ipaq, I decided never to invest a single cent into any HP products in the short time. But I do tell people my experience.


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