Windows 7 Media Center on Acer Aspire Idea 500

We had a catastrophe recently. Our Windows Vista media centre developed a puzzling problem. It refused to boot up, complaining of no boot disc. But if I went into the BIOS and put the SATA boot drive back to the top of the boot drive order and reboot, it would boot up fine.

For a while.

Then, it started randomly hanging, then restarting, and giving the ‘No boot disk’ error again. Until it got to the point where it wouldn’t get through the boot sequence before rebooting.

Clearly, it was unhappy.

I’ve had hardware issues before.

The PSU has failed twice, in exactly the same way, in the last two years. Others have reported the same symptoms, so there’s definitely some problem, and a replacement PSU has solved it both times.

This is different, though. It looked like a faulty drive, although this drive was new this year.

Whatever the reason, we were without TV. We don’t watch live TV. All our TV viewing is through the Media Centre. Or iPlayer (mostly the kids use iPlayer on their netbooks when they don’t want to watch what’s on the big telly).

So I clearly had to do something.

I decided to put a new drive in. I had a spare 500G SATA drive with some archived TV, so I cleared all that off onto the 1.5TB external (which is now getting full itself) and put it into the Acer.

Then I booted up with the Win7 RC in the drive.

About 30 minutes later, Win7 was running. All was not rosy, though.

Windows 7 issues with Acer Aspire iDea 500

A default install was missing some drivers. I was using a TV as a monitor (easier to do where the machine lives) and the output was black and white and quite fuzzy – clearly NTSC rather than PAL. And there was no sound coming through the TV speakers, despite Win7 thinking a sound driver was working. And Device Manager was telling me that the TV Tuner card was unrecognised (not surprising – it’s an obscure OEM device from Yuan).

Luckily, I had two things on my side: Windows 7 uses the same driver model as Vista; and I’d gone through a complete install of Vista on this machine (it originally came with XP Media Center Edition) and I’d made sure I collected all the drivers I’d had to install to get things working. I’d even burned them onto DVD and remembered where I’d stored the DVD. Most unlike me, I have to admit.

So I grabbed the driver disk and installed away.

Graphics

The machine has an Intel 945GM integrated graphics chipset. I installed the drivers from my DVD, but it didn’t make much difference. The Intel drivers have a pig-ugly custom configuration control panel which allows you to set things like the TV mode, and I’d already set the mode to PAL_I, but I tried again, and this time, after a reboot, the colour image reappeared. I’ll come back to the graphics driver, but for now, that was OK.

Sound

No sound from the TV output (through a scart socket). I remembered having a similar issue with Vista, so I installed the Realtek drivers, and the sound was restored. (I had a plan B – a small USB speaker – but I’m glad I don’t have to use that plan.)

TV Tuner and Media Centre

I installed the Yuan drivers I’d used for Vista, and Device Manager showed that it believed they were correct, so to test it, it was time to start Media Centre for the first time.

Media Centre installation in Windows 7 was a little quicker than Vista. It seemed to ask fewer questions, and it recognised my tuner (it’s a dual digital/analogue tuner and both channels were recognised). I chose the default settings, and the only question it asked was my postcode, for the tuning and guide data.

After the requisite 15 minutes of searching for channels, it found around 91, which might even be more than I’d got before (the number of available channels tends to change, so that’s not perhaps surprising).

Then it started for real. I checked the guide, and started watching BBC One. After the usual tension-filled 5 seconds while it detects the signal, it started playing perfectly. Fantastic!

First Impressions

Media Centre strikes me as an unloved project. It could easily be a key selling point for Windows. other platforms’ alternatives are nowhere near as polished. And yet, it doesn’t seem, from the outside, that the project gets much development attention. Windows 7 MC still looks a lot like Vista. Some screens are almost identical. As such, the differences are often small, but telling.

Guide

The guide has been slightly redesigned. The grid is flatter in design, but doesn’t really show any more information. And some navigation features are missing. When you click on the channel name, it switches to the channel specific display, showing more upcoming shows. In Vista, Left and Right would cycle through the channels. In Win7 this doesn’t work. I used to use this all the time, so its absence is annoying.

Clicking on a specific programme in the channel listing brings up a very different Programme Info page. It still has the key options for recording the show, although the buttons are redesigned, and much smaller. This seems an odd choice, and on the tiny 14in screen I was using, it’s not that clear. However, I understand that they’re probably targeting much larger screens, so it’s probably unfair to complain.

One definite gripe, though is the behaviour when recording shows. I occasionally like to scroll through the channel listings and marking upcoming shows to record. In Vista, this was a couple of clicks. One click to bring up programme properties. Another click to record. and you’d be back where you were.

In Windows 7 it’s slightly different. When you click the Record button, you’re taken back to the channel listing, but the focus is on the button to the left of the listings, rather than on the show you were recording. This makes it a lot more difficult to just scroll through recording shows.

There is a shortcut, though, and I’m not sure if this worked in Vista. If you hit the Record button once, it will set the programme to record. Hit it again, and it sets it to record the series. Hit it a third time and it cancels the recording. This is nice, and if I remember it, it will be even quicker than before.

Live TV

There are two apparent improvements here (at least, to me). Firstly, I was surprised to see a ‘press the red button’ logo appearing. So I did, and I got the BBC’s interactive text service. I’ve never seen this on Vista, so I think it’s new in Windows 7. Nice to have, although it’s not a service I make use of myself. Sadly, they don’t record the stream, so the red button isn’t available on recordings. That might have been cool.

Another addition, which might only be new for the UK, is subtitles. These are available on the newly expanded ‘info’ menu which now opens a bar across the bottom of the screen and has several sections. I haven’t checked whether the subtitles are recorded – I presume they are. Old recordings from Vista MCE do not have subtitles.

Another tiny improvement: On Vista and XP, when recording BBC TV, there was always a recording glitch just as the programme was about to start. I’m not sure what that was, but it was ever-present. All my recordings have a slight glitch about 5 seconds after the channel ident starts. It’s probably something particular in the transport stream that the recording was choking on. But it’s gone in Windows 7 (well, on the programme I just checked).

Recorded TV

This is where we spend most of our time, and it’s never been a perfect environment in Vista.

I have some archived TV. Quite a lot of it.

Not sure how much, but over 5 terabytes of it, spread across lots of external drives.

Vista had… issues with this.

Vista has a nice feature – More TV folders – which allows the Recorded TV page to get files from more than one directory – something XP couldn’t do.

But Vista had performance issues. The more files and folders you added, the more time it would take to open Recorded TV. It got to be almost a minute before the screen would appear. I had to remove rarely used folders because it was so interminable. Every Time I’d go to the root Recorded TV page, it would spend >30s doing something before it would show us the page. It was quite bad. I’d almost have time to make tea while waiting.

Naturally, I was keen to see if Windows 7 had addressed this issue. I wasn’t hopeful, as I’ve never seen this issue mentioned as a problem with Media Centre. I plugged in two or three of my larger hard drives, and told Media Centre to monitor all the folders containing TV. Then I hit Recorded TV.

There was a pause. But not a long one. Recorded TV appeared. It didn’t yet have all the files, but it was up and showing me what it had.

I left it a while, indexing. Then I tried again. Again, there was a pause, a little longer, but still acceptable. Three seconds or so.

It’s also pretty-much instant going into groups of programmes when sort by title is on, and instant again going back up to recorded TV. Vista would have its long pause every time I went to the Recorded TV root. Windows 7 just seems to snap back.

I’m very happy with this improvement.

Playback

There’s one issue I haven’t sorted out. Playback of old recorded TV (recorded in Vista) judders. Every couple of seconds, the picture pauses then quickly catches up with itself. The sound is fine. At first, I thought it was a video driver issue, with the driver not being able to keep up with playback. But Live TV was smooth, and playback of a newly recorded progranne also looks smooth.

I know that they’ve moved to a new file format, so the old dvr-ms format is now a legacy format, but it’s all MPEG2 in the end, so I’m at a loss what the problem could be. Also, I know I’ve played back dvr-ms files on other Windows 7 machines, and not noticed such issues. I watched ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ on a projector, played from a Samsung netbook, and it was fine, so it’s hard to know what the issue might be.

Conclusion

I’ve held off from going to Windows 7 on the media centre until now on the basis that it basically worked, and was in use every day. An upgrade or rebuild always takes time and might not even work, so I didn’t want to do it on a whim. So in a way, the machine’s problems were a good thing.

Windows 7 installation was quick and easy. My preparation of a driver disk paid off, and all the drivers I needed worked. I was worried about the tuner card, as I know that some very popular cards have had issues with Windows 7, but mine works fine.

The performance improvements in Recorded TV will make a huge difference.

And I hope I can get to the bottom of the skipping on old recorded programmes. It’s going to bug me otherwise.

I’ve yet to look at the extender features. I’d like to be able to access recordings across the network on any PC, but I haven’t set up a homegroup yet. I’ll also try once more to set up my XBox as an extender, something I was unable to get working on Vista.

To sum up. Windows 7 Media Centre is worth the upgrade, if your hardware works. It’s still the same Media Centre, just better.

Update: 29 August 2009

At the same time as the Vista media centre dies, our TV died. Sort of. The switch on the front broke, and would no longer lock on. It’s a 6 year old 32in CRT TV that’s frankly showing its age, so I’ve been expecting it to die at some point. It was a bit of a coincidence it broke the same day as the MC, but that switch has been dodgy for a while. It’s funny how these things happen together, though.

So I wasn’t too upset that we needed to buy a new TV. Which we did today. We bought a Samsung 40in LCD TV. Something like this one. I toyed with buying a 50in plasma, but it was an extra £220, and 40in is still significantly bigger than our current TV, and probably as big as we want. It fits in the space where the old TV was, in the corner of the room, and we’ll probably put it on the wall eventually.

But how does it get on with my fairly old Media Centre? I was worried that it wouldn’t drive the HD resolution screen fast enough, that it would be choppy or slow.

I needn’t have worried.

I rebooted the Media centre, plugged in the HDMI cable, selected the right input on the TV and waited.

I’ve never been so pleased to see the ‘Starting Windows’ screen.

It detected the TV’s resolution (1920×1080) and I had a perfectly working display.

Except there was no sound.

After much fiddling and swapping, I’ve concluded that the HDMI cable I bought doesn’t carry sound. Probably. I’d have to try it with another known, working TV/Device combination to be sure.

Luckily, the TV has an input that takes this possibility into account (for DVI, VGA or video-only HDMI inputs) and I ran an extra audio cable to the TV and finally got sound.

And because it’s now using a native widescreen mode (instead of the square mode I was forced to use with a standard def TV) it now switches from widescreen to 4:3 when necessary. No longer does Jon Stewart look tubby.

And the best result by a long way is that playback of old recordings are no longer stuttering. They’re as smooth as they used to be on Vista.

So my new conclusion: Windows 7 Media Centre, plus an HD TV is made of win. I’m very, very happy.

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105 comments

  1. Hey what driver did you use for your dvd. I have just updated my machine to windows 7 but it has chosen to blobk the dvd driver i currently have installed

  2. Hi,

    I have the same idea 500 where i want to install windows 7 . Is there a possiblity that i can download your drivers? My biggest problem lies with the yuan drivers, the rest i already got working. but mce does not seem to recognize my tv tuner.

    my mail adres is imac@vwlan.nl

    many thanks in advance !

    rob verhoeven

  3. I have installed W7 Ultimate (version 7600) in a dual boot with the existing MCE. Everything installed Ok and runs fine, apart from the front panel display. This shows the ‘Welcome’ message on startup, but does not change to ‘Date/Time’ or show any details when Media Center is running. I have checked in the ‘old’ version but cannot tell what is the driver/software which does this. Do you have any idea?

    Thanks

    Graham

      1. Hi, I also installed W7 on my Idea 510, everything runs really great, but I can’t make working VFD (I also installed VFD Transcoder Driver 1.01.01, but it didn’t help), it just saying “System is sleeping” or “Welcome to aspire idea”. Maybe I need to configure “VFD Transcoder” some how? Or I still missing some other drivers ?

      2. Pretty sure you also need to install one or more of the following;
        Intel Chipset-driver (get it from Intel’s site)
        I struggled with audio so remember to get a newer Realtek HD Audio driver

        A clean install is absolutely a good idea ;o)
        I’ve upgraded to 3 GB memory (2+1 GB) that helps a lot
        Now i’m using 2 network tuners HDhomerun and runs HD channels

      3. I have latest chipset and audio drivers.
        After hardware update (2GB RAM, 80 GB SSD, Intel T7600 CPU), I also made clean install of W7 with latest drivers (what I could find), but VFD is still not working as it must :(

        Maybe somebody can share all drivers pack for iDea 510 for W7/W8 where VFD is working as it must ?:)

      4. I have thought about it and remember that my VFD didnt Work right away – I’m not 100% but take a look at your driver for the PCI-bridge.
        you must have some high-lighted hardware that isn’t installed correctly

  4. Thank you Jimlynn
    I’ve instaled windows 7 on my idea 500, and i’me very happy with the new performace… i think the computer born again and bbecame useful. All the drivers for it were installed by default with windows 7 professional, and i’ve only downloaded realtek hd audio from realtek webpage… everything was working fine except the VFD, and then your link above saved me! eveerything is working very well and i think my media center is going to be useful 2 years after the purchase! I’ve upgraded also the memory to 2GB… It works as it was uposed to work :-). Just 2 questions more, if someone can help: How do I change the time display to 24H, and remove PM/AM indication? Another thing, I have WMC starting with windows, and the windows status bar appears on front… so I ahve to press home button on remote to make WMC window on front, even having the checkmark on the setup of windows media center window always on front!
    If anyone needs some help on windows 7 and aspire idea, feel free to email me!
    Thank you.
    Manuel Quinaz

    1. Hi Manuel

      How did you upgrade your memory – I have opened the case and had a quick look and the memory modules are not obvious – are they hidden under other riser cards?

      Re the problems others are having with HDMI audio under Windows 7 – have you gone into the Media Centre setup and selected HDMI as your preferred audio out and also under the sound option in control panel selected digital audio out?

      Thanks in advance

      Gareth

      1. I was thrown a bit when upgrading my memory – there’s no sign of the RAM anywhere – until I remembered that the motherboard is a laptop motherboard, and the RAM on a laptop is usually mounted underneath.

        On the bottom of the case, there’s a small panel with (I think) two screws holding it. If you open this panel, you’ll find the RAM slots right there, and upgrading couldn’t be easier. The maximum memory it can take (according to the Crucial memory checker) is 2G (2x1G) which is what I’ve upgraded to.

        For HDMI sound, digital output isn’t what I need – HDMI is usually a different output device. If I set Digital output as the default I get no sound, because that’s routing through the optical out. It does seem as though this machine just doesn’t have HDMI audio.

      2. Hi Jim
        Doohhh I had forgotten it was basically a laptop mobo for the memory location!
        Re the HDMI…
        Under Control Panel\Sound I have the output set as Digital Audio (S/PDIF)
        Under Media Centre I have done Windows Media Centre Setup and configured my speakers as HDMI 2 channel.
        This has left me with good quality HDMI audio/video out of my flat screen TV with no other speakers required.
        Gareth

  5. guys

    Can someone help? All works for me except the dvd driver seems to not want to play. None of the links above seem to include a driver for the dvd

    1. Strange – I didn’t need anything extra for the DVD drive to work. Or DVD playback as well (although I’ll admit the default MPEG decoder it uses is definitely worse than the one I was using with Vista). So I’m not sure why it shouldn’t be working for you.

  6. Hi…

    As you might have discovered by now, I don’t think that the HDMI on iDea 500 carries any audio.
    I use the SPDIF to connect to my 7.1 Amp.

    I am receiving my Win7 tomorrow – my Win Vista installation is now old and working badly – my media center needs the fresh blood :-)

    Best regards
    Per

    1. Yeah, it’s really the only thing that’s wrong with it now. I guess it’s to be axpected from something that’s more than 3 years old. HDMI was fairly new at the time.

      I don’t have a 7.1 amp, so I just run stereo RCA cables to the TV and it works fine.

      Enjoy Win7, and I hope you have as much success as I did.

  7. Hey…

    FYI – there is now a Win7 audio driver.

    The WinVista one doesn’t really work! – Not on my Media center any way!

    BR
    Per

  8. Hi,

    I also installed Win7 MC on my Idea 500. Basically it works well and I’m surprised about many small but somewhat important improvements. I’ve installed a 1TB Harddisk as my original harddisk died a few months ago. However I have massive performance issues when either recording one channel and watching another or while recording two channels. Goin through the menu or watching a recording becomes practically impossible, but exactly this is one of the reasons why I have a Media Center. Did any one experiance the same on Idea 500 or does anyone have an idea how to troubleshoot this problem?

    Thanks
    Robert

    1. I’ve found that the menus are slow if you’re playing video. Pausing the video makes the menus OK for me. I don’t have any problems playing back one recording while recording another, though.

      I think the MPEG codec for WIn7 isn’t as good as the one for Vista. It could be a driver issue, but I’ve no idea if there’s a better codec around.

  9. Hi,

    I have the same problem: win 7 works but no sound over HDMI, when I connect a stereo cable between the acer and the TV, still no sound. I do have sound with the component connection. The TV is a Panasonic LCD, TX-32LX60F. A
    Second problem is I still can not get the desktop right on the screen, side fall outsiede the screen.

    Henk

    1. To the best of my knowledge, sound via HDMI cable is not implemented in the iDea 500.

      For the sound to work perfectly it is important to NOT install the old Vista driver or if done so already, to uninstall it.
      Realtek has made a HD sounddriver for Win7 available on their web page (as I have already explained earlier) so go there and get it! – It works for me with SPDIF (I have not tried the analogue plugs).

      Your second problem I know way too well.
      My first LCD flat panel TV had this problem when in 720p mode. I took the problem to the store, but the guys there didn’t “get it” and claimed that I just could setup my media center to 768 lines… On That old TV the problem could not be fixed!
      Imagine my face when I got a new TV and the same happened when I switched it on… I was not happy…
      Then I discovered the zoom button on my remote – When set to “Full native” it shows the picture perfect :-)
      The problem is that the TV companies want to hide the imperfections in the TV signal in the edges of the frame. Text TV info is sent in between the TV pictures – in some TV sets I have seen it in the top of the picture as white and black squares :-)

      Try out your zoom ;-)

      /Per

      1. I just checked my TV menus – I have the same issue – and found the ‘Full Screen’ zoom mode which frames the Win7 desktop perfectly.

        Thank you!

  10. This is a great page, thanks. I’ve been thinking about upgrading to Win7 for ages but was worried about the Yuan drivers, but have just nabbed those now thanks.

    I am surprised so many people are having HDMI sound issues – I have my Panasonic LCD TV (a TX-32LXD700) connected via HDMI with no issues with sound, however I am still running XP MCE – are you saying that something has changed in Win7 meaning this will no longer work when I upgrade?

    I love my Acer 500 but do have various “issues” with it. HDMI overscans the pic so I lose the edges of the picture including the Windows task bar so I always run at a resolution of 1280 x 600. The annoying thing is the Intel 945 does not support my Panny’s native resolution (1366 x 768). The other problem is that it keeps “forgetting” this resolution is set and keeps defaulting back to a 4:3 resolution of 800×600 – this is really annoying as I have to set it back to widescreen “almost” every time I resume it from standby. I say “almost” as sometimes it comes back ok, it does seem to be a bit inconsistent.

    It does seem to be quite flaky at times so I am hoping that a complete rebuild with Win7 will sort most of my issues out.

    Cheers,

    Paul

  11. Hi

    I don’t know if anyone else is having this issue, but my Acer 500 just refuses to boot with the HDMI cable plugged in since I upgraded to Windows 7 and only boots from the DVI to VGA on my Hitachi L42VP01U LCD TV.

    What I have to do to watch on HDMI is leave the DVI cable connected all the time. unplug the HDMI cable and wait until I hear HDD activity and the plug the cable back in.

    I never had this issue with Windows Vista, so I know the issue lies with Windows 7. To be honest everything else has worked fine including drivers (No Yellow question marks in Device Manager). The only other real annoyance is the lack of a real touchpad driver as I really hate tapping and just can’t switch it off which has caused me to almost delete files on many an occasion, so would be glad if any one had a fix for either of these issues (well one issue and one niggle). :-)

    Cheers

    Tony

    1. I’m using mine with HDMI with no boot problems, so the problem might be specific to your TV, I guess. Have you got the latest intel graphics drivers? Perhaps they’re not detecting anything (although they clearly work after booting). Sorry I can’t be much help, though, as it’s all working for me.

      1. Thanks For the Reply Jim.

        The reason I think it’s Windows 7 is that I had no issues with Windows XP Media Center edition either.

        What happens is that when I boot with the HDMI cable plugged in I get the bios screen, then the screen goes black with a flashing curser in the top left hand corner and then nothing. So I doubt the video drivers have a chance to even kick in.

        To be honest I when I first installed Windows 7 it did boot as long as the DVI/VGA cable was plugged in as well, (so no need to pull the HDMI cable), but one of the early Microsoft updates must have “fixed” something that wasn’t broken. Although this current “non-boot” issue was present when I was running the beta so I assumed that MS must have been working on fixing it after first installing the retail version.

        I read someone had a similar issue with a differnt Model of PC on another forum and the advice was to upgrade the bios firmware, but as there have been no firmware updates for the Acer Idea 500 in a long time this is not an option for me.

        Sorry for writing a novel, but dispite the issues with Acer Idea 500, (yes I’ve replaced my PSU once and I have a spare in the cupboard just in case), I do think it is without doubt the best Media Centre PC around just on the basis of connectivity and form factor alone and tend get a little enthusiastic about it.

        Cheers and Merry Christmas

        Tony

  12. Tony,

    One issue I’ve had occasionally is that the boot hangs for a long time – but this is at the bios screen, I think. It might be something to do with all the USB drives I have installed, and it doesn’t happen all the time, but sometimes it can take minutes to do whatever it’s doing before it finally boots. Sometimes, if there’s a DVD in the drive, it helps to eject it. No idea why. But all this is probably nothing to do with your problem, but I thought I’d mention it.

    Merry Christmas.

  13. Hi Jimlynn

    I got some DVDs and can not play them as Region changing is just in its last change, do you know if there is a unlock driver or procedure to open the DVD to all regions, or how can I search on the web, I have not expirience on it.

    Thank you and Happy new year

    1. I don’t have a solution for this. I haven’t tried unlock the DVD – many drives can’t be permanently unlocked because they are hardware locked.

      One solution I’ve seen suggested is to buy a cheap USB DVD Drive as an add-on, and leave that drive set to the other region.

      I have to confess – if I want to watch Region 1 DVDs, I have to use a cheap multi-region DVD player.

      1. Unfortunately all “region killer” softwares dont work with Matshita Optic DVD drives. Firmware flashing is also extremely hazardeous and without garantee of success. There is still the option to replace the DVD drive by another one such as Samsung, Pioneer or Liteon.

  14. Hello!!

    Could you tell me which driver did you find for The Graphic Card. The version I found on Nvidia website is not recognized :-(

    Thanks indeed

    JM

    1. My Acer doesn’t have an NVidia graphics card – it’s an Intel integrated graphics card. So I’m afraid I’m no help to you.

    2. I have the ACER aspire idea510. it’s a built-in chipset from Intel but on soem websites they give Nvidia GForce 7600GS as reference for the graphic card. I decided to move from XPMCE to Windows7 but I can’t find teh proper driver.Intel driver tells me I don’t meet the minumu requirements…NVIDIA that the operating system is not recognized. If anyone has an idea where to find teh correct driver…

      Thanks

      JM

      1. Basically Intel and graphic card manufacturers want you to continually buy new hardware and therefore they put blocks in the drivers to stop them working with certain OS’s. For example most Aspire Idea’s came with Windows XP MCE 2005 and the nVidia card only works with XP. You can however, get a modded INF version of the file that literally has the facility that stops you using it on a new OS (such as Vista or Windows 7). Using the modded INF, my installation worked perfectly on Vista and then on Windows 7. Amazingly enough features of the Aspire Idea that have never worked on XP or Vista all started working when I moved to Windows 7. For example FM tuner didn;t work under XP nor Vista but works great under Windows 7.

        check out laptopvideo2go where you should be able to get what you’re after!

  15. Hello guys!
    What hardware update can be made on idea 500 ????
    I did 2 gig of ram and Intel 80gig SSD disk for better performance.
    I´m streaming my moves ….. no need for big drive. I have no problen with 1080p mkv files now!

    //Artur

    1. hi, I feel slightly irritated – yesterday I wrote a description about my Idea 500 hardware updates, but now it´s gone.
      What went wrong?

  16. “What hardware update can be made on idea 500?”
    recently I wanted to get rid of my from original XP MCE 2005 to Vista updated meanwhile quite slow system (2GB Ram)and before installing Win7 changed the original 250GB Sata HDD to Samsung HD103SJ–>1TB, then found out, that the CPU 1,6 GHz on socket M could be changed up to “Intel Core Duo T2700 Yonah SL9JP 2.33G”, which after quite some search I could order here: –> http://cgi.ebay.com.hk/Intel-Core-DUO-Yonah-T2700-2-33G-SL9JP-Socket-M-CPU/150411587695 ftp://ftp.work.acer-euro.com/desktop/aspire_idea510/vista/Drivers/ ftp://ftp.work.acer-euro.com/desktop/aspire_idea510/vista/Drivers/MPC718_install_V6_13_32_1026_Oscar.msi <–.

    Please note that bios of 510 shouldn´t be used for 500. Forget Intel Viiv, it´s not supported anymore and not neccessary. Have Fun!
    Ferrit (Hamburg/Germany)

    1. Ferrit – can you confirm, did you do this processor upgrade on the idea 500 or the idea 510 ? I( have a 500 and don’t want to spend this kind of money then find it doesn’t work ;-). Thanks.

      Walter

  17. Hi, in my comment above some text was cut out – sorry for that, the rest comes here:
    LINK 1 above: CPU (2007 price ca.US$ 500). Good bargain! Got it after 1,5 weeks and changed without problem taking off the cooler and loosening the socket-screw, not to forget new cooling paste.
    This improved the Vista performance well enough(CPU index went up to 4,9 from 4,6), but with Win7 after all it was even better – really satisfying! I also like the improved Media Center.

    Windows7 installed all drivers exept for 2 “unknown devices”, which turned out to be Intel QRT 1.6 (Quick Resume Technology) and TV-Tuner. The appr. drivers I downloaded from Idea 510 folder, because more recent than in 500 folder, go to LINK 2. For the TV-Tuner best choice is LINK 3.

    1. Sorry! I don’t check for comments every day, so moderation sometimes takes a few days. Thanks for the really useful info.

      1. Thanks for the response!
        Excuse me for being impatient – now I know how it works here.
        Bye…

  18. How did all of you get Win7 on the machine in the first place?

    I’m struggling hard with getting the Win7 DVD to boot.

    My Win7 (Ultimate 32-bit) comes from MSDN as an ISO file. It boots fine as both DVD and pen drive on various other computers.

    I’ve got an old WinXP MCE with slipstreamed SATA drives which boots and installs on the iDea 500 just fine. And so do xubuntu/kubuntu/ubuntu DVDs.

    I had Vista Ultimate on the machine, when I decided to upgrade. When the install process needed to reboot the first time, nothing happened.

    I’m no expert on the subject matter, but have tried to use boot sectors from XP and Vista by using ImgBurn but no luck…

    1. I didn’t do an upgrade from Vista – I installed a Windows 7 Release Candidate as a new installation, then found all the necessary drivers. Perhaps if you tried a clean install instead of an upgrade you’d have better luck.

  19. Hi Martin,
    I used a recently ordered Win7 OEM-DVD and had no problem with the setup. Maybe, something went wrong with burning the ISO, so try another one (DVD-RW). Getting an original DVD from a friend for testing (without the immediate “activating through internet” setup-option) could also be a good idea, what might be the only way to be quite sure. By the way: check the bios or set it to default and don´t use any external device except the IR keyboard or change that once to PS2 or USB. In case of success have a look into my post #20 concerning the 2 “unknown” devices.

  20. @Ferrit As stated “It boots fine as both DVD and pen drive on various other computers.” so I can’t see how anything could have “went wrong with burning the ISO”?!?

    Furtermore, not stated, I can’t boot a Vista DVD that boots fine on other computers either.

    Anyway, I got tired of throwing a lot of hours at the good ol’ media center, and ordered a new one instead. Still waiting for that one.

  21. No. As stated: “I’ve got an old WinXP MCE with slipstreamed SATA drives which boots and installs on the iDea 500 just fine. And so do xubuntu/kubuntu/ubuntu DVDs.”

    Not stated: all the kids’ DVDs plays just fine.

    Goddag yxskaft (couldn’t resist… ;-) )

    1. sorry for unnessacary questions. After all I see only one proper solution left like already mentioned by Jimlinn: clean install – that works!

      1. Clean install you say.

        That’s all I’ve been trying since the initial Vista to 7 upgrade…

        At least WinXP and Ubuntu installs just fine, so it’ll make a great fallback machine when the new media center arrives.

        If anyone else knows how one might get Win7 onto the thing, I’d still be all ears though!

  22. All I can tell you is that I had to do a totally clean install – my drive died so I installed on a brand new one with no previous OS, and I installed from a burnt Win7 RC originally (since upgraded to a release version). So I know it can be done, but I realise this doesn’t help you at all. Sorry.

  23. Idiot Question, but how did you get the graphics card to output PAL video rather than NTSC?

    I’m having the same trouble with B&W grainy image, but cannot find the setting to change to PAL output. Which driver did you use? The current intel ones seem to have a bit of a problem at the moment with not displaying menu choices correctly, and all the workrounds I’ve tried have failed.

    1. I think you can change this from the Intel-specific part of the graphics control panel. Not sure where it is in Win7 (and I can’t get to my media centre right now as the kids are watching ‘Spirited Away’). But the intel drivers have a configuration applet which lets you specify the video format for TV output.

      Or you could treat yourself to a new TV with HDMI input…

  24. hi,
    I have installed Win 7 on my IDEA 500 and all works great!
    Only one problem:

    READY BOOST!!!!

    Yes, I want to use a SD 4GB card for this, but on propreities tab is write: impossible to use this device!
    I have established this SD on another PC and on it works perfectly how ready boost!
    There are some drivers to update???
    thank you alot for your help

    Gianpaolo

  25. Bonjour.
    J’ai installé W7 dans mon Acer aspire idéa500, il fonctionne bien mais, le petit écran sur la tour affiche
    Que faire s.v.p?
    Merci d’avance.

  26. Hi
    I’m running Win 7 on the Aspire 500 quite happily but can see my SD card readers or the like. Any ideas how to get these to show up??
    Thanks
    Steve

  27. Jim,

    Your page inspired me to do a Windows 7 upgrade, as I’d been having problems with my XP idea500 randomly going to sleep. I’ve got it updated and its working well, and I like the new features etc, but… it still seems to be randomly, and more frequently, going into sleep mode or just switching off when left unattended for an hour ow two. I’ve set up the Power Options in Win7 to ‘never’ go to sleep, but even that’s not fixed it. Have you seen anything like this, either with XP or 7 ?

    Thanks

    Walter

    1. Not quite sure – you might want to check not only your power options, but also your screen saver settings. I ended up turning off the screensaver in Windows as well – that can sometimes make the system sleep. My system never goes into sleep, so I know it’s possible to configure it that way.

      One other possibility is that your power supply might be failing. I’ve had three PSUs fail in my media centre, and had to fit replacements – luckily, you can buy replacements for that model, and fitting them is fairly straightforward. The most recent failure at first looked like the system was randomly going into sleep mode.

      One thing to try, if it’s still working, is to try vacuuming out dust from the power supply. It might just be getting too hot. I didn’t try that, and my PSU eventually failed completely (still powering the VFD but not able to power up the PC) but when I removed the old PSU it was full of dust, which might have contributed to the failure.

  28. Hi Walter,
    like Jim said: “it’s possible to configure it that way”. Make sure, that you disable the screensaver, also energy-saving in ALL modes of energy options and hybernation only if you really want it after a certain time. – Not long ago my 500 didn´t start at all and I had to order a new power supply, which here in Germany was appr. € 50,-

  29. Hello,

    Today I upgraded to windows 7 on my acer idea 500, but noticed that acer does not have the vista drivers any more on their webpage. Can anyone supply me with the VFD transcoder driver?

    Thanks in advance,

    Herke Jan

    >>>
    jimlynn said
    August 27, 2010 at 12:00 am

    Go to this page:

    http://support.acer-euro.com/drivers/desktop/select_drv.php?dir=desktop/aspire_idea500/vista/Drivers

    And select VFD Transcoder Driver. That’s the driver for the small LED screen on the front of the unit.

  30. Hi really useful site thanks for compling all of this.
    The link to the VFD Transcoder Driver no longer seems to be functional and i can’t find it on Acer’s download drivers page. Is it possible for you to email it to me please? Thank you.
    Claire

  31. “the VFD Transcoder Driver no longer seems to be functional”
    that´s not true, Claire – I tried it 2 min. ago and the download startet immediately.

    1. Ferrit, thanks for your response. I missed the notification email of your reply and only just come across it now. It must have been a momentary blip because the link works for me too now. Thanks for pointing it out.

  32. Does anyone have the correct drivers for the card readers? Both are visible but when i pop a card into the machine it wants to format it.

    Thanks
    Claire

    1. there are no special drivers for the card reader – they come with the system (generic driver).
      It sometimes happens, that a card works fine with one PC but can´t be read by another. I got this problem quite recently with my Win7 Notebook, then used a cheap USB card reader and it was OK. So in the first place never accept the format offer, but try a check with “properties” (of Disk)/Tools Another question is whether a card reader excepts the newer type of SDHC cards. I can´t prove this at the moment on Acer Idea 500, because my 16GB SDHC got lost somewhere in the house…

  33. hi, just to let you know first great site, i recycled a acer ideal 500 (from a skip) for freeeeeeeeee! to find only the unit no keyboard or remote “what a shame” anyway after getting it home, i found it would not turn on, so out came the psu without removing the front. After five minuites of tryng to get the psu case open and making sure i didn`t break anything i found a blown capacitor 1000uf 16v 105c, after removing this part and find a spare from my junk its now working, now to upgrade to win 7 thanks for a great a informative site…. john

    1. I wonder if the blown capacitor is the cause of the many PSU failures people have had with this model? Good luck with the Win7 upgrade, and well done on finding such a great machine in a skip.

    1. Not yet. I wonder if the CPU/GPU is up to displaying full HD? I’ve tried some downloaded stuff, with mixed results. I worry that the chiset doesn’t have all the hardware acceleration HD needs.

      1. Hmmm, I recently upgraded to a 510 with the NVidia chip so wonder if it will be a problem. I haven’t tried any 1080p stuff yet but one day I will! :-) Maybe a USB Blu-ray drive is the answer if the BIOS doesn’t support it via IDE.

        Now if I can just get a SL9JP CPU (2.33GHz) CPU at a decent price I might try a CPU upgrade.

        I have also fixed a blown PSU by replacing 3 x 1000uF capacitors with bulging tops. Saved me nearly 100GBP (the price of these PSU’s keeps going up)! I actually have a spare PSU now so will be looking to buy a non-working 500 or 510 to “rescue”. :-)

        Now I have a 510 I’ll be selling my old 500 on ebay once I have found a wireless keyboard that doesn’t cost the earth. I’m struggling to source the original Logitech Y-RAN77. I found a black one on Amazon but it was over 40GBP. :-( I found one on ebay for about 15GBP, but it’s got a Spanish keyboard layout. :-( Any ideas where I can get one with a US or UK layout for around 15GBP?

        I’ve been running Win 7 on both the 500 and 510 with no issues. I still think these systems are the mutts nuts for HTPC’s – nice slender case that would look good in any setup.

    2. Hi.

      I got myself a combo Blu-ray/HD-DVD drive back in the days where HD-DVD was still in the game. Mounted it in a USB case and tried it on my PC’s. I am sorry to say that the iDea 500 is not able to handle Blu-rays.
      The way to go is to get a newer model already fitted with Blu-ray or the cheaper solution is to get a PS3, it contains a premium Blu-ray player and Sony is constantly updating the firmware so that it will be extended with new functions all the time ;-)

      I use my iDea 500 with Win7, (added recently the HD-Homerun HD-DVB-C/T Ethernet tuner box) for everything up and including 720p.
      It also records 720p HDTV fine, but can occasionally lag in live playback from the HD-Homerun box in 720P HDTV, but only if it is doing other stuff as well – after a while it runs smoothly without problems.

      Have fun.
      BR – Per

  34. A lot of nice info

    Got a Acer Idea510 since 200x or something – it’s running Vista almost perfect after extra memory.

    But thinking about doing a upgrade by replacing Motherboard, CPU, Memory and TV tuners
    Intel H67-MB with Intel CPU Core i3 2100T … etc.

    That means i think I will re-use DVD, Chassis, PSU

    Anyone tried to upgrade your MediaCenter this much ? Is it possible ?

    Ebbe
    Denmark

      1. Nice suggestion – I really like the design of the Chassis!
        Not sure about the hardware though

        My goal os to make a reasonable priced HTPC that can manage payback. I’m still using the 510 but takes a move when sparetime is ok – playback on the 510 is more and more under a quality pressure since Blueray etc.

      2. well just updated to Win7 and still considering hardware-upgrade (mobo + cpu + memory ) ;o)
        And uses this add-in for the movie collection ; MyMovies from http://www.mymovies.dk/

        Btw ; Win7 Mediacenter on Acer Idea 510 is absolutely better than Vista – I used some of the Vista drivers from Acer – but get a newer Realtek-audiodriver like others have mentioned…

  35. Hi Jim,

    Inspired by your blog, I too have upgraded my iDea 500 to Win 7 with a dual boot XP Win 7 setup. The main reason for retaining XP is that, like you, I also experience the juddering or stuttering on playback of old dvr-ms recordings in Windows 7. I presume that this is due to the capabilities of the Intel video system in the iDea 500? If I play back through my Win 7 laptop there is no such problem.

    Has anyone found a way of resolving this? Is it possible to upgrade in some way? Does a processor upgrade improve video playback? It would be nice to not have to boot into XP when we want to watch a previous recording…

    Thanks

    1. As an update to the above, I tried connecting the iDea 500 to a DVI screen (1280×1024) rather than my TV and there is no judder on dvr-ms files. Do you think it must be something to do with the scaling for the SCART connection? It doesn’t seem to matter which resolution I set the TV on.

      1. I found exactly the same thing. dvr-ms playback was juddery when I used a composite (scart) TV connection but it was (and is) perfectly smooth when going to HDMI at full HD. The oddest thing was that it was only dvr-ms playback that juddered. I could take exactly the same file, convert from dvr-ms to .mpeg or WTV, and they would be smooth. And only with composite. I didn’t investigate it much more than that, since my old scart TV stopped working at about the same time, so I bought an HD LCD and the problem went away.

  36. Just to add a bit of info, for anyone that is still battling with the sound-over-HDMI problem that lots seem to have. It *is* fixable.

    – Download and install the latest Realek HD Audio driver (I used 2.67) from

    http://www.realtek.com/downloads/downloadsView.aspx?Langid=1&PNid=14&PFid=24&Level=4&Conn=3&DownTypeID=3&GetDown=false

    Once rebooted, open Control Panel. The Realtek driver has added a new item in Control Panel to control the audio. Open this.

    Set the Digital Output as the default.

    Done. :)

  37. Howdy! Quick question that’s totally off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My website looks weird when browsing from my apple iphone. I’m trying to find a theme or plugin that might be able to resolve this
    issue. If you have any recommendations, please share. Thank you!

  38. Hi guys, I am still using Windows 7 on my Acer Idea 510, it has been absolutely fantastic and is still going strong. I tried upgrading the wireless card today to one that supports 802.11n (300mbps), I found this card on Amazon, it was only 11GBP… http://www.amazon.co.uk/DENSION-TP-LINK-TL-WN-Wireless-300Mbit/dp/B009ODRRDM

    However, it has not been a total success. The card uses an Atheros chip so I made sure I had the drivers already downloaded (from some Czech site). The card is slightly too long so fouls on the connector for one of the TV tuner cards, however you can get it to clip in if you push on the card and bend it slightly. I managed to install the driver (manually – use the “have disk” approach) and Windows recognized the network and I connected fine, it said I was connected at 300mbps, which I really wasn’t expecting as there’s only 1 antenna – I thought you need multiple antenna’s connected for 300mbps, so was only really expecting 150mbps. Anyway, I started copying 7GB files over the wifi to my NAS and Windows reported a transfer rate of about 5MB/s, which equates to 40mbps. Not exactly 300mbps, but more than double what I was getting with the stock card (which would do around 2MB/s).

    Now this is where the fun begins, I was doing all this with the case open. As soon as I put the lid back on Windows reported “no internet connection” and I couldn’t even ping my router even though it was showing me connected still at 300mbps. I could do ipconfig/release /renew and see I was getting a new DHCP lease, arp -a was showing entries come up after doing a ping, but nowt else was working. Then I moved slightly and it all started working. Moved back and it stopped. Took the lid off and it started working. Lid back on and it stopped.

    So it seems to be some kind of antenna issue, I think either the antenna isn’t suitable or the connection on the PCI card is not good enough. I put the old card back in and it’s rock solid, although only shows me connected at 48mbps. I did notice that the internal antenna connector is a lot harder to pop on and off on the old card than on the new one, so I can only surmise that I am not getting a decent connection from the new card to my antenna. Also I noticed on the old card that I can see other “weaker” wifi networks, whereas the new card can only see my network, so there’s definitely something going on with the signal strength.

    I haven’t given up yet, I am going to see if I can find a new bit of cable with a new connector on the end and try that, or try and get some very fine nosed pliers and see if I can squeeze the tiny internal prong to make it fit a bit tighter.

    Has anyone else tried upgrading their wireless card?

    1. Hi Paul
      I am not sure you have got the right drivers – I have also seen many Czech google search results on drivers that I needed to fix a laptop. It doesn’t look legit or official. Get drivers from manufacturs website.
      Besides that – I cant use wlan for a mediacenter – its not enough bandwith, unstable router or wlan card. So I use RJ45 cable!
      Antenna could be a issue – through walls you might have serious loss of bandwith etc,

      1. Yeah I got the driver from here: http://www.atheros.cz/atheros-wireless-drivers.php I am struggling to find a driver on the Atheros (now Qualcomm) site, they don’t seem to list my chipset. It’s an AR5416 chip which I believe is also known as an AR5008. Surprised you can’t use WLAN, I am always streaming stuff over my WLAN and it mostly works fine. But copying large files around takes ages. The other option is a home plug but I have had mixed experience with those in the past.

  39. i use the idea 500 (with Win7) in my winter garden. Though the router is two rooms away the built in wlan workes alright. Got better results with usb wlan stick, but since i use devolo dlan powerline plugs with cable (see devolo.com or find something similar) all over the place, there is no problem anymore with sat receiver, ps3, idea 500. Video streaming and transfer of big files is just fine.

  40. Just a FYI, I am using my upgraded wireless card just fine, I ended up changing my AP just because I had some Aerohive kit to test, and it works fine with this rather than my old Edimax AP, so maybe there’s some kind of incompatibility going on.

    Anyway, now I am looking to upgrade the Yuan TV tuners with something that supports HD DVB, has anyone else tried this? Even if I did get HD compatible tuners, will Windows Media Centre download the HD channel data in the EPG? I am assuming it will as guess it will detect the new HD channels when I do a scan. Now need to find a card that supports HD.

  41. Get a HDhomerun – doubletuner for cable – I got 2 so I have 4 tuners to record and watch same time. TV signal is through LAN so I can use signal on every device in the house ;o)

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