Hardwares Dolby 7.1 Wireless Headset "Corsair Vengeance 2100"

I was missing a good microphone on my PC. And googling for that on the web, I actually found many headsets with a microphone. I have already 3 headphones at home... but none with support for high-fidelity, multi-channel Dolby audio. So, I did ask one to Santa Claus : the Corsair Vengeance 2100.

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Corsair Vengeance 2100

Corsair Vengeance 2100

I read a few serious reviews on that headset such as this one before concluding that it would fit my needs and expectations:

  • A wireless headset.
  • Closed
  • Circumaural
  • With a really good microphone with noise cancellation.
  • Cheaper than 150€
  • With enough positive (true/serious/motivated) reviews on the web
  • With a simple and light configuration interface (not like Realtek stuff)

And I am very far from disappointed :-P

Specifications

Headphones:

  • Frequency Response: 20Hz to 20kHz
  • Impedance: 32 Ohms @ 1kHz
  • Sensitivity: 105dB (+/-3dB)
  • Drivers: 50mm
  • USB power consumption: 500mA
  • Connector: USB Type A
  • Wireless range: up to 12m (I was not able to test more than 12m as my corridor is not long enough)
  • Battery life: Up to 10 hours

Microphone:

  • Type: Unidirectional noise-cancelling condenser with adjustable, rotating boom
  • Impedance: 2.2k Ohms
  • Frequency Response: 100Hz to 10kHz
  • Sensitivity: -37dB (+/-3dB)

It took me a few hours, watching movies or playing games, to find the very best position on the head/ears as I am not used (anymore) to headphones. But with that adjustment, it's really comfortable although used for hours.

The main issue, as often with circumaural headphones, is that it is not designed to be used with glasses and especially not with 3D glasses which are thicker than standard glasses. It can even be bloody uncomfortable if like me you keep your standard glasses under the 3D glasses. The most valid option IMO would be to use the 3D glasses with a supra-oral headset, but I dislike those. Note that my nVidia 3D Vision 2 glasses have an increased flexibility to precisely ensure a better fit with gaming headphone (And I have to say that this is true as they are not uncomfortable with my good old Sennheiser HDR 65 - but this one is not a 7.1 headphone). But with the Corsair Vengeance, it's not great.

The quality of the microphone is really good. For testing purpose, you can ear yourself by ticking an option "Microphone check" in the configuration pane of the headset - this one must be downloaded from the corsair website and is really simple to use (There is no CD or user manual delivered with the headset):

Corsair Vengeance Config

Corsair Vengeance Config

If you listen to music while talking to a friend, he will not ear it although you push the volume quite high... And you will still ear your friend :D.  The unidirectional noise-canceling seems to be very efficient based on the feedback I got about the quality.

The microphone may be bent in order to come closer to the user’s mouth as the boom is flexible.

There is no switch to mute the microphone, but it will turn off automatically once one swings it all the way upwards.

As far as I am concerned, I keep "Source Type" on 7.1 and click on the blue "power" button to enable the Dolby Surround (a virtual surround as there are actually only two speakers). Doing so, it displays "Now playing": "7.1 surround" and I can indeed really feel to 3D audio environment. From my own point of view, the audio performance is really impressive :-P not only in games and movies, but also for stereo music. I am right now listening the Trance Top 1000 - 2013 and I really like the surround effect added on such kind of stereo sources. It makes the sound a bit "softer" (it's not my purpose to become deaf anyway) but you are immerse in the music. Otherwise (without the Dolby effect, the sound seems to come from the top-front of the headphone - but is powerful !) Anyway, about sound quality, you have better read reviews written by specialist as I am not the best person to talk about audio.

I noticed for the first time when trying this headset that music played within Chrome (E.g.: via my Synology Audio Station), is stopped if I change any settings related to the "playback device" currently used. I have to refresh the page to restart the music. It's not an issue for me as I keep usually always the same settings, but this can be quickly quite annoying. There is no such issue (sound switched off when changing playback device's settings) when playing music within IE (at least IE 11.0).

After a few more tests with IE vs Chrome, I noticed that IE was up-mixing the stereo sources to fill all the speakers (although the "Speaker Fill" option was not enabled on the headset). That's the reason why listening to stereo music sounds better within IE than  within Chrome. But as a consequence, true 5.1 or 7.1 sources played within IE sounds like crap, the volume being over-boosted. This can fortunately be fixed by enabling the option "Speaker Fill" in the Enhancement tab of the Corsair's Speaker Properties (Right click the systray speaker icon > Playback Devices > select the Speakers Corsair Veangeance 2100 Headset > Properties > Enhancement). I really don't get it but IE seems to fill automatically all the virtual speakers of the headset even without that option enabled. And once the option is enabled, it does it better ?! I spent a few hours playing around with all accessible Speakers' properties and noticed a similar "up-mix" effect within IE when using my Realtek on-board sound card and its 6.1 speakers as a playback device . A behavior that I don't experience within Chrome although I keep the very same speaker's settings.

You can also enable a "Loudness Equalization" if you like such an enhancement. Notice that those enhancements are not available from within the custom Corsair configuration pane.

If you want to test a true 5.1 sources within Chrome, when "Source Audio" is set on 5.1 or 7.1 in the Corsair Configuration pane, try the samples from this site: HTML5 AAC Audio Playback Tests - Multichannel.

If you want the ear how crap is the sound over-boosted by IE, when "Source Audio" is set on 5.1 or 7.1 in the Corsair Configuration pane, watch the video from this site: Dolby Digital Plus demo.

The headset is linked with the PC via a USB dongle that has better be connected with the USB extension cable provided with the headset. Doing so, it can be placed on top of the desk and offers a better coverage (useful if, listening music, you move sometimes in the room).

The volume is very easy to change thanks to the big inline volume controller. That was really a pain with my old Sennheiser as the control were not easy to locate with the finger once the headset on the head...

HardwaresSynology The perfect AirPlay Speaker for my Synlogy

I just bought 3 x Philips Fidelio SoundAvia wireless speaker AD7000W/12 with AirPlay. This model is must cheaper than any other AirPlay device and fully compatible with my Synology DS209+ running the Audio Station of DSM 4.2.

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Philips Fidelio AD7000W/12

Philips Fidelio AD7000W/12

I paid only 109€ (instead of the official price: 149€) for this device, which is reported as a good one (Look for reviews on the web). It's especially much cheaper than any other devices except the Philips DS3800W/10. But this last one, which actually used to be more expansive than the AD7000W/12 in the past, is not as good although better designed. I took 3 AD7000W/12 (for the price of one single Soundlink Air, the cheapest Bose AirPlay device). I will  use them respectively in the bathroom, in the kitchen and in my room.

It's perfect for a Synology as there is not useless feature, like a docking for iStuff that don't need, no remote control as I have my mobile phone, etc... So I paid only for what I really need: a basic AirPlay Speaker.

Take note that there is no need for an iPad, iPod or iPhone to configure the Philips Fidelio AD7000W/12. It's presumed to be configurable auto-magically via WPS but I didn't succeed to do so (I.e.: using the PBC - Push-Button Configuration - which is the WiFi setup button on the back of the device). Fortunately, it is really easy to configure the AD7000W/12 with a browser from any wireless client device such as a tablet, a laptop, a mobile phone, ...

Notice: when unwrapping the device, on the connectors at the back of device, there is a sticker explaining that one has to push the physical WiFi setup button for 5 sec to configure the network for the first time. This could be confusing if you read next the Quick Guide. Indeed, this one explains two ways to connect the device to the WiFi router: a first method using WPS and a second method using an iStuff. In both cases, you have to press the physical WiFi setup button. But the mistake would be to press this button for 5 seconds when using the WPS method. It must only be pressed for 5 seconds if you want to use the second method. So, here is my experience:

  1. Switch on the device. The button is on the back, close to the top, next to the Volume + and - buttons.
  2. On the back too, there is a green led blinking rapidly in the middle of the WiFi setup button, at the bottom, on the right of the USB connector. Wait for 35 sec until it starts to blink slowly. The device is then ready to be configured.

To connect the AD7000W/12 to a WiFi router using a browser (Connect the devices one by one if you have several):

  1. Press the WiFi setup button for 5 sec (= blinks 5 times). The led will then start to blink alternatively green and orange.
  2. Soon after you should see, with your wireless client device, a new opened WiFi network  named like Philips_Fidelio_AirPlay. Connect to that network.
  3. Open a browser and navigate to 192.168.1.1 to access the network configuration page of the AD7000W/12. If you are using a laptop, althoug configured to get an IP via DHCP, you could have to reconfigure it to use a fixed IP like 192.168.1.2, gateway 192.168.1.1, mask 255.255.255.0. I had to do even after I didn't succeed with a simple "IPConfig /renew". With a mobile and a tablet, it worked out of the box.
  4. In the configuration page, edit the name of the device to make it unique and select the SSID of the WiFi network on which it will have to connect. It works fine with my network configured to use WPA2.
  5. Type the Passphrase of the WiFi network and Apply the configuration.
  6. The led will restart to blink rapidly in green.
  7. As soon as device is connected on the selected WiFi network, it produces a clear "Beep" sound and the led stops blinking.
Philips Fidelio Configuration

Philips Fidelio Configuration

To connect the device using WPS:

  1. Press the WPS button on your WiFi router. It has better be configured to use WPA2
  2. Press the WiFi setup button on your device (a simple click of less than 1 sec). The led will start to blink alternatively red, green and orange.
  3. Wait for up to 2 minutes. The device should auto-magically connect on the WiFi router and produce a clear "Beep" sound once connected.

This second approach didn't work for me ?!

As soon as the Philips Fidelio AD7000W/12 is connected on the WiFi network, it becomes available as a target device for the Synology Audio Station (either in the Web UI or in the Apps for mobile). One can see targets like "XXX( DLNA)", "XXX (AirPlay)" and "Multiple AirPlay Device" where XXX is the name you gave to the device ("Philips Fidelio ####" by default). All those targets work but you will possibly have to be patient for the music to arrive with DLNA targets (?). I takes a few seconds more than with AirPlay on my infra.

If you don't want to see the speaker as both an AirPlay device and a DLNA device, you must tick "Do not Search for DLNA devices" in the "options" tab of your Audio Station's settings.

Notice that the feature "Multiple AirPlay Device" only works if turned on from Audio Station "browser based". It means that you must first select that target in the Audio Station's web based UI. You will then be prompted to select which AirPlay devices must be used. Once this is done, you can use the "Multiple AirPlay Device" target also within the Audio Station Apps for tablets and mobiles. There is no support (today) to select via the mobile App which devices are part of the target "Multiple AirPlay Device".

Notice also that selecting the target device is really easy on a mobile phone via the App. First select the music to be played in a library. Then, on the next screen you will be able to select the target:

Audio Station Apps

Audio Station Apps

For an unknown reason, it's not as obvious with the App on my tablet ? To select the target on my table I have indeed to open the settings of the App. This is really not convenient at all!

Notice finally that each device has its own queue. So you can then switch between target devices and manage their queues independently.

Hardwares Cannot flash LSI 9211-8i firmware on Asus P9X79Pro

As mentioned in previous posts (here and here), I had to flash the bios of my two LSI SAS controllers (9201-16i and 9211-8i) in order to solve a compatibility issue with my Asus Striker II Formula. I did flash the bios of both LSI from my Asus P9X79Pro which didn't suffer the same incompatibility. However, I have never been able to flash the firmware of the LSI using my Asus P9X79Pro... This may only be made from a UEFI shell but I didn't find any which was able to run the "flash" application of LSI.

Click to Read More

The IR version of LSI's firmware offers support for RAID features while the IT version is a more "basic" controller. It's therefore a bit faster than the IR version. As I don't need hardware RAID for my file server (I am using a software RAID), I have no valid reason to keep the IR version.

First, I tried to simply flash the firmware with an IT version using the sas2flash.exe for windows provided in the package P8 got from LSI (see previous post). I did use the IT version found in that package to be aligned with the bios already downgraded. Unfortunately, a downgrade of the firmware is not supported by LSI (as reported further in this post, there is a solution: clean first the existing firmware)

sas2flash.exe -o -f 2118it.bin

*******************************************************

LSI Corporation SAS2Flash Utility.

Version 8.00.00.00 (2010.11.01)

Copyright (c) 2009 - 2010 LSI Corporation. All rights reserved.

*******************************************************

Advanced Mode Set

Adapter Selected is a LSI SAS: SAS2008(B2)

Executing Operation: Flash Firmware Image

Firmware Image has a Valid Checksum.

Firmware Image compatible with Controller.

Valid NVDATA Image found.

ERROR: Cannot downgrade NVDATA version 0xd430005 to 0x7010003.

Firmware Image Validation Failed!

Due to error remaining commands will not be executed.

Unable to Process Commands.

Exiting SAS2Flash.

So, I tried to replace the current IR firmware with a more recent version of the IT firmware (found in the package P17)...  Unfortunately, the message reported now that one may not "upgrade" from an IR version to an IT version (as reported further in this post, there is a solution: clean first the existing firmware):

sas2flash.exe -o -f 2118it.bin

*******************************************************

LSI Corporation SAS2Flash Utility.

Version 8.00.00.00 (2010.11.01)

Copyright (c) 2009 - 2010 LSI Corporation. All rights reserved.

*******************************************************

Advanced Mode Set

Adapter Selected is a LSI SAS: SAS2008(B2)

Executing Operation: Flash Firmware Image

Firmware Image has a Valid Checksum.

Firmware Image compatible with Controller.

Valid NVDATA Image found.

NVDATA Versions Compatible.

NVDATA Product ID and Vendor ID match verified.

Valid Initialization Image verified.

Valid BootLoader Image verified.

ERROR: Cannot Flash IT Firmware over IR Firmware!

Firmware Image Validation Failed!

Due to error remaining commands will not be executed.

Unable to Process Commands.

Exiting SAS2Flash.

So, looking a bit on LSI website, I quickly found I had to clean the firmware (and the bios) before trying to install the other one. Be really careful doing this  as you won't be able to boot anymore if the PC stops after the cleanup and before you had time to re-install a firmware and a bios!

Unfortunately, the command "sas2flash -o -e 6" required to clean the firmware failed to execute on my Asus P9X79Pro. It seems that this is quite common on motherboards with support for UEFI:

sas2flash.exe -o -e 6

*******************************************************

LSI Corporation SAS2Flash Utility.

Version 8.00.00.00 (2010.11.01)

Copyright (c) 2009 - 2010 LSI Corporation. All rights reserved.

*******************************************************

Advanced Mode Set

Adapter Selected is a LSI SAS: SAS2008(B2)

Executing Operation: Erase Flash

Erasing Flash Region...

Erase Flash Command not Supported on this platform.

Resetting Adapter...

Reset Successful!

Due to Exception Command not Executed. IOCStatus=0x1, IOCLogInfo=0x0

Finished Processing Commands Successfully.

Exiting SAS2Flash.

Based on the error message "Erase Flash Command not Supported on this platform", I thought first that it was failing because running within Windows. So I tried next to execute this from DOS, booting on a USB key created with the great Rufus tool (which comes with a FreeDos. So you really don't need anything else).

Unfortunately, it didn't work either. The error was now:

ERROR: Failed to initialize PAL. Exiting Program

Again, one can find on the LSI knowledge base that as a workaround, you have to use the sas2flash version for UEFI: sas2flash.efi. It can be found easily in the download section. Indeed, firmware update via DOS is only possible when using H8 motherboards. With X9 motheroards an error message occurs during the writing process, due to the limited "option ROM".

So, I did copy the file sas2flash.efi into the root of my USB key and did reboot my PC to enter in the UEFI bios system. Once in the advanced mode, I did click "Exit" in the top right corner and got a new menu with an option like "Launch EFI Shell from filesystem device". This menu actually means that my Asus P9X79Pro does not have a built-in UEFI shell and that I have to provide one myself, e.g., on the USB Key. UEFI Shells can be found here. An adequate one (such as Precompiled x86_64 UEFI Shell v2 binary) must be copied into the root of the USB Key and renamed into Shellx64.efi. Without that shell on the USB key, the PC starts on the next boot disk (I.e.: Windows in my case)

It's sometimes reported that one could have to copy the shell on the USB key in <USB>:/efi/boot/bootx64.efi instead ?! But it was not the case for me.

So once a Shellx64.efi on the root on my USB key, selecting "Launch EFI Shell from filesystem device" start a new interface where command can be typed. Ex.: "help -b" (without the quotes) to get the list of supported UEFI commands.

First, one has to switch onto the USB key to execute the LSI application sas2flash.efi. In my case, I only add to type "fs0:" (without the quotes) where fs0 is the default mount point of the USB key. Once there, I tried immediately "sas2flash.efi -o -e 6", but I got “initshellapp: application not started from shell”.

For some unknown reasons, I can't run that application and LSI support was not able to solve this issue. I still have to contact Asus to check if they can.

However, LSI support told me that I should try to flash the firmware from a motherboard without UEFI support. So I did move the controller back into my Asus Striker II Formula, which was now booting fine since the bios of the card was downgraded to a compatible version!

And on my Asus Striker II Formula, booting with the DOS Key, I did successfully clean the current IR firmware and flash the IT firmware instead.

sas2flsh.exe -o -e 6

*******************************************************

LSI Corporation SAS2Flash Utility.

Version 8.00.00.00 (2010.11.01)

Copyright (c) 2009 - 2010 LSI Corporation. All rights reserved.

*******************************************************

Advanced Mode Set

Adapter Selected is a LSI SAS: SAS2008(B2)

Executing Operation: Erase Flash

Erasing Flash Region...

Erase Flash Operation Successful!

Resetting Adapter...

Reset Successful!

Finished Processing Commands Successfully.

Exiting SAS2Flash.

sas2flsh.exe -o -f 2118it.bin -b mptsas2.rom

*******************************************************

LSI Corporation SAS2Flash Utility.

Version 8.00.00.00 (2010.11.01)

Copyright (c) 2009 - 2010 LSI Corporation. All rights reserved.

*******************************************************

Advanced Mode Set

Adapter Selected is a LSI SAS: SAS2008(B2)

Executing Operation: Flash Firmware Image

Firmware Image has a Valid Checksum.

Firmware Image compatible with Controller.

Valid NVDATA Image found.

Valid Initialization Image verified.

Valid BootLoader Image verified.

Chip is in RESET state. Attempting Host Boot...

Firmware Host Boot Successful !

MfgPage2 Mismatch Detected.

Writing Current MfgPage2 Settings to NVRam

Updated MfgPage2 !

Resetting Adapter...

Adapter Reset Completed.

Chip is in RESET state. Performing Host Boot...

Firmware Host Boot Successful !

Beginning Firmware Download...

Firmware Download Successful.

Resetting Adapter...

Adapter Successfully Reset.

Executing Operation: Flash BIOS Image

Validating BIOS Image...

BIOS Header Signature is Valid

BIOS Image has a Valid Checksum.

BIOS PCI Structure Signature Valid.

BIOS Image Compatible with the SAS Controller.

Attempting to Flash BIOS Image...

Flash BIOS Image Successful.

Finished Processing Commands Successfully.

Exiting SAS2Flash.

sas2flsh.exe -listall

*******************************************************

LSI Corporation SAS2Flash Utility.

Version 8.00.00.00 (2010.11.01)

Copyright (c) 2009 - 2010 LSI Corporation. All rights reserved.

*******************************************************

Adapter Selected is a LSI SAS: SAS2008(B2)

Num   Ctlr            FW Ver        NVDATA      x86-BIOS      PCI Addr

---------------------------------------------------------------------

0   SAS2008(B2)     08.00.00.00  07.01.00.03  07.15.00.00  00:04:00:00

Finished Processing Commands Successfully.

Exiting SAS2Flash.

100% OK !!!

I did next upgrade the firmware from 08.00.00.00 to 17.00.00.00 on my two card (LSI SAS 9201-16i and LSI SAS 9211-8i) and entered the management console (CTRL-C) to disable boot support on both card (as I boot from disks attached on on-board sata controllers). And now, they both work like a charm on my Asus Striker II Formula :)

[EDIT]: Reading again about UEFI support on a french web site dedicated to ASUS laptops, I found that "x86_64 UEFI Shell 2.0" is not supported by some ASUS UEFI firmware because it does not have the minimum expected version (???). It'a said on that forum that "x86_64 UEFI Shell 1.0." is however well supported. I am quite sure I did test it without success (I was not presented with the interface but got a black screen). But it might be worth a second try... Possibly copying the shell into /boot/efi/shellx64.efi instead of the root (as suggested on this site)

HardwaresTips LSI SAS 9211-8i – Compatibility issues

I already experienced a compatibility issue between a LSI SAS 9201-16i and my Asus Striker II Formula. But as the issues appeared to be solved once the LSI bios downgraded to 7.15.0.0, I decided to buy another LSI SAS controller and give it a try too. The same issue occurred and was solved in a similar way.

Click to Read More

Once the new SAS 9211-8i plugged in my Asus Striker II Formula, the PC didn't boot anymore. It was "freezing" just at the end of the SAS controller initialization phase. The current bios was 07.25.00.00 and the firmware 13.0.0.57.00 (IR).

Just as I did for the SAS 9201-16i, I did plug next the new SAS controller in my other motherboard, an ASUS P9X79Pro. On that motherboard, the initialization phase passed successfully.

I did send next an email to LSI support to request their package version P8 (firmware & bios) for SAS 9211-8i, the version that made my SAS 9201-16i compatible with my Asus Striker II Formula. Again great support from LSI, I did get the package in less than 24h.

Using the sas2flash.exe for windows provided within the package P8, I did check the current version of the firmware and bios using the option "-listall":

sas2flash.exe -listall

**********************************************************************************

LSI Corporation SAS2Flash Utility.

Version 8.00.00.00 (2010.11.01)

Copyright (c) 2009 - 2010 LSI Corporation. All rights reserved.

**********************************************************************************

Adapter Selected is a LSI SAS: SAS2008(B2)

Num   Ctlr            FW Ver        NVDATA      x86-BIOS      PCI Addr

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

0   SAS2008(B2) 13.00.57.00  0d.43.00.05  07.25.00.00  00:03:00:00

Finished Processing Commands Successfully.

Exiting SAS2Flash.

I did backup the current firmware using the option "-ufirmware"

sas2flash.exe -ufirmware SAS9211-8i-backup.fw

**********************************************************************************

LSI Corporation SAS2Flash Utility.

Version 8.00.00.00 (2010.11.01)

Copyright (c) 2009 - 2010 LSI Corporation. All rights reserved.

**********************************************************************************

Adapter Selected is a LSI SAS: SAS2008(B2)

Executing Operation: Upload Firmware

Upload Successful!

Finished Processing Commands Successfully.

Exiting SAS2Flash.

I did next backup the current bios using the option"-ubios"

sas2flash.exe -ubios SAS9211-8i-backup.rom

**********************************************************************************

LSI Corporation SAS2Flash Utility.

Version 8.00.00.00 (2010.11.01)

Copyright (c) 2009 - 2010 LSI Corporation. All rights reserved.

**********************************************************************************

Adapter Selected is a LSI SAS: SAS2008(B2)

Executing Operation: Upload BIOS

Upload Successful!

Finished Processing Commands Successfully.

Exiting SAS2Flash.

Finally, I did flash the bios and only the bios as I knew this one was responsible of the freeze, based on my previous experience. I did use the options "-o -b":

sas2flash.exe -o -b mptsas2.rom

****************************************************************************

LSI Corporation SAS2Flash Utility.

Version 8.00.00.00 (2010.11.01)

Copyright (c) 2009 - 2010 LSI Corporation. All rights reserved.

****************************************************************************

Advanced Mode Set

Adapter Selected is a LSI SAS: SAS2008(B2)

Executing Operation: Flash BIOS Image

Validating BIOS Image...

BIOS Header Signature is Valid

BIOS Image has a Valid Checksum.

BIOS PCI Structure Signature Valid.

BIOS Image Compatible with the SAS Controller.

Attempting to Flash BIOS Image...

Flash BIOS Image Successful.

Finished Processing Commands Successfully.

Exiting SAS2Flash.

Et voilà. Once re-plugged into the other PC, with the ASUS Striker II Formula, this one was now booting fine.

In a next post I will report on my experience trying to flash the firmware, in a attempt to replace the current IR firmware by an IT firmware.

HardwaresTips Enable 3D on ASUS VG278HR Lightboost 27” with NVidia Stereoscopic 3D

I have been really puzzled by how to enable 3D on my Asus VG278HR screen.

Asus VG278HR

Asus VG278HR

It sometimes worked and sometimes did not ?! Actually, it's quite easy to enable/disable it if all the conditions are met, such as the right refresh rate, the right resolution, the 3D screen as primary display, ...

Click to Read More

Requirement to play 3D movies:

  • A 3D screen with a 3D IR emitter: Mine is an ASUS VG278HR
  • A 3D compatible graphic card: Mine is a Nvidia GeForce GTX 760
  • "NVIDIA 3D Vision Video Player": a player able to play 3D movies with side-by-side frames or up-and-down frames
  • The complete "NVIDIA Control panel", i.e.: including the nodes "3D Settings" and "Stereoscopic 3D" in addition to "Display", "Performance" and "Video". If you are missing those configuration nodes, install the very latest "drivers" from NVIDIA. I am currently using "320.49-desktop-win8-win7-winvista-64bit-english-whql.exe"

Notice: the difference between the ASUS VG278HR and ASUS VG278H is the 3D Infrared emitter embedded in the VG278HR to synchronize the glasses. Once the 3D is enabled, a small green led turns on on the emitter. This is the only way to know that the 3D is enabled. With a 3D screen without embedded IR, an external emitter must be bought. Also, one set of 3D glasses is included with the ASUS VG278HR.

To enable 3D, try first the wizard (should be done at least once):

  1. Right click the desktop > NVidia Control Panel > Stereoscopic 3D
  2. Check "Enable stereoscopic 3D"
  3. Select "3D TV Play" as Stereoscopic 3D Display Type
  4. Click "Run Setup Wizard"

All the screens (if several) will blink and the windows on the other screen will be moved. But finally the wizard will appear. Don't click into another screen as the wizard would minimize. This wizard welcome screen must be title "Set up NVIDIA 3DTV Play" otherwise, it's not the right one to be used to enable 3D with the VG278HR.

  1. Click "Next" on the welcome screen.
  2. You should now see a screen asking to "Turn On your glasses". Press the button on the left side of your glasses. And click "Next".
  3. On the next screen "Test your hardware setup", you have to pick the right answers and then click "Next". With only the left eye opened you should see the green shape only. With only the right eye opened, you should see the blue one only.
  4. On the next screen you "Verify your ability to see stereoscopic 3D pictures". Select the right answer, accept the health notice and then click "Next". The right answer is the left one (with a small elevate surface on top of the background).
  5. On the last screen I suggest to uncheck the option to start the demo.

You can experience issues to enable 3D with the wizard, or you can loose the 3D once you close the wizard or far later for some unclear reason. In any case, check bellow for required settings to be able to enable/re-enable 3D. Possibly restart the wizard once every settings is fixed.

Once the wizard completed, you will notice that the 3D is enabled (you see the green led turned on on top of the screen) but the resolution could be 1280 x 720. Ugly ! Unfortunately , if you try immediately to set 1980 x 1080 (which is recommended and supported for 3D) the 3D will probably be disabled. Don't worry. This is due to the refresh rate. See bellow how to fix that.

If 3D is disabled or can't be enabled

Check first that the Stereoscopic 3D mode is enabled: Right click the desktop > Screen resolution > select the option "Enable Stereoscopic 3D settings for all supported displays" and click "Apply".

Next, set the ASUS VG278HR as the main display if you have multiple screens. Otherwise, I notice that 3D is not effective: right click the desktop > Screen resolution > select the ASUS screen > check "Make this my main display" and "Apply".

Then, check that the Asus refresh rate is 24 Hertz: Right click the desktop > Screen resolution > select the ASUS screen > click "Advanced settings" > Go to the "Monitor" tab > select the refresh rate and "Apply".

Notice: If 3D is enabled and you select anything above 24Hz as a refresh rate, it will be disabled immediately.

Finally, select a supported resolution such as 1920 x 1080 or 1280 x 720. If you select one of those resolution while the refresh rate is 24Hz, you should see Resolution: "1920 x 1080 (Recommended, 3D)" in the "Screen Resolution" window instead of simply "1920 x 1080 (Recommended)". As soon as you click "Apply", 3D should now be enabled.

Disable properly the 3D

In 3D mode, the screen appears to be grey although it's really brilliant when 3D is disabled. This is normal as the refresh rate is divided by two (one frame must be generated for each eye).

So, if you want to switch from 3D mode to normal mode, the easiest is simply to disable/re-enable the "Stereoscopic 3D". I did try various tools and command line without success: Right click the desktop > Screen resolution > deselect or select the option "Enable Stereoscopic 3D settings for all supported displays" and click "Apply".

Notices:

  1. You have to enable 3D on the screen BEFORE starting your "NVIDIA 3D Vision Video Player". If you did start it first, restart it otherwise your movie will be played side-by-side anyway.
  2. If your video does not expand to fit the screen and you want that, go to NVIDIA 3D Vision Video Player's menu File > Aspect Ratio > 16:9

Hardwares TP-LINK 300Mbps Wireless N Range Extender: TL-WA850RE

TP-LINK Wireless N Range Extender TL-WA850RE

TP-LINK Wireless N Range Extender TL-WA850RE

Finally a Wireless Range Extender which is as nice as cheap and easy to configure!

Click to Read More

My wifi router is on the first floor and wifi connections from both the ground floor and the second floor are really poor due to the large concrete slab between each floor.

I didn't want to pay (a lot) for a new wifi routers which would offer much more features than actually required, have useless Ethernet ports (switch), be large and ugly/inappropriate in the landscape, ...

So, I decided to give a try to the nice and discrete TL-WA850RE sold for 38€.

The connection with my Buffalo WZR-HP-G300NH was straightforward and went seamlessly.

  1. Plug the TL-WA850RE in a electrical outlet close to the wifi router to be extended
  2. On a laptop, open the pane to select a Wifi Network and pick the "TP-LINK_Extender_xxxxxx network"
  3. Start a browser and navigate to "http://tplinkextender.net". It's the url of the embedded administration website.
  4. Log in using the username 'admin' and password 'admin'
  5. Follow the wizard to configure the TP-LINK Range Extender as described in the Quick Installation Guide. PAY ATTENTION: you have to disable your popup blocker or allow that website. Otherwise, the final status windows will be blocked and the process won't complete.
  6. Once the wizard completed, go to the router configuration website and look for the IP assigned to the TP-Link device (on the WOL page of my Buffalo, I found it's IP for the hostname = *). The best would be to assign a fix IP to the TP-Link's Mac Address!
  7. Restart a Browser and navigate to the TP-Link's IP address.
  8. Back to the TP-Link administration website, change the default username/password via System Tools > Password.
  9. Now, the device can be unplugged and moved into a electrical outlet of a room where the wifi signal is currently poor.

There is a DHCP server embedded in the device as well as some other basic wireless features (relate to security, statistics...) that I won't use as far as everything is managed by/on my Buffalo.

So far, the TP-Link works really well to extend the range of my Buffalo :)

The only "issue" is the blue leds shining too much in the dark which prevent me to sleep in my room if I use the repeater there :(

TP-Link: http://www.tp-link.com/en/products/details/?model=TL-WA850RE

Hardwares Upgrade firmware of Buffalo WZR-HP-G300NH

Buffalo WZR-HP-G300NH v1

Buffalo WZR-HP-G300NH v1

I have upgraded the firmware of my Buffalo WZR-HP-G300NH (v1) with the latest version of dd-wrt... seamlessly !

Click to Read More

My Buffalo bought end of 2010 was pre-installed with a version of dd-wrt (a.k.a the "Pro" firmware of Buffalo which was installed by default as of the second half of 2010 instead of their 'friendly' firmware).

  1. In the dd-wrt router database, I have searched for WZR-HP-G300H and found it was supported by v24-preSP2.
  2. I went to the file server where dd-wrt firmwares v24-preSP2 are available.
  3. On that file server, I went to the more recent sub-folder (/2013/02-11-2013-r20675) and looked for the folder "buffalo_wzr-hp-g300nh" and fetched the firmware "wzr-hp-g300nh-dd-wrt-webupgrade-MULTI.bin" (The other one "buffalo_to_ddwrt_webflash-MULTI.bin" is to upgrade from the Buffalo 'Friendly' firmware - which used to be installed by default before the second half of 2010).
  4. Using my laptop connected via wifi, I went to the "firmware update" page of my Buffalo, via its web interface menu "Administration > Firmware Upgrade".
  5. I chose "don't reset"  after flashing, selected the firmware downloaded previously on my laptop and clicked "Upgrade". It took quite a few minutes.
  6. Next, the countdown being completed, I have refreshed my browser and the new interface appeared. The previous one was red with "Buffalo" displayed on top. The new one is mainly black/blue and yellow without Buffalo displayed anymore.

Everything was still working fine immediately after the upgrade, without any lost of settings. I.e. mainly (from my point of view):

  • The Buffalo IP address, which was a custom one, didn't change.
  • The Port Forwarding where still configured in NAT/QoS > Port Forwarding.
  • The wol addresses where still available in Administration > Wol.
  • The Static Leases of the DHCP Server where still configured in Services > Services.

dd-wrt wiki for WZR-HP-G300NH : http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Buffalo_WZR-HP-G300NH

Buffalo : http://www.buffalotech.com/products/wireless/single-band-wireless-routers/airstation-highpower-n300-gigabit-dd-wrt-wireless-router

HardwaresRaspberry Pi A HTPC for 35€: Raspberry Pi + XBMC

Raspberry Pi Model B

I have just received the "Raspberry Pi Model B" I ordered two weeks ago on "RS Components" website. It rocks !!!

Within 30 minutes, I was watching on my HD TV a 1080p movies streamed from my NAS :p

Click to Read More

Mine is in a black case bought from RS components. I also bought there a power supply and a HDMI cable. The big advantage of using a Raspberry pi is that

  • It has a very low power consumption (about 1-2 watts at idle)
  • It is really small 85.60mm x 53.98mm x 17mm (invisible behind the TV)
  • It has a HDMI with Audio with CEC support (you can pilot XBMC on the Raspberry Pi with the TV remote control)
  • It comes with codec license for MPEG4 & H.264 (hardware accelerated)
  • Licenses can also be bought here to play back MPEG2 or VC1.
  • The Model B comes with 512MB Ram (Only 256 on the Model A)
  • It boots a Linux from a SD card (= silent) in about 50 seconds (depending on the distribution). There are 3 distributions of Linux with XBMC targeting the Raspberry Pi (see the wiki here). Some Install Guides:
  • A 2GB SD is enough, but I use a 16GB class 6, the only SD I had
  • There are 2 USB slots that I use for a keyboard and a mouse. That can be expanded with a USB hub (There is only one USB port on the Model A). A USB HDD can be plugged to add extra storage if required.
  • There is a 10/100Gbs Ethernet Port (No Ethernet port on the Model A) with supports of various power management wakeup features, including Magic Packet™, Wake-on LAN (WOL) and Link Status Change. UNFORTUNATELY, albeit Pi's Lan chipset does support WOL, the Pi's lack of power management (ACPI) means it doesn't support this Lan chipset features :(
  • It does not need a fan cooler (= silent)
  • The Model B uses a standard power supply capable of supplying 5V 700ma (the Model A requires 5V 300ma)
  • The GPU is capable of 1Gpixel/s
  • It can be easily overclocked (and overvolted to increase stability) up to 1000MHz (without making the warranty void !). By default the Raspberry Pi runs as 700Mhz and is overclocked at 800Mhz by RaspBmc...
  • Overall real world performance is something like a 300MHz Pentium 2 with great graphic performances.
As mentioned, I decided to install RaspBmc. It's really straightforward [EDIT: RapsBmc is now deprecated and replaced by Osmc).
  1. Plug the SD card in a PC (I am using Windows 8 )
  2. Format the SD card, e.g. using a tools dedicated to SD/SDHC/SDXC like "SD Formatter".
  3. Download the raspbmc installer (Not available anymore on the official webstite) and "run As Administrator" the setup.exe . It will automatically download an image and copy it to the SD card.
  4. Plug next the SD card in the Raspberry Pi, plug the HDMI cable on the TV (I didn't test the RCA/Audio output), plug an Ethernet cable and plug the power supply. Select the right HDMI input on your TV and you should see the Raspberry PI display. It will configure itself (get an IP address from DHCP server, download the latest release/updates, etc...) and after about 20 minutes, it should start XBMC.
  5. In XBMC, go to the main menu > System > Lower submenu > System info and take note for your URL. You can also get there the MAC Address if you prefer like me to configure your DHCP server to assign a fix IP to the Raspberry PI (recommended to remote control XBMC or configure NFS access to Synology - reboot required).
  6. On your PC, run a Browser and type the IP address of the Raspberry PI to get access to the XBMC web control UI (on the port 80 configured by default in Raspbmc). It can be used to remote control XBMC.
  7. On your Android Phone, install the XBMC official Remote Control (Not available anymore) and configure it with the IP address of the Raspberry Pi with port 80 (this is the default of RaspBmc). There is neither a username nor a password defined by default in RaspBmc for accessing the Web Control UI (Another good remote for Android is Yatse Widget).
  8. On Synology, enable the "guest" account and grant read access on the shared folders "music", "video" and "photo" (I still have to find where I can configure a username in raspbmc to access smb/nfs - I know I could at least do it on the smb/nfs sources configured in XBMC: protocol://user:pass@synoIP/sharename)
    • The default username is "pi" and the default password is "raspberry", but for some reasons, adding such a user on the Synology with adhoc rights on the shares does not grant raspbmc access on those ?!
  9. On XBMC, add video, music and photo sources. I am not using "uPnP" as it does not support use of metadata stored next to the media files. Instead I am currently using smb.
  10. On XBMC, you can go to the menu "Programs" to get access to the RaspBmc settings.
The Android Remote Control for XBMC works really fine, as well as controlling XBMC with the TV Remote, which makes this HTPC from far the greatest for that price: ~35€!
A few notes:
  • WOL does not work because the lack for "power management" on Raspberry Pi. The only other way to "power on" the device remotely is to plug its power cable into a USB port on the TV (USB voltage is standardized at 5.0v, so you only have to check the max A supported by your TV). When you turn on the TV the pi powers on too. However, the Pi draws less power when turned on then many Tvs do when off, so there is really no reason to ever turn it off. Turning it off would not significantly reduce power consumption unless it is also unplugged.
    • So, don't ever use the "Power Off" button of XBMC. The only way to restart the Raspberry Pi would be to unplug and plug back in the power supply.
    • Power over Ethernet (PoE) is not yet supported. Maybe in a future version of the Raspberry Pi.
  • In XBMC, go to the main menu > System > Lower submenu > Settings > Apparence > Region. Set e.g. the "Langue of the interface" or your language as "Preferred Language for audio" although you like to watch the movies in O.V.
  • In XBMC, go to the main menu > System > Lower submenu > Settings > Services > SMB Client. Change the name of the Workgroup to match your.
  • Login on the Raspberry Pi via SSH (using Putty, username "pi", password "raspberry". Note: "root" user is disabled by default on RaspBmc) and Raspbmc will prompt you to choose your keyboard layout - use the space bar to select a layout and Tab to move the cursor onto the Ok button. On the next screen, set your layout as the default one and wait until it's "generated" (can be a long process). Continue the configuration with the selection of your region and country. Type "exit" to close the SSH session.
  • Raspbmc overclocks the Raspberry Pi to a safe clock frequency (from the default 700MHz to 800Mhz). Notice that a change of the clock frequency does not blow the OTP (Over Temperature Protection). It is overvolting that does this. Overclocking is therefore not making the warranty void while overvolting will permanently set a bit which invalidates the warranty. Overvolting will also reduce the lifespan.
    • Here is a tutorial to overclock the Raspberry Pi with RaspBmc via SSH
    • Here is a tutorial to overvolt the Raspberry Pi with RaspBmc via SSH
    • Here is a tutorial to do the same with the Raspbery config tool (if not using RaspBmc
    • And here are more details on possible values for the overclocking/overvolting.
  • With RaspBmc, there is no need to manually update the firmware (via SSH). This is done automatically by RaspBmc, insuring that the kernel is fully compatible.

site: http://www.raspberrypi.org (Look at the quick-start-guide and the FAQ)

RaspBmc: http://www.raspbmc.com (Look at the FAQ)

XBMC for Raspberry: http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=Raspberry_Pi/FAQ

buy: http://raspberrypi.rsdelivers.com/default.aspx?cl=1

Hardwares Fuhu Nabi 2 with Google Apps - Great tablet for kids and dad

I have just bought a Nabi 2, a tablet for kids which costed me only 155€ (+ 12€ for delivery from Ireland to Belgium) although it's a quad-core 1.3GHz Nvidia Tegra 3 processor and 7-inch 1024-by-600-pixel Capacitive Multi-Touch display running Android 4.0.

Fuhu Nabi 2 Kids tablet

Fuhu Nabi 2 Kids tablet

It could be the perfect tablet for dad and kids it it was not missing the Google Play Store, which may not be installed due to Google's policies (Nabi having its own store)... (and maybe a GPS). Fortunately, if you are not afraid of rooting the device, all the Google Apps can be installed...

Click to Read More

The Nabi 2 is really great and fast.

  • It connects to 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi networks on the 2.4GHz frequency.
  • It comes with Bluetooth 3.0 integrated (useful to connect with wireless headphones).
  • It has 1GB of RAM
  • It comes with 8GB of built-in storage of which 4.49GB are free
  • It has a microSD slot to increase capacity (support 64GB microSD without issues).
  • It has a mini HDMI out for playing videos on an HDTVs at up to 1080p.
  • The battery can last up to 7h30 while running a video with screen brightness set to maximum and Wi-Fi switched on.
  • It has a 2-megapixel front-facing camera above the screen.
  • It has an accelerometer
  • It comes with a thick red rubber silicone case that can be removed but is well protecting the tablet. Really let the kids play with it without much concern ;)
  • It has a proprietary Monarch OS UI.

It's built by a Los Angeles-area startup called Fuhu. You will find plenty of reviews on the web looking for "Fuhu Nabi 2".

Unfortunately, it does not come with Google Play and generally speaking, Google Apps ("gapps") may not be installed. This was really an hold-back for me as I have already a lot of paid softwares bought on Google Play for my Android phone that I wanted to reused them on that tablet. Fortunately, a known "exploit" of Android has been used to root the device and add all the Google Apps as explained on XDA-developers forum.

How to root the Nabi 2 is really best explained here (EDIT: see at the bottom for another improved package containing the "gapps"). Each manual steps are detailed here.

It's really clear and did work quite well for me.. Quite well because it appeared that at the step where I had to select the gapps.zip file and install it, this one was not available... I think that the problem that I didn't have a microSD card in the slot... I would recommend to have one plugged before rooting the device... What I did to solve that issue: I copied the file manually from my PC on a microSD card, I did plug the card in the device and I used the "Mount" menu of TWRP to make the SD card acessible from TWRP. Finally, I could select  gapps.zip on the external SD.

A last fright however. After the installation of the Google Apps (when TWRP says "Installation Complete!") and before clicking "Reboot System" in the lower right, I noticed error messages in the logs: failed to mount \data.. Gasp !! I did try to mount it manually without success. As I still didn't find a solution after one hour spent googling, I decided to reboot the device and pry.... And  fortunately, although it took a few minutes to restart and complete the update, everything appeared to be running really fine !

Next, I had access to all the Google apps, including  Google Play. I did installed successively on the Nabi all the application I already paid and installed in the past on my Galaxy SII...

There was however a remaining "issue" (neither blocking nor critical), the gapps package was giving a message 'Android Upgrading' on every boot. But there is a new package here that solves this issue. Simply copy it on your nabi 2 (E.g.: on the microSD - or download it directly on the internal storage). Next go to the recovery mode in TWRP 2.2.2.1 and install it:

  • While the nabi is turn on, press the "Power off" button for a few seconds to get the “shutdown” prompt.
  • Press next the "Volume +" and the "Power Off" buttons together for a few second to get the boot menu. You should see soon the following entries in the top left corner, is small fonts.
    • Boot normally
    • Fastboot Protocol
    • Recovery Kernel
    • Forced Recovery
  • Select “Recovery Kernel” with the "Volume -" button
    • Don’t wait too long before starting to select this entry or the device starts to “Boot Normally”
  • Confirm the selection with the "Volume +" button
    • The menu becomes brighter
  • Wait for a some long seconds and here it is: the TWRP menu
  • Select Install and browse to find the "gapps.zip" file.
Another option is to copy the new gapps into the setup of jmztaylor and rerun the script. You may also replace the recovery.img (TWRP) with a more recent one (Read this thread)...

IMPORTANT NOTICE. If like me you have the UK version (NABI2-NV7A-UK) don't try to install more recent TWRP like the 2.3.3.0 or 2.4.4.0. They have a bug with the touch screen calibration. you won't be able to touch and select menu/items/etc... anymore in TWRP :( Really a nightmare. So stick to TWRP 2.2.2.1.

So, as I had to redo the whole process several times, here is a resume (every info taken from xda-developers!):

  • On the Nabi 2
    • Power it on (Press the "Power" button for 5 seconds).
    • Go into the Daddy/Momy mode
    • Verify that "USB Debugging" is enabled in Settings > System\Developer Options.
    • Check also that you have at least the version 1.9.23 in Settings > System\About.
    • To update the nabi 2, go to Settings > System\ About, Update and click the "Check update" button.
  • On the PC:  Go to Control Panel, Device Manager and look for the Nabi tablet device.  If it has an exclamation mark next to it, install the PDANet software to get the required drivers. The Nabi 2 should next be properly listed.
  • Open a dos command prompt Run As Administrator
  • Go to the location where you have unzipped the jmzrootpackage
  • Replace the files\gapps.zip file with t499users_fuhu_nabi2_gapps.zip
  • Possibly replace files\recovery.img with the one from NabiTWRP244.zip
  • Run install.bat
  • Choose option 1. The ADB server used to communicate with the nabi 2 will start. Press any key to continue
  • The device will reboot and display a menu in the top left corner :
    • Bootloader
    • Continue
    • Reboot-bootloader
    • Reboot
    • Poweroff
  • Press any key in the dos command prompt to continue. The TWRP  will be copied on the nabi 2.
  • Press the "Volume +" button on the nabi to enter the "Bootloader" menu
  • Press next the "Volume -" button until the "Recovery Kernel" menu is selected
  • Press finally the "Volume +" button to confirm the selection. The whole menu appears next much brighter and a few long seconds later you enter the TWRP  UI.
  • In the dos command prompt, press any key to continue. The gapps.zip and root.zip files will be uploaded and the device will reboot and reenter TWRP.
  • In TWRP, press Install
    • If you have difficulties to Press the button, you possibly have the "touchscreen calibration" bug. Bad luck. It's a real nightmare to use TWRP with that bug. Check the version displayed on the top. I had no issue with TWRP 2.2.2.1
    • I was unable to select the "internal storage" as source for the files to be installed
    • I didn't find the files pushed from the dos command prompt and had to copy them manually on the microSD. (Visible from TWRP under /external_sdcard)
  • Select both root.zip and gapps.zip (add them in the queue) and proceed
  • During the installation, you could see like me a lot of "E:Unable to mount '/data'" and "E:failed to mount /data (Invalid argument)" errors...
  • After the installation press "Wipe Cache/Dalvik" and once done, press "Back"
  • Press "Reboot" and select "System" in the reboot menu. The nabi 2 power off
  • Power on you nabi 2
  • It will take quite a long time to boot. Eventually, it will be "updating Android"
  • Enter the Daddy/Momy mode and go to the Play Store to get "Root Checker"  (e.G.: from free Android tools) to see if the device is rooted properly.
  • You should also have an application named "SuperSU" available
  • You can now also delete the Fuhu apps that you don't like
    • Use e.g.: ES File Explorer (as far as you already checked all the options in Settings > Root Settings) to delete the relevant .apk files under /vendor/app/. Pay attention that if you delete all of them, you will get a blank welcome screen. If you really want that, make sure that you hat set "Parent Mode as Default Mode" in the Settings > Personal/Security.
    • NvCPLSvc.apk, fuhu_AddApps.apk, fuhu_AppZone.apk, fuhu_Books.apk, fuhu_ChoreList.apk, fuhu_Crafts.apk, fuhu_Fan-a-tech.apk, fuhu_KidzMode.apk, fuhu_NabiCare.apk, fuhu_NabiCloud.apk, fuhu_NabiSpinletsPlusICS.apk, fuhu_NabiSpinletsPlusParentICS.apk, fuhu_NabiSync.apk, fuhu_OOBE.apk, fuhu_ParentalDashboard.apk, fuhu_SpinletPlusVideo.apk, fuhu_SwitchKids.apk, fuhu_TreasureBox.apk, fuhu_University.apk, fuhu_Videos.apk, fuhu_Web.apk, fuhu_nabiMD.apk
  • If you still get the "Android Upgrading" message every time you reboot (as I had... although using the new gapps.zip), it is said that you have to delete manually the two following .odex files (I did renamed them, but as it didn't work for me, I finally  restored them)
    • /system/app/Gallery2.odex
    • /system/framework/com.google.widevine.software.drm.odex
  • I did notice that although I had update the device from version 1.9.36 to  1.9.37-release-keys , there was still OTA updates available (version v2.0.5)... So I did download and install them and the device did reboot in TWRP mode. As I didn't know what I had to do, I did "install" again the root.zip and the gapps.zip (in that order!), press again "Wipe cache/Dalvik" and press "Reboot System"... The funny thing is that the update didn't complete successfully as it is still in the list if I do a "check update". But instead, the "Updating Android" message is gone :D

site: http://www.nabitablet.com

xda-developers page: http://forum.xda-developers.com/wiki/Fuhu_nabi_2

Automated scripts: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?p=36758895

Hardwares Windows 8 Pro x86 and Media Center Pack on Acer Idea 510 - successful

As the upgrade of my Acer iDea 510 with Windows 8 x64 and the MCE feature pack failed (See here) as well as using XBMCbuntun (See here), mainly due to issue with drivers, I have decided to give a try to Windows 8 x86.

And now, the result is really great - the HD video is playing very well and standby mode is back! The only tricky part was to force the installation of Nvidia Video Drivers for Vista on Windows 8.

Click to Read More

First, I did install Windows 8 pro x86.

Notice that during the installation, I did check the option to automatically activate Windows.

Next, for the Software part: I did install the Media Center feature Pack:

  • On this page, request a free licence for this pack (Offer limited until 31 jan 2013).
  • On the Start Screen, type "add features" to select "Add Features to Windows 8".
  • In the "Add Features to Windows 8" window, select "I already have a product key" and enter the free key got previously for the MCE pack.
  • Notice that once MCE installed, the "Add Features" is not available anymore in Windows...
  • Configure MCE

After that, I didn't experience the same issue (licence not valid for activation) as I did when testing Windows 8 x64. I means that I most probably skipped a step during the first time ? Possibly I did install the MCE pack before the activation of Windows ?!

  • Start a Windows Update and install Microsoft .Net 3.5 (required for the next step)
  • Install and configure the latest version of Media Browser (.Net 3.5 is a prerequisite)
At that time, I noticed that MCE was reacting very slowly and not displaying smoothly movies... Just like during my tests with Windows 8 x64... To solve this, I really had to install video drivers specific for Acer iDea 510's graphic card: a NVidia GeForce Go 7600.
  • Drivers for the GeForce Go 7600 compatible with Vista or Windows 7 should theoretically run fine on Windows 8. But unfortunately, the setup usually refuses to install those drivers because they don't officially target this OS. It's only due to information configured in the .inf file used by windows to install the drivers. It means that we can reconfigure those settings to become "compatible" with Windows 8.
    • Download the drivers (self-extracting exe named "18070_vista.exe") and the adapted .inf file (named "nv_disp.inf") separately from the bottom of this  page http://www.laptopvideo2go.com/drivers/vista/180.70/disclaimer/
    • Those are unofficial drivers and not WHQL certified.
    • Audio via HDMI is not supported by these version of the drivers. You need an older version (See replies bellow this post).
    • Once the drivers and the .inf file downloaded, extract the self-extracting package (exe file) and move nv_disp.inf into the extracted folder ("180.70_vista").
    • Run the setup.exe and don't be afraid if you see that it's for Vista.
    • Once installed, reboot the system. You will clearly see the difference (the resolution will be much higher - 1920x1080 instead of 1024x768 - and MCE   runs now much faster).
  • The issue mentioned above does not exist anymore with Windows 8.1. For that version of Windows, a version 307.68 of the NVIDIA Drivers is downloaded automatically when updating the drivers. It works fine except that there is no sound via HDMI (although there is an option "Set up Digital Audio" in the NVIDIA control panel to enable it !). If you don't have an optical connection and need the sound to go through HDMI, you will need to downgrade the drivers to 173.90. But that one comes with other issues, much more annoying... (See in the replies)
  • Install K-Lite codecs to be able to play HD movies (mkv)
  • Configure the codes to play French audio by default
    • Go to C:\Program Files\K-Lite Codec Pack\Tools and run CodecTweakTool.exe
    • Under configuration, select DirectShow Filter
      • Click Haali Media Splitter > Options tab > Languages > Audio Language Priority > enter "fre" (the three letters of French). Click Ok.
      • Click LAV Splitter > enter "fre" in both "Audio" and "Subtitle" and select "Only forced Subtitle". Click Ok.
      • Click LAV Video Decoder. In Hardware Acceleration, select XDVA2 and check the two options H.264 and MPEG-2.
  • Disable UAC (reboot required to become effective)
  • Disable Firewall for private network
  • Enable Remote Desktop:
    • On the Start Screen type "system", click on "Settings" and select "System" in the results.
    • Click on "Remote Settings"
    • Enable "Allow remote connections to this computer"
  • Configure the Speakers 5.1
    • Right click the speaker in the sys-tray and select "Playback Device"
    • At the bottom of the tab "Payback", click on "Configure"
    • Select the second 5.1 in the list of "Audio Channels" (with 2 speakers on the back).
  • Create a new user with MCE instead of the windows shell
    • Create a new standard user "Media Center" without password
      • On the start screen, type "Create User" and select Settings
      • In the list of results, click on "Create Standard User Account"
      • Select "Add a new user in PC settings"
      • Under "Other Users", click on "Add a User"
      • At the bottom of the page, click on "Sign in without a Microsoft Account"
      • At the bottom of the page, click on "Local Account"
      • Enter the name "Media Center", nothing else (no password) and click Next.
    • Change the picture of the user "MediaCenter"
      • Go back to the Start Screen (Ctrl + Esc)
      • Click on your account in the top-right corner and select "MediaCenter"
      • Wait while Windows prepare the PC for this user.
      • Once on MediaCenter's Start Screen, open IE and find a nice picture, right click on it and save it in the picture library.
      • Go back to the Start Screen and click on MediaCenter's account in the top-right corner to select "Change Account Picture"
      • In "PC Settings/Personalize/Account Picture", select Browse and pick the picture from the libraby
    • Possibly: enable Room Correction in the Speakers Properties\Enhancement... (microphone required )
    • Configure MCE Media Library and the Screen Saver
      • Run MCE
      • Go to the Tasks > Settings
      • Select Media Libraries and configure them
        • E.g.: Add the "Pictures" folder of the NAS. This one must be either public or the user "MediaCenter" must be granted access via the NAS user management UI.
      • Go back to Tasks > Settings
      • Select Pictures
      • Select Slide Show Screen Saver
        • Check that the option "Play my favorite pictures ..." is enabled
        • Set the delay before starting the Screen Saver
        • Save
      • Select Favorite Pictures
        • Select Use All Pictures (Or anything more relevant)
    • Sign-out (Via the Start Screen, right click the account in the top-right corner, ...)
    • Replace the Shell Explorer (explorer.exe) of MediaCenter with MCE (ehshell.exe)
      • Log in as an administrator
      • On the Start Screen of the administrator, type mmc and select mmc.exe in the list of results
      • Type Ctrl+M to Add a Snap-in
      • Select "Group Policy Object"
      • Click Add.
      • In the new window, click Browse
      • in the new window, open the "User" tab and select "MediaCenter".
      • Then click Ok, Finish and Ok.
      • Back into mmc, select in the left pane: Console Root > Local Computer\MediaCenter Policy > User configuration > Administrative Templates > System
      • In the right pane, double-click on "Custom User Interface"
      • In the new window, check "enable"
      • Under the Options, type in the field "Interface file name": %windir%\ehome\ehshell.exe /mediamode
      •  Switch to the user MediaCenter for testing purpose!

Here is the list of MCE switches (most of them provided by Andrew Cherry and Missing Remote) that can be used as on the command line ehshell.exe

  • /nostartupanimation – disables the startup animation
  • /noshutdownui – removes the shutdown item from Tasks
  • /mediamode – start in “media only mode” with no minimize/close buttons (use F4 to quit MCE)
  • /widescreen – force widescreen mode
  • /directmedia:general – force full screen
  • /directmedia:video – force full screen and navigate to the video library 
  • /nochrome – launch windowed mode without the containing window
  • /playallmusic – Play all music at startup
  • /playfavmusic – Play favorite music at startup
  • /playfavslideshow – Play favorite slideshow at startup
  • /playfavslideshowwithmusic – Same as above with music
  • /playslideshow – Play all slideshows
  • /playslideshowwithmusic – Same as above with music
  • /screensaver – Start media center in screensaver mode
  • /configuress – Start media center at configuring screen saver menu

Multiple switches can be enabled by entering multiple switches separated with a space in the target input.

Finally, from the hardware point of view, notice that:

  • The remote control is working fine
  • WiFi and Ethernet connection are working fine
  • Ethernet NIC is configure to allow WOL
  • The front Digital Display is  recognized by Windows 8 but not displaying anything else that "Welcome To Aspire IDEA.
    • I did try to install the drivers from Acer web site (named "VFD Transcoder Driver 1.01.01.zip") successfully, but it didn't fix anything. I am not surprised as this display was already not working with Windows 7
  • Drivers are missing for the 2 Multimedia Video Controllers devices (See previous try with Windows 8 x64)
    • I did install the drivers from Acer web site (named "MPC718_install_V6_13_32_1026_Oscar.msi") and those devices were recognized without any issue.
  • Standby mode works out of the box (nothing to fine tune in Windows) with the remote control.
    • I didn't change the BIOS settings since my first try with Windows 8 x64.
  • Wake-up on Lan works out of the box (nothing to fine tune in Windows) if the shutdown was initiated from MCE (or XBMC - see here after). If the shutdown is done from the Start Screen, WOL does not work!!!
    • I didn't change the BIOS settings since my first try with Windows 8 x64.
    • The difference in support for WOL or not depending on where the shutdown is initiated is explained here: In Windows 8, the default shutdown behavior puts the system into hybrid shutdown (S4) and all devices are put into D3. Remote Wake-On-LAN from hybrid shutdown (S4) or classic shutdown (S5) is unsupported.
    • Indeed, a boot after a default shutdown is fast. On the opposite, a boot after MCE/XBMC's shutdown is clearly much slower.
    • As I don't car about slow boot on this PC (which is usually in sleep mode anyway), I did disable the hybrid shutdown (S4) a.k.a "Fast Startup" :
      1. On the Start Scren type "Power" and select "Settings".
      2. Click on "Change what the power buttons do” in the list of results.
      3. Click on "Change settings that are currently unavailable" if UAC is not disabled
      4. Uncheck “Turn on fast startup (recommended)"
      5. Select "Save Settings" and test a shutdown/WOL. It works !
Notes:
  1. After booting the PC, windows automatically re-log in with the last account (if this one has a blank password)  (I didn't configure that?!)
  2. The "Restart" feature doesn't work. The PC shutdowns but does neither power off nor reboot... This seems to be due to the video drivers as the PC restarts fine with other drivers (but with those, the PC didn't stay in standby mode. It was waking up immediately).
  3. XBMC 12 runs quite fine on Windows 8 pro too.
    • Sound 5.1 is supported as soon as Speakers are configured in 5.1 in Windows (The sound is really well improved compare to the sound provided by MCE...)
    • Watching movies and listening music from Synology using UPnp works very well (first time, indexing is required...)
    • Remote Control MCE is quite well supported too. A Hard Reset is required (pressing the power button on the Acer for a few seconds)
    • WOL works fine after either an Hibernate or a Power Off (Even without disabling "Fast Startup" in the "Power Options").