I sure hope Microsoft sends Ed Bott a nice Christmas card ’cause once again he’s helped out a fellow blogger on their quest to making Vista work. He left a comment in my original post, that helped me realize that configuring Vista’s Power setting to never turn off my display was a bad idea, because our favorite feature (HDCP) would break the output when it failed to handshake with a device that is off. So I set the Power settings to turn off the display after 5 minutes which makes the ATI driver stop trying to do the HDCP handshake when my Plasma is off. So now when I get up in the morning I’m staring at a black screen.
Unfortunately this isn’t my only problem. My ATI CableCARD tuner isn’t always working properly. Eventually it starts to macroblock very badly and sometimes even the entire screen turns green and freezes. I’ve found that the cure is to shut down the PC, unplug the ATI tuner for 30 seconds, plug it back in until the cable light turns green and then turn the XPS 420 back on. This buys me about one to eight hours of trouble free operation before the problem comes back. It starts out bearable, but then gets completely unwatchable, all the while the ATSC tuners continue to work perfectly.
After finding this helpful Microsoft page, I called Verizon and asked them to send my tuner an “init” and after a few minutes on the phone the helpful rep confirmed that my CableCARD tuner was communicating properly with their network and was everything was good to go as far as they were concerned. This ‘init’ made my tuner work perfectly again too, but by the time I got home the issue was back. Later that evening I was chatting with a friend who reminded me that when you buy an XPS system the support staff is in the US. So I gave them a call and although I don’t feel like they did a very thorough job of troubleshooting, they offered to send me a replacement. Unfortunately they said I had to call another department with my case number to get it, and you guessed it, that department was closed.
Although I don’t have much faith that a replacement tuner is the answer, I don’t have a better idea, so we’ll see how that goes, I just hope it doesn’t take another three weeks to receive it.
**Update** I received the replacement and it works perfect!