Decoder checkup utility for troubleshooting Media Center TV playback problems

I found a link today to a tool that could be useful when trying to diagnose TV playback problems in Media Center 2005. It is called the Windows XP Video Decoder Checkup Utility. This utility will help you determine if an MPEG-2 (DVD) video decoder is correctly installed on your computer and whether or not the decoder is compatible with the recorded TV playback feature of Windows Media Center.

You can use this utility to perform the following specific tasks:

  • List all the MPEG-2 video decoders that are installed on your computer
  • Determine whether each installed decoder is marked as compatible with Media Center
  • Determine which decoder is marked as the preferred video decoder if you have multiple decoders installed; Windows Media Center uses the preferred video decoder for recorded TV playback
  • Change which installed decoder is marked as the preferred video decoder

In cases where you run into errors in Media Center stating that a TV tuner is not found when trying to watch live TV or playback recorded TV, this utility may prove useful in determining whether or not you have a valid decoder installed. If you have multiple decoders installed and encounter an error in Media Center, you can use this utility to try changing the preferred decoder to see if that resolves the TV playback errors that you encounter in Media Center.

If this tool does not help resolve TV playback errors, you can also try the workarounds suggested in this previous blog post.