website hit counter March 2008 - Posts - Chris Lanier

March 2008 - Posts

Short Bits: TV Library, DSM-750, Scripts

Andy has released a version of TV Library that doesn’t include an expiration timebomb.  While not completely polished, TV Library is a quick and easy TV cataloging plug-in done in MCML.  Download it here, and read more about the plug-in here and here.

Buy.com is set to have the D-Link DSM-750 Extender for $260 once they get it in stock.  That’s not a bad deal considering the MSRP ov $300+.

I doubt that Microsoft can be successful with new scripted shows specifically for download on the Xbox 360, but it is an interesting concept.  In a time where the big broadcasters can’t get a successful series from big name writers and producers, does anything think Microsoft can with like (??) talents like Peter Safran.

Posted by chrisl | 2 comment(s)

HP Keeps Computing Personal with Digital Storage First and Customizable PC Lineup

PALO ALTO, Calif., March 31, 2008 - HP today unveiled new customizable desktop PCs that offer a wide range of personalized features and options to fit the needs of every consumer.
 
The company also announced the availability of a digital storage device, the HP Media Vault mv2120, which is designed to store, protect and share digital media, as well as advanced monitors and accessories to enhance the digital lifestyle.
 
Whether desiring a faster processor for casual gaming or more hard drive space for storing photos, consumers can mix and match the options that appeal to their individual interests to create a dream PC with HP's new customizable desktops.
 
For the ultimate entertainment experience, HP offers the HP Pavilion Elite m9200t customizable PC. The m9200t features the HP Easy Backup button to quickly back up files as well as a variety of options including up to a 1 terabyte (TB)(1) hard drive and a Blu-ray DVD writer.(2) Extra storage options include two built-in drive bays for backing up photos, music and videos. This PC is ideal for anyone who wants power for the most demanding PC tasks and high-end home entertainment.
 
The new HP Pavilion a6460t customizable PC is ENERGY STAR® qualified and features an 80 PLUS power supply to help consumers save money and lessen their impact on the environment. In addition, the a6460t offers powerful computing and captivating entertainment options, with an available Intel® Core(tm) 2 Quad Processor,(3,4) wireless LAN card(5) and a TV tuner(6) to watch, record and pause live TV.
 
For those seeking a high-productivity PC at a superb value, HP offers the enhanced HP Pavilion a6400z customizable PC. The a6400z can be configured for as low as $299(7) with a 1.8 GHz AMD Dual-Core Processor,(3) NVIDIA GeForce 6150 graphics cards, 1 gigabyte (GB) of memory and a 250 GB(8) hard drive. Additionally, every HP Pavilion PC includes tools to make it more fun and convenient to work with digital photos and video clips.
 
The Compaq Presario line of retail desktop PCs also has been updated to include the Compaq Presario SR5450F, which offers a front-panel 15-in-1 memory card reader,(9) 2 GB of memory and Intel Pentium® Dual-Core Processor(3) for under $500.(7)

Read Full Press Release

Okoro Media Systems Launches New High-End Media Centers with Solid State Drive Technology

Okoro Media Systems, manufacturer of Digital Entertainment Systems for the high end audio video market, is pleased to announce the availability of the ZX series of media center PCs. The ZX series represent Okoro Media’s new “Extreme” line of Digital Entertainment Systems. Each ZX model utilizes Intel® Quad Core processors, high speed solid state hard drives, and an exceptional visual experience using the latest in NVIDIA PureVideo HD technology. The ZX series will also be the first Digital Entertainment System available that allows OMS customers to choose any automotive color they desire as a standard feature.
 
“We now have a stylish Digital Entertainment System for our customers in any automotive color they want. This will allow them to customize the unit to fit their décor or color match it with their favorite car. We strive to give our customers what they want and ultimate customization is a popular request. ” says Christopher Curry VP of Sales and Marketing.
 
The ZX series uses Solid State Drive (SSD) technology which is a major leap from the standard hard disc drives used in other media centers. The OMS SSD have no mechanical parts increasing overall reliability, performance and are more “Green” because they consume very little power. The ZX series is also Okoro Media Systems’ first line to be available in any color using a high quality automotive finish usually only associated with exotic cars.
 
The OMS-ZX100 is the first model available in the ZX line and comes standard with the following features:
 
ZX100 Digital Entertainment System
Intel Core™2 Extreme Quad Core Processor QX6850 3.0GHz
3 Gigabytes of Memory
NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GT HDMI output
32GB High Speed Solid State OS Drive with 1TB for Media Storage
Blu-ray and HDDVD Playback
Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate Edition
Availability in ANY automotive color
 
For more information about the ZX series please visit www.okoromedia.com

TV Wars: Media, Money and the Battle for Canada’s Airwaves

This came to one of my e-mail accounts the other day, looks very interesting considering the issues I know Canadian's are having.

ichannel Documentary Special

Tonight, while Canadians settle down in front of their TVs, few will realize that a fierce battle is being waged over who will control what they get to see in their living-rooms in the future.

It is a battle that pits big cable, satellite and telephone companies against the broadcasters, producers and Canadian talent. Oligopolies against small independent broadcasters…Canada against the US…and private interests versus the public good.

It is a war over Canada’s airwaves.  Who really owns them?  Who should be policing the types of channels we can access?  And just how independent, diverse and Canadian should our television universe be?

TV WARS: Media, Money and the Battle for Canada’s Airwaves is an investigative documentary special that delves into Canada’s most important cultural industry, and how that industry will fare in the future.  Will Canadian values, opinions, ideas and stories survive if the Canadian broadcasting system is controlled by the cable, satellite and telephone companies, who not only own the means for television distribution, but also many of the channels available to Canadians?  In an era of media ownership concentration, will there be any room for an independent voice in the brave new TV world?

Find out Wednesday, April 2 at 8pm and 11pm, and Sunday, April 6 at 9pm (ET).

Only on ichannel.

Posted by chrisl | with no comments

AverMedia Releases QAM Plug-in for Bravo Hybrid PCIe

AVerMedia has released beta QAM plug-in/driver that work within Media Center for their Bravo Hybrid PCIe tuner card.  Much like the existing beta QAM plug-in for the AVerTV Combo PCIe x1 M780, this will enable your Bravo Hybird to tune unencrypted QAM from within Media Center.

You can download the beta drivers and plug-in from AVerMedia’s FTP site at ftp.aver.com/Bravo.  Username is beta, password is betatest.  There are drivers for both 32 and 64-bit, but remember these are beta drivers so backup your system before you try anything!

Posted by chrisl | with no comments

Fiji Media Center Beta Inches Closer

We have been waiting for Microsoft to open the beta for Fiji, the suspected codename for the next version of Media Center for well over a year now.  I first posted about it in March of last year, with invites first opening just a month after that, and now it appears we may finally have taken a step forward.

Users (who shall remain nameless, because I edited them out) at The Green Button are reporting that they have received e-mails from Microsoft Connect.  If true, this would be the first step to finally getting something in our hands to play with (under NDA of course).

This release will bring DIRECTV support among other unannounced features.  I had expected it to include HD DVD support, but I wouldn’t count on that any more.  Other features have been kept under tight wraps, though I’ve got a few in mind that I’m rather sure will be there.

As the beta has still not officially started, anyone have predictions for what features will be added?

Update: Engadget HD points to a user who leaked their invite for the DIRECTV beta (bad move, considering Engadget published their first name!).

image

D-Link DSM-750 Extender Now Available

We knew it was on the way, but it looks like D-Link is now shipping their DSM-750 Extender.  D-Link has the price of $329.99, but if you can wait a few more days several other retailers should be getting stock in with some listed it at as low as $250.

The DSM-750 doesn’t have an integrated DVD drive, but it does have a local media playback interface with D-Link’s MediaLounge.  For the most part this means it works just like the Xbox 360 Dashboard.  Additional formats are supported using MediaLounge, but it is disconnected from the Media Center experience.

Among other features it has HDMI (1080i), Wireless-N, and more.  Grab the user manual here (PDF).  Performance is going to be on the same level as the Linksys Extenders. (ftp://ftp.dlink.com/Medialounge/DSM750/Manual/dsm750_manual_100.pdf)

Short Bits: On10, Media Center Show, More

On10 has video interviews with Autonomic Controls as well as Cannon PC that were posted this week.  Cannon PC has even stepped up and now is a Microsoft OEM so they can offer CableCARD.

Ian Dixon has a new Media Center Show with Charlie Owen and special guest Ted Singh of Embedded Automation.  Ted is on with a short interview about their new in-wall touchscreen, and Charlie as always is on with development news and platform highlights.

I’m trying out some new things in regards to authoring HD DVD and Blu-ray Discs that I hope to post on later.  For instance, did you know that you don’t need an HD DVD or Blu-ray Burner to burn HD content?  You can actually use standard DVD+R or DVD-R and get HD DVD or Blu-ray compliant video that will playback on standalone players.

Short Bits: Life|ware, Harmony, MyNetflix

Interesting how Mike Seamons leaves Exceptional Innovation and their focus turns to everything but Media Center.  Life|ware now runs on a RTI T-2C RF remotes, so you can have an XPe Life|controller and not even use Media Center as a part of Life|ware.

This is actually a great move, the advantages of home automation and lighting control comes in the various control form factors.  I don’t want to turn on a display everytime I want to control my lights, and in fact the one thing I hate about the light control that I’ve adopted (INSTEON) is a lack of controllers (though it is now improving over the past month or two).  This is also one of the key advantages behind Sideshow remotes (which have never shipped).

Missing Remote has an article on Harmony remotes, by far the best remote to improve the ease of use of any HT equipment.

Anthony just released a new version of his MyNetflix plug-in.  Version 2.2 (beta) brings search functionality with a virtual on-screen keyboard and the ability to select the streaming bitrate.

QuiiQ Slashes Prices on QuiiQ Movies

Last week I wrote about QuiiQ Movies, a new movie cataloging and management application for Media Center and the overwhelming response was “$100+, no thanks.”

Well, it appears the guys at QuiiQ were listening and today dropped their price of the Base package to only $30.

I still haven’t had time to give it a shot, but a few early reviews have come in with relatively good news.  I think if QuiiQ can really show the market that they are committed to the market by providing frequent updates and bug fixes then this could be a good challenger for My Movies.

Posted by chrisl | 10 comment(s)

Vista SP1 Gives Extenders a Speed Boost

Word is that Vista SP1 is giving Linksys Extenders a bit of a speed boost, especially in the transition and animation field.  I wouldn’t expect it to match the Xbox 360 just yet, but paired with a relatively fast PC and SP1 the overall experience might have just improved.

I’ve got a DMA2200 and newly delivered $150 DMA2100 at home but I’ve yet to connect them to a PC running Vista SP1.  I guess now I have added incentive to get started!

Related: Linksys DMA2200 Review | Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Short Bits: Contest, Apps, Research

Can anyone tell me why Microsoft’s video for the Digital Home Makeover contest is done in Flash and not Sliverlight? Kind of ironic how a video advertising a contest about connecting your life uses technologies that are completely disconnected from Microsoft’s web vision.  Anyway, be sure to check out the Digital Home Makeover contest, a $10,000 makeover would sure be nice!

New application from babgvant, DVRMStoWMVHD which converts DVR-MS files to WMV files via command line.  By default it will convert DVR-MS files to WMV (VC-1) and WMA Pro 5.1 audio.

Put this in the category that I don’t believe, but ABI Research says “both AV form factor home theater PCs and more traditional home theater PCs will grow to an installed base worldwide of 25 million by 2013.”  25 million HTPCs in 2013, I don’t think so.  25 million is a mainstream number, and considering almost all large OEMs have ditched HTPCs years ago the units are set to grow that much? 

Posted by chrisl | 3 comment(s)

Microsoft Introduces $10,000 Digital Home Makeover Contest

To celebrate the consumer availability of new Extenders for Windows Media Center, the Windows Media Center team is today unveiling a Digital Home Makeover Contest.  For one lucky winner, the makeover team will transform their disconnected digital lifestyle into a home entertainment dream with a prize package totaling up to $10,000.

The Digital Home Makeover Contest is designed to address the real challenges people face when adopting today’s digital lifestyle. Today’s consumers have a wide variety of digital content in their homes—thousands of digital pictures, MP3’s, TV shows and movies— and homes may have dozens of devices which allow people to interact with and enjoy this content. But wouldn’t it be nice if digital media could be seamlessly viewed and accessible across all these devices?   

With a prize package that will include a new PC with Windows Media Center, Extenders for Windows Media Center, flat screen television and video-capable wireless home networking, the winner of the Digital Home Makeover Contest will receive what they need to take control of connecting their entertainment options and start enjoying content from room to room, anywhere in the house. Microsoft is accepting entries in the form of two minute videos that illustrate a contestant’s disconnected digital lifestyle and why they need a digital home makeover.  Entries will be accepted through April 18 at http://www.windowsmediacenter.com/contest and the winner of the Digital Home Makeover will be announced by April 30, 2008. 

“Connected entertainment is all about enjoying high quality digital content both on your PC and on TV sets around the home," said Ron Pessner, general manager for Windows Media Center. “We are excited to bring that vision to life today with the technology behind Windows Media Center and Media Center Extenders.”

More information about the contest and new Extenders for Windows Media Center is available at http://www.windowsmediacenter.com

Another Vista Netflix Plug-in Joins the Battlefield

If MyNetflix and NetflixMC didn’t do it for you, then you might want to check out the latest addition to the Netflix plug-in battleground, vmcNetflix.  It does all the basics including viewing your queue, add/remove movies from your queue, and stream in a fullscreen window within Media Center.

Among the not tested features are 64-bit and Media Center Extender support, so if you want to give it a test let the developer know if it works.

Note: New builds include streaming to Extenders.

image

Is QuiiQ a My Movies Replacement?

QuiiQ Movies appears to be a new Vista Media Center plug-in for movie cataloging and management from within Media Center (Via Missing Remote).  Based on the User Manual it looks like this has it all, including support for Extenders and more.

I’m not around any Vista machines to give it a try, but QuiiQ might be one to watch.  It’s not a free application, far from it actually.  The Base package is € 67 ($105USD) and then the Network & Client package is an additional € 99 ($156USD).

The Base package allows for the database to be stored and accessed just on the single machine, while the Network package allows you to connect one or more clients (I assume this means PCs, but not sure if it means Extenders), and then the Client package is for access on other PCs (or Extenders?).

Much like My Movies, the application includes a 10-foot application (“Projector”), 10-foot media/DVD import (“Collector”), 2-foot collection manager (“Collection Manager”), and service control (“Control Center”).  It appears to be MCML, and apparently it can also use you’re my Movies database!

There is a 15 day free trial of the Base package and more information on QuiiQ homepage.  They also have a product called QuiiQ Home Automation that does X10, C-Bus and more.

Anyone care to give it a try and report back? 

image
Posted by chrisl | 12 comment(s)

Short Bits: Plug-ins

Yougle 0.4.0 has been released with numerous new features and fixes (Via Ian Dixon).  Yougle is an MCML Media Center plug-in that allows accessing of YouTube, MSN Soapbox, and Flickr and much more.

Druid 1.0.2 has also been released, an application for transcoding DVR-MS files to other formats for playback on your iPod, Zune, PSP, etc.  Includes scheduler, batch encoding, simple UI, and options for delete DVR-MS files after conversion.

MceFM is a new plug-in that brings Last.fm to Media Center based off of the artists in your music library.  It’s currently in beta, but looks great.  See the demo here and get much more information here.

Posted by chrisl | 1 comment(s)

Listen to me Live Today

Remember I’m live today on The Media Center Show with Ian Dixon at 1pm PDT.  There will be a live video stream of Ian and the audio from both of us.  In addition there is a chat room all at Live.TheDigitalLifestyle.com.  You will need a free Ustream account if you want to join the chat.  I hope to see everyone there!

Short Bits: $150 Extenders, Media Center Show

Just a few reminders, Amazon is still selling Linksys Extenders at $100 off.  Some are getting that the code has expired, but most others are not.  If you are getting that it is expired, register for a new account and give it a shot.  The DMA2100 is $150 after the discount and the DMA2200 is $200 (both have free shipping options).  This is really a fantastic deal, and while you might not want to replace your Xbox 360 in your living room just yet the Linksys Extenders are perfect for the bedroom (my review of the DMA 2200 is here).

Also, remember that I will be live on The Media Center Show with Ian on Monday at 1pm PDT.  I realized today that I’ve only got a slow DSL connection for my Spring Break vacation, so I’m hoping everything works with Skype.  I did a test today and it seemed to be fine so fingers are crossed!

More Xbox 360 Blu-ray (Non)Talk by Microsoft

I’m not going to put this one as high up as some other articles/reports, but I was just sent a link to an MCV UK interview with Chris Lewis, VP of Microsoft Interactive Entertainment Europe.  The quote… 

“We have no plans to do anything at all in terms of further or additional movie playback peripherals.”

While I firmly believe Microsoft will not offer Blu-ray, I can’t put to much stock on Lewis’ quote considering the rest of the article revolves around quotes like “My own view is very clear…” and “My own sense…”  I don’t know Mr. Lewis’ job responsibilities, but it doesn’t sound like he would be involved in such decisions anyway.  That said, as I've talked about in the past you would think such an idea would already be past the planning stages unless Microsoft is planning on offering a Blu-ray solution a year or so before the next console launch.

Of course his quotes do yet again reinforce that Microsoft is already in the download business with 1080p downloads direct to the Xbox Dashboard.

Thanks Warren!

Posted by chrisl | with no comments

FUZE Media Systems Introduces Entry-Level Whole-Home Media Solution for Smaller Residences

FUZE “Mini Edition” Is a Complete, One-Box Solution | Electronic House Expo Spring 2008

SAN JOSE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--FUZE Media Systems, makers of the industry’s most complete whole-home media system, today introduced an entry-level solution targeted at vacation homes, condominiums, and apartments. The “Mini Edition” delivers the same ease-of-use, reliability, and whole-home functionality associated with a FUZE Media System—live & recorded TV, movies, music, photos, and more—but is specifically designed for residences with 2-3 TVs.

The announcement reflects the company’s mission to enable consumers with every budget to enjoy a whole-home media system that can store, manage, and distribute all of a consumer’s desired home entertainment. The Mini Edition’s price and performance characteristics radically expand the market to which dealers can sell whole-home media systems.

Bob Silver, VP of Sales & Marketing at FUZE, explained that “the industry is hungry for a cost-sensitive whole-home media solution with FUZE reliability, ease-of-use, and performance. Without sacrificing reliability or performance, this solution is perfectly suited for smaller homes and apartments. We’re excited that we’ve been able to deliver a whole-home media system, in a smaller form factor, with identical performance to our flagship FUZE Media System.”

The FUZE Mini Edition comes standard with all necessary hardware and software for 2 video and 4 audio zones; a third video zone is offered as an option. The product works with EasyControl UPB, is FuzeTunes ready, and is 100% expandable and upgradable to a full FUZE Media System. The system’s server will come standard with 4GB memory, 750GB storage, and a 2.2GHZ processor. The solution will be available in Q2 2008.

Integrators interested in learning more are encouraged to visit booth #2216 at EHX Spring in Orlando or attend one of the company’s manufacturer’s training events at the show on 3/13 and 3/15.

About FUZE Media Systems

FUZE Media Systems shatters conventional notions about home entertainment. FUZE is the first media-driven whole-home entertainment solution that leverages the power of Microsoft’s Media Center platform. Built from the ground-up to manage media, FUZE delivers a complete system that stores, manages, organizes, and distributes all digital media—to any part of the home. Equally important, FUZE serves as the home’s portal for the next generation of direct-to-consumer downloadable media content. To learn more, visit www.fuzeav.com.

More Posts Next page »