website hit counter July 2008 - Posts - Chris Lanier

July 2008 - Posts

Short Bits: SDV, HP TocuhSmart, Media Center Show

Missing Remote has had several great articles and review this week including an article on SDV and what it means to your CableCARD PC.  In addition to that Mike reviewed TVTonic for Media Center and D-Link’s DSM-330 DivX Connected Extender (non Media Center Extender).

Ian Dixon got one of the new HP TouchSmart panels to play with and gives his first impressions and an unboxing video.  If you haven’t had a chance to use one of these new panels yet I’d run out and try and find one locally setup in-store.   It is a great PC and the fact that it doubles as a touchpanel makes it even more worth the already cheap $1200 price tag.

On this week’s Media Center Show Ian had on newcomer to the Media Center scene Ben Drawbaugh of Engadget HD fame.  Covered in the show are various topics on home automation and Media Center Extenders.

mControl Adds Text to Speech Driver

Adding to the long list of mControl add-ins, drivers, and plug-ins is their text to speech beta driver that allows the Microsoft Speech API to make your Vista machine speak text as part of a macro.  The speech commands are specific to Windows Vista, so the client will not work on MCE 2005 (the controller part of the driver should work on MCE 2005 however).

Source code and documentation are also included in the download.

Open Media Library Beta Released

No doubt one of my favorite Media Center plug-ins to watch has been Open Media Library.  The new MCML plug-in started as a clone of Niveus Media’s Movie Library and then shifted into a huge open source project with several developers behind the effort.  All of that hard work by those developers has resulted in the first beta release available for download now which looks great!  Downloads are available for 32 and 64-bit.

Features include...

  • My Movies XML support
  • VIDEO_TS playback
  • ISO using Daemon Tools
  • Codec based playback support
  • DVD Library Manager support
  • Extender support
  • UI based setup (importers, daemontools settings, etc)
  • Metadata editor
  • Much more
image

Samsung’s MediaLive: the Ultimate HDTV Accessory, Bringing Digital Content from the PC to the Big-Screen

Samsung Electronics America Inc., the leader in the U.S. digital television market, lets consumers view PC-content on a Samsung HDTV with the retail launch of the company's MediaLive adaptor. Samsung's MediaLive delivers digital content (including HD content) in real-time from Windows Media Center on a PC running Windows Vista Home Premium or Windows Vista Ultimate operating systems to the big screen of a Samsung HDTV via a wireless or wired home network. From photos, music, feature films, home movies, and live and recorded TV programs, Samsung's MediaLive is the ideal plug-and-play complement to most 2008-model Samsung HDTVs.

"The PC is quickly becoming the hub for entertainment in the home and Samsung's MediaLive gives consumers the freedom to enjoy and manage movies, photos, and music on the bigger screen of an HDTV," said John Revie, Vice President of Visual Display Marketing at Samsung Electronics America. "Samsung's MediaLive opens up a constantly expanding world of content for consumers, adding yet another connectivity option to the latest Samsung HDTVs.'

Easily connected to an existing wireless or wired Internet connection, Samsung's MediaLive allows PCs running Windows Vista or Windows Vista Home Premium to stream a personal movie, photo, music, and video collection to any 2008-model Samsung HDTV in the home with an HDMI-CEC connection. With the ability to display content at up to Full HD resolution and support for a range of video, audio, and image codecs such as AC3, H.264, JPEG, MPEG2, MPEG4, WMA, and WMV, consumers will be able to enjoy an impressive variety of video and audio files using Samsung's MediaLive. Instead of crowding around a 15-inch PC monitor to share their latest music or movies, users can transfer the same PC content in real-time and share it on a 50-inch HDTV with a group of friends. One PC can stream content to up-to five Samsung MediaLive boxes connected to a TV through a home network - providing total access to entertainment from most 2008-model Samsung HDTV's in the home.

Beyond streaming personal entertainment, Samsung's MediaLive gives consumers access to a wide range of entertainment options including online services such as Vongo, MovieLink, Showtime TV, XM Radio, and FOX Sports, as well as the ability to browse through top news stories from Reuters and NPR. Additionally, in the U.S., Windows Media Center features the Internet TV beta program, which offers access to viral videos, news stories, movie trailers, sports clips, cast interviews, movie concerts and more. For access to live and recorded TV through the Samsung MediaLive, a simple TV tuner can be connected to the PC, turning it into a powerful DVR with the ability to watch and record favorite television shows and movies. In conjunction with FOX Sports, consumers are able to access SportsLounge to quickly view up-to-date sports scores, statistics and schedules - a perfect tool for any fantasy sports fan.

'Microsoft is pleased to be working with an industry leader such as Samsung, which shares our commitment to expanding TV entertainment options through Windows Media Center,' said Ron Pessner, General Manager of the Connected TV Division at Microsoft Corp. 'We're seeing the industry recognize the value of delivering these types of integrated solutions that allow consumers to extend pictures, music and more from their Windows Vista Home Premium- or Ultimate-based PC to the TV.'

Employing the simple-to-navigate user interface and integrated electronic program guide of Windows Media Center, content browsing and playback is easily controlled using the arrow and enter buttons available on either the included MediaLive Simple Remote, or the Samsung HDTV's remote control.

Using the included mounting bracket, the compact device can be easily mounted to the rear of select Samsung flat-panel TVs for a clutter-free home theater setup. Operational commands are sent to the MediaLive via the HDMI-CEC port for a high quality, single-cable connection to the HDTV. The device connects to a PC via a RJ45 connected LAN cable, or wirelessly through a built-in 802.11 a/b/g/n receiver.

The Samsung MediaLive will be available in August 2008.

Specifications

Online Content                

  • Windows Media Center online media content providers

Audio                   

  • WMA, MP3, AC3

Video                   

  • WMV, MPEG2, MPEG4, H.264
  • HDMI-CEC output
  • Replay
  • Down & Play of recorded TV program In PC
  • AV Streaming with PC (Server)
  • AV Streaming with PC (Client) - WMV, MPEG2 file Streaming

Photo                   

  • JPEG
  • Zoom in/out, Rotation

Input and Output                            

  • DC Power
  • USB 2.0 Slave
  • USB 2.0 Host
  • HDMI-CEC
  • Ethernet (RJ45 LAN cable)

Works With

  • 2008-model Samsung HDTVs 450 series and higher, LCD, Plasma and DLP

Dimension (W X H X D, mm)                       

  • 270 x 48 x 155

Weight                                

  • 1.8 kg

Estimated Selling Price                                 $200

Availability                         August 2008

*Subject to change without notice.

About Samsung Electronics America, Inc.

Headquartered in Ridgefield Park, NJ, Samsung Electronics America, Inc. (SEA), a wholly owned subsidiary of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., markets a broad range of award-winning, digital consumer electronics and home appliance products, including HDTVs, home theater systems, MP3 players, digital imaging products, refrigerators and washing machines. A recognized innovation leader in consumer electronics design and technology, Samsung is the HDTV market leader in the U.S. Please visit www.samsung.com for more information.

Short Bits: Batch DVD Rip, mControl ISY

So you have a Sony DVD Changer that doesn’t include the ability to stream to Extenders.  What do you do?  Forget keeping the discs in the changer and just batch rip them using Casey Chesnut newest project /dvdMassRip.

Embedded Automation has just released a beta driver for Universal Device's ISY-xx controllers.  Currently supported are the ISY-26 and ISY-99i INSTEON controllers, and the driver has been designed so that UPB and Z-Wave ISY controllers.

Posted by chrisl | with no comments

Heatwave Weather Plug-in Makes a Comeback

Years after developing the world’s first native Media Center plug-in (in MCE 2005 nonetheless, thus using unsupported methods), James at MCExtended is back with Heatwave for Vista.  Just about everything you would expect is included in the new weather plug-in, and it also includes some extras like overlaying a transparent version of the plug-in over the currently playing video just as Media Center does with the Guide.

You can download it here.

image

Short Bits: Media Center U, Media Center Show, SideShow, More

I’ve been extra busy the past week and have kind of skipped covering everything that I wanted too, but now I’m back!

Check out part 4 and part 4 of the Media Center University sessions at EHX.  In these two sessions Todd Rutherford from Microsoft covers everything from online streaming and downloading of content to controlling Media Center in a whole home environment.

In last week Media Center Show Ian Dixon and Ted Singh covered Embedded Automations upcoming mPanel touchscreen. 

I’ve got a post coming on SideShow later, but to get a glimpse of that you just have to see some of the new SideShow gadgets just released by Ikanos Consulting.  AccuWeather, Live Messenger and System Health.  Now yet again if we could get some more SideShow hardware this stuff would really take off.

Now so much Media Center related, but TechCrunch has a great post about building the perfect web tablet.  Their idea is for the community to develop a target $200 touchscreen tablet and then they are going to get some prototypes made up.  I’ve been waiting for the exact same thing, but I’m not sure they are going to meet their $200 price point just yet.  Nonetheless, it is something to watch out for and maybe participate in.

Microsoft Releases Home Server Power Pack 1

After what seems like an extremely long wait Windows Home Server Power Pack 1 has been released.  If you have automatic updates enabled on your server then Power Pack 1 will be downloaded directly, but if you can’t wait for that then the download is up here.

Power Pack 1 includes several new features and fixes, most notable Vista x64 support and a fix to the nasty data corruption bug.  Other features include Home Server Shared Folder backup, improved remote access, and power consumption/performance improvements.

Hot on the heels of Power Pack 1, HP has also released their MediaSmart Server Update which adds a few additional features.

Read more on We Got Served and the Windows Home Server Team Blog.

Posted by chrisl | 1 comment(s)

CableCARD to Get Relaxed DRM

It has always been hard to stomach the DRM variations that CableLabs has set up between OCURs and UDCP devices like TiVo’s.  TiVo gets the ability to have non-DRM recordings if the content provider hasn’t flagged the broadcast at all whereas Media Center with CableCARD has to protect everything no matter what.  This discrepancy might is ready to change.

CableLabs recently unwrapped an update to the OCUR specs in which they appeared to have removed the “Requirement to Protect Output of Content with No Protection Flags.”

Hard to say whether you will need the Windows Media Center TV Pack to take full advantage, but based on what S1Digital is planning to ship it would appear that at least at first the TV Pack will be required.  There will also have to be a Digital Cable Tuner update that would most likely allow shows not marked as copy protected to skip the WMDRM process within the tuner.

image

More on Fiji/Media Center TV Pack

Lots of stuff going around on Fiji, and while I can’t say as much as I’d like too I can say that no single person has put all the pieces together yet.  Word is that Fiji final name is indeed Windows Media Center TV Pack, and useless a separate product pops up out of nowhere I’d consider that pretty concrete.  Microsoft let that bit slip themselves by releasing a few knowledge base articles specifically about the TV Pack.

Engadget HD runs down what they expect to be in the update, and Brent Evans covers more of the news from a few different sources as does Mary Jo.

Now, I still can’t say much about it because of various different NDAs, but I can say there are still pieces missing from people accounts of how this is going to work and/or what is included in the update.  Good or bad however, I can’t say so you will have to wait.  Microsoft has hinted that the official announcement for Fiji will come at CEDIA in September.

On to what I can say, this beta has been a disaster if you look at it with an outside perspective.  I am very disappointed on how many people are leaking stuff, and if you thought a two year wait for a public beta was long for Fiji I’d suggest you not get your hopes up about testing anything else related to Media Center in the future.  Based on the disregard of the testers I wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft cut out a public beta until everything is finalized for the next release.  You can thank your fellow beta testers for screwing you out of a possible opportunity. 

I’m also very disappointed at the collective attitude of The Green Button.  Not because Fiji might be OEM only, not because it might be missing DIRECTV support, not because of any included or missing feature but instead because of the childish name calling and activity that has gone on.  The Green Button used to be a community that pretty much moderated itself, but of course the second I get busy at work all hell breaks loss and people turn into name calling teenagers.  You can all do better, and I expect to see it.

Just because Microsoft bought The Green Button does not mean they will reply to all threads about unreleased and/or unannounced software.  Everyone needs to realize this.  Microsoft employees have been being more active in the forums, and considering this ownership transition is just starting it will take time for things to change.  Those who insist on flaming and name calling any member, Microsoft employed or not, will not be welcome at The Green Button.

I will have more on Fiji when I can talk about it, but sadly at this point all I can say is above.

Posted by chrisl | 30 comment(s)

VidaBox Releases the vController - Hardware Solution Integratable with Software Automation

VidaBox Releases the vController - a Solid, Feature-Rich Hardware Solution Integratable with Software-Based Automation packages

Westbury, NY – July 17th – VidaBox is excited to offer the vController, a powerful rack-mountable automation solution. Designed for heavy-duty automation, it comes standard with four USB ports, dual Ethernet Ports, VGA video out, and two standard RS-232 ports. Optionally, it can be configured with up to nine RS-232 ports for the most demanding of integration projects.

“With the growing popularity of PC-based automation platforms, integrators have been looking for a solid, pre-built hardware solution where they can reliably run their software,” explains Steven Cheung, President of VidaBox LLC. “The vController is specifically designed to meet that need. It comes in a rack-mountable form factor at only 1U tall, yet sports a wide array of connectivity options. When used in conjunction with software packages such as Charmed Quark System’s CQC platform, it can replace proprietary solutions and provide similar functionality at a fraction of the cost.”

Based on the XP operating system, the vController is compatible with a wide range of automation solutions, allowing an integrator to combine it with their favorite software package to control a myriad of devices via TCP/IP, RS-232, IR, and other communication protocols.

“While the vController is available as a standalone product,” continues Cheung, “it’s ideally used with CQC as a part of a predesigned vAutomation package, serving as its automation & control backbone. By choosing a vAutomation package, integrators can save hours of design work and product testing that traditionally needs to go into every new project, reaping tremendous time savings.”

The vController is available now, and ships with 2 RS-232 ports with options for 6 or 9 ports total. For more details and specifications on the VidaBox vController and their comprehensive line of media servers and extenders, please visit the company website at http://www.vidabox.com, or visit them in Sound Room 17 at CEDIA Expo 2008!

About VidaBox LLC
VidaBox LLC is a premium manufacturer & designer of AV and integration hardware. Specializing in multiroom audio-video distribution and automation equipment, VidaBox is focused on providing professional installers and integrators with complete solutions that include media servers & extenders, touchpanel hardware and interface software, as well as predesigned, customizable AV packages that are scalable to meet the needs of a wide range of projects & installations.

image

VidaBox Announces the PicoPC for Ultimate in Reliability & Ease for PC on TV‏

VidaBox Announces the PicoPC with Malware-Proof Write Protection & Solid State Design for Ultimate in Reliability & Ease for PC on TV

WESTBURY, NY – July 16th– VidaBox LLC is excited to announce the new PicoPC. Unlike traditional computers, this 13-ounce device is designed to be ultra-compact at only 1-1/4” tall, has no moving parts, and comes with built-in write protection that restores the software to its original condition upon every restart.

“The PicoPC is the ideal solution for anyone who wants simple, fool-proof access to PC capabilities on their HDTV,” says Steven Cheung, President of VidaBox. “Because it’s so small and light, you can easily hide it behind any HDTV with some Velcro®. Because it has no fans or hard drives, mechanical failure is a thing of the past. Combined with its virus and malware-proof write-protection, the PicoPC’s features a very attractive solution.”

The PicoPC features a VGA video out, with inputs & outputs for audio, an RS-232 port, dual USB ports, and also includes the VidaBox premium wireless keyboard – all standard. There is also an option for a built-in wireless 802.11b/g adapter for installations where a hardwire LAN connection isn’t available.

“The versatility of the PicoPC makes it a great candidate for a wide variety of applications,” Cheung continues. “Beyond simple web browsing on an HDTV, one can also use it as an inexpensive digital signage solution. AV integrators using VidaBox’s vAutomation can take advantage of the PicoPC’s RS-232 port and use it to control a connected TV or projector. For consumers, they can connect webcams and microphones to the PicoPC, and turn it into an ultra-portable, compact communication station.”

“Best of all,” Cheung elaborates, “once the PicoPC is set up the way you want, simply enable write-protection, and the entire setup is saved! Afterwards, it doesn’t matter if someone downloads a virus, or decides to delete the operating system - a simple restart will bring the system back to its original condition, as if nothing happened! When this level of software protection is combined with a reliable, solid state design, the PicoPC is clearly the ideal choice for an endless number of applications.”

The PicoPC is available now, and ships with a standard 2 GB CF card, with options for 4, 8, and 16GB. For more details and specifications on the VidaBox PicoPC and their comprehensive line of media servers and extenders, please visit the company website at http://www.vidabox.com, or visit them in Sound Room 17 at CEDIA Expo 2008!

About VidaBox LLC
VidaBox LLC is a premium manufacturer & designer of AV and integration hardware. Specializing in multiroom audio-video distribution and automation equipment, VidaBox is focused on providing professional installers and integrators with complete solutions that include media servers & extenders, touchpanel hardware and interface software, as well as predesigned, customizable AV packages that are scalable to meet the needs of a wide range of projects & installations.

image
Posted by chrisl | with no comments

Updates Tonight

No, I'm not dead and yes I will have some posts coming later today so stay tuned!

Posted by chrisl | 1 comment(s)

Microsoft Releases TweakMC for Vista Media Center

One of the most popular Media Center plug-ins has always been TweakMCE, but with the release of Vista the community has been lacking such a tool produced by Microsoft.  That has now changed with the release of TweakMC for Vista Media Center.  The new tool exposes an interface for the various registry settings that control Media Center behavior.

TweakMC allows easy access to several dozen Media Center settings including some of the ones listed below.  The UI is hardly pretty to look at, but the good news is that once you change the settings this tool shouldn’t be needed again.

Wonder if Matt approves of the new version? (he headed up TweakMCE for Media Center 2005)

  • Display Wireless Passwords
  • Overscan Adjustment Settings
  • Enable AddIn Debugging
  • Override the Current Screen Resolution
  • Enable DVD Library
  • Skip Forward/Back Interval
  • More Info Panel Timeout
  • Enable Universal Remote Control
  • Set Remote Control ID
  • Much more
image

$150 Linksys DMA2100 Extenders via Dell.com

Dell is pushing out Linksys Extenders at $100 off retail via their website.  This means you can pick up a DMA2100 for only $150.  The DMA2200 can be purchased for $250, however it is currently listed as out of stock.

At $150 Dell/Linksys hits the perfect Extender price point which I’ve talked about in the past.  Even given the issues I had when I reviewed the DMA2200, I’ve grab one or two at $150 and not think twice.

(Via The Green Button)

My Twelfth Post on Xbox 360 Not Getting Blu-ray

I never thought I would get a dozen posts out of this topic, but what do you know!  Some said I was dead wrong when I predicted that Microsoft wasn’t planning on adding Blu-ray to the Xbox 360.  After covering the issue from every different angle possible (Here,  Here,  Here, Here,  Here, Here, Here,  Here, Here, Here, Here) I still couldn’t come up with a good reason why it was in Microsoft’s best interest to add Blu-ray to the Xbox.  It isn’t hard to come up with reasons why potential or existing Xbox 360 buyers want Blu-ray, but taking a Microsoft perspective is a bit different.

Cut to today, Forbes has a story that quotes Shane Kim, vice president of strategy and business development for Microsoft Entertainment division saying I can categorically say that we're not working on a Blu-Ray player for Xbox 360.”

What is Microsoft’s focus?  Digital distribution.  As I’ve talked about either today Netflix adds just another option for downloads/streams on the Xbox 360 (but not Media Center Extenders) and while I don’t think Microsoft should just focus on digital distribution you know that is their goal and it isn’t going to change.

Short Bits: Netflix

Yesterday Microsoft announced that they are partnering with Netflix to bring Netflix’s streaming content to the Xbox 360 Dashboard.  What was not announced however is the same in Media Center.  The good news is that Microsoft now has the backend to make it work.  The bad news that knowing them Netflix streaming may never be ported to Media Center.  Looks like the Xbox 360 Dashboard is still Media Center biggest enemy.

On the same Netflix partnership, I think people might be getting too worked up about the usefulness.  While Netflix has a great amount of content that you have heard of and might want to watch, it is not going to replace you renting or buying new movies.  Netflix content is really a complement to your Netflix subscription (movies in the mail), and not a pure streaming service.  I feel like a lot of people are expecting this to change the world, and that's clearly not the goal of the partnership or Netflix streaming in general.  This does give a better mix of content directly accessible via the Xbox 360 Dashboard, so if you already get movies this way it will be a very nice digital distribution mix.

Oh, and of course you need to be an Xbox Live Gold member ($60/year) to get access.  If you are a Media Center user something like vmcNetflix might be your best bet.  Bottom line, great news but I don't think this is going to change the world or make as big of a splash as some seem to be expecting.

New Xbox Experiences Reinvent Home Entertainment, and Everyone Is Invited

Xbox 360 promises best and broadest entertainment lineup ever; more fun, social and simple-to-use experience.

LOS ANGELES — July 14, 2008 — As Xbox 360 readies for the next wave of audience expansion, Microsoft Corp. today announced a new Xbox experience that will reinvent home entertainment from the inside out, changing the way we play games, watch movies and TV shows, and even become contestants in game shows. It all begins this fall with a bold new look and feel that is fun, social and simple to use.

The announcement was made during the E3 Media and Business Summit in Los Angeles. It came amid the unveiling of an exclusive partnership with Netflix Inc. that will give Xbox 360 users instant access to more than 10,000 feature films and television shows with a click of a button.

Also on the docket: The best and broadest entertainment lineup the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system has ever seen. In its strongest broadening play yet, Xbox announced Xbox LIVE Primetime, the next evolution in game shows slated for Xbox LIVE this fall; TV shows and movies from world leaders in entertainment including NBC Universal, Universal Studios Home Entertainment, SCI FI Channel and USA Network domestically and Constantin and MGM internationally; and blockbuster games “Lips,” “Rock Band 2,” “Scene It? Box Office Smash,” “You’re in the Movies” and the much anticipated “Final Fantasy XIII.”

“We’re entering a new age in entertainment, and Xbox 360 is uniquely positioned to become the heart of the living room,” said Don Mattrick, senior vice president for the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. “The new Xbox experience offers more content than you can find from any device that connects to the television. That convergence of entertainment and gaming will bring new people and more families to the category, driving a record year for the games industry.”

“This year more than any other, Xbox 360 has something for everyone — whether you love playing games with friends or are simply looking for the best in entertainment,” Mattrick said.

Netflix Jumps In With Entertainment for Everyone

The exclusive partnership offers Netflix subscribers the ability to instantly stream movies and TV episodes from Netflix to the television via the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system. Xbox 360 will be the only game console to offer this movie-watching experience, available to Xbox LIVE Gold members who are also Netflix subscribers at no additional cost.

From the Netflix Web site, subscribers simply add movies and TV episodes to their instant Queue, which will appear automatically on the TV screen via Xbox 360. Once selected, movies will begin playing in as little as 30 seconds. In addition to instantly streaming Netflix movies to the TV, Xbox LIVE Gold members can browse and rate movies, fast-forward, pause and rewind, all using either their Xbox 360 Controller or remote.

Netflix on Xbox 360 will launch this fall with the release of the new Xbox experience, a new generation of games and entertainment experiences that will be available for Xbox 360 this fall.

The New Xbox Experience

The new Xbox experience represents the first time in history that a mass market consumer electronics device has been reinvented through free software, giving people more fun and intuitive ways to interact, play and enjoy entertainment.

“Xbox LIVE is the world’s fastest-growing online social network on TV,” said John Schappert, corporate vice president of Interactive Entertainment LIVE, Software and Services Business at Microsoft. “We doubled our membership the past two years, growing from 3 million to 6 million, and then from 6 million to 12 million. And today, we are adding a new member every five seconds. With the best and broadest social entertainment experiences launching this fall, the future is limitless.”

Some of the features that make the new Xbox experience groundbreaking are the following:

Read Full Press Release

Posted by chrisl | 1 comment(s)

Microsoft and Netflix Unveil Partnership to Instantly Stream Movies and TV Episodes to the TV via Xbox LIVE

Exclusive agreement creates game-changing home entertainment experience; more than 10,000 movies and TV episodes will be available to watch instantly at no additional cost to paying subscribers.

LOS ANGELES — July 14, 2008 — An exciting new home theater experience is coming to living rooms this holiday season. At the E3 Media and Business Summit, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq “MSFT”) and Netflix, Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX), the world’s largest online movie rental service, today unveiled an exclusive partnership to offer consumers the ability to instantly stream movies and TV episodes from Netflix to the television via the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system. Xbox 360 will be the only game system that lets users instantly watch movies and TV episodes streamed from Netflix. This movie watching innovation will be available to Xbox LIVE Gold members who are also Netflix subscribers and will let those users enjoy streaming movies from Netflix on Xbox LIVE at no additional cost.

A growing library of more than 10,000 movies and TV episodes will be available from Netflix when it launches on Xbox LIVE in late fall, with more choices added over time. Through this agreement, along with the existing Xbox LIVE Marketplace Video Store, Xbox 360 will be home to more movies and TV shows on demand than any other device connected to the TV. Xbox LIVE quickly and easily connects consumers and their friends to the entertainment they want — with no PC required for viewing.

Netflix on Xbox 360 is an important component of the new Xbox experience, a new generation of games and entertainment experiences that will be available on Xbox 360 consoles this fall. The new Xbox experience, also announced today at the E3 Media and Business Summit, represents the first time in history that a mass-market consumer electronics device has been re-invented through free software, giving people more fun and intuitive ways to interact, play and enjoy entertainment content.

“Watching movies at home will never be the same. Netflix on Xbox 360 is an entertainment first, and we are bringing friends together with the best in entertainment content like no other device in the living room,” said John Schappert, corporate vice president of Interactive Entertainment LIVE, Software and Services Business at Microsoft. “We are creating a completely new social entertainment experience, and Xbox 360 will be the only video game system where you can access your library of instantly streamable movies from Netflix and turn any room into a virtual movie theater.”

From the Netflix Web site, members simply add movies and TV episodes to their individual instant Queues. Those choices will be automatically displayed on the TV screen via Xbox 360 and available to watch instantly. Once selected, movies will begin playing in as little as 30 seconds. In addition to instantly streaming movies to the TV, Xbox LIVE Gold members can fast-forward, pause and rewind, all using either their Xbox 360 Controller or Media Remote. In all, the user interface creates a highly personalized experience that puts viewers in control.

“Netflix and Xbox 360 are a perfect combination, the leading online movie rental service and the leading games and entertainment system joining forces to create an all-in-one entertainment experience with content for everyone,” said Reed Hastings, chairman and CEO of Netflix. “For Netflix, it represents an important step forward in making instantly streaming movies on the TV more broadly available to our members.”

The library of movies and TV episodes that will be available for instant streaming from Netflix via Xbox 360 includes scores of Academy Award winners and nominees, episodes from a number of popular, currently running and classic TV shows, and 24 of the movies rated by the American Film Institute as the greatest ever.

Today, Xbox LIVE members can also download movies and purchase TV shows from the industry-leading Xbox LIVE Marketplace Video Store, currently packed with content from more than 45 networks and studios. The Xbox LIVE Marketplace Video Store offers more than twice the high-definition content than the nearest cable provider and more than 6,000 hours of TV shows and movies.

Posted by chrisl | 5 comment(s)

Xbox 360 Console Now Offers Triple the Storage for Same Price

60GB storage now included with Xbox 360; 20GB console will drop to $299.99 in U.S. and Canada.

REDMOND, Wash. — July 13, 2008 — Microsoft Corp. is giving consumers more gigabytes for their buck. The company today announced an Xbox 360 console with triple the storage space of the original console, but for the same price of $349 (U.S.) estimated retail price (ERP).

Available in retail stores in the U.S. and Canada starting in early August, the upgraded Xbox 360 will include a 60GB hard drive for storing the growing wealth of digital entertainment available for the console, including music, movies, television shows and game content. In addition, Microsoft today dropped the price of its 20GB Xbox 360 console in the U.S. and Canada to just $299 (U.S.) (ERP) while supplies last, a savings of $50.

“We know consumers need more and more space to store the amazing digital content Xbox 360 offers, and we’re giving it to them at no extra charge,” said Albert Penello, Xbox director of product management at Microsoft. “No one device offers the depth and breadth of entertainment that Xbox 360 can deliver, and now you’ll have three times the storage to manage all that great content.”

Xbox 360 is just one of three Xbox 360 gaming and entertainment systems Microsoft offers. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 Arcade, which comes with a 256MB memory unit and five Xbox LIVE Arcade games, is a value for the whole family for $279 (U.S.) (ERP), and the premium Xbox 360 Elite console is available with a 120GB hard drive for $449 (U.S.) (ERP).

Out of the box, the Xbox 360 console is ready to provide an incredible gaming and entertainment experience:

  • Xbox 360 console. The console is equipped with a cool white finish and three powerful core processors capable of producing the best in high definition (HD) entertainment (up to 1080p for gaming), 16:9 cinematic aspect ratio, anti-aliasing for smooth textures, full surround sound, and high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) output.
  • 60 GB Hard Drive. The 60GB detachable hard drive allows gamers to save their games and store television shows, movies, music, pictures, trailers, levels, demos and other content available from Xbox LIVE Marketplace, the premier one-stop digital download center for entertainment.
  • Upscaling DVD Player. With an HDMI cable (sold separately), watch your favorite DVDs in near high-definition using the upscaling capabilities of Xbox 360.
  • Xbox 360 Wireless Controller. This award-winning, high-performance wireless controller features the Xbox Guide Button for quick, in-game access to friends and music. It has a range of up to 30 feet and a battery life of up to 30 hours on two AA batteries.
  • Xbox 360 Headset. The headset lets friends and family around the world chat while playing games, watching movies, or sending voice messages on Xbox LIVE.
  • Xbox LIVE Silver Membership. For no additional cost, Xbox 360 owners can chat with friends online, collect Achievements to improve their Gamerscores, send and receive voice and text messages, and access Xbox LIVE Marketplace content such as game demos, and purchase or rent HD movies and TV shows, as well as the best in downloadable games from Xbox LIVE Arcade. (Broadband Internet access required.)
  • One-month subscription to Xbox LIVE Gold. An Xbox LIVE Gold Membership provides a complete online entertainment experience. Those who subscribe to this premium service can engage in competitive online multiplayer matches, tailor their matchmaking via feedback and accomplishments, and chat with an entire group of friends at a time.

About Xbox 360

Xbox 360 is a superior video game and entertainment system delivering the best games, unique entertainment features and a unified online gaming network that revolve around gamers. Xbox 360 has a portfolio of nearly 400 games in 37 countries. More information can be found online at http://www.xbox.com/xbox360.

Posted by chrisl | 4 comment(s)
More Posts Next page »