JeffLeppard's blog

Jul 20 2014

Blog - The HTPC and why it’s worth the effort

The HTPC (home theater PC) is a great idea and one that is truly close to my heart. Many of you who regularly visit Missing Remote know what an HTPC is. For those that don’t, it is basically an entertainment center powered by a computer. Some have TV and DVR capabilities and some people choose not to have those capabilities and would rather go with a cable box. Not me, I love the TV capabilities in my HTPC. Back in 2002, I started messing around with analog TV tuners that could record cable programming directly on a PC. Being a sports and music enthusiast I could clearly see the benefits of being able to record a show that you know will never be released on video, and be able to archive it forever on a hard drive or DVD. I still have those recordings today and watch them from time to time. Back then, I was not aware of a DVR or PVR mainstream software. TiVo had come out and I thought it was pretty cool; what I didn’t like was the fees required to keep paying for the guide data and their service in addition to the hardware purchase price. My curiosity built when I saw some TV tuners coming with trial versions of a software that could do similar tasks as a TiVo and then you could later buy that software for a one time price. Those worked well and I was surprised and excited which had me building my first “HTPC” system.

Dec 08 2013

Blog - SageTV: Past, Present, and Still Future?

Over two years ago SageTV announced that it was acquired by Google 6-18-2011 at 4:57pm to be exact. Initially I didn’t know what to make of it. Look, I love Google, Android and many of their products, so I was partly excited when I heard. Perhaps SageTV can now support CableCard and will have the financial viability to compete with Microsoft’s Windows Media Center on their financial level. Then I clicked on the SageTV store later that day and found it was shut down immediately, leaving an ominous feeling in my stomach.

     At the time all of this happened, I had just purchased a Ceton CableCard because the Hauppauge HD PVR reliability (or lack thereof) had been an issue and impacted my usage of SageTV. When using the Ceton Cablecard, I loved it, however I was restricted to using Windows 7 Media Center (WMC) because SageTV did not support CableCard. I had previously purchased two SageTV server licenses and 3 HD200 extenders and absolutely loved the way the extenders worked. I had to make the switch from SageTV because I am a sports fan--seeing live TV in HD for sporting events on ESPN and SunSports was a must. Another factor was, considering the way things were closed down at SageTV and the announcement, that the guide data was going to expire in January of 2013 rendering the TV capabilities useless. So, I sold my 3 HD200’s for a very modest price and figured I would cut my losses. What a mistake that ended up being.

Sep 17 2013

Blog - An Experience with HDMI Handshake Issues

If you have an HTPC, many of you may have experienced a problem with no picture or sound with your Home Theater setup connected through an HDMI cable at one time or another. This article is to cover some of the nuances that can come with them along with possible solutions as well as open up a discussion for better solutions. Many of you already know the many advantages of the HDMI cable and what a great piece of technology it is. As a recap, it allows one to simplify an audio and video setup for a home entertainment center by using one cable compared to several. The HDMI cable will also maximize the performance of your home entertainment systems by passing through the streams of DTS HD Master and Dolby True HD lossless audio as well as having the ability to send 3-D video to a 3D capable TV. In addition, the HDMI cable provides ARC or Audio Return Channel support which allows components to talk to each other and transfer audio without any additional cables. That being said, along with newer technology sometimes come new problems in the HTPC (home theater PC) world.

Jun 24 2013

Blog - Balancing the Tech In Your Home and the Ones You Love

For many techies that have been doing electronics or HTPC’s (Home Theater PC’s) for a while, you have definitely seen this phrase in forums and blogs. So what is the WAF or GAF? If you’re a bit new to the HTPC world, the acronym stands for “Wife Acceptance Factor” or “Girlfriend Acceptance Factor”. Ah, rings a bell now doesn’t it? Basically with all of the technical things that comes with an HTPC or other electronic projects in your house, the female genre in particular want to just have it work without fiddling around. Now in fairness, I am not trying to gender bash in anyway, so please hold your remarks in your e-mails and responses until you finish reading the article.Smile There are many men in this category as well, and I have seen many women far more apt and accomplished at handling the technical nuances of these projects, hence the GAF can be called the “Guy Acceptance Factor.”- Hopefully that will smooth out any ill feelings. J

The significance is, if your other half is not able to use an HTPC or other project that you have in your household with minimal trouble, it can make your life miserable as well as theirs, and your project won’t be accepted. That can cause all of your hard work to go down the drain, and you won’t have those cool advantages of an HTPC or other projects to enjoy and show off. Here are some tips to help your significant others..

Jun 03 2013

Blog - Ceton Echo vs Microsoft Xbox 360...A Blogger's Perspective

Since the Ceton Echo came out last November, there has been a lot of comparison and pricing justification to see if it is a better alternative than the Xbox360 or previous extenders. Through my experience with both in the last 4 months, I would like to give you my experience of the two from a consumer point of view. I myself already owned the Xbox 360 and it was O-K. I had a previous SageTV HD 200 extender and that was and still is the best extender I had ever used. My reasons for buying the Echo was to have a better user experience, to have a second extender and to have the possibility of Netflix and other streaming video apps in one device. Yes, their proposed future technology was an influence. If it worked well enough, I wanted to take my HTPC box, put it somewhere in the house that was out of sight and out of mind and have it all be ran by extenders. My set-up currently includes a gutted Acer computer sitting in an Nmedia box that has an AMD Athlon dual core 3.2 processor, 4 gigs DDR2 ram, Nvidia GT430, InfiniTV4 PCI, LG blu-ray/HD-DVD drive with a clean Windows 7 install 32 bit. Everything is wired directly to the LAN with CAT 5 or higher through a Verizon Fios Gigabite router using 50/25 gbps.

First off, my needs for a true media center extender involves TV tuner cards with DVR ability with the addition of being able to stream your movies, music, pictures and videos. Now, the reason that I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the Xbox-360 was that it can be a bit sluggish. It did not play main stream media such as VIDEO_TS, MKV’s and other similar containers.  It wouldn’t fast forward or rewind unless it is in a Windows Media format and I would have to pay $60 a year for a Live Gold membership so that I can watch YouTube, Netflix or VUDU on it.

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