Phoenix 2 for Sage TV Now Available!

May 30 2013

While SageTV may have been acquired by Google, this has not put much of a damper on a very active user development community. New tools and plugins are still being released for SageTV all the time. The latest new release is Phoenix 2, a sleek, streamlined, and very responsive new user interface that takes advantage of the existing metadata and fan art features provided by the Phoenix APIs while still allowing the ability to build custom content libraries using your own filters.

Phoenix Landing Zone

The starting screen for Phoenix 2 focuses on Television, this being the primary function of most SageTV instances. P2 provides a very functional menu that brings to the top the most important features of SageTV, without offering lots of iterating versions of the exact same menu in slightly different formats.

Going left or right on the remote moves you to other menus for Movies, Music, and Setup. The folder seen at the top of the menu for Current Recordings indicates a dynamic menu item, and only shows up when recordings are in progress.

Landing Zone with Weather

There are some nice options for configuring the landing zone. One that I found particularly useful was the weather forecast display with matching weather background images. Multiple weather service providers are available to choose from. Weather Underground provided the most advance forecast data.

Phoenix TV View

The TV view is very simple and clean with the ability to have fan art in the background. 

 Phoenix TV Playback UI

Following on that the TV interface is also minimalist. There is just a basic time bar that obscures as little of the image as possible. While not seen here, commercial skip information is displayed on the time bar if you enable that feature in the setup menu.

Phoenix - TV Mini Guide

For the channel surfers out there, Phoenix 2 uses a mini guide that shows both description information for the current show and a preview of the next three shows scheduled to air on that channel.

Phoenix Movie View

As seen here in the Movies view, all of the different sub-menus use the same core display structure but tailor the information displayed in the centralized exploded view. My family has found the layout easy to use on the 42” tv in the family room, however the text is a bit small on our 22” monitor at 11” viewing distance in the bedroom. I guess that’s a good excuse to get a much larger tv Laughing out loud Another alternative would be an option to adjust font size specific to each client.

Phoenix Music View with Options

Pressing right on your remote at any of the content specific views presents the user with an Options menu that slides in from the right side of the screen. Phoenix 2 supports playlist management and it’s easy to add a particular song or album to a new playlist and reuse it later. This is a very nice addition for music lovers. The stock SageTV UI never handled playlist management particularly well.

Phoenix Music Visualization

One tasteful visualization is available that displays the artist/album/track information floating on top of images of musical instruments. Album art can be optionally displayed floating around the screen.  While quite nice, I would love the option to have the something more along the lines of the old Winamp MilkDrop visualization.

Out of the box, no Photos menu was supplied. This can be added by users with a little setup. The Photo Library also displays if you suspend/screen saver SageTV.

Phoenix Setup Menu

A setup menu is also supplied that provides easy access to all the Phoenix 2 menu options. This setup menu allows enabling two key features that really finish off the experience. These are Comskip playback support and Universal Plug & Play client support.  Comskip is key – it just creates such an enjoyable TV watching experience. Universal Plug & Play client support works great with any UPnP server on your network. In our case, it discovered our PlayOn server - which provides access to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon VOD and a host of other services.

Installing Phoenix 2 is as simple as downloading the Phoenix UI plugin from the SageTV plugin repository and then selecting the Phoenix 2.xml file as your STV. Restart your client and away you go.

Phoenix 2 is an excellent new alternative UI for SageTV. Along with Diamond, Gemstone, Phoenix (the original), and Sage My Movies – there are a number impressive, powerful, alternatives to the stock SageTV UI. I highly recommend anyone running SageTV take a few moments to check it out. I found it the fastest, most responsive, fan art enabled UI available for SageTV to date.

 

For more information and discussion - the Phoenix 2 thread in the SageTV forum


Comments

Discuss! Who's stil running SageTV?

Have been working on SageTV all week, and just installed SageDCT.. Working on the nuances as we speak and I love SageTV!!

Man I miss Sagetv

I'm still using SageTV and loving it. In fact, I rebuilt my server a few months back. The ease of use keeps me using it over streaming. Streaming is nice, but I find a DVR easier to use, all my shows are in one place and cable/OTA for sports has streaming beat hands down.

on behalf of our facebook users. Any ideas?:

I would use P2 but everytime I install Phoenix all I get is a garbled mes

 I use extenders so my screenshot ability is limited. I believe the major problem I'm having is java related since I'm perpetually using java 6 21
after having problem after problem with java 7.

Mike,

There's a new plugin repair tool you should try out. It was built for Phoenix, but can now do any plugin. It essentially redownloads clean copies of all the files. My install was initially messed up until I ran it. Just stop the SageTV service, run the tool, restart SageTV and then try pointing your extenders to the new stv xml file

http://forums.sagetv.com/forums/showthread.php?t=59565

Great article Daniel! I have finally had time to try this out and the Phoenix 2 UI completely rocks! Very customizable, responsive, and I love the fact on the Video screen it doesn't give the option to delete when you stop playing a video. it is just plain simple to use and the WAF factor is outstanding! It works great with the extenders, but for me it required a restart of the HTPC box for it to be loaded into the extenders properly or it seems like there was a failure. Once I figured that out, all was good. Works great with the 300 and two 100's I have, but you have to up your Java to 1024 or the fan art can cause server crashes. Thanks for the recommendation to try this out!!

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