Jan 05 2007

News - The Media Center Show #89 - Catch Up

Ian Dixon continues his hard work on The Media Center Show podcast and takes us to number 89. This week's podcast is just catch up work from the past couple of weeks:).

Listen to the podcast:

Podcast summary: 

Jan 04 2007

News - Plasma screen burn in on PVR Menus - Should you worry?

As technology moves on, it is often hard to change the mindset of the masses. A prime example of this is plasma burn in. In the past this was an issue, but recent generations of plasma TVs do not suffer these same problems. PVR Wire picked up on some handy tips to prevent burn of your new plasma even though its not likely to happen. Would I encourage you leave a PVR application on all day without changing the channel? No, but regular use should cause you no problems down the road.

From the article:

This is not something that should be keeping you up at night, but if you have bought a new plasma screen it is a sensible idea to "burn in" the screen during the first 100 hours of use to minimize the chances of any images burning onto the screen.

Modern plasma screens are much more resistant to burn in than older models. Burn in is usually only a problem when a bright static image is shown for several hours such as a bright static TV station logo that is on the screen for hours.

Static TV logos asbolutley SUCK!

Jan 04 2007

News - Here Comes a Combo HD DVD/Blu-ray Disc

This was really just a matter of time. If the technology can handle it, there's no reason to waste money making only one compatible version. Curious to see the quality on this disc versus a single true Blu-Ray or HD DVD.

“The next best thing is to recognize that there will be two formats and to make that not a negative for the consumer,” Mr. Meyer said. “We felt that the most significant constituency for us to satisfy was the consumer first, and the retailer second. The retailer wants to sell hardware and doesn’t want to be forced into stocking two formats for everything. This is ideal for them.”

Read the rest here

Jan 04 2007

News - Studios OK technology for movie downloads

Buy a new DVD burner & blank DVDs, just to be able to download & burn movies? Sure! Or how about going into a store, and waiting 15 minutes for one to burn from their kiosk? AWESOME! Way to go movie industry, you guys are so innovative & always have the consumer's satisfaction first on your list!

With Qflix — and its studio-backed copy-protection system — consumers should have more options. But they'll need new blank DVDs and compatible DVD burners to use it.

The system can also be used in retail kiosks, which could hold hundreds of thousands of older films and TV shows for which studios don't see a huge market. Customers could pick a film, TV episode or an entire season's worth of shows and have them transferred to DVD on the spot.

Read the rest of this fun article here


Jan 04 2007

News - Position Changer Add-In updated for Media Center in Windows Vista

Steven Toub has a pretty cool hack for Windows Vista Media Center that will allow you to skip around your television recordings or any other file you play in MCE with numbers for how many seconds you want to go into it.

As part of that article, I implementing an add-in that made it easy to jump around in a recorded TV show, video, or music file using the remote control, simply by entering a time code using the remote control's number buttons.  In October of 2005, I updated the add-in for Update Rollup 2.  Now that Windows Vista is out, I've updated it again for Windows Vista, and the new version is now available for download.

Read the rest here

Jan 04 2007

News - Format Wars Update

We have a couple of announcements today that will make the format wars look a bit more like a skirmish then a full out war. First up, Warner will be announcing a total HD Disc format that will incorporate both formats. Secondly, LG has announced a dual format drive as well.

Warner Brothers story:

LG Story:

Warner Brothers, a division of Time Warner, plans to formally announce the new disc, which it is calling a Total HD disc, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

Two rival camps introduced high-definition DVD players last year: a consortium called Blu-ray, backed by Sony and others, and a group called HD-DVD, backed by Toshiba and Microsoft. Retail and media executives say this clash of corporate titans and their incompatible machines has left some consumers bewildered and has slowed the introduction of what is intended to be the next great thing in home entertainment.

Executives at Time Warner and its Hollywood subsidiary hope to spur sales of new DVD players and movies by gaining the support of retailers and cajoling rival studios into making their film and television libraries available in both formats on a single disc.


Jan 03 2007

Review - Snapstream BeyondTV 4.5


Up for review today we've got the latest version of Snapstream's BeyondTV 4.5. This is just the standalone version of their software, not the Studio version as well, so I'll strictly be working with TV recordings and what not.


Right off the bat that's quite a different strategy than all their competitors, who bundle a full Media Center-like suite in one package. You have to give kudos to Snapstream for improving their cost structure: $69.99 for BeyondTV (download) alone, or get the suite of Beyond Media, BeyondTV and the Firefly remote, for $99.99. While that's more than SageTV, the cost is much less than a copy of Windows Media Center and it includes the remote.


So let's see how it compares, shall we?

Jan 03 2007

News - Which Movie Download Site Is Best?

ExtremeTech tackles (or...well, kinda avoids) answering the question of which Movie (legal) site is the best. They go through the top 5 & see how they perform for an average user, but in the end basically don't make a decision as which is best, seeing the limitations more on the technology & implementation rather than on any individual method.

Sure these services will save you a trip to the local video store or a wait for DVDs in the mail, but downloading a movie will take at least an hour—chances are you could get a DVD at the local video store faster. The selection of movies and picture quality isn't yet near what you get with Netflix or the brick-and-mortar video rental store. The average bitrate for a DVD is 5Mb/sec, compared with the best bitrate found in these services, Movielink's 1.3Mb/sec; most of the others were much lower.  

Read the rest here

Jan 03 2007

News - Tip Of The Day: Streaming DVDs To Your Xbox 360

Today's tip of the day comes from our very own forum member, codacoda. Being the extremely patient man he is, he has developed a relatively simple process to enable streaming of DVDs from your MCE server to your Xbox 360. I am not sure I would want to do this with 300 + DVDs but its a solution that will work.

Read the process here:

Like many of you, I've tried hard to find a solution for playing my DVD's on my XBOX 360 (Being used as an MCX. I've ripped them to WMV 1920 X 1080, which on a decent PC can take 30+ hours, 1280 X 720 wasn't much faster. I've played around with Transcode 360 and was never happy with the syncronization of audio and video. And on and on.

I have now ripped 50 of my DVD's this way and have had 100% success with absolutly no problems. Here it is.

You will need the following programs: All have free trials, so you can check this out without paying a cent.

AnyDVD and CloneDVDMobile from Slysoft.com. AnyDVD to get around copy protection and CloneDVDMobile to rip the DVD into a single VOB file. (There are other programs that do the same thing, but these are what I use.)



Digg It!

Jan 03 2007

News - Shuttle launches second-gen mini PC

Shuttle made a name for themselves with their small form factor, and they've upgraded last years version of the super small form (about the size of a paper). With a Core Duo & a tuner, this could be a great HTPC if space is a problem. Price comes in around $1000-1300.

The XPC Mini X200 incorporates an Intel 945GM-based mobo ready for a Core 2 Duo CPU and up to 2GB of DDR 2 SDRAM. The system uses Intel's integrated GMA950 graphics chip and has 7.1-channel HD audio on board. It ships with a digital and analogue TV tuner, and a remote control. It also has an FM tuner.




Read the rest here.

Jan 03 2007

News - LG teams up with Sega to promote Full HD

Probably not a terrible idea, having seen some game graphics in HD on my 360, Video Games can make it look absolutely gorgeous. Not a terrible idea to showoff all the colors & quality of the display.

LG has signed a co-promotion deal with video games company Sega. The contract allows LG to promote its upcoming range of Full HD LCD and plasma screens, to be made available in 37-, 42-, 47-, and 55-inch sizes, with HD games content and characters developed by Sega.“This joint promotion with SEGA will give LG a great opportunity to highlight our advanced 1080p displays ,” said Young Chan Kim, Executive Vice President of Digital Display Global Marketing and Sales of LG Electronics. “Full HD flat-panel HDTVs have the capability of displaying 1080p content, the highest resolution format possible. Our customers demand the highest standards in technology and we will continue to expand our offerings to meet everyone’s needs, from movie buffs to gamers.”

From AV Zombie

Jan 03 2007

News - DisplayPort to support HDCP, too

Yet another cable standard to further confuse the average user. This one 10.8gbits/second, and of course has all the copy protection fun you love from HDCP. 

But the real news here is that the chips will support the DisplayPort 1.1 spec which was proposed in November and should be finalized by VESA in early 2007. The modified spec brings support for DisplayPorts own copy protection technology and now, finally, HDCP.

Read the rest here.

Jan 03 2007

News - 4th-Gen MediaREADY MC Media Center

Other than this being the 4th generation of "MediaREADY" Media Center systems, I'm not really sure what else stands out about them. At a price point of $899 though, it's not exactly a system that'll blow you away. Here are the specs:

- Core Silicon - Intel 2.8GHz Processor
- Video Decoder - Hardware Video Compression Decoder
- Memory - 512 MB
- Hard Drive - 200 GB
- Media Disc Support - DVD Multi, CD Multi
- Audio Support - CD, WAVE, MP3, FLAC, Vorbis and AAC Playback
- Video Formats - MPEG2 (SD and HD), MPEG 4, AVI and DiVX
- Wired Network - 100 Mbps Ethernet
- Wireless Network - 11/54 Mbps 802.11b/g support
- USB 1.1 and 2.0 - 11Mbps USB1.1 and 480 Mbps USB2.0
- Firewire - 400 Mbps 1394
- Video Outputs - S-Video, VGA, DVI, & Component RCA
- Video Inputs - Composite RCA and S-Video
- Audio Outputs - Stereo RCA, Electrical & Optical S/PDIF (with Dolby Digital / DTS Pass Through)
- Audio Inputs - Stereo RCA
- Wireless Control - RF Keyboard and IR Remote Control, both with built-in trackball
- Internet Software - Internet Browser, Email and AOL IM (Optional Skype); Java
- Internet Media Support - Support for Real, Flash, and other streaming Internet video formats




Read the rest here

Jan 03 2007

News - New Home Control Product Suite Powered by Z-Wave Technology

Not the sexiest looking remote in the world, but hopefully it's as effective as they say it'll be. No word on pricing yet, but they'll be at CES to show it off, so check it out if you're there.

Utilizing Z-Wave, an open technology standard for home control, UEI has developed these new solutions for simple, accessible, and affordable handheld home control. The new remotes with Z-Wave are known at UEI as the Halo, Halo LCD, and Helix (pictured) products. 




Read the rest here

Jan 03 2007

News - Olevia 747i LCD 1080p Television

At $5000, the Olevia 47" LCD is not cheap, but then again, how many TV's come with 2 HD Tuners built-in? And it seems like it comes with plenty else, although still has the same drawbacks as any other LCD, so keep that in mind as you consider between a plasma & an LCD.

The Olevia is not without flaw. It suffers from some of the weaknesses typical of most LCD sets: poor black levels and less than optimum off-axis performance. But it does have excellent color, great detail, an image that is both compelling and easy to watch for hours on end. It's a worthy flagship for a brand that I suspect we'll be hearing a lot more about in the future.




Read the rest here

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