Friday, April 25, 2008

Transform Mac Mini into Windows HTPC has taken his Mac Mini and turned it into a working VMC Home Theater PC.  Not necessarily the cheapest or most practical project, but it does prove that the Mac Mini can make a very capable Windows box. 


If it didn't cost so much, the Mac Mini would make a great extender for SageTV or Beyond TV.  Then again, I would guess that most Apple folks would be offended by even the thought of using Windows on an Apple device...


Transform a Mac Mini into a small-form, Vista Media Center

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

You Know Your A Geek When....

Today as the Time Warner tech was working on my Cable TV and Internet connectivity issue, my cable guy was asking what my SiliconDust HDHomeRun box was since it was connected to the cable feed.  I told him it was a QAM tuner for tuning unencrypted QAM channels on my home theater PC.  And in the next breath Mr. Cable guy responded, "what's QAM?"

For those of you who don't know the answer to that question either don't feel bad as I've only learned this in the past year or so.  It's just that I expected a cable technician would certainly understand the lingo.  If you want to know what QAM is you can read the QAM wiki page if you're really into overly technical stuff, but here's my layman's definition:

QAM is a standard used by cable companies to deliver digital (not analog) television.  If you use CableTV, odds are your cable company is delivering the digital channels to you using the QAM standard.  Some of those channels are often unencrypted meaning if you have a HDTV with a built in tuner (QAM tuner) you can view those channels without a cable box or anything other than that TV.  Unfortunately, cable companies typically encrypted most channels so you can't tune those encrypted channels without a cable box or a CableCard tuner.

By the way, a second cable tech joined the first one and did know what QAM was.  He also was very knowledgeable about Home Theater PCs and my cable modulator and such.  While they both told me I had a rats nest of cabling in my basement (true statement) they did say I had done a decent job of running the wires and such.

If you're interested in how to get those unencrypted QAM channels into your HTPC, check out my review of the HDHomeRun dual QAM tuner - it's an excellent choice.  And you'll note that I now have internet (and cable TV) back to normal and better than ever so my posting frequency should be back to normal going forward.

Netflix Watch Instantly Has Four Hardware Partners

netflix logoWe're already seeing a plethora of Netflix Watch Instantly plugins for the HTPC software programs such as SageTV, Microsoft Vista Media Center, Meedios, GB-PVR and Media Portal.  Now it looks like Netflix has lined up four hardware vendors to embed the Netflix Watch Instantly functionality in various hardware devices that connect to the television set.  Last quarter, LG was introduced as the first partner with Netflix in their embedded hardware program. at this weeks first quarter Netflix company webcast Hastings said, “I can tell you we have LG plus three additional partners actively working on integrating our technology into their products. Three of the four partners are major companies which each sell millions of devices per year and will enable the Netflix functionality in some of those devices likely in Q4 of this year."

We know LG is the first company to team up in this effort, but I wonder who the next three will be.    Here are a few guesses:

  1. LG (already announced) - could be a TV, DVD Player or just about any other device.
  2. Microsoft - I could see Microsoft pushing to get the Netflix Watch Instantly embedded into their Xbox 360's
  3. Sony - Sony would be a logical partner as they could start with their Playstation 3's and move on to TVs and/or DVD players.
  4. Tivo - Tivo could add additional movie "rental" capabilities to their already popular DVRs.  To me this would be a logical move for Tivo.

Who do you think the partners will be?


via Hacking Netflix

Monday, April 21, 2008

Win a Free HTPC at MissingRemote

If you've been wanting a new HTPC you definitely should check out the Missing Remote giveaway.  They're giving away a brand new Avideus Media Center PC to one lucky entrant - free to enter! htpc

"The HTPC community has come to know PCAlchemy's commitment to price and service over the years. Recently, as of a couple of days ago, they have extended this commitment to the Avideus line of Media Center PCs. To celebrate this launch and to give back to the HTPC community, has teamed up with PCAlchemy to give away a great Media Center PC."


Get your entry in at Missing Remote