Friday, July 18, 2008

SageTV Selling & Shipping Hauppauge HD-PVR's Now

Hauppauge HD-PVRIf you've been waiting for a Hauppauge HD-PVR (read my first impressions on the device here), your wait is over.  The Hauppauge HD-PVR is now available for shipment in the SageTV store.

There are 2 options:

Hauppauge HD-PVR and Remote

For $249.95




The HD-PVR/SageTV Bundle that includes:

  • Hauppauge HD-PVR
  • Remote
  • SageTV Media Center for Windows

For $299.95 (saves $30 from regular $329.95 price)


There has been a delayed delivery when purchasing through Hauppauge directly so this will be a popular option for many.  Plus the $299.95 bundle is an excellent deal for those interested in getting started with SageTV.

DVB version of HDHomeRun Coming As Soon as September

silicondustSiliconDust, the makers of the HDHomeRun Dual-QAM/OTA HD tuner continues work on their DVB version of their tuner.  Current projections are to have the DVB version of the HDHR ready for mass delivery by September.  Early reports stated that SiliconDust planned to have Microsoft Media Center and MythTV support and other HTPC programs support was still to be determined.

This is especially important to the non-US TV viewers as Europe and many other non-US countries use DVB as their digital television standard.  Included in the SiliconDust tuner will be support for DVB-C (digital cable) and DVB-T (Terrestrial broadcast).  Without a DVB tuner, many in Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa cannot tune to the majority of television channels.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Update on Microsoft Media Center Fiji

Microsoft Media Center Fiji has been released.  After a long day of back & forth on the validity of the story I posted this morning it has now been confirmed.  Read the original story with updates here

Pandora Radio Plugin for SageTV

While the throngs of iPhone and iTouch users were trying out the new Pandora Radio, one of the most popular free iPhone application releases, I was testing out a new Pandora Radio Application on my SageTV Home Theater PC.  Pandora radio is one of the more popular internet radio applications that is a perfect match for the HTPC and is a very welcome addition to my Home Theater PC abilities.

SageTV's Pandora Radio Plugin


Pandora has a database of more than 600,000 songs each marked with musical characteristics that helps Pandora personalize a station/playlist based on songs you like or dislike.  The Pandora web app is one of my favorites and the iPhone and now SageTV applications that work with Pandora extend that excellent internet radio interface to the media players that get a lot of use in this house.


The new SageTV, Pandora Plugin was developed by Craig (known as cncb on the SageTV forums)

The plugin allows users to extend their personalized radio stations from their Pandora username onto their SageTV HTPC.  Select a station to listen to and as you're listening to a song you can give it a thumbs up or a thumbs down to help “teach” the station your preferences.  Songs you don’t want to hear can be skipped without giving them the thumbs down just like in the Pandora web application.  It’s a fairly simple interface, but very easy to use and extremely functional. 


I did a quick, one-minute walk-through to give you a feel for the interface:

One quick note about the plugin.  In it’s current form, you cannot use it on an extender without a hack (more on that in the forum thread below).

For more about the plugin, check out the following links:

SageTV Pandora Plugin Forum Thread

SageTV Pandora Plugin Download

Microsoft Fiji Release Has Been Released

Update 3:  It's been confirmed link.  Windows Media Center TV Pack aka Fiji has been released, but only to OEM's as of last night, 7/16/2008


And then an observant GreenButton member noticed that the Microsoft Help & Support page “outed” the Windows Media Center TV Pack 2008 in one if it’s help documents by saying this:

 TV Pack

So Windows Media Center TV Pack already exists as of July 16th and it also looks like it’s available only to OEMs right now and possibly never available to non-OEM's.  It's also been rumored that the install requires a complete re-install - not just an update.

You can read the MS Help Document this screen-shot was taken from here


The original post follows:

Rumblings are spreading that the Microsoft Fiji beta is NEARLY complete and is being released (at least for non-US OEM's).  Microsoft Fiji is the codename for the next iteration of Microsoft Media Center and is being released as “Windows Media Center TV Pack 2008.  Here’s a screen-shot of an e-mail reportedly received by a beta tester:

fiji released


Whether this supposed e-mail is true or not is in question as the beta testers for Fiji are still under a NDA.  Still, the big question is what will be included in this long-awaited release.  There has been much unrest among the Microsoft Media Center users (see Chris Lanier's Post and EngadgetHD's Post) that some of their most-anticipated features will not be included when Fiji is finally released. 

Here’s a rundown of the features and the “consensus” on what will and what will not be included:

  • H.264 Support (and therefore DirecTV tuner support) – NOT included
  • HD-PVR support (also related to the fact H.264 support is missing) - NOT included
  • 16x9 thumbnails - Included
  • Native QAM support- Included (this will be a popular new feature)
  • OTA Channels flexible numbering- Included (another popular new feature)
  • DVR-MS replaced with WTV- Included  (not sure if this is really a good thing)
  • HD recording preferences- Included
  • Favorite Channels Listing (in EPG)- Included
  • Non-US tuner support- Included (this includes DVB-S (not S2) for several countries including Australia)
  • Teletext support (non-US)- Included

Another tidbit about this release is that it is OEM only which makes it much more difficult to obtain.

Note that these feature inclusions/exclusions are not yet confirmed

The e-mail mentioned above came from a user on the Australian site and is not confirmed so take it with a grain of salt.  More talk (read speculation) on the topic can be found in that forum thread as well as this GreenButton Forum Thread.  Time will tell whether the reported release is really here and which features end up included – and I'll report/confirm those facts as soon as that information is confirmed further.

The lack of H.264 and therefore the lack of DirecTV tuner support and Hauppauge HD-PVR support would be a major blow to Vista Media Center users hoping to go beyond CableCard as their only source for accessing all encrypted TV channels.  If H.264 support is in fact missing from this release it would likely not arrive until Windows 7 which could take as long as 2010 to arrive.  Add to that the growing fear that this release is and will be an OEM-only release and the firestorm Microsoft has created will take a long time for Media Center enthusiasts to get over.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hauppauge HD-PVR Review at ExtremeTech

Hauppauge HD-PVR For those of you looking for a review of the Hauppauge HD-PVR (my first take on the device is here) and too impatient to wait for the review that I have 90% complete, check out ExtremeTech’s complete review of the component video recorder. 

I will let you read it as is with one note:  The author of the ExtremeTech review only used the software included with the HD-PVR.  This is okay for some purposes, but if you’re planning to use the HD-PVR with an HTPC you REALLY need to use it with SageTV (working well with HD-PVR) or BeyondTV (in beta although not officially supported yet).  I’m using my HD-PVR with SageTV and love it.  I think if the reviewer had done this he would have had a better impression of the device.

The reviewer really focused on the ability to convert the output from the HD-PVR to use on iPod or PSP which is difficult with h.264 files.  I consider the HD-PVR an viable alternative to the CableCard technology used in Microsoft Vista Media Centers and judge it as such.  I’ll get into that more when I release my complete review of the Hauppauge HD-PVR.

Read the ExtremeTech HD-PVR review