Saturday, August 23, 2008

SageTV HD100 Extender Out of Stock Again

For the fourth time since they were originally released, the SageTV HD100 Extenders are out of stock again.  As of late yesterday, the very popular HD100 extenders sold out and are unavailable at the SageTV store.

SageTV first released the HD Extenders (My Review of the HD Extender can be found here) this past December and sold out within a week.  They then re-stocked at the end of February and sold out even faster (in the matter of a day or two.)  SageTV then had them for sale again in May of this year and have kept up with demand since then until this week. 

I am a big fan of these extenders & purchased my own in February and picked up a second one earlier this summer.  I have to say I LOVE these extenders.  It's the easiest way to get a quality HTPC extender that you don't have to mess with - it just works.  Even with the HD-PVR recordings the HD100 just works.  If you're waiting for one, stay tuned to GeekTonic & I'll let you know as soon as they are back in stock.

Note:  The SageTV HD extender only works with SageTV.  It does not work with Vista Media Center, MythTV or any other HTPC software.  More information on SageTV can be found at the SageTV Website.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Walk the Streets With Your Wii Balance Board

I'm still trying to find a Wii Balance Board from the Nintendo Wii Fit package to add to my growing Wii controller graveyard. 
When I do get one though, I've found the perfect way to take an imaginary walk to go with my imaginary workout ;)  It's the Wii Balance Board Google Street Walk - check it out in the video below

via WiiBlog

Honey I need a new Drive - The Olympics Filled Up My DVR

If you're like many television viewers, you've been watching some of the Summer Olympics these past few weeks.  With the Olympic Games coverage on NBC, USA, MSNBC, CNBC, Universal-HD, NBC HD, and USA HD channels there's been lots of options and about 3,600 hours of Olympics to watch over the entire games.  Well for some folks, just watching some of the games isn't enough - many have been recording some of the events and some have even been recording everything.  With DVRs, TIVO's and HTPC's there are lots of options out there and many of them (TIVO, SageTV and BeyondTV for instance) give you the ability to record by a keyword.
If you're wondering how much hard drive space you'd need to record all of that 3,600 hours lets just say it could easily fill up 2 Terrabytes of hard drive space - and thats assuming much of the recording is being done with non-HD.....

One guy I found who is doing this is Jake.  Jake is using BeyondTV, a HTPC software program to record all of the Olympics.  Jake says:
"I love to watch the Olympics. There's just so much of it I hope that we get to see some of the obscure stuff that's out there....I like to see many of the lesser known events, and even then we are missing some. Even with all of my recordings, so often the times are off and when the show ends, I have inevitably missed the last most important minutes of the events."
What kind of setup is Jake using to record and store all of this SD and HD Olympics content?
Jake has 3 Beyond TV Link (Home Theater PC's used as extenders) machines.  He and his wife watch a majority of the programming.  Jake also commented about their move away from the standard cable-box DVR:
We probably "watch 100% more than we should be because it is so easy to record and skip commercials. She (nor I) could live without a DVR any longer."
His setup includes a dual-core 3.0 ghz Processor in a Silverstone case.  There are two HD OTA tuners and three SD cable tuners.  In total there is 1TB of hard drive space to store everything & for the times like the Olympics I'm betting that much hard drive space is needed.

He plans to upgrade his system to handle these heavy-use times.  It will be interesting to see what he does for the next Olympics.  You can read more about Jake's Olympics Keyword Recording at the Snapstream Forums.

Another person doing this is Dale Dietrich (contributor for ZatzNotFunny), who uses his S3 Tivo to record every NBC Olympics broadcast.  Dale says he's recordimg about 14 hrs a day and uses the fast forward button a lot.  To add recording space he uses sidecar and has about 1TB of space total.
I polled some SageTV users as well and many of them are using their Hauppauge HD-PVR's to watch and record their content in HD.  To read about more HTPC owners recording their Olympics using different strategies check out the SageTV forums.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Deal of the Day - SiliconDust HDHomeRun Dual Qam Tuner $130

HDHomeRun Dual QAM Tuner
If you've been pondering the best way to get unencrypted QAM into your Home Theater PC, I highly recommend the SiliconDust HDHomeRun tuner.  It connects via the ethernet so it won't take up any space inside your computer or USB ports, can tune unencrypted QAM (digital/SD & HD) channels as well as OTA HD channels and it's a dual tuner to boot.  It normally sells for $170, and NewEgg had a one-day deal for $140 a week or so ago, but now Amazon has it for an even better price:

Amazon (affiliate) has the HDHomeRun tuner for $129.99 with free shipping

The HDHomeRun works with the following Software:
  • Windows Media Center:
    • MCE 2005 32-bit
    • MCE 2005 64-bit
    • Vista MCE 32-bit
    • Vista MCE 64-bit
  • SageTV - HTPC software for Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Home Server, Mac & Linux
  • SnapStream BeyondTV - DVR for Windows
  • Elgato EyeTV - DVR for Mac
  • MythTV - DVR for Linux
  • MediaPortal - DVR for Windows
  • GB-PVR - DVR for Windows
  • VLC - Multi-platform media viewer
  • TSReader - MPEG-2 transport stream analysis
If you want to check to see what channels you can get through clear QAM, check out SiliconDusts Clear QAM database by inputing your zipcode and selecting your cable provider.

If you want to research the HDHR a little more before buying check out my review of the device from last year

MyMovies ScreenCast

A Movie Catalog feature has always been an important part  of my HTPC from the time I started and used Meedio through Beyond Media all the way to SageTV now.  I think MyMovies for Microsoft Media Center is one of the better Movie applications for HTPC's and Adam Thursby of the Entertainment 2.0 blog has done a great walkthrough of MyMovies for Media Center.  I can do many of these things in SageTV, but I'm hoping to see a few more of these features show up for SageTV in future versions.

Check out this great ScreenCast of MyMovies by Adam Thursby:

Adam has also begun a Media Center Podcast - I checked his first one out yesterday and added it to my list of podcasts to follow.
via Entertainment 2.0's post on MyMovies

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

SageTV's Touchscreen Interface Plugin

The latest rage in portable media devices these days has been touchscreen with the iPhone and iPod Touch.  But with Home Theater PC's typically touchscreen isn't the first thing people think of - its controlling that HTPC with a remote control (the 10-foot interface) that first comes to mind.

There are however some times when a touch-screen interface does lend itself to the HTPC.  You can use touchscreen for the remote control, for a secondary monitor in a room for controlling and viewing or even as a primary monitor in a kitchen or other room that lends itself to a touchscreen interface instead of or to complement the remote control.

Take Sam Greco's touchscreen HTPC for instance.  Sam has several SageTV clients in the house, but the kitchen has the prized touchscreen interface. Sam uses an ELO 1543L touchscreen monitor he purchased from eBay.  The monitor has a USB connection for the mouse/touch & runs his touchscreen from his server PC in the basement. The screen is mounted in a kitchen wall just above with long USB and VGA cables.

In addition to SageTV, he uses Premise Systems for home automation with 10 audio zones, UBP lighting and SageTV.  All of this is controlled with the touchscreen monitor in the kitchen.  He has other SageTV clients in the house, but the kitchen has the prized touchscreen interface.  Check out this video Sam recorded (no sound this time) to demonstrate the SageMC touchscreen interface for SageTV:

The SageMC touchscreen interface was a project developed by Mike, known as MeInMaui on the SageTV forums.  Mike also contributes to the SageMC project and developed a mouse-friendly interface for the SageMC UI called SageMC Toolbar.  Then ported that project into the touch-screen interface.

The SageMC Touchscreen Interface plugin adds a control bar to SageMC intended to provide touchscreen users with the following touchscreen buttons::  Back, Home, Stop Play/Pause, Skip back/fwd, Skip back2/fwd2, Record, Sleep, and Fullscreen.
Also, in the Video OSD, the play/pause button is removed and replaced with Left and Right Buttons. (The Play/Pause functionality is already built in to the time bar)

Minimum Requirements

Java v1.6 or higher
SageTV v6.3.5 or higher
SageMC v6.3.7 or higher

 More Info & Download for the SageMC Touchscreen InterfaceYou can find out more about Sam Greco's setup with Premise, SageTV and his touchscreen monitor at his MediaPC Forums site.

Heroes Trailer - Back on September 22nd

One of my favorite shows, Heroes returns in about a month (9/22/2008).  Here's the latest Heroes Season 3 trailer.

Set your DVR's and HTPC's to record it now - it's a great show.

Monday, August 18, 2008

SageTV 6.4 Released - Out of Beta

If you’ve been waiting to use all of the new features of SageTV 6.4 until it was released out of beta, your time is now.  SageTV, a leading HTPC software company released their latest version of SageTV (6.4) for their flagship HTPC front-end software, SageTV today. 
This latest version of SageTV comes as a free update to anyone who has purchased SageTV 6 so there is no reason not to grab it now.  6.4 has been in public beta testing (all licensed SageTV users can use the public betas) since May 2008 with eight different versions of 6.4 being released like wildfire through last week.  That is a very fast update cycle plus everyone gets the opportunity to try out the new features in Beta if they choose to.
What are the major improvements in SageTV 6.4?
  • Hauppauge HD-PVR Officially Supported for Windows Users
  • Hauppauge HD-PVR Supported on Linux (Experimental for the moment)
  • Automatic STVI Generation in the SageTV Studio (this means it’s easier for plugins)
  • EXIF metadata/thumbnail support for JPEGs
  • New file system & network browser
  • H.264 videos from YouTube (this is in addition to the many other online videos you can access from SageTV already
  • High definition photo display on the STX-HD100 HD Extender
  • File transfers to/from Placeshifter clients
  • Editing of aspect ratios on the fly for the STX-HD100
  • Lots of bugs fixes & performance enhancements
Full release notes can be found in the announcement thread at the SageTV Forums
You can download SageTV 6.4 for your Operating System (Windows, Linux, Mac, Windows Home Server) here
If you have a SageTV HD Extender, go ahead and download your firmware update on it to version “20080812 0” to make sure you get all the latest extender features and improvements.

I'm looking forward to seeing what the next version of SageTV includes - and I bet it won't be long either.