Thursday, September 11, 2008

Coming Soon - Control Tivo with Blackberry

TiVo and BlackBerry maker, Research in Motion (RIM) announced a partnership today promising the two firms will work together to make the BlackBerry smartphones work with the TiVo DVR products.  The first step of this will give BlackBerry users access to their TiVo program guide and in turn the ability to schedule television shows.  And it looks like streaming is a strong possiblity in the future.  As of now, there is no estimate on when the TiVo BlackBerry functionality will be available.  via FoxBusiness

SageTV users will note that they can already access their personal TV Guide, set up and manage their TV recordings today.  If you're interested in how that works check out my article on SageTV Mobile from June.

Check Out The New TV Premiers Online for Free!

Want to catch the new TV Premiers and missed the first episode?  Maybe you missed the first episode of "Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles Season 2" or "Fringe"?  Well your in luck because there's plenty of these TV premiers available for a limited time online for Free!

  • Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles: Hulu - don't miss this one - it is the best Terminator episode yet!
  • FringeHulu - this could be the best new series this season.
  • Privileged: Amazon - I think Privileged is a good show and worth watching.  It will appeal to the Gossip Girls & the Gilmore Girls crowd, but I'm not positive it will survive.  Still worth checking out if that sounds appealing to you in any way.
  • Prison Break: Amazon - This episode had mixed reviews, but if you're a Prison Break fan how can you resist?
  • Bones: Part 1: Amazon and Part 2: Amazon
In the coming weeks there will be lots more free premiers online - stay tuned to GeekTonic so you don't miss them!

Check out the GeekTonic Fall 2008 TV Premier Guide and check out the weekly, Sunday post that lists out each of the new premiers for the coming week.

Placeshifting for BeyondTV Has Arrived

Great news for all BeyondTV users!  Placeshifting is here for BeyondTV's PVR software.  It's currently in beta and in its very early stages, but definitely a cool, new feature coming from Snapstream.

BeyondTV, like SageTV, Vista Media Center and many other HTPC software programs works as a high-powered DVR and with their latest beta you can watch content stored on your BeyondTV computer at home from any computer with an internet connection.  Snapstream, makers of BeyondTV are using Microsoft's Silverlight to enable the placeshifting.

Placeshifting was made famous by the popular Slingbox and Orb options.  It's a way to view your content from an internet-connected location - useful for when you're on the road or at the office trying to avoid work...

For long-time readers you may remember that BeyondTV has had placeshifting abilities for a while now (see screencast of the earlier version of placeshifting BTV) although this placeshifting came via a user-developed (thanks to ccarlin) version of BeyondTV's webadmin.  With this official support the placeshifting should hopefully be more integrated and include support for liveTV placeshifting among other things.
I tried out the BeyondTV 4.9 beta placeshifting feature and have been comparing it to my experience with Slingbox, SageTV Placeshifter and Orb.
  • Processor Requirements.  As with any placeshifting being driven by the PC, the demand on the CPU will be high.  Reason for this is due to the fact that the content is being transcoded on the fly to reduce the file size enabling it to be streamed over limited bandwitdth internet pipes.
  • Silverlight - Microsoft Silverlight must be installed in your web browser for playback.  Silverlight makes this fairly platform independant.  It currently supports all major browsers on Windows and Mac OS X.  Linux support for Silverlight is supposedly "coming soon" as is Symbian OS support.
  • Mobile Devices.  For now, there is no support on mobile devices such as Windows Mobile, iPhone or Blackberry.
  • Ports to open.  You'll have to port-forward to be able to access this outside of your home network.  You can choose the ports required to be opened within BeyondTV's webadmin settings.
  • The current beta version does not support LiveTV.  Recorded video only
  • Pausing, fast forwarding & rewinding is there, but doesn't work well in the current version.  Leave it alone and streaming was pretty good over the internet and inside my home network.  Mess with the playback in any way and it had problems.

With your BeyondTV server PC running, you can access your recorded content from any internet-connected PC.  Just open up a browser and go to your BeyondTV Web Admin Page (read here for more about BeyondTV's WebAdmin)

 Once you select Placeshift from the drop-down menu (see example in above screen-shot), a message in your web browser lets you know it's testing your browser for compatibility and network for speed.
Once the show begins buffering, your show appears in the browser with all of the controls you need for playback.
Note that your picture quality will vary depending on the upload connection of your home internet connection, the download speed of the location your streaming too and possibly the CPU power on your BeyondTV computer.  I tried pausing and then hitting play and it had issues - sam thing for moving to different points in the show.  This is obvious a beta version so improvements will undoubtedly be made as Snapstream continues to tweak it.

the current version of BeyondTV's streaming is a little below SlingBox, SageTV Placeshifter and Orb but knowing the Snapstream crew I'm sure this will be improved a great deal as they progress.  I like the looks of the interface and the picture quality for me was pretty good - even from outside the network.

BeyondTV is available for $70 or you can download a free trial version.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Apple Day - The iPod Touch I Want to See

 We'll see lots of buzz on the web with the Apple "event" today.  Rumors of new, redesigned iPods and possible updates to iTunes (I think this one is less likely) have been swirling across the internet the past week or so.  I usually don't join in until the announcement is made, but this time I'm actually looking forward to one of the possibilities from this one.

When Apple has their announcement today, one of their expected announcements is the rumored, redesigned (slightly), iPod Touch.  I'm most interested in a new iPod Touch as I love the one I bought for my daughter and really want one for myself instead of an iPhone (the Blackberry Curve is the perfect phone for me thank you very much).

Here's my guess on the iPod Touch Redesign:
  • Cheaper Price & More Memory (currently $299 for 8GB in US)
  • Will match the new, 3G iPhone in Appearance and Thickness
  • The new Firmware Upgrade Included in the price
Here's some other features I'd like to see on the iPod Touch that I doubt we'll see:
  • Camera Built In???  This is a long-shot (read very unlikely) guess, but I'd like to see it
  • GPS built In (man I hope this happens - but don't hold your breath)
  • Radio (yeah I know it'll never happen cause it's not Apple's way)
What's your guess for today's announcement?  Let me know in the comments

Monday, September 08, 2008

Time for a New Media Server PC

Right at the end of a very busy travel week with no break before getting back to work, I came home to my Home Theater Server PC that was showing multiple signs of dying.

I knew it was almost time for a new one, but had been holding out replacing the old Dell, single-core workhorse for another few months or so.  Seriously, a dying HTPC right as the new Fall TV season is beginning is not a good situation - and not one the wife will let me forget mind you
Multiple errors including a failing motherboard forced a change.
I had already purchased a nice PC case and Power Supply Unit at a great discount, but coveted a quad-core CPU and decent motherboard both of which were not in my current-month budget.  Well this weekend I purchased the parts I needed and began putting it all together.
I now have a very powerful HTPC to serve the spiderweb of HTPC's and extenders in my house that I'm quite pleased with.  
It's not entirely complete, but very close - already recording new content.

I'll share many of the details of the setup with you soon and hopefully now be able to get back to the many posts I've had half-complete for multiple weeks.  It's a lot easier to blog about your HPTC when it's not sickly all the time.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

TV Premieres This Week: What to Watch 9/07 - 9/13

Just as I did last week, I have the lowdown on all of the premieres for week 2 of the TV Premieres.  Time to fire up your TV Recording machines and be sure their set to record the latest season of your favorite shows.

There are several new show premieres in the mix this week too.
Note:  The complete guide to the Fall 2008 TV Premieres with a free, downloadable guide is here

 Photo from "Privileged" on CW

GeekTonic Picks for Shows Premiering This Week:
  • Fringe - if you want only one new show this year, check this one out.  It has a lot of promise and a real chance to make it to a second season.
  • Privileged - it's really more of a soap, but looks smarter than most so if you're into this genre this might be worth a look.
  • Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles.  If you like Science Fiction even in the least, this is a must see.  And if you missed season one, just set season 2 up to record and get caught up by renting Season 1 on Netflix - I really recommend this show!
  • Do Not Disturb - If you're into comedies this is a long-shot possibility.  It isn't as good as it could be, but is worth a look.
NOTE: Times are EST
SUNDAY 9/7/2008
Football Night in America (7pm on NBC-Avail. in HD) Season 3 of Sunday Night Football on NBC
True Blood (9pm on HBO-Avail. in HD) New series on HBO based on the novel series Southern Vampire by Charlaine Harris. The series follows Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic barmaid who finds comfort in the company of vampires since they have no brainwave activity for her to read.
Entourage (10pm on HBO-Avail. in HD) This episode is titled “Fantasy Island”.
Sandhogs (10pm on History-Avail. in HD) New Show on History Channel about the men who face the dangers of the New York City underground.

MONDAY 9/8/2008 
Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles (8pm on Fox-Avail. in HD) Season 2 of Terminator which is one of my favorites from last year.  This season begins after the Jeep explosion.  John Conner's 16th birthday brings the realization that he is destined to be alone.

TUESDAY 9/9/2008

Fringe (8pm on Fox-Avail. in HD) New show on Fox.  This is one of the more highly anticipated shows as it is by J.J. Abrahms, the creator of Lost, Transformers /Star Trek/ Mission: Impossible III.  Directed by Emmy Award-winning Alex Graves of "The West Wing".  The storyline follows FBI agents Olivia Dunham and Peter Bishop who are faced with a rapidly spreading unexplained phenomenon of the threatening kind. In an attempt to stop the spread, they enlist the assistance of Bishop's estranged father, the institutionalized scientist Dr. Walter Bishop.  Record this and stay with the premiere through the first hour - the second hour makes it worth it.
Privileged (9pm on CW-Avail. in HD) New show on CW following 90210.  Privileged stars JoAnna Garcia, Lucy Hale (of Bionic Woman), Ashley Newbrough, Michael Cassidy (from the OC) and Anne Archer (from Patriot Games).  This one is based on a reportedly popular book series "How to Teach Filthy Rich Girls.”  The storyline follows a 20-something after she's hired by a cosmetics magnate (Anne Archer) to ensure her two wild daughters graduate with a Duke University-acceptible GPA.  It will be similar to Gossip Girls (same producer), but I think it might be even more popular...
Rachel Zoe Project (11pm on Bravo) New Reality Show on Bravo hosted by Celebrity Fashion Stylist, Rachel Zoe who opens up her life to Bravo's cameras as she works to take her business to the next level. Together with her fashion team of two and her husband, Rachel works to further herself as a stylist-in-demand which shouldn't be difficult since she's worked/working with the likes of Cameron Diaz, Lindsay Lohan, Keira Knightly, Jessica Simpson and Anne Hathaway to name a few. 

WEDNESDAY 9/10/2008
'Till Death (9pm on Fox-Avail. in HD) Season 3 of 'Til Death starts as Joy is disturbed by the fact that she can't flirt her way out of her 1st speeding ticket.  Shen then considers buying new lingerie and getting plastic surgery to "recover."   Never watched this show and it still doesn't appeal to me.
Inside the NFL (9pm on Showtime) Season 32 - all about the latest week in the NFL
Do Not Disturb (9:30pm on Fox) New comedy on Fox set in one of New York's hottest and hippest hotels.

Manswers (11pm on SpikeTV) Season 2 of SpikeTV's Manswers which answers Men's "stupid questions" will lots of gross humor etc.  Basically a male-oriented variety show.

THURSDAY 9/11/2008
Hole in the Wall (8pm on Fox) A new game show by Fox (actually premiered this past Sunday)Here's the premise: Contestants shift their bodies to fit through various sizes of cutouts in moving walls.  Tis the state of TV these days...
Kitchen Nightmares (9pm on Fox) The return of Ramsay
Comics Without Borders (11pm on Showtime) New on Showtime where comics take the stage to benefit charitable organizations.

FRIDAY 9/12/2008
Don't Forget the Lyrics! (9pm on Fox) Season 2 of the reality TV series on Fox

SATURDAY 9/13/2008
MadTV! (11pm on Fox) Season 14 of the comedy, variety show premieres on Fox
Saturday Night Live (12:30am on NBC-Avail. in HD) SNL returns with Michael Phelps as the host.
Talkshow with Spike Feresten (12pm on Fox) Season 3 of the talkshow

What will you be watching this week?  Any shows I should check out?