Saturday, September 20, 2008

Deal of the Day - Logitech Harmony 880 for $88

Today's deal of the day is the excellent Logitech Harmony 880 Remote Control. 

It's listed at $138.28 and then after a $50 rebate and free shipping it's only $88.  NOW 82.44 AFTER REBATE WITH FREE SHIPPING! A great deal for a universal remote control that would work well in any home and especially with a Home Theater PC.

Logitech Harmony 880 $82.44 $88


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Win a Tivo Glo remote at ZatzNotFunny!

Tivo’s remote controls have some of the best remote controls in terms of look, feel and simplicity.  I’m a little late on this, but Dave Zatz is giving away a Tivo Glo Remote on ZatzNotFunny probably as soon as Friday. 

So don’t waste any time, head over to ZNF and put your name in to win the Tivo Glo Remote.
Even if you don’t have a Tivo, you could use the Tivo Glo remote with your HTPC using girder or eventghost.
ZatzNotFunny! Tivo Glo Remote Giveaway

XBMC Media Center Releases New Beta - Cross Platform

xbmc logo
The Open Source, Home Theater PC platform XBMC Media Center has released their ‘Atlantis” Beta 1 today.  The biggest new feature is the cross platform support for Linux, Mac OS X (Leopard & Tiger), Windows and XBox.
A few of the new features included in this beta release:
  • Cross platform support for Linux, Mac OS X (Leopard & Tiger), Windows and XBox
  • New default skin “PM3.HD”, a high-definition tribute to Project Mayhem III for non-XBox users.
  • XBMC Live – a bootable CD which gives users the opportunity to try XBMC on their computer, without touching their computers hard drive. In addition, XBMC Live allows installation of XBMC, complete with an operating system, onto a USB flash memory sticks for a permanent, fast booting, dedicated set-top-box style installation of XBMC. XBMC Live is designed to support Microsoft’s MCE Remote and USB receiver out-of-the-box.
  • XBMC for Mac release now has initial support for integrating iTunes and iPhoto media into XBMC
Note that this is a non-TV tuner front-end for the moment so the focus thus far for XBMC is for movies, music etc.  XBMC has some of the more impressive skins that I’ve seen.  Here's a few to get you started, but you can browse a nice collection of the skins here.
The beta is scheduled for final release in October 2008.
Read more about this XBMC Release at the XBMC Blog

via MissingRemote

Deal of the Day: Linksys Extender $99.99

If you’re a Vista Media Center user and need (okay want) a new extender, be sure and check out NewEgg’s deal on the Linsys DMA2100 Media Center Extender. They have it in stock for $99.99!

LINKSYS DMA2100 Media Center Extender $99.99 from NewEgg (affiliate)

Integrate ReplayTV with Windows Media Center

Are you one of those people who loved ReplayTV and still have one sitting around the house?  Want to integrate your ReplayTV into Windows Media Center?  Lets say you want to record your TV shows using that ReplayTV, but still access them through your Windows Media Center interface.  Ray Jezek has released an application called Replay2DVRMS to do just that.

Replay2DVRMS is a command line utility based on Andy’s ToDvrms that converts shows recorded with ReplayTV (including the metadata from those recordings) to Windows Media Center compliant dvr-ms files.

Get all of the details & downloads of the program on Ray Jezek’s Replay2DVRMS blog.

via Andy vt’s Blog

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

GeekTonic Guests on the EngadgetHD Podcast

EndgadgetHD PodcastThe EngadgetHD podcast is one of my favorite podcasts – Ben Drawbaugh & Steve Kim cover all things HD including topics such as HD gadgets and HD content.  Ben tends to throw in the occasional Media PC topic as well.  This week Ben invited me to guest on the EngadgetHD podcast this week. We talked a little about Home Theater PC’s, Tivo’s and DVR’s and several other DVR-related topics and did a run-through of the latest TV premiers (referencing my GeekTonic TV Premier List).
I'm obviously not the best in this sort of format so be warned , but if you're interested, check it out at EngadgetHD.   After doing this for the first time I definitely have even more respect for Ben and Steve – running a quality podcast involves a lot of work and they both do a great job.  Thanks to both of them for putting up with me for almost an hour!

EngadgetHD Podcast

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Netflix Watch Now Movies Worth Watching?

Anyone else notice how rare it is when a decent movie title is added to the Netflix Watch-Now selection?  There are a few good ones there, but they are far and few between.  I'm used to seeing  gems like this one come through the Netflix Watch-Now RSS Feed:
Toxie's Triple Terror: Deadly Daphne's Revenge

or possible another exciting title like:
Monster of London City / Mystery of the Red Orchid: Double Feature

Yeah, I've never heard of those either thankfully.  But there really are a few decent ones, albeit older ones in the mix occasionally.  Here's a few movies that have been recently added that are worth checking out on Netflix Watch-Now:
  • The Interpreter - Silvia Broome's (Nicole Kidman) job is to translate for her assigned delegate the complex issues faced by the United Nations. But the interpreter's daily challenge turns epic when she accidentally overhears details of a plot to assassinate a high-ranking government official. Suddenly, her existence is overshadowed by danger, and she must unravel an intricate yarn of intrigue with the help of an FBI agent (Sean Penn) in order to save herself.
  • Beethoven - If you have a young one around who hasn't seen this yet, give it a shot.  Workaholic George Newton (Charles Grodin) reluctantly agrees to let his children keep a St. Bernard puppy who's just escaped the clutches of two dimwitted dognappers (Oliver Platt and Stanley Tucci). Dubbed Beethoven, the playful pooch soon turns into a full-grown engine of destruction, leaving wreckage and hilarity in his wake. Disney veteran Dean Jones is cast against type as a vile veterinarian who kidnaps Beethoven for a lab experiment.
  • Miss Conception - Not the most intelligent sitcom-like movie, but entertaining to the teen/tween crowd regardless.  Georgina (Heather Graham) is a high-powered London businesswoman who's decided to add mother to her list of accomplishments. Unfortunately, her longtime boyfriend (Tom Ellis) isn't ready to be a daddy. With her biological clock ticking, Georgina recruits her best friend, Clem (Mia Kirshner), to help her find the perfect father for her baby-to-be. Orlando Seale co-stars in this timely romantic comedy.
These three movies I mention above are some of the better titles available on Netflix Watch Now - really.  There are some TV shows I've watched here - I caught up on Office and Dexter using NEtflix Watch Now, but Netflix REALLY needs to upgrade their watch-now collection to make the Netflix-attached devices worth it in my opinion.  There's a few shows in there I watch using my SageTV Netflix plugin, but not enough to make me want to purchase a device for it.

Watch TV Episodes Online A Week Before They Air on Hulu

If I were a TV Network executive....  Ok, I'm not, but if I were I would take every new series premiere and make it available everywhere:  Post it on YouTube, put it on Hulu, Netflix Watch Now, run promotions with free DVD's where half the people get a copy all promoting the first, premiere episode of that show.  Make sure you get to as many people as possible BEFORE it airs on TV.  Why?  Because if its going to have a chance in this TIVO/HTPC/DVR world people have to know about it and help create the buzz before its aired.  I don't understand why they don't use the viral promotion that way more.

Well NBC is actually doing this in a small way with several of its episodes including new series as well as many returning series.  NBC is putting many of their premiere episodes on the popular online streaming website, Hulu so that every US resident can watch the online episode a week early.  I hope to see more of this in the future.  If they need to put a bunch of advertising in the episodes so be it, but give your new shows a chance for goodness sake.

This week, NBC has the following shows up a week before they air on television:
And three additional shows will have their premieres available a week before airing as well:
  • Chuck 9/29 Premiere available online 9/22 at Hulu
  • Life 9/29 Premiere available online 9/22 at Hulu
  • 30 Rock 10/30 Premiere available online 9/23 at Hulu
No such luck for Heroes, The Office or House (three shows I'll watch anyway)

There are many episodes online after they air, but putting them up before they are is quite unusual, but very welcome.  Yes, I'd rather watch these shows on my nice, HDTV but for shows I'm not sure about, its a good way to "test the waters" to see if its worth committing to.  And I might just spread the word when I like it too.
The full, Hulu Fall schedule with details about which online episodes are available after TV broadcast can be found here.

Monday, September 15, 2008

List the Upcoming TV Premieres in SageTV HTPC

SageMC View Premiers Feature
I spend a lot of time gathering the scoop on all the new Television season premieres for you here at GeekTonic.  But what if you want to quickly browse through the upcoming premieres on your own - from the comfort of your couch?  A lesser-known feature is already built-in to SageTV that lets you do just that with SageTV and I'll show you how.

Using the default STV (the user interface that you see when you first install SageTV), you can view all  upcoming premieres by following these steps:
  • Enable unsupported extras (lots of goodies here so read about the other extra features here).  Go to "System Information" at Setup>Help> and enter four digits in a row: 5309 Help Menu in SageTVSystem Info Menu in SageTV
  • Back at the main menu, select "schedule recordings" & then select "Extra: Custom Menus" Schedule Recordings Menu in SageTVSpecial Airings Menu in SageTV
  • You now have a list of all premieres and special TV airings.

If you're like me and you use the SageMC User Interface, its even easier:
  • Select MyTV from the main menu
  • Pick "Schedule" from the MyTV menu MyTV Menu in SageTV (SageMC UI)
  • The top-left menu button toggles between "all", "conflicts" and "Premieres".  Select "premieres" TV Schedule Menu in SageTV (SageMC UI)
  • The next menu button down allows you to sort the listing by date and title.  You now can browse the upcoming premieres and select one to record or even set up a series favorite so SageTV will record the entire season of that show.
 TVPremiers Menu in SageTV (SageMC UI)

This is a very nice feature to have - especially during the start of the Fall 2008 TV season.  I use this as an extra check to be sure I'm not missing any new premieres I want to check out.  It's easy for me to see which ones I have set up to record since the big, red dot (see the one by House in the screen grab above) shows which shows are set to record.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hurricane Ike Hits Snapstream

Hurricane Ike is still wreaking havoc on Galveston and Houston and is even affecting the Home Theater PC world via Snapstream.

As of 8pm Central time Sunday night, Snapstream, the company behind BeyondTV and Snapstream Enterprise,  was dealing with some outages resulting from Hurricane Ike.  Snapstream's headquarters are located in Houston and are suffering from power outages among other things.  Guide Updates, (the online guide access website hosted by Snapstream) and thier main website were all offline.  Here's an excerpt from a post on their status webpage:

We work hard to make sure our services are up all the time, but we’re unfortunately having to announce that our web services and some of our web sites are down at the moment due to the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. Currently these items are down:
  • Guide Data Updates (offline)
  • (offline)
  • (offline)
  • knowledge base (slow response)
  • Tech Support (slow response, no tech support uploads)
  • (online)
  • (online)
  • (online)
  • (online)
We are working with our various hosting providers to restore these sites and services.

 If you want to keep up on the status of the Snapstream outages and which services are up and running, check out the Snapstream Status Page which is updated regularly.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the Snapstream team and their families in the Houston area as I would imagine the storm aftermath is affecting all of them in one way or another.

TV Premieres This Week: What to Watch 9/14 - 9/20

I'm back with the lowdown on all of the premieres for week 3 of the TV Premieres
(To see more about the past weeks premieres: week one or week two).

This week is the calm before the storm with only a few premieres and not much in the way of new shows, but get ready for a bunch of new shows and season premieres starting next week.

Note:  The complete guide to the Fall 2008 TV premieres with a free, downloadable guide is here

  • The Real Housewives of Atlanta (Info)
GeekTonic Picks for Shows Premiering This Week:
       House M.D.
  • House - I'm a latecomer to this show, but this summer caught up with House DVDs from Netflix.  I can't believe I missed this one - it's now a favorite in our house (pardun the pun.)
  • Smallville - for those of you superhero worshipers theres always the trusty Smallville show.
NOTE: Times are EST
SUNDAY 9/14/2008
No new premieres

MONDAY 9/15/2008 
No new premieres

TUESDAY 9/16/2008
Lincoln Heights (8pm on ABC Family) Season 3
House (8pm on Fox - Avail. in HD) Season 5
The Real Housewives of Atlanta (10pm on Bravo) A new reality show under the "Real Housewives of" series.  Nothing worth watching here I promise.

WEDNESDAY 9/17/2008
Ultimate Fighter (10pm on SpikeTV) Season 12.  Some people love this stuff.

THURSDAY 9/18/2008
Smallville (8pm on CW - Avai.l in HD) Season 8 of Smallville
Supernatural (9pm on CW - Avail. in HD) Season 4
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (10pm on FX) Season 4

FRIDAY 9/19/2008
20/20 (10pm on ABC - Avail. in HD) News for your Friday night doldrums.

SATURDAY 9/20/2008
No new premieres

UPDATE: I originally had Survivor on this week which was incorrect - I've removed it and saved it for next week on the 25th.  Thanks for catching my mistake Brian!

That's all of the new premieres for this week, but be ready for next week - lots of TV talk starting then and I'll have the post up for week 4 on Sunday, September 20th.