Friday, October 10, 2008

Deal of the Day - Panasonic DMP-BD30 Blu-Ray Player $260

Blu-Ray Player price drops seem to becoming more-and-more prevalent these days.  Panasonic's older DMP-BD30 Blu-Ray Player can now be had at Amazon & for $259.99

Panasonic DMP-BD30 Blu-Ray Player At for $259.99
Panasonic DMP-BD30K - Blu-ray DVD Player
at for $259.99 with Free Shipping

Not a bad deal if you're in the market for a Blu-Ray Player

Get More GeekTonic on Twitter

Are you interested in Media Gadgets, TV Talk or just a little random smalltalk?

If so you can follow me on Twitter to catch my more pithy comments that I don’t have time to blog.  You’ll get the normal (whatever normal is) twitter stuff mixed in, but I often twitter the "hotter" topics (I do not repeat on twitter everything I blog here) sometimes faster than you’ll see them in your RSS feed for GeekTonic.

Here’s a screen-shot of my more recent twitter “posts”:
GeekTonic on Twitter

If you’re so inclined you can follow GeekTonic on Twitter HERE
I encourage readers of GeekTonic to comment on the posts here and I'd love to include you in the conversation at Twitter also.

Snapstream Discontinuing Sales of Beyond Media Software

Beyond Media Today on the Snapstream forums, Snapstream announced that they are officially discontinuing the sale of their HTPC front-end software, Beyond Media as of November 1, 2008.
It's important to note that Snapstream is continuing their focus on BeyondTV and Snapstream Enterprise.

Here’s the announcement from the Snapstream Forums:
Hey SS community,
On November 1, 2008, we will be discontinuing the sale of Beyond Media. As you might have noticed, since it's launch, Beyond Media has taken a back seat to our TV product, Beyond TV. And as we map out our development plans for the future we just don't foresee being able to dedicate time to work on Beyond Media. Of course, we will continue to provide technical support for the product, but in the next few weeks you'll see it disappear from the site. We are sorry for any inconvenience that this decision causes but we hope that you will understand where we're coming from.
This will come as no surprise to many current and former Snapstream Beyond Media users out there given the lack of updates or any significant support over the past several years.  Rakesh Agrawal alluded to this direction in an interview with me last November as well.  I used Beyond Media in conjunction with BeyondTV on my HTPC’s for several years, but late last year, it became obvious to me that Snapstream had moved on from trying to be a true HTPC software company and instead focused on the consumer-based BeyondTV PVR software and their fast-growing Enterprise software.

                  Screen-shot of Beyond Media Music Playback

Beyond Media was never integrated into BeyondTV so you basically had to switch between programs to go back and forth between the PVR app and DVD/Music/Photos functions of Beyond Media.  Beyond Media’s updates practically stopped years ago leaving users like me having to work around the bugs and other problems of Beyond Media.  This was extremely disappointing to users like me who wanted a complete HTPC program and ultimately drove many who wanted more than just a PVR to do one of the following:
  • Continue to use BeyondTV with a long-in-the-tooth Beyond Media
  • Continue to use BeyondTV with Media Portal, Meedio or MCE for the non-PVR functions
  • Switch to SageTV, Vista Media Center or one of the many other HTPC programs available.
There once were many excellent plugins for Beyond Media – one of the best DVD Library applications among them, but most of those have not been supported or updated for a very long time.  While I’m sad to see Beyond Media go, I think it is the right thing for Snapstream to do since they have no intentions to update the program in the future.  I continue to recommend BeyondTV to those looking for a good software-based PVR that doesn’t want or need the Movies, Music, Photos or other plugins that often come with HTPC software.  Otherwise I recommend SageTV, GBPVR, Vista Media Center and MythTV in that order.

Are you a former (or current) Beyond Media user?  Let us know in the comments along with your thoughts and memories of Beyond Media.
Snapstream Announcement

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Deal of the Day - WD 640GB SATA Hard Drive $75

Looking for some cheap internal hard drive storage?

Newegg (affiliate) has the Western Digital Caviar SE16 640GB 3.5" SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive for $75 with free shipping.  This OEM Western Digital Caviar Green 640GB Serial ATA Hard Drive is a 7200 RPM with a 16MB cache drive.

Man storage is getting cheap these days!

Did the Twitter Fail Whale Get Fired?

Anyone notice the Fail Whale hasn’t been around much on Twitter?  Most of this is a result of Twitter’s new-found reliability, but last night I discovered some new characters replacing the whale.  Or have these always been there and I just missed them?
Here’s the “fail” whale I’m used to seeing:
Twitter Whale

The new “down for maintenance” message includes a caterpillar, and a talking soft-serve ice cream cone.
Twitter No Fail Whale
Let me know in the comments if you’ve seen this before on twitter.

Transform Your AppleTV with Boxee

Have an AppleTV and don’t want to wait any longer for Apple to add new features?  Well your day has arrived because the team at Boxee has a nice Media Player User Interface that you can install on your AppleTV and transform the user interface and add new features.
Boxee Menu
Boxee is a project based on the xbmc (XBox Media Center) open-source project.  Boxee was developed to be a “social” media center program that plays media from your home network and the internet and also allows you to stream or download movies, tv shows, music and photos.  While Boxee is new to the AppleTV, it is also in alpha testing for Mac OSX 10.5 and Ubuntu with plans to release a Windows version soon.

Boxee’s latest move has been to use a USB drive (Intel-based Mac & 512MB minimum flash drive required) to inject/patch the new UI into the AppleTV.

The aim of the Boxee/AppleTV project is to “fill in those gaps” left by Apple for new feaures, video formats and non-Apple internet streaming.  Already AVI, Matroska (MKV), Ogg Vorbis and ISO images are all added file formats that aren’t supported natively by AppleTV.  Boxee adds the ability to stream from BBC, CNN, CNET, Revision3 and with plans to add Hulu support by the end of this year.  Note that 1080p is currently not supported since Boxee doesn’t take advantage of the GPU.

Boxee also adds a “friend system” that gives your friends a look at content they’ve played and the ability to recommend content to others.  You can also export recent playback history to friendfeed, tumblr & Twitter.

After installing & you restart the the AppleTV, it will have two new menu items and the rest of the system is intact.  Below is a quick highlight of the installation and user interface:

Read more about Boxee at their website

Monday, October 06, 2008

LG-300 Blu-Ray Player with Netflix Watch-Now Preorder

LG BD-300The latest Netflix Watch-Now device is now available for preorder.  This time it’s a Blu-ray player with the Netflix Watch-Now service built-in.  They originally announced that it would sell for under $500 and we all (okay me at least) thought that meant 499.99, but it’s looking like $450 will be the list price which is more than I would pay, but the actual sales prices are in the $350 – 400 range which isn’t too shabby.

My take on this device:  If it’s a quality Blu-Ray player and the price is $350 or lower, it looks like a decent deal.  The main thing it’s missing is WiFi so you will need an Ethernet connection close by to use the Netflix streaming functionality.  If it could also act as an extender to VMC or SageTV for instance, that would make this a very nice box but unfortunately that isn’t the case here.

You can get your Amazon Preorder LG BD-300 (price currently $388.72) or preorder at CircuitCity (price currently $349.99)

Engadget has a nice collection of photos of this device for your viewing pleasure.

via Gizmodo

Sunday, October 05, 2008

TV Premiers: What To Watch 10/05 - 10/11

A few more premieres this week – not as many as the last few, but the CW network and a spattering of other network shows premiere.

(To see more about the past weeks premieres: week one , week two , week three, week four, week five).
Note:  The complete guide to the Fall 2008 TV Premieres with a free, downloadable guide is here 
Eleventh Hour
                  Eleventh Hour

GeekTonic Picks for Shows Premiering This Week:
  • Easy Money– Not sure about this one, but I’m going to check it out to be sure.  Seems the appeal should be stronger given the current mortgage mess going on in the U.S., but I worry about how many over 20 years old (the likely target demographic) actually watch anything on the CW
  • SNL Thursday Night Live – SNL focused on the humor of politics.  I don’t always agree with their politics, but their political sketches are sometimes the only funny things on SNL.  So I’ll be recording this and skimming to the good stuff.
  • CSI – I watch this show occasionally.  It’s pretty good TV even though they’ve diluted the show with spin-offs as if it was a Starbucks franchise.

NOTE: Times are EST
SUNDAY 10/05/2008
America’s Funniest Home Videos (7pm on ABC) Like YouTube, but not. Now in its 19th season
In Harms Way (7pm on CW - Available in HD) Season 1
Valentine (8pm on CW) A new show where greek deities Aphrodite and her son Eros have settled here on Earth and are in the matchmaking business in this romantic comedy drama on the CW channel.
Easy Money (9pm on CW – Available in HD) A new CW drama that puts us in the middle of a loan shark family that centers on the matriarch who heads up the company. Her son is really good at the business, but is having second thoughts about the business.

MONDAY 10/06/2008 – Wednesday 10/08/2008
No new premieres

THURSDAY 10/09/2008
Kath & Kim (8:30pm on NBC) A new show on NBC – this one is an American version of an Australian comedy by the same name.  This comedy takes us through the misadventures of a dysfunctional mother and daughter.
CSI (9pm on CBS – Available in HD) CSI in season 9 continues on strong.
SNL Thursday Night Live (9:30pm on NBC – Available in HD) Season 1 – NBC’s political satire spin-off of SNL.  30 minute episodes revolving around the late-night show’s "Weekend Update” segment.
Eleventh Hour (10pm on CBS – Available in HD) A new CBS show where a government scientist and his counterpart try to save people from deadly scientific experiments.
Life on Mars (10pm on ABC – Available in HD) New show on ABC where a present-day car accident mysteriously sends a detective back to the 1970s.  This is an American remake of the BBC series.
Testees (10:30pm on FX ) A new show on FX called Testees gives us a half-hour comedy about best friends and roommates who make a living as the guinea pigs for "Testico," a testing facility for various drugs and other products.

FRIDAY 10/10/2008
The Starter Wife (10pm on USA) Season 2 of the An ex-wife of a Hollywood studio boss starts her life after her divorce. Based on the novel by Gigi Levangie Grazer.

SATURDAY 10/11/2008
No new premieres
I'll have the post for week 7 on Sunday, October 12th.