Friday, November 14, 2008

SageTV 6.5.1 Beta Released - EVR Support and HDPVR placeshifting Included!

Fridays.  Any Home Theater PC junkie knows that most betas arrive on a Friday night when most of the crowd is out doing something fun.  Well to stick with that Friday theme, SageTV put out their latest beta tonight with some nice improvements and new features for SageTV users including HD-PVR placeshifting and EVR support among other things to get their customers excited. Below is a abreviated, list of the major SageTV New Features/Updates:

SageTV has many updates for the Windows, Linux and Mac versions:
  • Hauppauge HD-PVR transcoding now works in SageTV for file compression and placeshifting
  • PID filtering for the HDHomeRun dual-QAM tuner for all all platforms
  • Support for Enhanced Video Renderer (EVR) for windows version.  If SageTV detects that EVR exists, it automatically displays as an option in SageTV (read more about EVR support here)
  • Added support in Windows version for Kworld DVB-T PCI-160-2T dual tuner support
  •  Fixed transcoding to AppleTV/iPhone formats for Windows version 
  • Added support for Hauppauge HD-PVR S/PDIF input in Linux Version (already available in Windows Version)
  • Hauppauge HD-PVR playback for Mac is now supported (recording is still experimental, and not in the builds yet) NOTE: HDPVR in Windows & Linux already working in past versions of SageTV

Placeshifter, the SageTV solution for connecting to your SageTV htpc from over the LAN at home or across the internet from any location (work, school, travel, etc) and placeshifting all of your media (Live & recorded TV, Movies, Music, Photos etc) all from the same user interface you use on your home SageTV.  Placeshifter hasn't had a major update for a while now so this is a very welcome refresh - especially with the h.264 (Hauppauge HD-PVR) support!
  • Hauppauge HD-PVR placeshifting playback is now supported!!!!
  • Major improvement to bandwidth utilization for placeshifter streaming
  • Updated bandwidth detection code for placeshifter to force transcoding in the situation when you're under 10Mbps & not on the same LAN (standard limit is 2Mbps, but many have connections beyond this now)
  • Optimized initial bandwidth detection in the placeshifter so it does multiple test with more advanced statistics to choose the best initial bandwidth estimate.
  • Major reduction in placeshifter connection setup time
  • Misc bug fixes
There is also an updated firmware for the HD100 extenders with a few bug fixes

Many other feature additions and bug fixes across the entire SageTV family.  This is an early version of 6.5 so I'm sure there is plenty more to come on future Fridays :)

Read the entire, detailed release notes and get your downloads from the SageTV Forums

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Deal of the Day #2 - HP MediaSmart Server $385

HP EX470 Hewlett Packard MediaSmart Server 500GB Windows Home Server

Deal of the Day #2 is from a reader tip (Thanks Jake!). has a HP MediaSmart Server

Jake describes it this way:
"The HP MediaSmart EX470 is on sale at for $399 with free shipping.  You can also find a 5% off (max $15) coupon online that brings the price down to $385.  I bought one to use as my SageTV server.  Good way to save on power bills."
HP EX470 Hewlett Packard MediaSmart Server 500GB Windows Home Server

Get 5% off (up to $15) with this coupon (add it to your cart after adding the Server above) that reduces the price to $385!  Not bad for a low-cost, low-power HTPC server.

More Specs:
  • AMD 1.8 GHZ 64-bit Sempron processor
  • Memory
  • 512MB DDR2 DRAM
  • Network support
  • Connects easily to the home network through a built-in Ethernet port.
  • 10/100/1000 (Gigabit) RJ45 Ethernet -
  • Supports both wired and wireless PCs (via a wireless router)
  • Interfaces
  • 4 USB 2.0 ports (1 front, 3 back)
  • 1 eSATA port (back)
  • Internal hard drives
  • 1 SATA 7200 RPM, 500GB for EX470
  • 2 SATA 7200 RPM, 1 TB (2 x 500GB) for EX475
  • Four hard drive bays for easy expandability
  • Additional off the shelf SATA I or II hard drives can be added to expansion bays. No tools required.
  • Maximum storage capacity
  • Only limited by number of hard drive bays (4) and USB ports (4). Example: Using
  • Using 500GB hard drives, maximum 4 terabytes (total supported capacity of all
  • all internal and external drives connected to HP MediaSmart Server).
  • Power
  • Internal universal power supply
  • Chassis
  • Packaged: 5.5(W) x 9.8(H) x 9.2(D) (approx.)
  • 14 cm (W) x 25 cm (H) x 23 cm (D) (approx.)
  • Unpackaged: 15.75(W) x 9.8(H) x 14.72(D) (approx.)
  • 40 cm (W) x 25 cm (H) x 37.4 cm (D) (approx.)
  • Warranty and Support
  • Service and Warranty
  • One-year limited hardware warranty and software technical support for one year
  • year from date of purchase.
  • HP offers 24/7 toll free consumer support.
  • Package contents
  • HP MediaSmart Server
  • Power cord
  • Ethernet cable
  • Software installation disc
  • PC restore disc
  • Server recovery disc
  • Quick start and HP support guides

Winners Announced for the USB-UIRT GeekTonic Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the four, free USB-UIRT   IR blaster/receivers from the USB-UIRT review last week:

The winners were randomly chosen (with the help of and each have responded back to me.  I'll have these shipped out hopefully tomorrow morning and will confirm with each of these guys via e-mail.

The winners are:
  • Rudy
  • Mike (the one that used the hotmail acct)
  • MethodicJon
  • Paul
Thanks to to the guys at USB-UIRT for the free USBUIRTs and thanks to everyone who participated - more giveaways coming soon. Some will be small and others will be pretty nice surprises ;) so stay tuned to GeekTonic.

The contest entries posts in the comments of the review were pretty interesting.  Most everyone sees the USB-UIRT as a way to control their SageTV or BeyondTV HTPCs but there were plenty others using other HTPC programs and even a few non-HTPC applications.

And don't forget, you can still purchase a USB-UIRT at their store if you want them.  They are worth every penny in my opinion.

Deal of the Day - Hauppauge HVR-2250 Dual digital/analog Tuner $120

Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250 Media Center Kit Dual TV Tuner 1213 (affiliate) has theHauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250 TV Tuner for $120 (features: Dual tuner TV card from Hauppauge lets you watch and record two different TV channels, and it doesn't matter if they're digital or analog. Supports FM Radio, ATSC, NTSC, ClearQAM.  Comes with a remote control and two IR blasters to control set top boxes.

Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250 Dual TV Tuner 1213 $120 (after $20 coupon and $10 instant discounts) with Free Shipping  -- Use Coupon Code EMCBBBBBF --

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Want To Test Media Center in Windows 7? Survey Puts You In the Running

Microsoft is polling members of the Green Button community to find potential beta testers for Windows 7 Media Center.  You can learn something from a poll like this so I thought I'd share the questions with you.  As you read through them there is a particular interest in Satellite TV it seems which for me further confirms the DirecTV support coming in Windows 7.

Firs though, here are the instructions for completing the survey and putting your name in the hat to be a beta tester take from this GreenButton Forum Thread:
If you are chosen as a Media Center beta tester, we will follow-up with an email when a beta will be available.   
Please take a moment to complete the following instructions to access this survey. 
1.       Go to
2.       Please enter the following invitation code on the Connect main page, where it says “Were you invited to join Connect?”: 
3.       Complete Survey. 
You are only allowed to complete this survey once.   
Please chose just one (1) dedicated PC for testing when responding to this survey. 

If you experience any issues accessing this survey, please contact
- Pete Brown,  Green Button Moderator

And for those who are curious, but don't want to fill out the survey, here it is in all its glory:
Nothing too exciting, but it is interesting that Microsoft is asking a lot of questions about Satellite TV users on page 3 and 4 below:

Page 2:

Page 3:

Page 4:
Page 5

Red Hot Deal of the Day - Hauppauge HD-PVR for $183.99 Free Shipping

Hauppauge Computer HD PVR High Definition Personal Video Recorder (1212)

I got a tip this morning on a the best price I've seen thus far for the Hauppauge HD-PVR!

If you want to time-shift or record your HD content to your HTPC without DRM  Or you are in the market for one of those awesome Hauppauge HD-PVR 1212 devices (read my first impressions on the device here) that let you record any content (HD, SD, digital etc) from your cable box, satellite box or any other device with a component cable output - Dell(affiliate) has the best deal I've seen on these so far with the HD-PVR for $183.99 including shipping!

Hauppauge Computer HD PVR High Definition Personal Video Recorder (1212)
$183.99 with Free Shipping!  

This is an awesome deal.  If you've been waiting for an Hauppauge HD-PVR, this is the time to buy!

Automatically Cut Commercials with BeyondTV VideoReDo Plugin

One of the nice features of BeyondTV is that they have packaged commercial skipping (they call it smartskip) into their PVR software.  Because of this the vast majority of BeyondTV users never install a third-party commercial skipping software with BeyondTV.  Still, there are those who want a little more than the built-in features.  This month BeyondTV forum member “razormoon” released a plugin called “BTV RedoSkip” that integrates the excellent VideoReDo program with BeyondTV
BTV RedoSkip includes the following features:
  • Automatically Detect commercials using VideoReDo behind the scenes
  • Automatically removes those commercials and outputs commercial-free videos
I haven’t tried this myself, but sounds like a really nice plugin.  Commercial free TV – with literally no commercials taking up the hard drive space.  You really have to trust the commercial detection to do this, but if its working accurately this definitely is a nice add-on!
Check out the Snapstream Forums for more information about BTV RedoSkip and the download

Coverflow View for SageTV - iMovies Add-On

SageTV users have a new way to display their movies today.  A plugin made by SageTV forum member “jvl711” called iMovies brings a redesigned Movie/Video interface that looks and works much like the Apple Coverflow interface.  It’s an early beta version so definitely not in it’s finished form, but worth trying out.
The SageMC user interface is required for this plugin to work.

This first screen-shot is the basic user interface for iMovies.  It works much like the coverflow interface although the animation is not yet as good.

This next screen-shot shows the alpha search bar at the bottom.  This provides a way to quickly browse through a larger collection and jump-to a title that begins with a certain letter.
There is also a way to drill-down by genre, group etc.

Read more about iMovies at SageTV forums

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

DirecTV Tuners with Windows 7?

After years of stringing Media Center users along from XP Media Center to Vista Media Center to the much-less-then-expected Fiji we've been told that Microsoft's Media Center would be getting a Cable-Card-like DirecTV tuner.

Fast forward to now where Ed Bott discovers a DirecTV HDCP-20 USB Tuner driver.  This doesn't necessarily mean there is a HDCP20 device even created at the moment but the discovery of the driver and the earlier announcement of h.264 support in Windows 7 certainly does improve the odds that we'll see such a device sometime after Windows 7 is released late 2009 or 2010.

There is no doubt that if this is true and this device arrives and delivers as is hoped, it will make an immediate impact on the HTPC world.  Still, if you're more about getting Satellite or Cable digital/HD channels on your HTPC here and now - check out the Hauppauge HD-PVR along with SageTV, BeyondTV or GBPVR.

via Ed Bott's Microsoft Report

Monday, November 10, 2008

EVR Support for SageTV Coming Soon

Word is out that SageTV will begin a new beta version that includes EVR support soon.  What is this EVR they speak of?  The short of it is this:  EVR, short for Ehanced Video Renderer is the next video renderer iteration after VMR7 and VRM9.  Better support for playback timing and synchronation and more importantly it means hardware accelleration with h.264 content!

For those using the Hauppauge HD-PVR with a PC (and not an exender which handles playback perfectly anyway) this should offload the CPU and help with visual quality.  Even if your like me and your dual-core computer handles the h.264 files well, this is still a good thing as it will allow your CPU's to worry about things other than rendering.

Note: EVR support comes built-in for Vista but to get it in XP you'll need to install .NET 3.5

via Andy VT's Blog

Sunday, November 09, 2008

TV Premieres: What To Watch 11/09 – 11/15

We are well beyond the Fall TV season premieres of 2008, but there are a few mid-season replacements that arrive this week.

           The Crew of Top Chef Season 5

NOTE: Times are EST

SUNDAY 11/09/2008
Summer Heights High (10:30pm on HBO)  New Mockumentary series (import from Australia) arrives on HBO
Ruby (8pm on Style) A new reality series that follows 500-pound Ruby Gettinger’s attempt to lose weight and inspire others.

TUESDAY 11/11/2008
Cha$e (10pm on SciFi) A new reality show for SciFi that pits runners against each other on life sized "game boards" in the quest for cash.  The runners  must avoid being caught by the hunters who stalk them during the games.  Sounds a bit weird, but any reality tv show on SciFi is probably going to be strange.
Extreme Trains (10pm on History) The inner workings and past lives of the amazing locomotives that haul huge loads across the nation and deliver passengers to their destinations. The series talks about these trains roles in American history as well as their role in American life today.
WEDNESDAY 11/12/2008
Estate of Panic (10pm on SciFi) Another reality TV show for SciFi - this one where the contestants get scared.
Top Chef (10pm on Bravo) Bravo's popular reality TV show returns for a 5th season.

What’s coming up in the TV world for the remainder of the year?
  • 24 “Redemption Movie” 11/23 on Fox
  • Secret Millionaire 12/3 on Fox
  • Momma’s Boys Reality Series 12/16
I'm working on the Winter 2009 TV Season - lots of highly anticipated TV shows coming up including Lost and 24!