Saturday, December 20, 2008

Building The HTPC – A Quick Video

Stuart at the Media Center Blog found a nice, stop-motion video of a random guy building his Home Theater PC.  Having done several HTPC builds I found it interesting in a voyeuristic kind of way.  So if your interested in that sort of thing, check out the video below.

 

If you made it this far, you’re probably interested in the the build parts:

  • Antec VERIS FUSION v.2 Media Center Case BLACK 430W mATX
  • Abit NF-M2S nForce 405 + GeForce 6100
  • 2DDR2-DIMM
  • 2PCI 2PCIe
  • SATA Raid Audio
  • VGA GB-LAN Socket AM2 mATX
  • Kingston 2x1024MB (tot. 2048MB) DDR2 PC5400/667MHz CL5
  • Samsung HD501LJ 500GB 7200rpm 16MB SATA2
  • Sapphire Radeon HD2400Pro 256MB DDR2 TV-out HDTV HDMI DVI RETAIL PCI Express
  • Athlon64 X2 Dual-Core 4400+ 2.3GHz 2x512KB 65W Boxed Socket AM2

via Media Center Blog

Friday, December 19, 2008

RIAA Will Cease Lawsuits Against Individuals Who File Share

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) made an agreement with NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo that the RIAA's members will discontinue their strategy of seeking widespread litigation against large numbers of individuals suspected in trafficking in unauthorized recordings going forward and instead adopt a strategy of coordinating with Internet service providers to notify individual customers of suspected violations via e-mail.

What does this mean?

  • Existing, pending lawsuits against individuals will remain
  • The RIAA retains the right to sue individuals even though they are not planning to do anything about it for the time being
  • Colleges and Universities shouldn’t get those pre-litigation letters from RIAA members any more
  • No new lawsuits will be filed against anonymous individuals (the ones that go to ISPs to determine the identity of those anonymous individuals – again the RIAA still retains the right to do this again.

via The Wall Street Journal & BetaNews.com

Thursday, December 18, 2008

SageTV and SageTV HD200 Extender Beta Updates

SageTV has released a new beta for their HTPC software and a new beta firmware for the SageTV HD200 Extender/Player.  The SageTV software update is full of bug fixes and improvements and probably the last beta before being released from beta.  The HD200 firmware update has some significant updates including faster startup time, support for the MCE remote control and DTS passthrough support in ts/m2ts among many other improvements.

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 abbreviated, list of the major SageTV New Features/Updates:

SageTV Core Updates:

  • Various SageTV Placeshifter improvements and bug fixes
  • Added DTS Mpeg Demux support for Windows
  • Fix broken code for Kworld USB dual tuner
  • Improved H.264 TS playback for Mac version
  • Mac HD-PVR capture support (beta)
  • Improved HD-PVR capture support for Linux

 

SageTV HD200 Extender/Player Updates

(check out the GeekTonic Unboxing and first impressions of the HD200 here)

(NOTE-To upgrade firmware on HD200:  While in standalone mode, use the remote's number pad to enter the code 2382 ('beta') on the HD200's Settings -> System Update menu in order to tell it to look for the beta version. For help about how to update the firmware, see the HD200's manual (found in the box the unit came in).
OVERALL UPDATES:

  • When changing the default aspect ratio for the HD100/HD200 the setting will now take effect when the next file is loaded instead of requiring a restart
    Placeshifter updates
  • Improved playback of H.264 transport stream files
  • Faster startup time:  Press Home while in Standby to power up in the last mode used when the HD200 was put into standby. (i.e.: more quickly connect to the last SageTV server the HD200 was connected to, if it was connected to one.)
  • HDMI compatibility updates
  • PAL support added -- Advanced Setup -> Multimedia -> TV Standard; choose NTSC or PAL
  • Experimental RC6 IR remote support – Now supports the MCE Remote!
  • USB devices use the same path if disconnected and reconnected.
  • Fixed issue where Power button turned unit back off during startup.
  • Temporary fix for AC3 over spdif
  • Fix bug with some ALAC files
  • Improved HDMI detection for DTD modes
  • DTS passthrough support in ts/m2ts.

 

STANDALONE USER INTERFACE UPDATES:

  • Search menu: added item for "All Results" at top of each column for Video searches. (Other search types already had that option.)
  • Integrated HD720 YouTube video support from default STV.
  • Updated auto-connect cancel dialog to allow using Stop to cancel the auto-connect or Play to force the connection to proceed w/o waiting for the 5 second timeout.
  • Added Now Playing panel to bottom of file browser menu.
  • Fixed use of Play, Pause, and Play/Pause on the file browser.
  • Updated Play listeners to play video/music regardless of whether the item is the same as the currently playing item.
  • Removed restriction for Workgroup selection where it was rejected if it had any non alpha-numeric characters.
  • File Browser: can use the Info command on USB devices to access options such as copying the files on the device or adding the USB's root path as an import directory. 
  • Updated Audio & Video connector pictures with photos of the actual connections.

To read through the full change list check out the SageTV Beta Forum Thread and the SageTV Extender Beta Forum Thread

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Mvix PVR - Possible Competition for the Hauppauge HD-PVR?

 

mvix2
Mvix, known more for media players and other similar devices is sneaking out a very interesting device they’ve named the MvixPVR.  It’s a linux powered device that seems to be focused as a PVR device that has component recording which if true could be quite exciting.
The stated features of the MvixPVR include:

  • 720p/1080i/1080p video output
  • iPod Dock
  • Records in Mpeg2 (HQ, SP, LP, EP, SLP) from any source, from set-top box, satellite receiver or your camcorder
  • Analog RCA 5.1 Digital Surround Sound
  • SPDIF audio output
  • HDMI, S-Video and Composite connectivity
  • 10/100 Mbps wired network (RJ45)
  • 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi connectivity (WEP, WPA
  • USB 2.0 host/slave functionality
  • NAS/UPnP media server/BitTorrent downloader
  • Support for up to 1TB SATA hard drive (not included)
  • Video Formats Divx, Xvid, MPEG 1/2/4  Video Containers: AVI, MPG, TP, TS, TRP – TP, VOB, ISO, IFO
  • Subtitles: SMI, SRT, SUB, SSA
  • RTD Realtek 1282 chipset

 

mvix3


All of this makes the device seem like a cross between an “AppleTV”-type device and a HTPC.  Most interesting though is that it has component inputs that supposedly will be able to record to mpeg-2.  This would put it in lonely company with only the Hauppage HD-PVR having that type of ability to record from the component outputs of devices such as a cable or satellite box.  If it actually does have this functionality it will be interesting to see how they pack that analog signal into a mpeg-2 file on-the-fly for liveTV.  The Hauppauge HD-PVR does this, but component recording is its only purpose and it does so to H.264 to keep the picture quality high with a smaller file size.
Beyond the component capture, I’m also curious about what PVR or HTPC software they’ll have on the box.  They state the box is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux PCs which has me scratching my head.  If they mean it can access files from those OS’s thats one thing, but if it somehow works with another HTPC software program I’d have to guess it was either SageTV or XBMC as they are the only PVR/HTPC software programs that I know of that can work on each of those platforms – and I think only SageTV does that and handles PVR functions.
This product is expected to be displayed at the January 2009 CES show.  Of course, price and availability are unknown at the moment.
mvix1
More details at the Mvix Website (translated)
via eHomeUpgrade

UPDATE:  I Just got confirmation that this is SD-only (as many comments have pointed out) and the there is no component out.  Sorry about the misinformation - was told incorrectly and then misread the specs...  And so, this device is much less interesting after realizing that.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Boxee Update with Bug Fixes

The Boxee team has released a bug squashing version as they ready a newer version they plan to release at CES next month.

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.

Bug fixes in this release include:

  • Netflix Streaming Improvement
  • Netflix skip forward, skip backward and pause
  • Hulu R-rated content (didn’t work properly in previous versions of Boxee)
  • Menu button fix for Apple TV version
  • TV Show scanning fixed
  • Fixed missing thumbnails on friends activity and recommendations
  • Video Calibration settings now being saved (Apple TV issue)
  • Trailer option should now be showing for most of movie library now

Read more about this release of Boxee at the Boxee Blog

Monday, December 15, 2008

TV.com Transforming into Online Video Destination

tv 

CBS Interactive is transforming its TV.com property (purchased from CNET) into a video portal that combines content from multiple sources including Hulu.  TV.com will be joining sites such as Hulu, Joost, Sling.com, and in part YouTube to catalog and link to content from various video content distributors.  TV.com has already begun bringing video content from CBS (of course) and Hulu while they continued to be an excellent source of television information on the web.

This transformation will reportedly take place in January 2009.  TV.com has been one of my go-to places to find episode information for popular television shows and “water-cooler” discussion of those shows.  Paidcontent.com reports that TV.com is drawing over 16 million unique monthly visitors with info on approximately 19,000 shows.  Mixing in actual television video content is a no-brainer in my opinion.  Mixing in the social discussion of televsions that already exists at TV.com with actual TV content could push TV.com up to or even above Hulu.com’s popularity if the execution is done right.  Let’s hope CBS gets this right as their online video content thus far has left a lot to be desired.

via PaidContent.org

TV On The Web – Webisodes Begin for Battlestar Galactica and Heroes

SciFi.com and NBC.com are both bringing us a little web content to hold us over during the Holiday TV break with some webisodes of “BattleStar Galactica” and “Heroes.”
Battlestar Galactica: Face of the Enemy
 bg2
Are you going through withdrawal missing those “Battlestar Galactica” episodes?  Sitting on the edge of your chair for the final season that starts January 16th?  Well SciFi.com has something just for you:  Face of the Enemy, a series of 10 webisodes running twice a week from now through January 16, 2009.  I’ve taken a peek at the first two webisodes and can tell you Battlestar Galactica fans that this webisode series is worth a watch.  These first two episodes focus on Felix Gaeta trapped in a raptor with two pilots, a contruction guy and you guessed it – two Boomers.  Gaeta and Number 8 try to figure out who or what is killing the passengers inside their transport.  There’s a surprise about Gaeta that I won’t spoil for you as well.  These webisodes are quite short, but for fans of the show definitely worth watching.  Note that there is also an “enhanced” version you can watch with commentary like you can get with DVD extra features – nice touch.

Heroes: The Recruit
 HeroesTheRecruit
NBC.com is also launching a “Heroes” webisode series today.  This one called “The Recruit” starring Taylor Cole as a Marine who along with 50 others was recruited by Arthur Petrelli’s “Pineheart Pinhearst” organization to test his newly created powers serum.  Here’s a preview of the new Heroes: The Recruit Webisodes:

Samsung MediaLive Vista Media Center Extender Gets Reviewed

samsung extender 

Vista Media Center has been in search of that perfect extender that provides support for all the best video formats, 1080p, surround sound and small, silent operation.  Ben Drawbaugh of EngadgetHD reviewed the latest of the Vista Media Extenders, the Samsung MediaLive Media Adapter and reports back with his findings.

This extender is a unique one as it is designed to work only with selected Samsung TVs which honestly seems like a strange limitation.  But it is pretty small and can be mounted behind your TV since it can be controlled via HDMI.

Findings from the review are positive in many aspects, but several big limitations including no 1080P, limited remote control support and no surround sound.  Read the full review of the Samsung MediaLive Extender at EngadgetHD.