Thursday, May 21, 2009

Deal of the Day - Samsung 1TB Hard Drive $68

Internal Hard Drive

Wow!  This has to be the lowest price I've seen yet on a 1 TB Hard Drive. (affiliate) has a special going on the Samsung 1TB drive for $67.49 with coupon!!!


Samsung Spinpoint F1 HD102UJ 1TB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Internal Hard Drive $67.49 ($10 instant rebate and $7.50 off coupon code: EMCLSNM47 )

D-Link Sticking with MediaCenter Extenders

D-Link DSM 750 MediaCenter Extender

Quick note related to all of the Microsoft MediaCenter banter going on lately.  As Linksys and HP have dropped out of the MediaCenter extender market, D-Link has confirmed that they plan to continue selling their D-Link DSM-750 media center extender solution.  I confirmed this with a representative of D-Link yesterday:

"D-Link has no current plans to drop support for the MS MediaCenter platform, and will continue selling the DSM-750 as a media extender solution to the home network environment."

Even though they didn't exactly say much about any future plans, it's good to know there is at least one 3rd party company sticking with MediaCenter extenders for now - even if it is a "bit" on the pricey side at around $270


Do any of you own one of these DSM-750's?  If so, how do you like it?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Official Support for Netflix for MediaCenter Arrives

Vista Media Center users are about to get a nice suprise.  Native support for Netflix inside of the MediaCenter user interface was announced late last night on the GreenButton Forums.

The Good:  Microsoft and Netflix have agreed to bring Netflix inside the MediaCenter UI (for US, Netflix members only) without requiring any 3rd party add-ons or workarounds.

The Bad: It won’t work on the extenders including XBox360.  This isn’t surprising, but very disappointing.  The Netflix add-on was built using Silverlight which is one of the reasons we won’t be seeing this add-on for the extenders.  Another bad for the early adopters:  It doesn't work in Windows7... yet.


  • Browse and search the Netflix library – filter searches by titles available for watch-instantly
  • Manage your instant and DVD queues including adding movies/tv shows to your queue.

Here’s Microsoft’s Promo Video on the MediaCenter/Netflix Service:


Why Not Extenders?

They didn’t add this to the extenders which is very disappointing.  Another example of how they almost seem like they want the extender model to fail.  Yes you can get Netflix on the XBox360, but not within the MediaCenter UI and even then you have to pay for the extra XBox360 Gold Live service add-on.

A Great Addition

Despite another slight to extenders, the Netflix native support in MediaCenter is a great addition and one that just makes sense for both Microsoft and Netflix.

Read more about Netflix in MediaCenter at GreenButton

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Microsoft Media Extenders - What Microsoft Should Do

There has been a lot of talk recently about HTPC extenders that work with Microsoft's MediaCenter software.  Now with Linksys getting out of the MC extender business and HP no longer making their MediaCenter extenders and TVs, many Media Center users are left to wonder who (or what) will pick up the slack?  Where will Media Center users get reasonably priced, powerful HTPC extenders that work with their Vista MC and Windows 7 MC?

If you aren't sure what I mean by extender, here's a quick definition from Microsoft's perspective: A Windows Media Center Extender is a hardware device that, when connected to a TV, gives you the ability to enjoy the Windows Media Center experience and media on that TV, even though your Windows Vista-based PC is in another room.

Is the Xbox360 the Answer?

The typical answer that question is the XBox360 fits that need and provides Microsoft with the income they need.  While I hear the XBox 360 is a good extender that would work in a family or game room and hey it plays games too right?  But noise for me would be a problem and honestly, if I want an extra feature on my HTPC extender for my living room or bedroom it would be a Blu-Ray player - not a game machine.

Xbox 360

Or is the answer "Softsled?"

The next most frequent answer I hear is this:  "Now Microsoft should finally give us softsled."  Softsled is Microsoft's name for software-based extenders - being able to use any computer, put in "softsled" software and it works as an extender to your HTPC.  No needing to copy recorded TV shows from your server to the other PC like you do now.  This is a feature offered by Snapstream and SageTV for years.  I agree opening up to softsled is a good idea and something Microsoft should have done a long time ago, but I doubt it will happen.  I also don't believe it is the complete answer and here's why.

Softsled doesn't give you that inexpensive, silent and nearly trouble-free extender like a CE device can.  It will work for many hard-core enthusiasts, but I'm a firm believer in making the HTPC setup as easy to set up and maintain and the best way to do that in my opinion is with a hardware-based extender.  I know many will disagree with me on this of course, but I really do believe this and my three SageTV HD200's are proof in that.

So beyond the XBox360, MediaCenter users aren't left with many options. 

Microsoft seems to be having difficulty getting hardware vendors to create the perfect HTPC extender when they have to compete with Microsoft's very own XBox360 - doesn't seem fair when you think about it.  So what's Microsoft to do about it?

My Suggestion to Microsoft

If I were on the Ehome management team here's what I would do:  I would follow the model of the XBox 360 and the SageTV HD Extenders and handle the extenders as an "inside" device.  No more Linksys or D-Link extenders - they would be Microsoft Xtender 100 and Microsoft Xtender 200 for instance.  Of course the hardware itself would be made in China by a company that makes most of them anyway using the latest Sigma chipsets.  Then Microsoft would brand the thing with their name and the MediaCenter logo.  Microsoft's MediaCenter team would handle the firmware updates too.

The advantages of this are obvious.  Microsoft gains more control over it's MediaCenter product including the support and pricing of the hardware.  They also would be able to sell them at a lower cost by eliminating the additional company.  I would think this would also give Microsoft the ability to better integrate their other products such as Zune into the new products.  I don't see a lot of downside to this - especially given the lack of extender hardware options out there.

My glass half full self hopes that maybe Microsoft is already moving this direction.  If so, that could be one explanation for the recent moves by Linksys and HP.  I kind of hope Microsoft is secretly preparing to release their new-spangled Microsoft Xtenders and to make enthusiasts even happier softsled as well.  Take those two things and add in the availability of satellite tuners and you have yourself a very positive MediaCenter future.  That's what I'm hoping but I'm not holding my breath for the moment.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Microsoft MediaCenter Extenders Dropping Like Flies - Now HP Announces

HP MediaSmart Receiver

Just last week we heard that Linksys was ending all MediaCenter Extenders for the Microsoft MediaCenter platform.  Today, Gizmodo is reporting that HP is ending the MediaSmart TV and ConnectHD Media lines.

From the Gizmodo article:

"there will not be any follow on MediaSmart TV or MediaSmart Connect products in 2009"

HP uses the words "with the PC at the center of the experience" which means to me that any MediaCenter focus from HP is on the PC-side of things and CE extenders are out from their perspective. 

HP was bringing the TV with MediaCenter built-in, but so much for that.  I don't think HP was all that successful with their extenders, but it seems to leave two viable extenders for MediaCenter at the moment:

  1. XBOX 360
  2. D-Link DSM 750

So for you MediaCenter users, what will you purchase next time you need one?  Do you think there will be other extenders coming out with Windows 7?


via Gizmodo


Did I mention I really think extenders are the right way to go for a multi-room HTPC setup?

TV Pulse - What Shows are Renewed, Canceled or on the Bubble?

As we move into the summer TV season, it seems like a good time to "check the pulse" of the 2008/2009 TV shows.  Which ones have been renewed, which ones are in good shape and which ones are likely to be canceled?

Below is a list of TV shows - mostly scripted although there are a few reality TV shows listed also.  Those marked canceled and renewed are confirmed based on multiple sources.  The ones "leaning towards" are based on my own opinion taking into account the ratings and "buzz" surrounding the various shows:

NOTE: Updated as of 8:00am Eastern 5/25 with new confirmations

TV Show

Status as of 5/25

24 Renewed
90210 Renewed
30 Rock Renewed
According to Jim 5/19 Canceled
Amazing Race, The Renewed
American Dad Renewed
American Idol Renewed
America's Funniest Home Videos Renewed
America's Next Top Model Renewed
Bachelor, The Renewed
Better off Ted Renewed
Big Bang Theory, The Renewed
Big Love 5/21  Renewed
Biggest Loser, The Renewed
Bones Renewed
Boston Legal Canceled
Brothers & Sisters Renewed
Castle Renewed
Celebrity Apprentice Renewed
Chuck 5/18 Renewed
Cold Case 5/18 Renewed
Criminal Minds 5/21 Renewed
Crusoe Canceled
CSI 5/20 Renewed
CSI: Miami 5/21 Renewed
CSI: NY 5/21 Renewed
Cupid 5/19 Canceled
Dancing With the Stars Renewed
Desperate Housewives Renewed
Dexter 5/21 Renewed
Dirty Sexy Money Canceled
Do Not Disturb Canceled
Dollhouse Renewed
Easy Money 5/22 Canceled
Eleventh Hour 5/19 Canceled
Eli Stone Canceled
Entourage 5/21 Renewed
ER Canceled
Everybody Hates Chris 5/20 Canceled
Ex List, The Canceled
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Renewed
Family Guy Renewed
Fringe Renewed
Flashpoint 5/20 Renewed-New Episodes this summer or next
Friday Night Lights Renewed-won't air on NBC till summer 2010
Game, The 5/20 Canceled
Gary Unmarried 5/19 Renewed
Ghost Whisperer Renewed
Gossip Girl Renewed
Greek Renewed
Grey's Anatomy Renewed
Harper's Island 5/21 Canceled
Heroes Renewed-19 consecutive episodes
House 5/18 Renewed
How I Met Your Mother 5/19 Renewed
In The Motherhood 5/19 Canceled
In Treatment 5/21 Renewed
Kath and Kim Canceled
Kings Canceled
King of the Hill Canceled
Kitchen Nightmares Renewed
Knight Rider Canceled
Kyle XY Canceled
Last Call with Carson Daly Renewed
Law & Order 5/19 Renewed
Law & Order: CI Leaning Renewal
Law & Order: SVU Renewed
Lie To Me Renewed
Life Canceled
Life on Mars Canceled
Lincoln Heights Renewed
Lipstick Jungle Canceled
Lost Renewed
Mad Men 5/21 Renewed
Medium 5/20 Renewed-picked up by CBS
Mentalist, The 5/20 Renewed
My Name is Earl 5/19 Canceled-But may be picked up by other network
My Own Worst Enemy Canceled
NCIS 5/20 Renewed
New Adventures of Old Christine, The 5/19 Renewed
Numb3rs 5/19 Renewed
Office, The Renewed
One Tree Hill Renewed
Opportunity Knocks Canceled
Parks and Recreation Renewed
Prison Break Canceled
Private Practice Renewed
Privileged 5/19 Canceled
Pushing Daisies Canceled
Reaper 5/20 Canceled
Rescue Me 5/21 Renewed
Riches, The Canceled
Rules of Engagement 5/21 Renewed
Samantha Who? 5/18 Canceled
Scrubs Renewed
Secret Life of the American Teenager Renewed
Simpsons, the Renewed
Sit Down, Shut Up 5/21 Canceled
Smallville Renewed
SNL Weekend Update Thursday Renewed
Sons of Anarchy 5/21 Renewed
Southland Renewed
Starter Wife, The Canceled
Supernanny Renewed
Supernatural Renewed
Surviving Suburbia 5/21 Canceled
Survivor Renewed
Talk Show with Spike Ferestein Canceled
Terminator, Sarah Conner Chronicles 5/18 Canceled
Til Death Renewed
Top Model Renewed
True Beauty 5/21 Renewed
True Blood 5/21 Renewed
Tudors, The 5/21 Renewed
Two and a Half Men Renewed
Ugly Betty Renewed
Unit, The 5/19 Canceled
Unusuals, the 5/18 Canceled
Valentine 5/21 Canceled
Wife Swap Renewed
Without a Trace 5/19 Canceled
Worst Week 5/21 Canceled




Note: Check out the Ultimate Guide to the 2009 Summer TV Season

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Show Analyzer Beta Brings Commercial Skipping to Windows 7

TV Commercial Skip Windows 7

One of the most important tools a Home Theater PC brings to the home is commercial skipping.  Not just the 30-second skip, but a true, detection of commercials with the ability to skip those commercials with a press of the button or even automatically if you choose.  Not surprisingly, Windows 7 is barely "born" yet, and until last week didn't have a way to skip commercials automatically... until now.

Those of you using the Windows 7 beta for your MediaCenter goodness are in luck.  Thanks to Show Analyzer and DVRMSToolbox, commercials recorded by Windows 7 Media Center can be automatically detected and skipped.  It's a very early release and likely to have some bugs but well worth giving a shot if you're a Windows 7 Media Center user.  The Show Analyzer software detects the commercials and the DVRMSToolBox makes it all work for you behind the scenes so you can use Media Center and not worry about those commercials.

What You Need To Know for Windows 7 Commercial Skipping:

If you use SageTV or BeyondTV or one of the many other HTPC software programs and want to know how to get commercial skipping working with your Home Theater PC setup check out this article.


via theDigitalMediaZone

Ultimate Guide - The Summer 2009 TV Season

Remember when summer meant nothing more than reruns and everyone ignored the TV set except to watch the occasional baseball game or tornado weather report (okay that tornado thing is probably just me here in KC)?  Partially because of DVRs and partially because we just watch more TV summer has become a third TV season. 

This Wednesday night's over-hyped "American Idol" finale really marks the end of the winter/spring 2009 TV season.  And for many of us (me included) the time to catch up on many of those shows we recorded and haven't watched is here.  But these days there are plenty of premiering TV shows for the summer - some decent and many not worth watching. 

Burn Notice Season 3

As I've done in past years, I have all of the returning and new summer 2009 TV shows listed out for you along with a printable Guide to all of the shows:

Free Printable PDF Guides for the Summer 2009 TV Season:

NOTE: New Series and Specials are in Bold

Premiere Date


Time  (Eastern pm)


Season Premiere


5/17/2009 Sun 10 COMEDY SP Comedy Central: Dane Cook
5/18/2009 Mon 9 ABC 5 Bachelorette
5/19/2009 Tue 9 Fox 1 Glee
5/21/2009 Thu 8 Fox 5 So You Think You Can Dance
5/22/2009 Fri 8 FOX * Don't Forget the Lyrics!
5/25/2009 Mon 9 TLC 1 Jon & Kate Plus 8
5/25/2009 Mon 9 A&E 7 Intervention
5/25/2009 Mon 10 ABC 2 Here Come the Newlyweds
5/25/2009 Mon 9:13 TLC 1 Cake Boss
5/26/2009 Tue 9 BBCA ? The Appretice (UK)
5/26/2009 Tue 9 CW 1 Hitched or Ditched
5/26/2009 Tue 9 FOX 1 Mental
5/26/2009 Tue 10 TLC 1 The Little Couple
5/27/2009 Wed 8 ABC 2 Wipeout
5/27/2009 Wed 9 ABC 1 Goode Family
5/29/2009 Fri 10 TLC ? What Not to Wear
5/30/2009 Sat 10 LIFE SP Maneater
5/30/2009 Sat 10 ABC * Pushing Daisies
6/1/2009 Mon 8 NBC 1 I'm a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!
6/2/2009 Tue 9 ABC SP ABC News Special: Earth 2100
6/2/2009 Tue 9:30 SUNDANC 1 Is Your House Killing You?
6/2/2009 Tue 10 NBC 1 Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien
6/2/2009 Tue 10 DISC SP Man vs. Wild: Will Ferrell Special
6/3/2009 Wed 11 HGTV 1 Man Land
6/4/2009 Thu 8 ABC SP ABC Sports Special: Jimmy Kimmel Live
6/4/2009 Thu 8:30 ABC SP ABC Sports Special: NBA Countdown
6/4/2009 Thu 9 ABC SP ABC Sports Special: NBA Finals, Game 1
6/4/2009 Thu 9 USA 3 Burn Notice
6/4/2009 Thu 10 NBC 1 Listener, The
6/4/2009 Thu 10 USA 1 Royal Pains
6/4/2009 Thu 10 COMEDY 1 Tosh.0
6/5/2009 Fri 8 NBC SP NBC Sports Special: Stanley Cup Finals
6/5/2009 Fri 9 TRAVEL 2 Ghost Adventures
6/5/2009 Fri 10 ANIMAL 2 Whale Wars
6/7/2009 Sun 8 CBS SP Tony Awards, 63rd
6/7/2009 Sun 8 DISC SP Discovery Special: The Sun
6/7/2009 Sun 9 A&E 4 Gene Simmons Family Jewels
6/7/2009 Sun 9 FOOD 5 Next Food Network Star
6/7/2009 Sun 9 WE 6 Bridezillas
6/7/2009 Sun 9 DISC SP Discovery Special: Inside Planet Earth
6/7/2009 Sun 10 LIFE 3 Army Wives
6/7/2009 Sun 10 VH1 2 Brooke Knows Best
6/7/2009 Sun 10 E! 1 Kendra
6/7/2009 Sun 10:30 E! 2 Denise Richards: It's Complicated
6/8/2009 Mon 8 NBC * Law & Order: Criminal Intent
6/8/2009 Mon 9 TNT 5 Closer
6/8/2009 Mon 10 TNT 2 Raising the Bar
6/8/2009 Mon 10 BRAVO 5 Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List
6/8/2009 Mon 10 SHOW 5 Weeds
6/8/2009 Mon 10:30 SHOW 1 Nurse Jackie
6/10/2009 Wed 10 BRAVO 1 Top Chef Masters
6/13/2009 Sat 8 NBC * Kings
6/14/2009 Sun 9 HBO 2 True Blood
6/15/2009 Mon 9 A&E 2 Cleaner, The
6/16/2009 Tue ? ABC * Cupid
6/16/2009 Tue 8 CMT SP 2009 CMT Music Awards
6/16/2009 Tue 8 TNT 1 Wedding Day
6/16/2009 Tue 9 A&E ? First 48, The
6/16/2009 Tue 9 TNT 1 Hawthorn
6/16/2009 Tue 10 CMT 2 Singing Bee
6/16/2009 Tue 10 TNT 3 Saving Grace
6/16/2009 Tue 11 Bravo 1 NYC Prep
6/17/2009 Wed 9 BBCA 1 Gordan Ramsay's F Word
6/19/2009 Fri 8 NBC * Chopping Block, The
6/20/2009 Sat 10 ABC * Eli Stone
6/21/2009 Sun 8 NBC 1 Merlin
6/21/2009 Sun 8 ABC SP Impact
6/22/2009 Mon 8 ABC FAM 2 Secret Life of the American Teenager
6/22/2009 Mon 9 ABC FAM 1 Make It or Break It
6/23/2009 Tue 8 ABC 1 Superstars
6/23/2009 Tue 9 NBC 4 America's Got Talent
6/24/2009 Wed 10 NBC 1 Philanthropist
6/24/2009 Wed 10 SHOW 7 Penn & Teller
6/25/2009 Thu 8 ABC * Samantha Who?
6/25/2009 Thu 8:30 ABC * In the Motherhood
6/26/2009 Fri 8 FOX * Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader
6/26/2009 Fri 9 CMT SP CMT Crossroads: Bryan Adams & Jason Aldean
6/26/2009 Fri 10 TBS SP Let Freedom Hum: Martin Short
6/28/2009 Sun 9 DISC SP Discovery Special: Prehistoric New York
6/28/2009 Sun 10 HBO 1 Hung
7/1/2009 Wed 8 NBC 1 Great American Road Trip
7/4/2009 Sat 9 FOX 1* Virtuality
7/7/2009 Tue 8 ABC FAM 1 10 Things I Hate About You
7/7/2009 Tue 9 CW 1 Blonde Charity Mafia
7/7/2009 Tue 10 SYFI 1 Warehouse 13
7/8/2009 Wed 9 ABC 2 I Survived a Japanese Game Show
7/8/2009 Wed 9 SYFI 2 Ghost Hunters Intl
7/9/2009 Thu 8 CBS ? Big Brother
7/10/2009 Fri 9 SYFI 3 Eureka
7/12/2009 Sun 9 NBC SP Meteor
7/15/2009 Wed 9 TNT 2 Leverage
7/15/2009 Wed 10 TNT 1 Dark Blue
7/15/2009 Wed 10:30 COMEDY 1 Mike & Michael Have Issues
7/18/2009 Sat 10 ABC * Dirty Sexy Money
7/19/2009 Sun 9 ESPN SP ESPYs, The
7/19/2009 Sun 9 LIFE 1 Drop Dead Diva
7/19/2009 Sun 10 HGTV 4 HGTV Design Star
7/20/2009 Mon 10 ABC 1 Dating in the Dark
7/21/2009 Tue 8 FOX 6 Hell's Kitchen
7/21/2009 Tue 8:30 ABC FAM 1 Ruby & the Rockits
7/26/2009 Sun 9 NBC SP Storm, The
7/28/2009 Tue 9 FOX 1 More to Love
7/29/2009 Wed 9 FOX * Moment of Truth, the
8/4/2009 Tue 9 ABC FAM 4 Lincoln Heights
8/6/2009 Thu 10 MTV 2 Randy Jackson Presents: America's Best Dance Crew
8/9/2009 Sun 8 ABC 4 Who Wants to be a Millionaire
8/10/2009 Mon 8 FOX SP Teen Choice Awards
8/12/2009 Wed 10 TV Land 1 How'd You Get So Rich?
8/12/2009 Wed 10:30 TV Land 1 Make My Day
8/19/2009 Wed 9 SyFy ? Ghost Hunters
8/20/2009 Thu 10 LIFE 6 Project Runway
8/20/2009 Thu 10:30 LIFE 1 Models of the Runway
8/23/2009 Sun 9 NBC SP Miss Universe Pageant, 58th
8/31/2009 Mon 9 ABC FAM 3 Greek

Throughout the summer season, I'll post previews of the new premieres for the week each Sunday along with commentary and a synopsis of the shows.

If you notice anything I missed or a date/time that is off (they tend to change these more often then I can keep track) let me know in the comments.