Friday, September 25, 2009

Vidabox Wireless Keyboard Giveaway – The Winner Is…..

Congratulations to GeekTonic reader @markterborg who won the GeekTonic Vidabox Wireless Media Keyboard Giveaway (Head here for the review of this keyboard).  Mark was chosen out of nearly 150 entries – some via comments to this blog and some via twitter as per the rules.  The winner was chose at random with the assistance of  An e-mail to Mark is on the way to arrange shipping of the keyboard.

Thanks to all who entered and a special thanks to Vidabox for providing the keyboard for review and for the giveaway.

Even if you didn’t win, you can pick up this keyboard at the Vidabox Online Store for $69.99.  While you're over at the VidaBox site, check out some of their other cool HTPC products.

I’m knee deep in additional reviews and have some special giveaways planned for the near future.  This is the first contest I’ve run that included twitter as an entry method and the response was very good so I’ll probably continue to do that in the future.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

More Information on the ATI CableCard Tuner Firmware Update

CEPro has an interesting article about the upcoming ATI CableCard firmware updates.  We can’t get our hands on this firmware yet, but there are many interesting points of discussion from the article.  Much of the information in the article comes from Derek Flickinger (known as DrFlick to many) who is a well known (and highly regarded) custom installer with a considerable amount of Media Center knowledge – he knows his stuff and that makes this even more interesting.

Here’s a few points of interest:

Fios Channels are all showing up as “copy freely” during Mr. Flickinger’s trials of the new firmware – this would be the ideal for all CableCard users because it basically means no DRM on those channels marked as “copy freely.”  These channels can also be viewed from PCs other than the one with the CableCard tuners installed.

Viewing Unprotected Channels in Windows 7

                       Photo from CEPro

One other point I noticed is this comment:

“On the other hand, rumor has it that Time Warner Cable and other MSOs are tagging virtually everything as Copy Once (protected). There may be little CF [Copy Freely] content except from basic broadcast channels.”

While it’s exciting to see CableCard rules loosened as much as they were this month, we have a ways to go before we know how this all will affect us in the real world.  Will my Time Warner cable provider make the loosened CableCard DRM rules mute by tagging all channels copy once?  If so, that makes the changes much less useful to this HTPC user.

Another question not answered is this:  When will this firmware arrive?

Regardless, give the CEPro article a read – it’s a good one.

Guide to Installing FFDShow – More Advanced Decoding



If you’re wanting to go beyond the basic video and audio codecs for your computer you’re bound to want ffdshow.  ffdshow is a more advanced DirectShow and VFW codec for decoding/encoding many video and audio formats on your computer.

You may remember when I mentioned AntiPack – also developed by Andy (known as babgvant) which provides an easy step-by-step process to install codecs on your computer.  Well Andy has written up a very handy guide to installing and configuring ffdshow.  It’s a well-written guide that helps you get ffdshow set up properly so you can get your DTS-MA support missing from most (perhaps all) other codecs.

Check out the guide at MissingRemote or Andy VT’s Blog

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hulu and SageTV – For Real This Time via 3rd Party Solution

We SageTV HTPC users had pretty much given up on the hope of having a good Hulu app inside of SageTV after the Hulu vs. Boxee debacle and hearing from SageTV’s CTO that they had for now abandoned the project.  Yes we have the ability to use Hulu on the HD200 extenders in standalone mode, but it was slow and extremely difficulty to navigate.

Hulu + PlayOn + SageTV = Awesome Online TV Access for HTPC

Well, thanks to some genius work by a 3rd party SageTV developer, it looks like SageTV may soon have an excellent (read: fast and easy to navigate) Hulu option right from the existing online videos section (currently has YouTube, Google Video & Many Video Podcasts Available) of SageTV!!!  This means navigation will work the exact same for Hulu inside of SageTV.  Since PlayOn has added Amazon VOD this news is even more exciting.  It’s currently been tested as a “proof of concept” and works – although it’s not available to us yet at least…

Requires PlayOn, but works on Computers AND Extenders!

This solution will require a PlayOn subscription, but it looks like it works very well thanks to a little UPnP action.  Better yet, it works for all users of SageTV including those with computers as their HTPC “extenders” as well as those who use the HD200 or HD100 extenders! 

Here’s a video clip of the Hulu/SageTV solution in action:


Looks pretty good to me.  According to the developer it isn’t quite ready for distribution to end users yet, but I’ll provide more details once it’s a little farther along, but It looks like there will be no additional cost to get this Hulu access except for the PlayOn license.  In the meantime you might want to pick up a PlayOn license while their being discounted – here’s the details on the PlayOn Discount:

$10 off PlayOn until the end of September.

Click on Buy Now and enter Coupon Code FALL10OFF. This coupon is valid from now until September 30th, 2009 at 11:59pm.  There’s also a free 14-day trial here.

Disclaimer:  The Hulu functionality thus far is a proof-of-concept.  While I expect it will be available to all SageTV users soon, there is no guarantee until it arrives.

Win a Free Vidabox Premium Wireless Media Keyboard

Vidabox Premium Wireless Media Center Keyboard

Looking for a great, wireless media keyboard for your Home Theater PC or computer?  This Vidabox Premium Wireless Media Keyboard with Laser Trackball is definitely one of my favorites, but the time to pass it along to one of you has come.  Vidabox has agreed to let me do a giveaway for this review keyboard so you can try it out for yourself for free!

There are two ways to enter with a maximum of one entry per method:

Entry Method 1: The first way to enter is to simply leave one comment below (in this post).  T

Entry Method 2: The second way to enter is to comment about this contest on twitter with a “tweet” like this: 

Win a free Vidabox Wireless Media Keyboard from @geektonic


Thanks again to Vidabox for the donated keyboard.  I'll pay for shipping to anywhere in the continental U.S. (if you're farther then that we can work out the difference in shipping cost)  Only one entry per method per person.  Winners will be determined at random at the end of this week.

And don't forget, you can You can pick up this keyboard at the Vidabox Online Store for $69.99.  While you're over at the VidaBox site, check out some of their other cool HTPC products.


More reviews and giveaways coming soon so stay tuned.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

TV Premieres: What to Watch 9/20 – 9/27

Did you think last week was busy with new and returning premieres?  It’s nothing compared with this one – there are a bunch of premieres this week and I have all of the details.

Don’t miss the Ultimate Guide to the 2009 Fall TV Season Premieres with free downloads by premiere date & by show name!

If you haven’t already, be sure and check out the link above and download the TV Premiere Listings recently updated.  Note that I continue to do these weekly, weekend “What to Watch” posts that will keep you updated with any changes to the schedule from that premiere guide, add some additional information about the shows for the week including whether they are in HD or not.  I also throw in any TV movies and specials for the week for good measure.

Below you’ll find all this weeks premieres through next Sunday.


Flash Forward

                       A scene from the new SciFi/Drama “Flash Forward”

NOTE: All Times are Listed for EST

Sunday, September 20, 2009

  • 61st Emmy Awards (8pm on CBS – Available in HD) Three hours of awards for primetime television hosted by Neil Patrick Harris
  • Holy Grail in America (8pm on History – Available in HD) Two hour special
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm (9pm on HBO – Available in HD) Season 7
  • Clive Barker’s Book of Blood (9pm on SyFy – Available in HD) Made for TV movie.
  • Bored To Death (9:30pm on HBO – Available in HD) A new series on HBO
  • Wedding Cake (10pm on WE) One hour special


Monday, September 21, 2009

  • Heroes (8pm on NBC – Available in HD) –  Season 4 begins.  Heroes remains on my favorites list but honestly it never regained it’s first season fun.
  • House (8pm on Fox) – Season 6 starts off with a 2-hour premiere.  I’m a House watcher although its one of those shows I watch casually and don’t mind if I miss one here and there.
  • Dancing With The Stars (9pm on ABC – Available in HD) –  Season 9 begins with 2 hours of DWTS.  My wife loves this one.  I find it well not worth 5 minutes, but its fairly harmless I guess.
  • How I Met Your Mother (8pm on CBS – Available in HD) – Season 5 of my favorite sitcom arrives
  • Accidentally on Purpose (8:30pm on CBS– Available in HD) –  A new sitcom starring Jenna Elfman.  It has potential and it has Jenna Elfman, but who knows if it will make it.
  • The Big Bang Theory (9pm on CBS – Available in HD) – Season 3 begins.  This is one of those shows everyone seems to love.  I watched the very first premiere of it and never watched it again, but maybe I should give it a second chance?
  • Two and a Half Men (9:30pm on CBS – Available in HD) - Season 7 of a crowd favorite sitcom.
  • Castle (10pm on ABC – Available in HD) –    Season 2 of Castle arrives – one of my wife’s favorites and I’ll admit it’s not that bad although I don’t make time for it.
  • CSI: Miami (10pm on CBS – Available in HD) - Season 8
  • Madventures (10pm on Travel– Available in HD) - Riku and Tunna travel from Brazil's urban jungles of Rio to the rain forests of the Amazon basin in the footsteps of William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

  • NCIS (8pm on CBS – Available in HD) –  Season 7
  • NCIS: Los Angeles (9pm on CBS – Available in HD) –  A new version of NCIS starring Chris O’Donnel & LL Cool J
  • The Good Wife (10pm on ABC – Available in HD) –  A promising new drama starring Julianna Margulies
  • The Forgotten (10pm on CBS – Available in HD) –  New show where amateurs solve murders of John/Jane Doe murder victims.
  • Joe Buck Live (10pm on HBO – Available in HD) – One Hour Special
  • The Naughty Kitchen with Chef Blythe Beck (10pm on Oxygen)
  • Table for 12 (10pm on TLC – Available in HD) – Season 2 premiere


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

  • The New Adventures of Old Christine (8pm on CBS – Available in HD) –  Season 5
  • Mercy (8pm on NBC– Available in HD) –  A medical drama.  I wasn’t that impressed with the clips I saw on this one.
  • Gary Unmarried (8:30pm on CBS – Available in HD) – Season 2 of a sitcom that is entertaining.  On my wife’s favorite list.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (9pm on NBC– Available in HD) –  Season 11
  • Modern Family (9pm on ABC– Available in HD) –  A new sitcom.  Don’t mistake this for a “family” show as it’s a little edgy on the humor train but it definitely has its funny moments.
  • Criminal Minds (9pm on CBS– Available in HD) –  Season 5
  • Cougar Town (9:30pm on ABC– Available in HD) –  This show has had a lot of talk about it.  One because of the silly premise of “cougars” (no I’m not referring to the animal) and secondly because it stars Courtney Cox.  Could be successful though based on the clips I saw.
  • CSI: NY (6pm on CBS– Available in HD) –  Season 6
  • Eastwick (10pm on ABC– Available in HD) –  A new TV show based on the Witches of Eastwick.  Looks pretty bad in my opinion.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

  • Flash Forward (8pm on ABC– Available in HD) – The most talked about new show – this one is a Science Fiction-based drama.  Time stands still for a moment for everyone in the world and everyone sees different versions of the future.  Then time re-starts and the fun begins.  This is a must-see premiere – I’m not positive about how the show will be long-term but the clips I saw of the premiere were very good.
  • Grey’s Anatomy (9pm on ABC– Available in HD) – Season  6
  • CSI (9pm on CBS – Available in HD) – Season  9
  • The Mentalist (10pm on CBS– Available in HD) – Season  2.  Another favorite of my wife.


Friday, September 25, 2009

  • Brothers (8pm on Fox – Available in HD) – My vote for the worst new show of this TV season.  Save your valuable time and skip this new sitcom.  It pains me to know it leads up to Dollhouse as it will turn off the few Friday viewers that might have watched Dollhouse…
  • Smallville (8pm on CW – Available in HD) – Season  9
  • Ghost Whisperer (8pm on CBS – Available in HD) – Season  5
  • Law & Order (8pm on NBC – Available in HD) – Season  20 of “Law & Order” makes this shows tied with Gunsmoke as the longest running drama
  • Medium (9pm on CBS – Available in HD) – Season  6 of Medium – this time on a new network
  • Dollhouse (9pm on Fox – Available in HD) – Season 2 – Dollhouse survived against all odds.  This show lost some audience last year but it really found its story a little over half way through the first season.  Give it another try and watch the last few episodes from last year online and then record this season – It’s going to be good.  Very good.
  • Numb3rs (10pm on CBS – Available in HD) – Season 6  
  • Jeff Garlin: Young and Handsome (Midnight on Comedy) – One hour special


Saturday, September 26, 2009

  • Crimetime Saturday (8pm on CBS – Available in HD)
  • Dateline (8pm on NBC) – Season  19
  • Children of the Corn (9pm on SyFy) – Made for TV movie
  • 48 Hours Mystery (10pm on CBS – Available in HD)
  • Saturday Night Live (11:30pm on NBC – Available in HD) – Season 35  I record the first 30 minutes of SNL each week and scan for the few funny parts.  They are there sometimes, but it’s not too consistent anymore.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

  • Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (7pm on ABC – Available in HD) – Season  7
  • 60 Minutes (7pm on CBS – Available in HD) – Season  42
  • The Amazing Race (8pm on CBS) – Season  14 arrives.  I’m officially no longer interested in this reality TV show.  I used to enjoy it but its just not that entertaining to me anymore and they still don’t do it in HD which is just stupid this day and age.
  • The Simpsons (8pm on Fox – Available in HD) – Season  21  Bart lives on.
  • The Cleveland Show (8:30pm on Fox – Available in HD) – New spinoff of “The Family Guy.”  I don’t do adult cartoons, but the previews of this were actually sort of funny.
  • Family Guy (9pm on Fox – Available in HD) – Season  9
  • Desperate Housewives (9pm on ABC– Available in HD) – Season  6 arrives – another of my wife’s favorites
  • American Dad (9:30pm on Fox – Available in HD) – Season  5
  • Dexter (10pm on Showtime – Available in HD) – Season  4 of Dexter.  My daughter really loves this show (she got hooked watching it on Netflix Watch Now) and it really sort of scares me.  But I know it’s a good one.
  • Brothers & Sisters (10pm on ABC – Available in HD) – Season  4
  • Californication (10pm on Showtime – Available in HD) – Season  3
  • Cold Case (10pm on CBS – Available in HD) – Season  7


Season Finales this Week:

  • 09/22/2009 9pm on SyFy “Warehouse 13” season finale.  I really enjoyed this new series this summer.
  • 9/24/2009 10pm on MTV “Randy Jackson Presents: America’s Best Dance Crew” season finale


I was a guest on the Seen in HD podcast talking about the Fall 2009 TV season – Be sure and check it out to hear about my takes on the new TV season’s shows.

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