Saturday, November 14, 2009

Week in Review – November 14

Below is a quick summary of the past week's news and stories on GeekTonic.


  • Working Screenshot of SageTV and CableCard Tuner – Mike Garcen of is testing out Andy (babgvant)’s solution to use CableCard tuners with SageTV and has a screenshot to show the progress.  Can’t wait to see where this one goes.
  • Boxee Getting its own Set Top Box – Looks like boxee is going to live up to it’s name and get a set top box.
  • Netflix Offers Studios Delay for New Releases – Netflix is talking about delaying the release of new movies for their subscribers as a deal with the studios.  Good or bad it’s looking very likely.
  • GeekTonic Deal Watcher 11/11/2009
  • Barnes & Noble Bringing eBooks to Canada
  • Kindle Gets Windows App – Mac Version Coming Soon
  • How TV Tuners Work – A very informative piece on how tv tuners work
  • AppleTV Users Take Note – Update or Lose Your Media
  • PopcornHour C-200 Giveaway – The Winner Is… – Reading GeekTonic can really pay off.  It sure did for one reader who won this media player.
  • Microsoft MediaCenter CableCard Firmware Update Arrives – And it’s a big one.
  • More in-depth content for Media Gadget Fans at

    If you’re in to the Twitter thing, be sure and follow me on twitter under the name GeekTonic.  Thanks for Reading GeekTonic!

    Working Screenshot of SageTV and CableCard Tuner

    You might remember that talk of SageTV getting a way to use CableCard tuners right?  Well, thanks to Andrew known as babgvant, maker of countless Media Center and SageTV add-ons and the well-known DVRMSToolbox the tool to bring CableCard to SageTV is near.  And thanks to Mike Garcen of fame it’s getting a public workout to see how viable the CableCard/SageTV solution really is.

    Mike isn’t sharing too much yet, but he does have a screenshot showing SageTV tuning an HD channel being recorded by his ATI CableCard tuner with firmware 1.9 installed on a Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit computer.  I’m anxiously waiting to hear more about this as I haven’t acquired that CableCard tuner I had hoped to “borrow.”  Once the Ceton comes out this could be a very big deal.

    MissingRemote CableCard SageTV

    via MissingRemote – check out the full-size screenshot there

    Thursday, November 12, 2009

    Boxee Getting its own Set Top Box

    Boxee Logo

    Looks like the popular HTPC software Boxee has found another way to spend some of that private equity money they’ve been getting.  After talking about the concept for a while, Boxee announced this morning that they have signed their first (will there be more?) partnership with a consumer electric company to put Boxee into a CE device.  They aren’t saying much more then that, but they plan to show mockups of the box and share more details at their Boxee Beta unveiling event in NY on December 7th.

    Boxee Box Prototype

    My question is this:  Will there ever be a PVR functionality built into Boxee?  Without that, it will continue to be relegated to the hobby side of this niche market.

    Read more at the Boxee Blog

    Wednesday, November 11, 2009

    Netflix Offers Studios Delay for New Releases for 50% Discount

    Netflix Logo

    There’s been a lot of talk around the subject of movie releases to rental companies of late.  First we have the Redbox mess with them suing the movie studios and the studios suing back.  Now we’re hearing that Netflix is offering a deal with the movie studios this:

    We’ll delay the availability of new DVD/Blu-ray releases to Netflix users if you (the studio) gives Netflix a 50% discount on said movies.

    Netflix sees this as an option for them compared to their competitors like Redbox and Blockbuster because they “aren’t as dependant on new releases”, but I see this as a definite lowering of Netflix value from a consumer perspective.  If they take this tact, I would definitely consider other options for my movie rentals.  The problem is this.  If netflix does make such a deal, they’re big enough that the movie studios just might make that the standard and force consumers to buy those new releases or wait for the delayed window – and this would be at all movie rental locations – not just Netflix.


    via PaidContent

    GeekTonic Deal Watcher 11/11/2009

    GeekTonic Deals

    GeekTonic’s Brother Affiliate Site, GeekTonic Deals has been ramping up the deal watching looking for good tech deals including stuff for your home theater, HTPC and other tech needs.  Here’s a few of the recent ones from the last few days:

    To keep up with other media gadget deals follow or better yet, add it to your RSS Reader or follow GeekTonicDeals on Twitter.  I’m prepping GeekTonicDeals to follow the best deals for the coming holiday season so stay tuned.

    Tuesday, November 10, 2009

    Barnes & Noble Bringing eBooks to Canada

    Barnes & Noble Nook

    Barnes & Noble plans to beat Amazon to the punch a bit by selling their eBooks to Canadian customers by this December.  This includes of course eBooks for their new eReader, the Nook.

    So Amazon, what’s the holdup for your Kindle in Canada?  For those Canadians wondering, I keep hearing rumors that Amazon will announce a Canadian breakthrough soon, but no confirmation of that as of yet…

    via Barnes & Noble Book Club

    Kindle Gets Windows App – Mac Version Coming Soon

    Kindle for PC

    Amazon released it’s Kindle for PC app this morning.  It’s available for download at now and allows you to read Kindle eBooks on your computer.  This is the same app we told you about last month but is now available for you to download.

    The software install is very fast and the application opened quickly as well listing out all of our Kindle eBooks.  An interesting note – it supports color.  Newspapers, magazines and blogs aren’t supported yet at least.

    A Mac version is reportedly coming very soon as well.


    Monday, November 09, 2009

    How TV Tuners Work

    I would venture a guess that many GeekTonic readers own at least one TV tuner for their HTPC – or would like to have one at least.  But if you’re like me, you probably don’t really know much about how those TV Tuners really work. 

    HVR-950 Tuner Block Diagram

    A very “techy” site I follow called kernellabs focuses on linux, and the audio/video drivers to make media devices work with Linux.  Kernellabs has a great article that crosses over into the engineering side of things and does a great explanation of how tuners work.  It’s a great introduction into how the tuners are built giving you a better understanding of what it takes to work with those drivers.

    If you have any interest in the “how it works” side of TV Tuners, this is a great place to start.  Check out the full article:

    How Tuners Work… at kernellabs

    AppleTV Users Take Note – Update or Lose Your Media


    Apple really screwed up on this one.  There appears to be a major issue with the AppleTV software version 3.0 that can potentially cause your media to disappear after a while.  If you have AppleTV software version 3.0, you should restart your AppleTV and upgrade to version 3.0.1.

    Apple is saying the symptom of the issue caused by version 3.0 is:

    “You are using Apple TV software version 3.0 and all of your movies, TV shows, and songs appear to be missing,”

    Wow… via Tuaw

    PopcornHour C-200 Giveaway – The Winner Is…

    Congratulations to GeekTonic reader “Brian S” who won the GeekTonic PopcronHour C-200 Giveaway  (Head here for the review of this media player).  Brian was chosen out of nearly 270 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  I’ve confirmed with Brian S that he still wants the PCH :) and it will be shipped his way this week.

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

    Even if you didn’t win, you can pick up this nice, media player at the PopcornHour Store

    I have a few more reviews coming and even a giveaway or two so stay tuned for more.

    Sunday, November 08, 2009

    Microsoft MediaCenter CableCard Firmware Update Arrives – With Digital Cable Advisor

    Over the weekend Microsoft released the CableCard firmware update for Windows 7 MediaCenter which relaxes DRM for recordings in a big way and adds support for SDV.  The update arrived as the “ATI Digital Cable Tuner firmware” which is available to all of those with the ATI CableCard tuners via Windows Update.  Next, Microsoft pushed out the Digital Cable Advisor app which allows those CableCard tuners to work with any PC as long as the given PC meets the minimum hardware requirements.

    The Digital Cable Advisor tool checks your computer to be sure it meets those minimum hardware requirements and is capable of a successful CableCard viewing/recording.  It measures system CPU speed, RAM, graphics card support for hardware acceleration, and digital connection capabilities. If your PC meets the minimum requirements, it enables digital cable functionality on your PC (CableCard tuner and connection from your cable company required of course.

    Once you have it all set up, you’ll be able to use your Windows 7 computer’s MediaCenter HTPC app to access cable pay-TV, including premium content.

    You’ll find Digital Cable Advisor in the Windows Media Center Extras Gallery

    Windows 7 MC Extras Gallery

    Windows 7 MC Digital Cable Advisor

    Windows 7 MC Digital Cable Advisor 1

    The Digital Cable Advisor downloads a program onto your PC and then runs a set of tests to ensure your computer is CableCard – capable.

    Windows 7 MC Digital Cable Advisor 10


    Once the tests have been run, it provides a reportcard of sorts showing you if the main areas passed the test or failed.  As you can see in the screen-shot below, my test PC passed for memory and processor, but not for the graphic card.

    Windows 7 MC Digital Cable Advisor 11


    If your system does pass the tests however you’ll be able to install the CableCard functionality and then get this congratulations message:

    Windows 7 MC Digital Cable Advisor 12

    A very easy to follow process!  I’m hoping to try this out with a borrowed CableCard tuner soon.  In the meantime I’m looking forward to seeing the Ceton multi-tuner arrive.

    Read more about the Digital Cable Advisor on the Microsoft Media Center Team Blog 

    Digital Cable Advisor news via MissingRemote

    Week in Review – November 8

    Below is a quick summary of the past week's news and stories on GeekTonic.

    Here’s a roundup of the past weeks posts:

    More in-depth content for Media Gadget Fans at

    If you’re in to the Twitter thing, be sure and follow me on twitter under the name GeekTonic.  Thanks for Reading GeekTonic!