Friday, July 23, 2010

MediaPortal 1.1.0 Final Version Released

MediaPortal, one of the more popular open-source and free HTPC software programs released the 1.1.0 (Final) version of MediaPortal 1 this week.

The beta version of 1.1.0 RC5 was released last month and the team now has a final version complete and ready for the masses.  They are pretty excited about 1.1 as you can tell by their announcement:

“The development of MediaPortal was a long and bumpy road, but the destination was well worth it. Thanks to our great community, who submitted many bug reports and code patches to fix bugs, we now are able to present you MediaPortal 1.1.0 - the best release in our six year history.”

Read more at the MediaPortal Website

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Barnes & Noble Nook Gets an Android eReader App

Nook for Android

Barnes & Noble continues to follow Amazon in the eBook market in terms of getting their eReader (and therefore their eBook store) as on as many devices as possible.  Today they released the new Nook app for Android devices.  The Android Nook app is similar to the iPhone app that lets you search, browse, purchase, download and of course read eBooks from your Android (1.6 or higher) device.

Features of the Android Nook App:

  • Access your eBook library on your Andorid smartphone (1.6 or higher)
  • Shop for eBooks in the B&N Nook store
  • Automatically synchronizes your last page read and bookmarks between Nook devices.
  • Access your Nook books even if you don't have your Kindle with you
  • Customize font size with 8 font styles & 5 text sizes
  • Share your eBooks with friends for free with the Nook “LendMe” technology
  • Read in portrait or landscape mode
  • Turn pages with the flick of your finger or turn on page animations

    This puts the Nook on the Nook eReader, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Android, Blackberry, PC and Mac.  Pretty comparable to the Kindle offerings.

  • This keeps Barnes & Noble competitive with Amazon and ahead of the Apple eBook challenges.  Time will tell if Barnes & Noble’s very heavy investment in the eBook world pays off.  Strong competition will continue from Amazon, Apple and soon Google.

    Thanks to a recent price drop, you can get the Barnes & Noble NOOK with Wi-Fi for $149 or the NOOK 3G model for $199.

    Read more at Barnes & Noble

    Wednesday, July 21, 2010

    SiliconDust HDHR CableCard Might Sort of Work with MythTV SageTV Others

    How’s that for a squishy headline!  Making the headlines pop obviously isn’t one of my strengths, but I am pretty good a picking up on “behind the fold” Digital Media news stories like this.  According to one of the SiliconDust employees their coming-soon HDHR Prime, the 3-Tuner CableCard device might have the ability to work on non-Microsoft MediaCenter software including MythTV & SageTV.

    Here’s what Nick – a SiliconDust employee had to say:

    The video stream for copy-freely content is RTP - same the the HDHomeRun.
    There is a ECR under review that would enable us to stream copy-freely content without requiring DRM registration. This will enable streaming to third-party applications.
    Internally we use MythTV as part of our QA testing.

    I’m told by someone who knows more about these things that this ECR Nick is speaking of is probably an “engineering change recommendation.”  It seems that SiliconDust might be working with CableLabs on their new HDHR CableCard device that so they can support sending “copy freely” content to devices without DRM certificates.

    Is this good news for SageTV, MythTV and other HTPC software?  Yes.  Is it the silver bullet CableCard support we are looking for?  No.  Because we are only talking about “Copy Freely” programming which is pretty rare on the big cable company systems like Time Warner.  It will likely give you much of the same programming you can get with Clear QAM tuners like the existing HDHomeRun tuners.  Still, it’s great to see SiliconDust working to get as much out of the device as they can – and especially recognizing those non-Microsoft HTPCs out there.

    Read the forum thread at SiliconDust

    thanks to Jakesty for the tip!

    Deal of the Day: Western Digital WD TV Live HD Media Player $80

    Western Digital WD TV Live HD Media Player

    Interested in a good Media Player at a great price?  NewEgg (affiliate) has a very nice deal for the Western Digital WD Live HD Media Player for $80 after $20 instant rebate!

     Western Digital WD TV Live HD Media Player $79.99 ($99.99 less $20 instant rebate) Use code 24HRSALE721E at checkout

    Hurry if you’re interested – not sure how long this deal will last.

    Monday, July 19, 2010

    Apple Movie Trailers Plugin for SageTV – OrtusTrailers

    One of my favorite SageTV plugins this year has been the Movie Trailers plugin.  In the very near future SageTV users will have another Movie Trailers plugin – this one is a bit different though as it’s focused on the latest theatrical trailers instead of finding trailers of shows in your TV Guide or movie collection.


    Ortus trailers allows you to download, store and watch the latest theatrical trailers from Apple Trailers (more trailers sources are planned for the future) from your SageTV system.


    • User defined refresh time
    • Queue multiple downloads
    • Multiple view styles (pc only)
    • User defined buffering options
    • Enable/Disable various screen items
    • Keep Max trailers / auto delete oldest
    • Keeps track of orphaned trailers/artwork
    • User defined download resolutions (if available)
      1. 1080p
      2. 720p
      3. 480p
      4. Standard Definition
    • User defined time for Auto downloading of newest trailers (not in beta version)
    • Auto download of all trailer info including poster's during startup for quicker access


    • SageTV beta version 7.0.12 or greater
    • Internet Connection

    Here is a short demo video of the plugin I put together to give you the feel for the way it works and how great it looks:


    The name, Ortus comes from the team that created this plugin.  This is actually a tiny part of the larger SageTv project they are working on to add functionality and beauty to the SageTV UI – much more on that to be discussed here at GeekTonic very soon.


    Here’s a few additional screenshots for your viewing pleasure:


    Ortus Trailers 2Ortus Trailers 1

    The plugin isn’t available yet, but should be available in the SageTV plugin manager in the next day or so.  In the meantime you can read more about it at the OrtusTrailers wiki page and this SageTV Forum thread.

    Kindle eBooks outselling Hardcover Books on Amazon

    The GeekTonic home has seen it’s share of eReaders including the Kindle, Nook and iPad.  But when it comes to reading books, the Kindle is our all around favorite – especially with the lower (currently $189) price on Amazon.  Today, Amazons Jeff Bezos tells us that Kindle books are now outselling Hardcover books on Amazon.  For every 100 hardcover book Amazon sold in the past 3 months they sold 143 Kindle books.  In the past month it grew to 180 Kindle books for every 100 hardcover books – a sign of further shifting towards eBooks.

    Now before we let this talk get too out of hand, lets consider that they are talking about hardcovers and not all books such as paperbacks for instance.  Also consider that Amazon shoppers are obviously much more likely to use an eReader (particularly the Kindle) than the average bear too.  Still, it’s a very significant shift and one that should continue as eReader prices continue to drop into the easy-to-buy range – say $99 or so.  If you want a conversation starter when you travel, carry that Kindle, Nook or iPad with you and expect questions from the crowd – we’ve seen multiple examples of this in our travels the past month and these are not your techie kind of people asking either.

    Bezos also went on to talk about the acceleration of Kindle sales after the price drop:

    We’ve reached a tipping point with the new price of Kindle—the growth rate of Kindle device unit sales has tripled since we lowered the price from $259 to $189,”

    I’ve been a little surprised that we haven’t seen more eReaders hit the market this year, but I don’t think that’s a sign of the eReader declining.  This Christmas should mark a time when eReaders are cheaper and on many, many wishlists – even with the Apple iPad as an option.

    via MarketWatch


    Check out the GeekTonic review of the Kindle from last year

    Ceton InfiniTV 4 Quad CableCard Tuner Gets Reviewed

    Josh over at theDigitalMediaZone has published his review of the long awaited quad-CableCard tuner for Microsoft MediaCenter.  The tuner has been delayed repeatedly but looks to be coming very soon – they say in the next month or so.

    Josh’s take on the Ceton is positive to say the least:

    “When it comes to whether or not I would recommend the card, the answer is absolutely: yes! If you can afford the $399 price tag then you absolutely owe it to yourself, and the other people living in your house, to put this card into your home theater PC.”


    Check out the complete review at theDigitalMediaZone

    Other Ceton Coverage:

    Installing the Ceton Quad-CableCard Tuner – Video
    Ceton Multistream CableCard Tuner Details from CES

    Netflix Coming to Canada… Finally

    Good news for my neighbors up north!  Canada, who has been without access to Netflix (among other streaming & rental sites) from the beginning will be given access to the popular Netflix movie rental & online streaming service.

    There is a new Netflix-Canada landing page online now although it’s redirecting US web users to their .com site. You Canadians can sign up now to receive updates and more information.  There isn’t a specific date stated, but they do say sometime this Fall.

    Netflix Press Release

    Sunday, July 18, 2010

    Home Automation with SageTV and HomeSeer - InControl

    HTPC and Home Automation enthusiasts rejoice.  SageTV, the popular multi-platform HTPC now has the ability to control your Home devices such as lights, garage doors, fans or any HomeSeer-connected device right from your SageTV user interface.

    The SageTV 7 plugin, called "InControl" is a HomeSeer 2.0 plugin that provides an interface between SageTV and the HomeSeer, home automation system. The plugin provides a 2-way, instant interface between SageTV and HomeSeer. The graphical user interface in SageTV lets you control and monitor all of your HomeSeer devices and provides optional messaging/notifications from HomeSeer to your SageTV user interface.

    InControl Plugin Described:

    InControl is a $29.95 plugin for HomeSeer and SageTV. It provides a real-time interactive interface between SageTV and Homeseer. With InControl, you are provided with easy to use, graphical interface in SageTV to control and monitor any HomeSeer devices. In addition, you can use HomeSeer to broadcast messages to SageTV.

    • Control and/or monitor any device in HomeSeer from within SageTV
    • Send messages and alerts from to Sage from HomeSeer with Events or Scripts
    • Custom graphic library included for SageTV
    • Secure connection with SageTV via HomeSeer user id and password
    • SageTV 7.0.8 or higher
    • InControl For Sage Plugin (available through SageTV plugin library)
    • HomeSeer 2.0 or higher
    • InControl For HomeSeer Plugin (available through HomeSeer store and updater)
    • HomeSeer and SageTV must be on the same PC or connected via a network


    Main Menu from the SageTV/InControl Screen:


    InControl Messaging Directed to SageTV Menu:


    InControl Settings Page:


    Device Settings:


    Plugin Configuration from HomeSeer


    More information can be found at the HomeSeer Forums and SageTV Forums

    They’ve already put out 2 updates to the first public version which is a good sign that new features will continue and the plugin will be well maintained by the developer.

    TV Premieres, Finales & Specials This Week 07/18/2010

    Each week GeekTonic covers the TV scene with a complete listing of premieres, finales and specials for the week.  Mostly low-profile shows this week, but a few notables.  Check out the complete list of new premieres and finales below.

     Pillars of the Earth

    The Pillars of the Earth Premieres Friday on Starz & Saturday on Netflix Watch Now

    NOTE: All Times are Listed for EST – TV schedules subject to change

    Sunday, July 18, 2010

    Earth Wonders (8pm on Travel – Available in HD) – New travel series.  First episode starts with Niagara Falls, Africa's Ngorongoro crater, Redwoods National Park, Iceland's glaciers and Bora Bora


    Monday, July 19, 2010

    The Client List (9pm on Lifetime) – Jennifer Love Hewitt stars in this made-for-TV Lifetime movie.  A woman (Hewitt) unknowingly takes a job at a massage parlor where prostitution is the norm…  Also stars Cybil Sheppard

    VH1 Do Something Awards (9pm on VH1) – Glee star Jane Lynch hosts an awards show that showcases people , shows and cities efforts in social activism.

    Fabulous Cakes (10pm on TLC – Available in HD) – A new cooking/reality show.  This first episode starts with 3 bakeries in Las Vegas

    True Beauty (10:02pm on ABC) – Season finale


    Tuesday, July 20, 2010

    Ace of Cakes (8pm on Food – Available in HD) – Season finale

    Losing it with Jillian (8pm on ABC – Available in HD) – Season finale

    Downfall (9:01pm on ABC – Available in HD) – Season finale

    Teen Mom (10pm on MTV) – Season 2 premiere

    If You Really Knew Me (11pm on MTV) – Season premiere


    Wednesday, July 21, 2010

    Stealth Rider (8pm on Speed – Available in HD) – New Motorcycle series

    Confessions: Animal Hoarding (9pm on Animal Planet – Available in HD) – A new animal/docu series on Animal Planet

    American Masters: Merle Haggard (9pm on PBS – Available in HD) – Music Special

    Intersections (10pm on Speed – Available in HD) – New motorsports series

    Billy the Exterminator (10pm on AETV – Available in HD) – Season finale


    Thursday, July 22, 2010

    Wicked Attraction (10pm on Investigation Discovery – Available in HD) – Season premiere for the Crime/Documentary series

    Battle of the Supercars (10pm on Speed – Available in HD) – New auto racing series

    Cook Like an Iron Chef (10pm on Cooking Channel) – New food series


    Friday, July 23, 2010

    Your Chance to Dance (9pm on CMT) – A new realityTV series on CMT

    The Pillars of the Earth (10pm on Starz – Available in HD) – An 8-hour miniseries based on Ken Follett’s 1989 bestselling novel “The Pillars of the Earth.”  The story involves a secret that disrupts the succession to the English crown.  If you don’t subscribe to Starz this will also be available on Netflix Watch Now 7/24/2010 – this is how I’ll be watching Spartacus: Blood & Sand from Starz also since it’s available on Netflix Watch Now today.


    Saturday, July 24, 2010

    Doctor Who (9pm on BBCA – Available in HD) – Season 5 finale

    Being Human (10pm on BBC America – Available in HD) – Season premiere of the vampire/fantasy series


    Sunday, July 25, 2010

    I Survived (9pm on Biography – Available in HD) – Season premiere of a biography series focused on people who survived difficult situations.  First episode: Hostage situations.

    Mad Men (10pm on AMC) – Season 4 premiere

    My Boys (10pm on TBS – Available in HD) – Season 4 premiere


    Monday, July 26, 2010

    Solved: Extreme Forensics (9pm on Investigation Discovery) – Season premiere

    Fish Warrior (9pm on National Geographic – Available in HD) – New science docu-series


    If you follow GeekTonic for the TV Premieres and news, you’ll want to click here if you would like to get a regular e-mail for GeekTonic TV Premieres & News