Saturday, September 11, 2010

SiliconDust Announces Alliance with Hauppauge For CableCard Tuners


SiliconDust HDHR

Well this is interesting for HTPC folks.  SiliconDust just announced an alliance with Hauppauge Computer Works, Inc. to introduce a USB-connected Digital TV Tuner product for use with CableCARD™.

This alliance means SiliconDust’s new HDHR Prime CableCard Tuner will sell alongside the Hauppauge CableCard tuner – both of which are expected to hit stores later this year.  SiliconDust and Hauppauge have been competitors in the TV Tuner market up until now, but Hauppauge has the wider retail presence that SiliconDust has been missing.  For Hauppauge this gives an expanded CableCard tuner offering to compete with Ceton’s Quad CableCard tuner

The new SiliconDust CableCard tuner is particularly interesting because like the HDHomeRun QAM tuners before it, the HDHR Prime connects to your home network via ethernet instead of being installed internally in a computer.  This gives it the ability to be accessed across the home network from any computer.  Hauppauge will have their own WinTV branded CableCard tuner available as well – at this point we don’t know much about that one though.

The SiliconDust HDHomeRun Networked CableCard Tuner is scheduled to arrive this December as their beta is already underway.  The Hauppauge CableCard device announced at the January CES Show 

It should be interesting to see how the CableCard market pans out by December.  As of now the Ceton is the only real option for CableCard PC tuners and it’s nearly impossible to obtain due to a parts shortage.  If the Hauppauge & SiliconDust tuners make it to market before Ceton gets caught up, things could get interesting.

Full Press Release

Thanks to Dave Zatz for the tip

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Battery Life of Kindle Wi-Fi - Awesome

I haven’t taken the time to do the full-blown Amazon Kindle Wi-Fi review yet – although there are plenty of such reviews on the web already.  But I wanted to mention a very important feature I’m really enjoying on my new Kindle Wi-Fi – the battery life.

Last night my Kindle finally ran out of battery.  This is after being left on with wireless (Wi-Fi) on since first receiving it on August 27th. 

So basically twelve days of being left on with Wi-Fi on plus some use of the built-in light on the Kindle Cover!  That’s pretty good and extremely useful for traveling with your Kindle.  Amazon claims the battery life is up to one month with wireless off – and I haven’t tried that yet, but it’s obvious that the battery life is pretty good.

Amazon Kindle Sneaking into Brick & Mortar Stores

Amazon has always been an online store portal and has mostly stuck to that focus over the years.  But the success of the Kindle eBook Reader & Kindle store along with some decent eBook competition from Barnes & Noble, Sony and Borders has pushed Amazon to sell the Kindle in local stores as well.

This morning, Amazon announced that the Amazon Kindle will be available in Best Buy stores sometime this Fall.  That makes the 3rd brick & mortar (non-online) store where you can find an Amazon Kindle e-Reader.  Target began stocking the Kindle this past June and Staples will begin selling the Kindle this Fall as well.  This gives Amazon more exposure and further shows us that the Kindle is becoming more and more about selling eBooks in the Amazon store than it is about selling the hardware eReaders.

It’s also a great way for newbies to check out the eReaders hands-on.  Sony, Barnes & Noble and Borders have used in-store displays to show off their e-Readers all along so a little more front-and-center exposure of the Kindle will only help Amazon stay ahead of the pack with their Kindle store.

Deal of the Day – 2TB Drive Plus USB 2.0 Dock $110

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F4 2TB 3.5 Rosewill RX-DU101 Docking Station


Newegg has a nice Shell Shocker deal today – a SAMSUNG Spinpoint 2TB SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive plus a Rosewill USB 2.0 Docking Station all for 109.99 with free shipping! 

That’s $45 off the normal price.  I’m not sure about the USB Dock, but the 2TB drive alone for that price is pretty good so hard to ignore this one.

Once You Know, You Newegg

Thanks Ryan for the tip!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Commercial Skipping The Easy Way – SageTV Commercial Detector


One of the big advantages of using Home theater PC’s (HTPC’s) as a DVR over your cable box DVR or even TiVo is commercial skipping.  Matter of fact, the first HTPC feature I shows guests is commercial skipping.  As a commercial begins on any TV show we’re watching time-delayed, we can simply hit the right-arrow button to skip to the end of that commercial.  It makes TV viewing so much better.

The problem is with most HTPC programs installing and setting up commercial skipping is less than easy and often requires multiple programs, time, and some techy know-how.  I’ve just experienced the 2nd easiest commercial skipping installation ever!  (BeyondTV is the easiest by far since commercial skipping is built in – unfortunately BeyondTV is a dead software PVR product.)

CommercialDetector Playback

Let me introduce you to a dead-simple SageTV 7 plugin that allows you to install all commercial skipping and detecting software and set up that software in a few simple steps – all from the user interface.  CommercialDetector is the plugin that makes all of this possible.

About CommercialDetector

CommercialDetector is a SageTV7 plugin that automatically launches Comskip or ShowAnalyzer after a show has recorded or optionally while the show is recording. CommercialDetector produces the “.edl” files that can be read by the Comskip Playback plugin (also available in the UI Mod section of the plugin manager.)

The CommercialDetector plugin automatically installs Comskip (free version) for you when you install it through the SageTV Plugin Manager.  It replaces the more complex (and more sophisticated) programs such as SageJobQueue, DirMon2 and DVRMSToolbox for commercial detection.  The goal for CommercialDetector was to integrate tightly with SageTV, focus on commercial detection, configure & maintain easily within the SageTV UI.

Installation for Windows on the SageTV Server is very simple

  1. Go to Plugin Manager and install the CommercialDetector (Setup>SageTV Plugins>All Available Plugins>General>”Commercial Detector”
  2. In the Plugin Manager, Select and Install the “CommercialDetector UI” [Setup>SageTV Plugins>All Available Plugins>UI Mod>”Commercial Detector UI”]

That’s it for the installation – two steps all from the SageTV User Interface!

    Tweaking & Configuring the Commercial Detector Settings

To Configure how CommercialDetector works by adjusting the settings in Setup>SageTV Plugins>Installed Plugins>CommercialDetector

CommercialDetector Configuration 1

Here you will find the following configurable settings right in the SageTV UI:

  • Set number of commercial detecting jobs to run at once (I set this to 3 since I have a quad-core.
  • Location of comskip.exe & comskip.ini programs (this can be left alone unless you install comskip somewhere other than the default location
  • Modify comskip speed (to free up your CPU & disk as needed)
  • Other comskip parameters
  • Cleanup – Comskip tends to leave a mess of text, log and other files behind so you can use this setting to tell it what to remove once the commercial detecting process takes place
  • Configure which channels to comskip or not – You may not want to use up CPU to commercial detect HBO for instance.
  • Begin commercial detection when recording begins (instead of default-after recording complete)  So you can get your commercial detection marked even on liveTV.

There are many, many additional settings available including debug settings, ShowAnalyzer settings etc.  But the bottom line is this – you don’t HAVE to set up anything if you don’t want to.  It just works!  Hats off to the developer of this great plugin – tmiranda.

For more information about setup and settings, head to the Commercial Detector Plugin Wiki

The SageTV Forum Thread is the place to go to discuss and keep updated on new versions of Commercial Detector

Related Articles:

Manage Commercial Skip & Transcoding with Sage Job Queue
Commercial Skipping With SageTV – Comskip and Dirmon2
SageTV with Comskip and Comskip Monitor
Windows 7 Commercial Skipping – with DVRMSToolbox & ShowAnalyzer
Guide to ShowAnalyzer Commercial Skipping Settings

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

AppleTV – The new Blockbuster Box

I had an article about the new AppleTV ready to publish last week after Steve Jobs “event” but I held back.  I decided I needed to ponder my opinion over the long weekend before clicking publish.  I think the AppleTV is a device meant for a particular purpose – one that won’t work for many of the hardcore HTPC types like myself – might actually still serve many consumers needs.


The New AppleTV – What’s New?

The AppleTV in its old form was pretty much a locked-down toy that couldn’t do much.  Case in point – many AppleTV owners inserted the Boxee HTPC interface to get more of what they wanted.  The new AppleTV introduced last week is a much smaller and more importantly cheaper set top box.  It’s main goal in life is to be the “Blockbuster” movie rental box you never knew you needed.  I say that because the main mode of media delivery from Apple is to rent movies and TV shows to you via their AppleTV box.  It will be sort of a Video-On-Demand box like you get with a cable set-top-box where you can get a hopefully-richer catalog of movies and TV shows to rent from.  Movie rentals would run $4.99 and TV episodes would run $.99.  I personally would end up exceeding my monthly cable rental fees pretty quickly with a model like this, but I guess light TV watchers might see the benefit of the rental model.  One problem Apple is having with the content side of things is that ABC & Fox hadn’t signed up to deliver their TV shows in the iTunes store – that will likely be worked out, but obviously a sign of battles between the new content delivery system versus the old.

Netflix Streaming Build In

Another new feature is that Netflix Streaming is built-in to the new AppleTV.  This alone makes the device much more useful – something comparable to the popular Roku box.  The feature sounds pretty good and will help the buyer of an AppleTV justify their purchase, but from the looks of it, Netflix streaming will be in a good number of hardware devices by the end of this year and I expect to see it in many, many more next year.

Wi-Fi & HDMI Included

Connectivity for the AppleTV includes built-in Wi-Fi or wired ethernet to get to the internet.  And TVs can be connected through the included HDMI port.  A unique AppleTV feature Jobs mentioned was that iOS devices could be used to to control the AppleTV – sort of a way to begin watching a show on the iPad or iPhone and “push” it to the AppleTV to continue watching.

Price Dropped to $99

The biggest improvement mentioned in my opinion was the price drop from $229 for the older AppleTV to $99 for the new improved version.

AppleTV Back

AppleTV – The TV/Movie Rental Box for Non-Geeks

I don’t see the AppleTV as a device most HTPC enthusiasts would appreciate.  It lacks 1080p HD, no Blu-ray, has no bitstreaming of audio, no tuner capability, locked down content, rental only and the list goes on and on.  But I do see the casual gadget buyer picking one up as a “cool” way to get Netflix and Movies to their TV.  These will be the people who don’t understand what else is available or honestly don’t care.  They just want to plug it in and it works.  The AppleTV won’t be quite that easly, but it certainly will be a step in that direction and it’s from a brand name that the casual consumer will know and probably trust.  That’s the target audience for the AppleTV.   Apple could sell these things for $49 or less and still make money off of them.  Because the rental & licensing model is built to bring in monthly profits – not a one-time sales profit on the device itself.

The AppleTV is ready to pre-order now and should be available in approximately three weeks from now.  It’s obvious that Apple sees this as a niche device still – just look below at their page and you notice the AppleTV is relegated to the bottom-left of the page

AppleTV Apple Page

I’m curious – will any GeekTonic readers by purchasing an AppleTV for themselves or family?

Google TV Set to arrive This Fall

GoogleTV Logo

Just to be sure we don’t forget about them, Google’s CEO reminded everyone at the IFA show in Germany that Google TV would begin in the U.S. this Fall with international service beginning next year.  He went on to say the company would begin working with content providers for movie & TV content but didn’t expect to get into the content production business themselves – not a surprise.

I’m curious and semi-interested in the GoogleTV concept, but I don’t expect it to be too great unless they get their way with the FCC and their proposed “AllVid” video interface.  The content makers in Hollywood are none to excited about Googles request to the FCC so we’ll have to wait and see how that plays out.

If you’re still scratching your head about what this GoogleTV concept really is, check out the video below:


I would be very interested in GoogleTV if we saw an android placeshifter from SageTV or one of the other popular HTPC DVR programs – then you could basically get the HTPC DVR powerful features built into the TV. Blu-ray player or GoogleTV box without needing tuners built in to the GoogleTV device itself.

Google TV is expected to be included in the following devices:

  • Set-top box from Logitech
  • Blu-ray player from Sony
  • Sony TV

I think Apple still sees their AppleTV (obviously a somewhat different product from GoogleTV) very much a hobby, but they know they can’t afford to leave things alone with Google getting into the space.  Should be interesting to see how all of these interfaces and the boxes that go with them fare in the next few years.

via Reuters

Sunday, September 05, 2010

TV Premieres, Finales & Specials This Week 09/05/2010

Each week GeekTonic covers the TV scene with a complete listing of premieres, finales and specials for the week.  We begin the week with Labor Day here in the US and the very early stages of the Fall 2010 TV Season.

Don’t miss these other GeekTonic Fall 2010 TV Season Features:


Check out the complete list of finales, premieres & specials below.

        Sons of Anarchy Returns to FX on Tuesday


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

Sunday, September 5

Jerseylicious (8pm on Style) – Season premiere

All American Handyman (9pm on HGTV – Available in HD) – A new home & garden series where 20 handymen must build something that showcases their creativity & skill.

Leverage (9pm on TNT – Available in HD) – Season 3 finale

Freaky Eaters (10pm on TLC – Available in HD) – A new reality series.  We begin with an episode about a 34 year old diabetic in need of help to save him from his addiction to cheeseburgers.

Monday, September 6

The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! (8:30am on PBS – Available in HD) – A new preschoolers series for based on the book “Cat in the Hat.”

Curious George (8am on PBS – Available in HD) – Season premiere

Rush Zone: Guardians of the Core (8pm on Nickelodeon Toons) – New cartoon series

Little People, Big World (8pm on TLC – Available in HD) – Season 7 premiere

The Secret Life of the American Teenager (8pm on ABC Family – Available in HD) – Season 3 finale

Regular Show (8:15pm on Toon) – A new animated/comedy series for cartoon network.  Two groundskeepers at a park do anything they can to avoid doing their job and instead entertain themselves.

MAD (8:30m on Toon) – A new animated/comedy series for cartoon network based on content from “Mad Magazine.”

CBS Fall Preview (8:30pm on CBS) – CBS highlights their returning and new TV Series for the Fall TV season

Hoarders (9pm on A&E – Available in HD) – Season 3 premiere

History Detectives (9pm on PBS – Available in HD) – Season 8 finale

The Lion Ranger (9pm on National Geographic Wild) – A new documentary/nature series.  Animal behaviorist, Kevin Richardson cares for lions in South Africa.

Guiliani’s 9/11 (9pm on National Geographic) - Special

Quints By Surprise (10pm on TLC – Available in HD) – New Reality series

Thintervention With Jackie Warner (10pm on Bravo – Available in HD) – A new reality series where Jackie Warner of the “Work Out” fame helps people work on weight issues.

Aftermath with William Shatner (10pm on Biography – Available in HD) – Season finale

Obsessed (11pm on A&E – Available in HD) – Season finale

TMZ (11:30pm Syndicated) – Season premiere


Tuesday, September 7

White Collar (9pm on USA – Available in HD) – Season finale

Rehab: Party at the Hard Rock Hotel (10pm on Tru) – Season 3 premiere

NightlinePrime (10:01PM on ABC – Available in HD) – Season finale

Sons of Anarchy (10pm on FX – Available in HD) – Season 3 premiere

Louie (11:44pm on FX) – Season 1 finale


Wednesday, September 8

America’s Next Top Model (8pm on CW – Available in HD) – Season 15

Hellcats (9pm on CW – Available in HD) – Series premiere.  A pre-law student loses her scholarship and has to rely on her dormant gymnastics ability to earn a spot on the cheerleading squad to stay in school.  Video Preview

Inside the NFL (9pm on Showtime – Available on HD) – Season 34 premiere

Black Gold (10pm on TruTV) – Season 3 premiere

Terriers (10pm on FX – Available in HD) – Series premiere.  A comedy/drama about an ex-cop who partners with his best friend to launch an unlicensed private investigation business.  Video Preview

Psych (10pm on USA – Available in HD) – Season 5 finale

Chris Angel Mindfreak (10pm on A&E) – Season 6 finale


Thursday, September 9

Vampire Diaries (8pm on CW – Available in HD) – Season 2 premiere

Nikita (9pm on CW – Available in HD) – A highly trained spy and assassin seeks retribution against the government agency that created her.   Video Preview

Rookie Blue (9pm on ABC – Available in HD) – Season 1 finale

Destination Truth (9pm on SyFy – Available in HD) – Season 4 premiere

Beast Legends (10pm on SyFy – Available in HD) – Beast Legends sends a team of investigators in search of creatures of myth and legend.   They then have them build a scientifically accurate replica of each beast and show us what the creature have been like in action via computer animation.   Video Preview


Friday, September 10

Nat Geo Amazing (7pm on National Geographic) – Season 1 finale

The Suite Life on Deck (8pm on Disney – Available on HD) – Season 3 premiere

Stand Up 2 Cancer (8pm on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, VH1, E!, TV One, Current, G4, Discovery Health, Style, Bio, HBO Latino, MLB, Mun2, Smithsonian, TV Guide Channel) An all star guest list on multiple channels spends the hour raising money for the fight against cancer.  Guests include Katie Couric, Brian Williams and Diane Sawyer hosting and George Clooney, Will Smith, Gwyneth Paltrow, Denzel Washington, Renee Zellweger and Kathy Bates, Stevie Wonder, Aaron Neville, Natasha Bedingfield, Christina Applegate, Michael C. Hall, Sharon Osbourne, Lance Armstrong, Elizabeth Edwards and Michael Douglas.

Eureka (9pm on SyFy – Available in HD) – Season 4 summer finale

Four Weddings (10pm on TLC – Available in HD) – Season 2 premiere

LFL (11pm on MTV2 ) A new series that goes by the name of LFL because they figured the real name, “Lingerie Football League” gave too much away…  A television destination for guys with 7-on-7 full-contact tackle football games played by some of “America's most beautiful athletes.” (their words not mine).  MTV is working to be the “SpikeTV” they always meant to be.


Saturday, September 11

Cops (8pm on Fox – Available in HD) – Season 23 premiere

Dogs 101 (8pm on Animal Planet – Available in HD) – Season 3 premiere

America’s Most Wanted: America Fights Back (9pm on Fox) – Season 24 premiere

Fairfield Road (9pm on Hallmark) Made for TV Movie

Mandrake (9pm on SyFy – Available in HD) – Made for TV Movie


Sunday, September 12

MTV Video Music Awards (9pm on MTV) – Special

True Blood (9pm on HBO – Available in HD) – Season 3 finale

Over the Limit (10pm on TruTV) – Season 2 premiere

Hung (10pm on HBO – Available in HD) – Season 2 finale

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

Entourage (10:30pm on HBO – Available in HD) – Season 7 finale


Monday, September 13

Bachelor Pad (8pm on ABC – Available in HD) – Season 1 finale

90210 (8pm on CW – Available in HD) – Season 3 premiere

Lie to Me (9pm on Fox – Available in HD) Season 2 finale

Gossip Girl (9pm on CW – Available in HD) Season 4 premiere

The World of Jenks (10pm on MTV) Andrew Jenks, a 24-year-old award winning documentary filmmaker focuses his lens and creates a bond with his subject to tell the story of one person's life, bringing viewers closer to understanding someone else's reality

Rizzoli & Isles (10pm on TNT – Available in HD) – Season 1 finale

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