Friday, October 15, 2010

Netflix Adds 1080i and 5.1 Audio for Streaming – First with Sony PS3

Netflix Logo

Beginning this coming Monday 10/18 the Sony PlayStation 3 gets a Netflix streaming-only feature right through the PS3 menu.  And there’s no disc required.

The PS3 also gets an upgrade to the Netflix User Interface for quicker startup and playback thanks to the new, no-disc-required approach.

But wait – there’s more good news.  With the new update, there will be some content available to the PS3 with 1080i resolution and Dolby 5.1 surround sound!  Lets hope this is a sign of things to come from Netflix as their service continues to get better.


via Playstation Blog

SageTV gets Improved DVB Support with DVBLogic

SageTV Logo DVBLogic Logo

If you are a SageTV in Europe, this should be some welcome news.  This week, DVBLogic and SageTV have an integrated solution to allow for the two programs to work together.  Here’s a quick re-cap of what that means:

SageTV has had DVB services support built-in for a long time, but the scope of implementation and stability for some users has been less than ideal.  This is partly because the developer group of SageTV is located in the U.S. so it has been more difficult to test and develop for Europe-based TV.  Since DVB has been a European standard, DVB support is a must-have if you’re using SageTV there.  So while SageTV has a healthy group of European users, there has been a crying out for more from those users.  Enter DVBLogic.

DVBLogic which is based in Europe has a mature solution for DVB-HTPC users that is proven to work well.  DVBLogic has mostly been a solution for Microsoft Windows MediaCenter, but now has added support fo SageTV as well.  DVBLogic now provides Virtual BDA DVB Cards for SageTV allowing the SageTV team to focus on strengthening their internal DVB support – putting that focus on DVBLogic’s virtual cards and the features these offer instead of trying to support every DVB card out there individually.

Thanks to the combined work of SageTV developers and the DVBLogic developers, the combination of SageTV and DVBLogic supports DiSEqC, IP Cameras, IPTV Providers, and many many other options. And the integration is going to continue to evolve to make these two products integrate even more.  In essence, this DVBLogic + SageTV solution ends the need of European users to use network streamers for watching DVB, IPTV, and many other sources.

Check out the following links for more information on the DVBLogic + SageTV Solution:

I’m curious if there are any European readers interested in this solution – if so let me know in the comments.

N-PVR HTPC freeware Releases New Beta 1.5.33

The popular freeware HTPC program formerly known as GB-PVR and now N-PVR has a new beta.


The beta 1.5.33 update includes mostly bug fixes and improvements, but also adds the following new features:

  • Rolling file support to MVP server, allowing mvpmc to do live tv.
  • New notification events for plugin developers
  • Ability to queue tracks in the music library, rather than just replacing the tracks that are currently playing
  • ISO6937 text support for EPG (mainly eastern european countries)
  • Support for Daemon Tools for playing .ISO DVDs.
  • Support for jumping directly to a dvd chapter during playback by typing the chapter number then pressing enter
  • Support for custom tasks
  • Highlighting in TV Guide timeline for periods that have recordings
  • Key (ctrl-w) for going back to the previous channel in live tv.


Head to the forums to get the full changelog and download

Thursday, October 14, 2010

FCC CableCARD Meeting Recap

FCC Logo

I listened in on today’s FCC Meeting – at least the portion that covered CableCARD and “video navigation devices” for cable services.  Here’s a summary of the proceedings:

There was the usual meeting formalities but this portion of the meeting was the one where they vote for or against the order that includes the rule changes.  Everyone voted for the changes and there wasn’t much discussion otherwise since that had been covered in past meetings and letters.  The FCC adopted the “Third Report and Order on Reconsideration that revises the FCC’s CableCARD rules” with respect to “video navigation devices” for cable services.  Yes that’s a mouthful, but it’s pretty important to Cable subscribers – especially HTPC users.

Here’s the main points of the order that I noted:

  • Cable Companies must allow the self-install of CableCARDs
  • Changes to the CableCARD certification process to make it easier to become CableCARD certified and less expensive.  I believe this was specific to hardware certification and not software but I’m not positive.
  • Cable Companies will be required to provide the cost of cableCARDs – I had trouble figuring out what this meant exactly but the gist of it was they want the cost of CableCARD to the consumer to be cheaper…
  • A new website for cable subscribers will be launched by the FCC to allow for easier submittal of complaints about Cable Companies non-compliance
  • New rules for Cable Companies to provide the same level of service to CableCARD subscribers as to those with leased set-top boxes.

As far as I could tell, the order did not include requirements for an IP-based SDV solution which had been discussed previously.

The rules discussed in this meeting all sounded pretty good to this “layman”, but we’ll have to wait to see the complete wording of the FCC order that was approved.  I’ve requested a copy and will review it further once it has been received.  Note that these changes are perceived to be the short-term solution while the FCC moves towards adoption of AllVid.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

FCC Meeting Has CableCARD On Agenda Tomorrow - Oct 14

FCC Logo

Thursday brings another FCC meeting with the topic of CableCARD changes.  These meetings tend to be pretty dry to say the least, but if you’re interested in the topic of CableCARD which is near and dear to many a HTPC enthusiasts heart this one might be interesting.

Ceton CableCARD Tuner

As the FCC pushes for a universal gateway device to unify traditional video content with online content they are reviewing some changes to the CableCARD rules where cable operators are required to implement a hardware solution with security into digital set-tops – and for consumer devices such as TiVo and HTPCs.

CableCARD on the FCC Agenda

According to the Agenda, CableCARD will be the third and final topic on their agenda.  Here’s the official agenda description for the CableCARD portion:

SUMMARY: The Commission will consider a third Report and Order and Order on Reconsideration  that will make changes to the FCC’s CableCARD rules to improve the consumer experience with the video navigation devices used with cable services and promote the development of a competitive market for such devices.

The Major, Proposed changes in the FCC mandate include:

  1. Removal of CableLabs certification requirement for Software (currently requires same certification for software as with hardware)
  2. Removal of need for Tuning Adapters – instead use Ethernet port to communicate data to tune those SDV channels
  3. Allow for self install of CableCARD in certain cases

Listen in to FCC Meeting Live

You can follow along during the meeting at FCC’s Live Broadcast which is scheduled to begin at 10:30am Eastern Thursday, October 14th.

SageTV Filings with FCC

It might interest some of you to know that earlier this year SageTV filed their own comments with regards to the CableCARD/Cable Access issue with the FCC.  Here’s the two filings:

January 29, 2010 Letter to FCC from SageTV’s Jeffrey Kardatzke (CTO & Founder, SageTV LLC) and Mike Machado (CEO, SageTV LLC).  This letter outlines a conference call that SageTV participated in discussing “the barriers that SageTV, Tivo, Microsoft and the consumer
electronics industry faces when trying to bring innovative set-top boxes and PC software solutions to the consumer market to access content from various MVPDs.”
  This letter is an interesting read.

February 16, 2010 Letter to FCC from SageTV’s Jeffrey Kardatzke (CTO & Founder, SageTV LLC) and Mike Machado (CEO, SageTV LLC).  This letter is a direct response to the filing by the NCTA (National Cable and Telecommunications Association) putting forth the case for SageTV.

Probably the most interesting (and sad) document to read out of these is the quick response to the FCC from the Cable Industry (NCTA) on February 26, 2010.

In that letter the NCTA says:

“It is important to note that we agree with SageTV that any approaches to the retail
availability of video devices need to encompass all multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) if this market is to succeed.”

Riiight…  And here’s where the NCTA “agrees” again with SageTV and in the same breath brushes off SageTV’s reasoning:

“We also agree with SageTV that such a gateway need not be subject to strict definition by ANSI standards. But the term “gateway” means very different things to different people and those differences are critical. In that regard, SageTV oversimplifies what would be required to deploy a workable gateway solution. “

These letters have all been discussed by the FCC already and SageTV was only one of many who filed responses to the FCC in this regard.  Lots of additional information is available on the FCC website if you search for it.  A few other articles of interest regarding these FCC meetings:

All HTPC and consumer electronics companies including TiVo have some interest in what happens if anything with regards to CableCard.  Much of the talk centers around AllVid, but the ultimate result of all of this talk is up in the air at this point.  My expectations are very low for any really helpful changes but you never know.

SageTV HD300 Gets Another Detailed Review

If you haven’t taken my advice yet and purchased a SageTV HD300 Player/Extender you should check out the latest HD300 Review – this time by Damian at  I consider Damian an expert on media players and a demanding one at that.  Put this on your must-read list for SageTV HD300 information.

SageTV HD300

Here’s an excerpt from his conclusion:

“Of course the question that I will get asked, would I recommend the HD300? This is actually a tough one, so let me break it down into a few parts. First, if you are looking for full Windows Home Server integration then the HD300 is a no brainer. If you are looking to integrate a TV tuner farm setup with small/quiet clients, then the HD300 is a no brainer (as long as you understand that currently SageTV does not work with Cable Card tuners).”

He went on to explain that the recommendation was more difficult when you get to using SageTV HD300 as a standalone player.  Check out the full review for the whole story

Review: SageTV HD Theater HD300 at


How To Set Up SageTV 7 – SageTV Basics

SageTV Logo

Our friend Andy (known as Babgvant to many) has just posted a very, very detailed guide to setting up SageTV 7 at MissingRemote.  It goes into so much detail it seems a bit overwhelming but much of that is because of the hundreds of screen-shots he included of the setup process.

I should note that several of the steps he included are good to do when you’ll be using SageTV on your HTPC, but you can skip a bunch of them if you’re just going to use an extender (HD200 or HD300) for playback.  For the newbies and those wanting to give SageTV a spin this is a great guide to check out.

Guide: Installing SageTV V7 at MissingRemote


Another excellent “Getting started with SageTV Guide” can be found at Destiny’s Darlin’

Monday, October 11, 2010

PogoPlug Pro Unveiled with New Hardware and Non-Pink Color

Cloud Engines, Inc, unveiled their new PogoPlug Pro, the latest version of the multimedia sharing device.  This new version is colored in black with a nice hardware refresh as well.
Pogoplug allows users to easily and securely access, share and stream their media content from anywhere without uploading.  The Pogoplug device provides a way to connect your external USB drives and other devices to your network and then access content on those devices over the web.  They also provide apps for iPhone, Android, iPad, BlackBerry and Palm as well.
This hardware refresh provides users of the new Pogoplug Pro all features of the second generation Pogoplug including the ability to connect up to four USB drives and print from any mobile device.  The Pro adds built-in wireless connectivity along with a nice, new non-pink color.  You can purchase the Pogoplug Pro at Best Buy stores and online for $99.
I use one of the first generation Pogoplugs along with a few hard drives that no longer “fit” in my HTPC server.  It’s a great solution for my use and it just works.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

TV Premieres, Finales & Specials This Week 10/10/2010

Its 10/10/10 an exciting day for those of us who like the numbers to line up just so.  And there are a few new shows beginning this week too. 

Each week GeekTonic covers the TV scene with a complete listing of premieres, finales and specials for the week.  This week is pretty much the busiest premiere week of all.  There is a LOT of TV beginning which means this is basically the official start 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.

The GeekTonic Guide to TV Premieres, Finales and Specials this Week – 10/10/2010

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

A downloadable PDF  version of this “GeekTonic TV This Week Guide” is available now

Sunday, October 10

10 Killer Weekend Projects (7pm on DIY) New home improvement series

Sweat Equity Top 10 (8pm on DIY) New home improvement series

Look (Midnight on Showtime – Available in HD) A new R-rated series that probably belongs on Showtime…  The series uses footage from security and cellphone cameras to provide a voyeur's-eye view into our heavily surveilled society.


Monday, October 11

Hardcover Mysteries (9pm on Investigation Discovery) New series where America's most popular authors of thrillers give their thoughts on real-life mysteries.  The first episode features well-known author David Baldacci

Carlos (9pm on Sundance – Available in HD) A new 3-part docu-drama basded on “The Jackal” – an international terrorist famous in the 70s and '80s

Texas Quints (10pm on TLC – Available in HD) A new reality series where a Texas family is raising quintuplets along with their other two children.


Tuesday, October 12

Flipping Out (9pm on Bravo – Available in HD) Season finale

Pretend Time with Nick Swardson (10pm on Comedy – Available in HD) New stand-up comedy series with comedian, Nick Swardson

The Little Couple (10pm on TLC – Available in HD) Season 4 premiere

Parking Wars (10pm on A&E – Available in HD) – Season 3 premiere

Teen Mom (10pm on MTV) – Season finale


Wednesday, October 13

What’s Eating You (10pm on E! – Available in HD) New reality series where multiple patients with serious eating disorders undergo a therapy and hopefully the road to recovery.

Storm Chasers (10pm on Discovery) Season 4 premiere

I Shouldn’t Be Alive (10pm on Animal Planet) – Season premiere


Thursday, October 14

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (10pm on Bravo – Available in HD) New “Real Housewives” series set in Beverly Hills.


Friday, October 15

School Pride (8pm on NBC) A new reality series that isn’t in HD…  Here’s the synopsis from “When America's public schools are out for a routine inspection hosts Tom Stroup, Kym Whitley, Jacob Soboroff, and Susie Castillo are out to give a makeover. School Pride features a cast of spirit team members who work together to turn around some of America's trashiest public schools”

Giuliana & Bill (8pm on E!) Season premiere

Worlds Strictest Parents (9pm on CMT) Season premiere

Sanctuary (10pm on SyFy – Available in HD) Season 3 premiere

Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura (10pm on TruTV) Season premiere


Saturday, October 16

Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp (11pm on VH1) New reality/contest series hosted by Carrie Keagan where 15 "average joe" musicians are transformed into true rock stars.


Sunday, October 17

Rubicon (9pm on AMC – Available in HD) Season finale.  I ended up staying with this show even though it seemed a little slow through the beginning.  It’s turned out to be one I really enjoy.

Paranormal State (9pm on A&E – Available in HD) Season 5 premiere

Mad Men (10pm on AMC – Available in HD) Season finale

Psychic Kids: Children of the Paranormal (10pm on A&E – Available in HD) Season 3 premiere

Luther (10pm on BBC America – Available in HD) New psychological crime thriller featuring DCI John Luther, a brilliant detective whose passionate involvement in his work threatens to derail his personal life.


Monday, October 18

Bret Michaels: Life as I Know It (10pm on VH1) New reality 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.