The Media Center Show #39 – Awards

Media Center Show #39
| 29th December 2005 (1hour 19mins 50secs) MP3
– 27.4MB (Download Here)

week Ian Dixon hosted The
Media Center Award Show with Thomas Hawk.  Both of them review the winners and have some
special guests joining them (including me!). 
A big thanks to Orb Networks
for supporting the awards and supporting the show in 2005.

Now, for the two that I covered….

Winner – Best
Enthusiasts Media
Center Blog

Thanks to everyone who voted in the Media Show Awards!  I’m happy to say that my blog won the award
for “Best Enthusiast
Media Center
.  I would like to thank Thomas Hawk, Ed Bott, and Tim Coyle for also running great
blogs.  Since we all pick up so many
different posts from each other (part of what blogging is all about), no one
would have been able to win this award without all of us blogging!  Thank you to all won voted and to the
excellent competition in this specific category.

Winner – Best Community Resource

Again, thanks to everyone who voted in the Media Show
Awards!  I’m very happy to say that The Green Button has won the award
for “Best Community Resource”.  I know that we have had some apparent
issues that need to be fixed, and I promise that 2006 will bring a much need upgrade
to The Green Button.  Thank you for everyone who voted in the Media
Center Show Awards and thanks to all the competition.

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ExtremeTech Looks at Media Center Online Spotlight

Windows XP
Media Center Online Apps
Mary Jo Foley
) | ExtremeTech takes a look at the handful of Windows Media
Center Edition Online Spotlight applications.  Their take? It’s a mixed bag. Some are great; some are less so.

ExtremeTech Final Thoughts: “The Windows Media Center
team needs to take some hints from the Xbox Live experience, and enforce some
user interface and system integration standards. While some applications and
content delivery schemes worked just fine, others were tedious to install and
more difficult to use than they needed to be. Some didn’t work at all.”

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Did Media Center Flop In 2005?

Last year, Phillip Swann said Media
Center would be the Biggest Flop of 2005
While Phillip is will maintaining is “Predictions”, he is dead wrong.  Phillip says “Some
might argue, but sales of the convergence PC has disappointed even its makers.”
 I’m laughing at Phillip right now, as I
usually am.

Let’s take a look back at Media
Center in 2005, and took ahead to Media Center
in 2006/2007.

According to Current Analysis, 43% of
all PCs for the week ending August 20, 2005 (Four Month Ago) where Media Center-based
.  While 71% of the PCs shipped
without a TV Tuner, Media
Center will be shipped on
nearly 50% of all PCs by year-end.  Now,
the question is did Media Center Flop In 2005? 
The answer is clearly no, it’s being shipped on nearly 50% of all PCs.  In addition, 130 PC
manufacturers and more than 7,000 system builders shipping Media Center 2005
.  I’m not sure how Philip sees
this as “disappointing to their makers”,
but he might actually want to talk to the manufacturers of PCs (or look at the
facts) before saying that sales of the PCs have been disappointing.  I’m not saying Media Center PCs were the
greatest success of 2005, however they didn’t flop.  It would have been nice to see 71% of the
machines ship with a TV Tuner, however if you look back at Phillips he said “the vast majority of Americans will never
— I will repeat that — never think of the PC as an entertainment device.”
  It’s time to explore quote for a
second time

Last year I covered why the average consumer does indeed see
the PC as an entertainment device, this year I’m only going to link to a few
new technologies that will allow the average consumer to use their PC as even
more of an entertainment device.  Intel
Viiv-based PCs
and the Xbox
.  Both of these, mixed with
several other technologies and devices will make consumers see the PC as more
of an entertainment device.

Now quickly to 2007, one word says it all: CableCARD!!

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WMP Tag Support Extender (FLAC, APE, and Vorbis Metadata)

Support Extender
| WMP Tag Support
Extender expand support of artist, title, etc. (“metatags”)
information in Windows Media Player.

It adds support of APE tag format (read & write), FLAC
MetaData (read & write), and OGG Vorbis Comments (read-only).

You can then extract the information save in your files and
modify it directly in Media Library.

No need to use an external program, you manage your library
with just ONE tool !

It supports :
– Monkey’s audio (*.ape)
– MusePack (*.mpc)
– WavPack (*.wv)
– OptimFROG (*.ofr)
– FLAC (*.flac)
– Vorbis Comments (*.ogg) <- READ-ONLY


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Thinking About On-The-Fly DivX to WMV9 Transcoding

I’ve been thinking about a solution to transcoding DivX to
WMV9 for streaming to Extenders.  I’ve
come up with a few problems in the design using current hardware &
software.  The first is that one-pass
encoding is all that could be done, you really can’t do two-pass encoding.  This isn’t a deal breaking, but would mean a
lower quality streaming once transcoding. 
For SD material, I don’t think this would be a huge problem, although I
haven’t done any comparison testing.  I
would think anything above 720×480 would be out-of-the-question for on-the-fly
transcoding to WMV9.

The second issue might be a deal breaker.  I can’t really find any evidence that the
video is passed through DirectShow before it being put out on-the-wire.  What this means is that a transcoding
solution using DirectShow would never work using ‘My Videos’.  It does however mean that if Brian could add support to ‘My Movies’ for
the video to be passed to DirectShow first, then a transcoding solution might
just work.  Maybe Stephen Toub could be of some assistance
in creating a solution.

Anyone have other thoughts or any DirectShow/Media Center Developers
who could let me know if the idea would even be possible?

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Xbox 360 Could Output 1080p?

A Card Up Microsoft’s Sleeve? (HD Beat)
| ATI did clarify that although Microsoft isn’t
targeting 1080p (1920 x 1080) as a resolution for games, their GPU would be
able to handle the resolution with 4X AA enabled at no performance penalty.”

Hmmm.  So assuming
that a Digital
Output Dongle
is coming, and assuming that you will be
able to stream HD-DVD Managed Copies to an Xbox 360
, the Xbox 360 still
would still add up to Why
Microsoft is Still My Choice to Win Your Living Room
.  Even better if we will be able to stream
Managed Copies to the Xbox 360 with it outputting at 1080p, the Xbox would most
likely be one of the first sources for a “player”
that would output HD-DVD in progressive (1080p) and not interlaced (1080i)!  This is very interesting, but it still looks
like another year or so before we find out since that’s likely the first time
we would see a Digital
Output Dongle
for streaming HDTV recorded via a CableCARD
Or, another possibility is that Microsoft could release an add-on
external HD-DVD drive for the Xbox 360.  This gives the ability to
use the 360 for HD-DVD’s, and no need for a re-release of the console
to add the functions.

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Mobius 2005: Portable Media Center v2.0

2005: Portable Media Center v2.0
| “According to Pete Bernard, Group
Manager, Portable Media Centers represent the “tip of the sword” –
most of the innovations that Microsoft is creating around media comes from this
type of device, and the enhancements make their way down to Pocket PCs and
Smartphones. For the next generation of PMCs, they focused on several things:
making the devices cheaper, giving consumers more choice through giving the
OEMs options for differentiation (FM tuners, recording radio, PVR
functionality, DVB-H tuners, more CODECS, etc.), making the devices better
photography companions, ensuring that the devices look better (improved
industrial design), and focusing on content – enabling premium video content,
and creating a single content portal to drive consumers to the content they
want for their devices. That’s a big list – I wonder how they did at achieving
all those items?

New devices will have user interface extensions that allow OEMs to add new menu
items. OEMs will also be able to distribute new CODEC support via Flash ROM
updates. This is a great update, because it means that even though Microsoft
isn’t shipping a DivX CODEC on the device, if Creative Labs wants to, they
could – and after the fact at that. The lack of popular video codec support is
a huge issue with these devices, so this helps address that.”