The Media Center Show #39 – Awards


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

This 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 Blog”.  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 (Via 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 PCs.  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 PCs.  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 360.  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)


WMP Tag 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

Download Here



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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?


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



Mobius 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.”






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