Life|ware Seamlessly Integrates INSTEON Lighting and Home Control Products

Exceptional Innovation, makers of Life|ware, hardware-friendly home control software, today announced all INSTEON™-enabled products are now compatible with a Life|ware home control solution. INSTEON is the wireless home control technology developed by SmartLabs Inc., the world’s leading authority in home automation and control.

“Making INSTEON products compatible with Life|ware makes perfect sense,” said Mike Seamons, Exceptional Innovation’s Vice President of Marketing. “They’re very popular with our dealers and provide another great option for a Life|ware whole-home control solution.”

Life|ware is seamlessly integrated into Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005. Using the same Media Center remote they use to access and enjoy their music, movies and photographs, a Life|ware user can now easily control their entire INSTEON home control system — including lighting, security, comfort control, consumer electronics, appliances and safety sensors from all manufacturers integrating the INSTEON technology. Life|ware integration includes all INSTEON products from SmartLabs Design including SwitchLinc, KeypadLinc, SignaLinc, LampLinc ApplianceLinc and ControLinc as well as its ICON line of dimmers and switches.

“We are continuing to drive INSTEON home automation and control into the digital home,” said Rajeev Kapur, president of SmartLabs Inc. “By partnering with Life|ware, we can now offer any company looking for a way to manage home control via the Media Center an elegant solution.”

“Life|ware brings a rich control experience together with digital entertainment in a compelling way, and we’re pleased to have INSTEON products be part of that experience,” said Seamons.

Life|ware leverages Web Services for Devices standards to be hardware-neutral, an approach that allows dealers to offer their customers more choices among available systems, and gives them the flexibility to create unique new offerings to expand their business.

At EHX-Spring, Life|ware can be experienced controlling lighting, audio, security, camera, and climate control systems from a wide variety of hardware partners in a fully-functioning, live-wired booth that features six full room vignettes with seamlessly integrated digital entertainment and control.



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New 17-Inch Media Center Touchscreen from Pelham Sloane


[EHX] First Glimpse of 17-Inch MCE Touchscreen from Pelham Sloane | CE Pro has more from EHX, this time from Pelham Sloane in the form of a 17-inch touchscreen with Media Center!  Just over 2 inches thick, it has four external USB ports, two PCI Express slots, a Compact Flash slot, up to 500 GB of hard drive, and support for 802.11g, Bluetooth, Z-Wave and EV-DO/Edge (cellular broadband).

It will sell for $2,200-$3,200 depending on your configuration, and is set to ship anytime now!



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SideShow Demo on Media Center Remote


[EHX] Microsoft Demos SideShow for Media Center Remote | CE Pro has an article from EHX about a use for SideShow (Aux Displays) and this use will appeal to all Media Center users.  At EHX, Todd Rutherford, Microsoft Program Manager for eHome Control showed off the technology implemented in remote control.  Check out Julie’s article on CE Pro for more!



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Niveus Media Announces Support for HD-DVD High Definition DVD Format


Niveus Media Announces Support for HD-DVD High Definition DVD Format | Niveus Media, Inc., manufacturer of media entertainment devices for the high-end audio/video market, has announced that it will support the HD-DVD format and will begin shipping the technology in its line of Niveus Media Centers which utilize Intel® Viiv™ technology platform, designed to enhance and help manage the enjoyment of digital entertainment in the home.

“While we may have additional announcements later this year regarding the Blu-Ray disc format, we are ready to announce that product development is well underway to deliver HD-DVD in the award-winning Niveus Media Center by mid-2006” said Tim Cutting, CEO & Founder, Niveus Media. “By combining our award winning ISF-certified Niveus Media Center, with HD-DVD and Intel Viiv technology, Niveus Authorized Dealers will have a powerful solution to bring their clients into the high definition DVD era. We’re looking forward to being one of the first to offer dealers an HD-DVD experience in a Intel Viiv technology based system. ”

“Niveus Media’s move to incorporate a high definition HD player into their Intel® Viiv™ technology-based platform demonstrates how the home entertainment PC continues to evolve and provide consumers with compelling home entertainment experiences, including breathtaking High Definition video playback,” said C.J Bruno, director Americas Marketing, Intel.

The Electronic House Expo Spring 2006 is being held in Orlando from March 30 – April 1. Niveus Media will be demonstrating the Intel Viiv technology-based Niveus Media Center featuring HD-DVD in Demo Alley, Room 203A. More information available at: www.ehxweb.com.



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Akimbo and HDNet to Deliver High Definition Programming Via the Internet


Akimbo Systems today announced an agreement with HDNet, the leader in high-definition programming, to make select titles from its vibrant library of HD content available for download through the Akimbo Service for Windows XP Media Center Edition. This marks the first time Akimbo has offered broadband-delivered HD content for viewing on subscribers’ monitors or high definition televisions.

Akimbo subscribers enjoy the freedom to choose from more than 8,000 on-demand programs available through Akimbo’s impressive library of original, niche and mainstream content – including travel shows, documentaries, music videos, full-length films, sporting events, television series and more. Now, Akimbo subscribers can watch fantastic programming in stunning high definition through their Media Center PCs.

“Akimbo has certainly advanced television viewing with its award-winning Internet-delivered on-demand service,” said Jeff Cuban of HDNet. “The Akimbo Service offers HDNet an ideal opportunity to deliver our high-quality original HD content to an entirely new audience that has grown to expect and appreciate distinctive and cutting-edge entertainment.”

According to a recent study from Parks Associates, HDTV sales will surpass $65 billion by 2009 and it is estimated that nearly half of American households plan to purchase an HDTV in the next year alone. As a result, the demand for high-definition content is expected to grow exponentially.

“Consumers are adopting HDTV at a rapid pace. Most of them immediately seek out new sources of great hi-def content,” said Joshua Goldman, Akimbo’s CEO. “With the addition of HDNet’s content, Akimbo can offer a new and innovative way to meet this demand.”

Customers can sign up for a free trial of the Akimbo Service through the Online Spotlight area of Microsoft Media Center Edition 2005 PCs. A subscription to the first Internet-delivered on-demand service is $9.99 a month. To subscribe or find more information about what’s on Akimbo, please visit www.akimbo.com.



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Exceptional Innovation Brings Distributed Audio Solution to Media Center


[EHX] EI Solves the Problem of Distributed Audio through Media Center Edition (CE Pro) | Exceptional Innovation appears to have a big plans to show off at EHX next week.  According to CE Pro, Exceptional Innovation has developed a way of integrating a “whole-house audio system with two-way feedback and metadata over regular inexpensive keypads”

Previously, Exceptional Innovation has showed that this could be done using rather expensive touchscreens.  Now, using inexpensive third-party keypads that will also be able to display metadata, users will be able to control Media Center from around there home for little cost.


Photo from CE Pro (Exceptional Innovation touchscreen model)



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More on Streaming DVD’s To Extenders

Update: Sadly, Windows Vista doesn’t support DVD Streaming.  Maybe one day Microsoft will enable it, however as of RTM Vista will not be supporting DVD Stream from the Extenders.

Matt Goyer posted the bit on Sony’s Standalone Changer for $799 and of course is now getting questions about streaming those DVD’s to Extenders.  Matt, as much as he might want to, can’t talk about Microsoft’s future products plans.  There is nothing stopping me however from providing some information on the policy of the issue.

Matt comments “…two things could happen. We could enable DVD remoting from changers to Xbox’s, or we could develop DVD Managed Copy where you ‘rip’ your DVDs to your hardware and stream them to your Xbox. …We haven’t announced plans for either of those scenarios.”

Honestly, both of the issues Matt covers need to happen.  There should be no “or” about it.  I want to cover the one that everyone wants now, which is streaming DVD’s from DVD Changers to Extenders.  No doubt a killer feature of Media Center would be to have a single point of distribution to legally send out DVDs all over your house. 

I’ve said before that Vista should support streaming of DVDs to Extenders.  The reason for this is because WMRM-ND (eg WMDRM-ND) was approved streaming of current DVD’s with CSS.  There is no reason why (come Vista) you shouldn’t be able to stream DVD’s from your DVD Changer to your Xbox 360.  I will be extremely disappointed if Microsoft skips this important development.  The good thing is that it should appear, as WMRM-ND should already be supported on Extenders.  All Microsoft has to be is develop the middleware to take the DVD from 1394 (the DVD Changer), and wrap WMRM around it and send that onto the wire.  Some people might remember that Niveus Media is developing a solution that would follow the same type of path.

HD DVD’s Managed Copy with Xbox 360 Extender shouldn’t be an issue at all.  I’m sure Matt works on this everyday with since he currently owns the Movies (My DVD’s) feature in Media Center 2005.  I’m not sure if we will see a “Managed Copy” like feature for current DVD’s, although Doherty did say in the article above that Microsoft was “evaluating” ripping DVD’s to their hard drive.  In other words, if Microsoft can get WMRM approved then it might happen.



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On2Share for Microsoft Media Center


On2Share for Microsoft Media Center | On2Share [MCE] is a UPnP Control Point for Microsoft XP Media Center Edition (MCE). On2Share is running as integrated add-in enabling seamless home media networking with simple to use UPnP (Universal Plug and Play). Tap into your digital home network with your MCE remote control. On2Share [MCE] is enabling easy access to your local UPnP media server (e.g.On2Share Pro).



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ExDomus Home Automation Software for Media Center



ExDomus Home Automation Software | ExDomus is a plug-in for Media Center 2005 that allows you to control your X10 Devices (via a CM11 Controller) and Video Cameras (Axis 207) just with your Media Center Remote Control.

You can create your own rooms (Name, Icon), and fill them with devices that you’ve previously configured.



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