CableCARD Recordings On Zune? Why The Answer Is No

Vista: no
CableCARD streaming to other PCs (Ars Technica)
| Ars Technica has a
summery of last weeks No
Streaming CableCARD Content to Other Windows PC’s
, and questions the
ability to transfer content to portable device…

Quote:  It’s
hard to believe that Microsoft wouldn’t enable this at least for the Zune
(which currently has no way to transfer video back off the device, making it
“safe” for content owners), but it’s not clear exactly which parties
are behind which restrictions.”

While this is true from the basic consumer use standpoint,
it’s not hard to get anything off a Portable
Media Center
(and I assume Zune too).  Taking for
example the Creative
Zen Portable
Media Center,
which I have personally taken apart, the data on the device is not secured in
any manor.  The hard drive used in the
Creative Portable Media Center is an Hitachi Travelstar, and mixed with a
simple IDE to USB adapter you can access it directly from Windows.  Its FAT32 formatted, and the files are
unencrypted (though the organization method of Windows Mobile on the devices
leaves a lot to be desired, relaying on ASF meta data, but this has nothing to do with CableCARD)

So, despite the fact that the Zune/Portable Media Center’s
can’t re-copy content back over to Windows doesn’t mean the data is
secure!  It’s going to take a lot more
than the software on the PC not allowing you to, it’s got to stay secure on media

If you take a look at anything related to CableCARD, part of the deal is the data must stay protected throughout it’s existence.  I don’t know all of the reasoning behind not allowing CableCARD content onto portable devices, but there are generally loads of regulations about unsecured hardware and hardware which could allow sniffing on any bus.

I’m hoping CableLabs and Microsoft will be able to work something out using WMDRM to secure the data on the device.  However, with Zune supporting whatever new DRM method they are, I don’t know if it supports WMDRM10 for example (anyone know what DRM technologies are support on Zune, please let me know).

The other concept that might work in the future is streaming to the Zune since it has built-in WiFi.  Streaming is a good option for in-home viewing, and I would bet easier to secure too.

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Vote for The Media Center Show Awards 2006

Media Center Show Awards 2006
| Ian posted up the voting page for the Media
Center Show Awards for 2006 today.  Make
sure to vote, it only takes about a 1 minute and gives those who spend there
time working/playing/developing for Media
Center a pat-on-the-back.

There is also a few great incentives to vote, including
getting entered in a prize draw for free software including mNewsCenter and Media Center Communicator!

There are categories for:

  • Best Media Center
  • Best
    Online Spotlight Applications
  • Best
    Communication Tool
  • Best
    Community Resource
  • Best
    Hardware Manufacturer
  • Best
    Enthusiast Blog
  • Best
    Microsoft Media Center Blog
  • Best
    Free application (non-commercial) application
  • Best
    Commercial Application
  • Outstanding
    Design Award
  • Best Vista Media
    Center Application

P.S.  I’m not saying
you should vote for me, but you know….

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Manufacturers Exploit Vista for Home Automation & A/V

Manufacturers Exploit Vista for Home Automation & A/V (CE Pro)
| Julie
has a post with some of the great stuff that was on show at EHX.   Embedded
Automation, Cortexa, Exceptional Innovation, Honeywell, Niveus, Superna, and more
are showcased.  Check it out!

(Photo Courtesy of CE Pro)

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"Big Screen Contacts" for Vista Media Center

Screen Contacts
| Niall has pushed out another application for Vista Media
Center.  Big Screen Contacts is an
MCML application for Vista
Media Center
that can sync with Windows Contacts.  Includes
some cool features, such as…

  • Browse
    your Windows Contacts Directory by Surname, Name, or Company Name.
  • Search
    your Windows Contacts by keyword (with triple-tap friendly text entry).
  • Drill
    down to detailed Contact information such as Home/Work Address, Phone
    Numbers, Email/IM Addresses, Family and Personal Notes.
  • Track
    birthdays for your contacts – with inbuilt birthday list.
  • Toggle
    between 3 different browser views ( List, Tile and Large Icon) and filter
    by letter – using the inbuilt foldaway filter bar.
  • Displays
    Thumbnail photos for your contacts.

More screenshots can be found here and you can
download it here.  Works with Vista
RC2 and RTM.

Also, be sure to check out the rest of the growing “Big
Screen” suite including Big
Screen Business
, Big
Screen Headlines
, Big
Screen Weather
, and Big
Screen Photos


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WebGuide4 Now Supports Streaming Live TV (SoftSled Like!)

| Homepage
| Yesterday Doug announced that WebGuide4
now supports Live TV Streaming!

Doug says After more than a year of on and off development (most of it
frustrating), I’ve finally pushed live transcoding/live tv to the point that is
ready for outside use.  This feature is rather complicated, so some people
may have issues getting it running right away, but with participation of the
many smart users in these forums, I feel we can work through most issues. 

I haven’t played with it yet, but this is very cool.  About the closest to the mystic “SoftSled” as
you can get!  Download
it here!




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Still Waiting for that Digital Output (DVI/HDMI) Dongle….

It’s been over a year since I first
starting writing about it
and the point still stands, to output full
resolution with CableCARD the Xbox 360 must have a digital connection!

Microsoft already covered part of the picture, allowing
the Xbox 360 to output 1080p for HD DVD and gaming
, however VGA and Component
do not guarantee full resolution output for CableCARD, just as it doesn’t for

Just as with HD DVD and Image Constaint Token (ICT),
CableLabs defines Constrained Image Trigger (CIT).  Both are really the same, and basically will
downres any content that has the bit turned on unless HDCP is used.

So, unless Microsoft has worked out a “special deal” with
CableLabs to allow the Xbox 360 to output full resolution with VGA/Component,
we still don’t have a guarantee that we can get full resolution output on
everything we record!

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The Media Center Show #84

Media Center Show #84
| 23rd November 2006 (53mins 21secs) MP3
– 18.3MB (Download Here)

This week Ian
talked with Orb co-founder Joe
Costello about Orb 2.0, mycasting, the
explosion of digital media and taking your Media Center
content with you on the go.

Checkout The
Media Center Show Extra #4
, also tell Ian what you think of the “extra”
shows on the survey

Don’t forget the Media
Center Show Award nominations
, voting starts soon.

No Streaming CableCARD Content to Other Windows PC’s

MCE CableCard Shortcoming: No Streaming to Other PCs (CE Pro)
| Julie is
out with an article about CableCARD in Vista
and how streaming to other PC’s isn’t supported.

Very true, just as with current CGMS-A protected content it
can only be played back on the Media Center PC it was recorded on (inside of
Media Center only, not in Windows Media Player) or a Media Center Extender.

As Julie points out the only Extender that supports Vista is the Xbox 360 right now.  v2
Extenders are on the way
and will support connecting to Vista
and will also support playback of HDTV recordings.

Julie says not to blame Microsoft, however I respectfully
disagree.  Yes, the reason you can’t
stream to other Windows PC’s is because of CableLabs, however if Microsoft had ever
developed “SoftSled” or a software Media Center Extender this wouldn’t not be
an issue.  Microsoft has decided to skip
that side of the market (with some Microsoft employees not even knowing it’s
been a wanted feature for the past four years) it doesn’t look very hopeful
that it will be an addition to the platform anytime soon.

Another bit that you can not do with CableCARD recordings is
convert them to go on portable devices (Zune, Portable Media
Center’s, iPod’s, etc).

Windows Media Connect (or whatever they renamed it to with
Windows Media Player 11) also need not apply to networked playback.

Be sure to check out Julie’s full write up

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New Silent VidaBox STEALTH Media Center with up to 1,500GB of Storage

GARDEN CITY, NY – November 22 – VidaBox LLC announces a new
silent media center / HTPC system, dubbed the VidaBox™ STEALTH™. Less than
3.6″ tall, the STEALTH™ is a fully-featured, miniature form factor media
center featuring a slot-loading DVD±RW dual-layer burner, dual analog tuners,
and massive VidaSafe™-protected storage of up to 1,500GB.

“The STEALTH™ is perfect for those who consider silence
and small size as definite must-haves, without compromising or sacrificing any
features,” says Steven Cheung, co-founder of VidaBox. “The STEALTH™
really shines in home theaters, where noise must be kept to an absolute
minimum. Our unique system design, using special heat pipes and heat sinks in
conjunction with sound deadening hard drive and DVD drive enclosures, keeps the
system completely silent without the use of any fans – which are a major source
of noise pollution. The VidaBox™ STEALTH™ is so small and quiet – you won’t
even know it’s there!”

The STEALTH™ can be configured with state-of-the-art
hardware, such as the AMD AM2 5200+ Dual-Core CPU, 4GB of RAM, 7950GT video
card with dual DVI outputs, or an HDMI 1.2 output with HDCP compliance. Dual analog
standard definition tuners with dual high-definition (HD) tuners are also
available to record up to four (4) TV shows at once.

“Best of all, the entire system is packaged in a stunningly
beautiful case, featuring a black anodized finish, an acrylic glass front
panel, along with premium, hi-fi style component feet,” Steven continues.
“Unlike traditional, passively cooled systems with industrial-looking cases,
the STEALTH™ is truly the first small form factor system that you’ll want to
show off to your family & friends!”

For more details and specifications on the new VidaBox™
STEALTH™, please visit the company website at
or call (516) 730-7500.

About VidaBox LLC
VidaBox LLC is an innovative systems integration company focused on manufacturing
and engineering premium Media
Center systems. 
VidaBox is on a mission to create user-friendly, stable, compact, and quiet
Media Centers that work right out of the box.  For more information, visit or call 1-516-730-7500.

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