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 too.

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


The 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 Utility
  • 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


[EHX] 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!

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   (Photo Courtesy of CE Pro)


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"Big Screen Contacts" for Vista Media Center


Big 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!)


WebGuide4 | 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!

WebGuide4 FAQ

WebGuide4 Live TV FAQ

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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 HD DVD.

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



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

This week Ian Dixon 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 page

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

No Streaming CableCARD Content to Other Windows PC’s


Another 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 here.



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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 http://www.vidabox.com 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 www.vidabox.com or call 1-516-730-7500.



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