Non-SideShow In-wall Media Center Control (Shipping Now)


While laying out my whole SideShow spiel the other day about in-wall keypads and Media Center control, I did leave out something.  ACS has been doing this for the past two years!  Their Graphical Media Center Remote Front Panel is a 128×64 serial controlled (RS-232) remote that also passes metadata.  It even includes a Configuration Utility so you can tell it what exactly you wish to display.  Looks to fit nicely in standard dual gang box, which is the perfect size!

And the best part, retails for only $99!  You can bet that SideShow modules will cost more than that.

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Thanks to Scott for the reminder.



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Sony VGP-XL1B2 DVD/Media Changer Now Only $200


Sony VAIO VGP-XL1B2 Media Changer (JR.com) | $800, $400, $300, and now only $200!  That’s right, JR.com has the 200-disc Sony DVD/Media Changer for only $200 now.  You should be able to get $10 off that using Google Checkout.  Works with MCE 2005 and Vista.

While you are at it check out MCEtilities which might be the first tool to support batch DVD Ripping!

Thanks Alex!



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Advertise on Chris Lanier’s Blog

Are you interested in reaching over 90,000 unique visitors a month generating over 130,000 page views?  Stop spending top dollar advertising on non-targeted websites, reach your audience with low CPM based advertising here.  You will be able to reach digital home and media enthusiasts at a CPM under $2.


Featured on several top websites including Ars Technica, Digg, Engadget, Gizmodo, and more.


Graphical Banners
Graphical banners are offered in a verity of formats including 160×600, 468×60, and 125×125.


  • (2) 160×600 (Wide Skyscraper) - $200 (<1.5CPM)
  • (1) 468×60 (Top Banner) – $200 (<1.5CPM)
  • (2) 125×125 (Button) – $100 (<1.0CPM)

Graphical banners are shown site wide on all pages.  Wide Skyscraper and Buttons are shown in the left sidebar, Top Banners displays at the top of all pages site wide.  Images are limited to 45kb.  Animation is allowed, but no Flash.  Payments via PayPal.


Want to start a campaign?   Please contact me for more information.


Google AdWords
Google AdWords is used in various locations on the site offering text links.  If you are interested in creating a campaign using AdWords please see here.  Please consider a graphical button or banner for best placement.


For more general information on Google AdWords, please click here.


Small-time/Part-Time Media Center Software Developers
If you are a Small-time/Part-time developer of Media Center applications or plug-ins and would still like to get the word out about your products please don’t hesitate to contact me.  I will work with you to create a very reasonable and inexpensive campaign.


Questions?  Please contact me for more information.

Batch DVD Ripping In Sight? MCEtilites Beta Released


ActiveAsp Software has just released MCEtilites v1.0 (Direct Download) for MCE 2005 and Vista Media Center.  Currently in beta, MCEtilities allows you to edit metadata on DVR-MS files and to view metadata for dvdxml files.  However, the software can also control DVD Changers!  Currently it can mount, unmount, eject, and even rip from DVD Changer’s like Sony’s XL1B2!

Now, if you are like me you are still reading this post because you want to know if it will allow batch DVD Ripping, the Holy Grail for such an inexpensive DVD Changer that doesn’t support DVD Streaming.  Well, right now the answer is no, it doesn’t do batch DVD ripping.  According to the developer you will still need to click “Start Ripping.”  However, he is currently investigating using the Nero API’s to allow for batch ripping and transcoding.  Exciting stuff, so stay tuned.  There is also an SDK for VS2005 so people can make their own plug-ins to edit/manipule/whatever DVD Changers, DVR-MS files, and movie metadata.

Already planned features include being able to use MCEtilities to edit/download metadata for movies, and it will have integration with DVDXML.com.

Remember, it’s in beta so report bugs here.



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Ricavision Intros Multifunction and Universal Vista Remotes


Speaking of Ricavision remotes, Ricavision also has some upcoming multifunction and universal remote controls for Windows Vista.

Running from left to right, the first one pictured is just a basic Vista Remote Control and only works with your PC.  The next one is a Multifunction Remote Control and will control your PC and basic TV functions (power, input, volume, etc).  The last one is a Universal Remote Control that can handle your PC, TV, DVD/VCR, and more.

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Not sure what the prices will be, but these are some pretty nice looking remotes.



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SideShow | Great Media Center Extender Complement


As Bryan pointed out in the comments on my Extender Concepts post, Ricavision is making Sideshow Module that will bring better 2’ control to Media Center.  Currently if you want to start playing music on your Media Center you need to turn on your display and navigate to My Music.  After you do that, your display basically needs to stay on in case you want to change what music is playing.  Considering a large majority of people are doing other things while listening to music (not glued to the screen), using a SideShow remote with an LCD screen to control the PC without having to turn on the display will be very useful.  Windows Vista and SideShow solved this problem.

Below is a picture of what Ricavision’s SideShow module actually looks like, as well as one of there SideShow remotes that will hopefully ship soon.  The SideShow module can give you access to several Music, TV, Pictures, and Video functions.

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SideShow modules can have the ability to be loads of interesting things, including audio and video playback.  As far as I know, the Ricavision SideShow module is just meant to be a secondary screen for control.  Things like scheduling a show to record, or browsing through your music library for playback to occur on the PC are just a few examples of what SideShow will bring to you.

SideShow modules will not replace Media Center Extenders overall, however there are some applications that SideShow should be more cost effective then an Extender to implement.  For example, I suggested that it would be very nice to have an In-wall Touchscreen Extender that would allow you to extend Media Center into another room without having a full setup with a separate display.  However, you might just want control of your music library, in-effect creating a nice multi-zone audio solution.  A SideShow module could be nicely built as an in-wall solution and I’m sure we will see a few out there.  In wall keypads are very popular with other whole home solutions, and SideShow will bring them to Media Center.

In addition to Media Center, SideShow modules can have access to dozens of other modules including Vista’s Sidebar Gadgets.  This means things like quick e-mail access, IM, RSS, weather, and much more can also be a part of this.  Clearly, this is a huge advantage and ads a ton of value to SideShow modules.  And just as it doesn’t stop with Media Center related products, you might have already seen other SideShow devices out there like MP3 Players, external laptop displays, and even digital picture frames.  Home automation is going to get a huge jump with this too!

Since I haven’t really talked about SideShow, are you interested in what it could bring?  If you not running Vista is this one of those things that would make you upgrade?



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Tablet and In-wall Touchscreen Extender Concepts


I refuse to give up on Pika.  I know, I know, Microsoft and OEMs seem to be lagging way behind were they need to be getting them into the market.  While I don’t agree with Microsoft or their OEMs for being so slow (it’s not clear if it’s Microsoft or the OEMs that are the problem) I think that Pika could bring some very interesting devices.  We already know that DVD Players with Media Center Extenders will likely show, as will Media Center Extender HDTVs.

But what about what could also be released, pending some smart OEMs.  The Pika development kit from Sigma Designs is rather small and could be put several exciting places.  If I had to guess I would say the broad is about 7×4.5in, which means it is very compact in comparison to the cases these things are put into.  This means it could be nicely made into a small Tablet Touchscreen Extender or In-wall  Touchscreen Extender!

I would love to see a $500 (or so) 10” Touchscreen Tablet Extender that I could walk around the house and view recorded TV on.  Battery life might be issue with one of these, as it always is with any portable device.   However, it would (technically) be able to decode HDTV, including that recorded on from a CableCARD.  I think if someone could manage 3 hours of battery life this concept would be great!  Removable battery would be a huge plus.

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(Yes, this does not exist) 

Or what about an In-wall Touchscreen Extender.  This would be an interesting concept for an OEM to tackle, because any good way of doing this would involve smashing some holes in your walls for the install plus running power, Ethernet, and optional external speakers.  Those are instant turn-off’s for most OEMs.  However, pending that a 6” In-wall Touchscreen Extender would bring your home to your figure-tips much like Exceptional Innovations current XPe Touchscreens do (w/ Life|ware).  This would be a great addition to multi-zone audio and home automation people.

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(This too does not exist, artist rendering) 

Mix the above with Sideshow (which I have not covered very well here) and your really getting into the connect lifestyle idea that Media Center should be the center of.

What do you think?  Are these devices that would interest you and are there any more that you would be interested to see?  Clearly the Zune as a wireless Media Center Extender is up there, anything else?



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WebGuide Gadget Released for Vista


Doug released his WebGuide Gadget that I talked about a few days ago.

“The WebGuide Gadget allows you to connect to local Media Center or a remote WebGuide server. It allows for full access to the program guide, search, recorded TV and scheduled Recordings. You can even stream live TV when connected to a WebGuide server.”

Download it Here and don’t forget to listen to him on The Media Center Show this week.

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The Media Center Show #96


The Media Center Show #96 | 22nd February 2007 (56mins 46secs) MP3 - 19.5MB (Download Here)

This week Ian Dixon talked with Doug Berrett author of WebGuide, the remote scheduler application for Media Center and turns out it does a lot more than that.  Doug  will also talk about version 4.0

Checkout the new Media Center Show Community site there are a whole range of forums, blogs and other resources. 



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S1Digital Sets a New Reference Standard with ProLine Series Media Centers


New York, NY, February 20th, 2007 – S1Digital, a leading builder of high-end Media Centers and Servers, today announced the launch of their ProLine Series which sets a new reference standard for Media Centers based on Microsoft Vista Ultimate. The ProLine Series includes S1Digital’s flagship rack mount Media Server Edition and the silent FX Edition. Designed specifically for custom audio and video installers, the ProLine Media Centers enable installers to offer their customers the latest in high-end digital home entertainment solutions.

The Media Server Edition raises the bar for Media Centers by including up to 3TB of storage in six hot swap drive bays. Managed by a dedicated 3ware RAID controller, the Media Server can effortlessly record multiple HDTV streams while simultaneously streaming content throughout the home (via Media Center Extenders) and providing full data protection. The 3U rack mount chassis fits into standard 20” depth A/V racks. Other features include HD-DVD playback, 1080p HDMI video output, Dolby Master Studio 7.1 channel audio and dual HDTV and SDTV tuners enabling recording of up to four TV channels at the same time. The Media Server Edition is powered by the latest Intel Core 2 Duo processors, includes Intel Viiv technology and runs on Microsoft Vista Ultimate.

If silence is golden then the Media Center FX Edition is 24k. The FX Edition features a sophisticated European design making it a centerpiece of any living room. Extruded aluminum heat sinks draw heat away from critical components via silent heat pipe technology. Other features include one terabyte of internal storage, HD-DVD playback as standard or optional Blu-ray drive, 1080p HDMI video output, Dolby Home Theater 7.1 channel audio and dual HDTV and SDTV tuners enabling recording of up to four TV channels at the same time. The FX Edition is also powered by the latest Intel Core 2 Duo processors, includes Intel Viiv technology and runs on Microsoft Vista Ultimate.

Offering unprecedented support for the installer community, S1Digital’s ProLine Series products can be customized with add-ons to enable home automation capabilities, two-way control from Crestron, AMX and other touchscreens, and integration with Russound and Nuvo multi-room audio systems (coming soon).

“We’re now able to offer customized solutions, products and support specifically to our custom installer market,” said Paul Heitlinger, S1Digital CEO and Founder. “Partnering with S1Digital really enables our resellers to offer their customers the latest in digital entertainment technology.”

The Media Server Edition will be available in March 2007 and the FX Edition will be available by the end of February. Dealer pricing is available to approved resellers.

All of S1Digital’s Media Centers and solutions including home automation, multi-room audio and video distribution and touchscreen control, are on display at the S1Digital Experience showroom in New York. S1Digital’s products will also be demonstrated at the Electronic House Expo, October 8-10th in Orlando, FL in booth 1723.

For more information, please contact S1Digital via email sales@s1digital.com, phone 888-632-6897 or visit their website at www.s1digital.com.

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