Ricavision Debuts New SideShow Remotes!

Ricavision has finally come out to play with new SideShow
remotes.  First off they have a brand new
design in their VAVE100.  Not only does
it have SideShow built-in, but it is now a universal learning remote too.  Everyone’s dream of Media Center control is
about to happen when this thing ships.

The VAVE100
Universal Remote Control with Windows Vista SideShow Technology
is the new top
of the line SideShow-based remote.  Features
include…

  • Control 20 different entertainment devices from a distance
    of over 50 feet via IR
  • 2.4 Inch QVGA LCD Display with a resolution of 240×320
  • IR+Class 1 Bluetooth with Audio streaming
  • Learning feature and Macro support (Built-in 1500 brands via
    LCD display setup)
  • One touch of the Windows Media Center
  • Let the SideShow Begin! 
    Built in SideShow support
  • Rechargeable Lithium Polymer Ion battery
  • Includes docking station with RC6 receiver, Bluetooth transceiver
    and a power charger

Check it out on pre-order
for only $274.00
.  Ships
in February 29, 2008.

Next up is the non-SideShow VAVE50 Windows Vista Universal
Remote Control
.  This is more of a
Harmony replacement than anything else, but it looks more Media Center friendly
then any Harmoy remote on the market. 
Features for this guy include…

  • Controls 15 different devices
  • LCD screen to identify your device
  • LCD screen allows for user defined keys and favorite
    channels
  • Media Center ready

No word on price or availability yet, but you can assume it
will be less expensive then the VAVE100.

image

Also, Ricavision has setup their PLIX Gadgets Bank, which
allows you to download gadgets specially designed Gadgets for Ricavision’s
SideShow remotes.  Currently listed are PLIX
Photo Gadget, PLIX Radio Gadget, PLIX Movie Gadget, and PLIX Weather Gadget.  Standard Sidebar Gadgets should also work
too.

One sad bit of news, their Fridge Magnet/Scribbler
Device
, eBook Reader,
and eChatter are now said
to be prototypes still in development.  I
wouldn’t expect them to ship soon because of that, which is too bad because they
are great ideas that I would love to get my heads on.

Digg
it!

Update: Sideshow will support control of Extender sessions. 

Xbox 360 Gets DivX Support; Extender Doesn’t

The new
Xbox 360 Dashboard gets MPEG-4 ASP support (DviX/Xvid)
, but yet again the
Extender portion of the Xbox 360 gets nothing. 
People don’t
seem to be too happy about this
, yet again. 
Microsoft
didn’t take any hint from my advice
, but that’s really nothing new.

Other Dashboard additions are playback of AC3 audio and
support for AVI files (so DivX with 5.1 Dolby Digital should work).  There are also tons of fixed for video
playback of various other formats.

DWAnderson
also talked about the lack of support.

SageTV Excels As Microsoft Fails

Following the delay of
v2 Media Center Extenders
, SageTV has released some information
and photos of
their upcoming Media Extender
and the reaction has been superb (here,
here,
here,
and here
for just a few examples).

Let’s get right to it, their SageTV HD Media Extender
(STX-HD100) will be $199.  Hey, they
listened to customer feedback and choose a good price point.  Sure, I’ve said in the past that $150 is the
perfect price but considering this is coming from a small company, they sure
nailed the price.  Linksys and D-Link,
who have both delayed their release of v2 Extenders, failed to
intro products at price points that I consider reasonable
.

image
SageTV HD Media Extender
(STX-HD100)

v2 Extenders are now likely to show at retail after the new
year, killing the “Holiday 2007” timeframe completely.  Great to have them unveiled at DigitalLife in
October and then delayed into the next year after announcing that they would be
available this year.  On the other side
of things, Sage is expecting theirs to be ready to go in two weeks (12/10) just
beating the holiday sales window.

It isn’t all good though. 
Looking though the threads some people have some dislikes, albeit minor.  There appears to be no learning remote included,
no CD/DVD drive option, local USB ports not active, no wireless option, and
some other small things.  To me, the case
isn’t that attractive (kinda cheap lookin) and that is something that most
people seem to complain about that with other products.

With all that said, most major details haven’t really been
released.  Brent
Evans
outlined the few confirmed features: HDMI (also S-Video, Composite
and Component), SPDIF, 10/100 Mbps Ethernet, and 1080p output.  H.264 is also on the list, but other than
that not much is known about file format or container support.

I have high hopes for container and file format
support.  To me, Sage understands exactly
what their customers are looking for in this device.  They have had a makeshift solution for a
while with the MediaMVP, but to me they have no reason to put out a device that
doesn’t do what their userbase is looking to do.  The same can’t be said Media Center Extenders
in most cases.

A lot of these differences in understanding boil down to the
perceived market.  Linksys/D-Link are
making devices for “everyone”, not the Media Center enthusiast.  SageTV on the other hand is taking the smart
route and is making the device for the enthusiast.  The “everyone’s” of the world reap the
benefits.  You develop for enthusiasts in
these products to a large extent, and it is my belief that Sage understands
this and Microsoft (along with their partners) don’t.

SageTV has key support for some features that Media Center doesn’t,
noticeably native QAM support for several tuners.  However, one thing that SageTV doesn’t have
and likely will never is CableCARD support. 
Evil DRM aside, I’ve been a proponent of CableCARD (and DIRECTV) support
because it is needed for mass adoption into the home.  For anyone who doesn’t care about that angle
of things and wants to live DRM free forever, I can’t help but suggest watching SageTV’s next move.  Oh, did I mention that SageTV also has their
own version of Softsled
(SageTV Placeshifter
) and they also have a Windows Home Server support?

Microsoft and their partners need to take a long look at
what SageTV is doing, much of it should have been part of Media Center
for a while now.  Congratulations to
SageTV on a job well done thus far, and we all are looking forward to see what is delivered
in the final product.

Short Bits: D-Link Extender Delay, Not Getting a Mac

Word from a poster on The Green Button
is that the D-Link DSM-750 Extender has been delayed.  From a D-Link CSR, “Hello ,and thank you for
your inquiry.  The DSM-750 has been
delayed, it is now expected to be released at the end of Dec/early Jan.”

Update: PCalchemy
now reports December 7th as the expected date for their inventory
for the
Linksys Extenders.  Thanks gstone!

Update: Ed Bott confirms Linksys delayed too.

Also, I’ve been considering buying a Mac for a while
now.  I’ve used OS X on several
occupations and enjoy it, I hear about how great it is from my girlfriend who
works in front of one all day, and now that they can run Windows XP/Vista it
has been on the top of my list for when I upgrade my PC.

However, now I’ve run into a problem with that concept.  TigerDirect doesn’t sell Mac’s.  Why is this important?  Because I’ve got a $500 gift certificate for
TigerDirect (yeah, not my first choice either but it was free).  That screws up me getting a Mac right
now.  I just can’t pass up only needing
to drop $100-$200 for a new PC.

I order my parts yesterday, an C2D E6750, 2GB RAM, GeForce
8500, and 500GB HDD which would all be covered under the gift certificate.  Motherboard choice is still up in the air, but
will most likely be a Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L LGA. 
I’m also going to pick up a semi-cheap Antec case to bring it all
together.

Inteset Serves Quad CableCARD Quad-Core Systems for the MCX Platform

Hanover MA, November 20, 2007, Inteset, LLC has announced
that its Denzel DTCD30-Si media server now supports four (4) internal CableCARD
tuners. In addition, units sold with this configuration contain an Intel®
Quad-Core processor needed to support simultaneous usage of the tuners.

The server can now record up to four high-definition premium
cable broadcasts at once. In addition, the new unit responds to the needs of
Inteset dealers that have requested interoperability with the HDMI, 1080p
capable XBox 360 as well as the new 2nd generation Media Center Extender units
(MCX) coming on the market this holiday season which include those by Linksys
and D-Link. Up to five (5) additional MCX zones can be added. Four of those
zones can access Live TV simultaneously. Protected recordings are stored on the
server and can be streamed to any MCX box on the network. Furthermore, Inteset
has enhanced its multi-zone music entertainment module to work with the MCX
units generating more value add.

“We’ve given our dealers the flexibility they’ve been
looking for,” says David Hirsh, Director of Inteset Business Development.
“Dealers can now offer the low cost but powerful MCX platform to their
customers to distribute media, including protected premium HD cable content
around the house. Individuals can continue to use Inteset’s Vana media extender
to stream DVD movies and watch live or recorded premium cable content
locally,” continues Hirsh.

For detailed specification and dealer pricing information,
visit http://www.inteset.com. Or, contact Inteset sales at
781-826-1560 ext: 215.

About Inteset, LLC
Inteset, LLC has been creating high-end home entertainment
products since 2003.  Inteset offers three categories of products based on
the Windows Media Center platform: media servers, media extenders, and
exclusive software for its systems. The near silent media servers come with up
to 8TB of internal, protected storage with the ability to expand
externally.  The advanced media extenders are independent systems as well
as A/V distribution clients.  All systems are shipped with an enriched
Windows Media Center interface that includes a movie management module and a
multi-zone music module among other exclusive software offerings.  These
systems appeal to A/V dealers and integrators for their high-integrity
construction, reliability, ease-of-use, unique entertainment modules and
services, price point, and interoperability with advanced control systems.

Microsoft’s Media Center Vision Includes Softsled?

Study this image for about two seconds, and you should see
something interesting.  This image was possibly made
for (or by) John Eldridge, a LIVE Evangelist at Microsoft and shown as a part
of a presentation titled “Creating
Innovative Business Applications Using Microsoft Emerging Technologies
” (late 2006, early 2007).

So, at least one person sees the “Media Center Vision”
including Softsled.  Wonder what the hold
up is with eHome understanding and addressing it?  LIVE doesn’t seem to have a huge problem with
it, it is just too bad they don’t make Media Center.

image

Why Doesn’t Zune Support HD Recordings?

I was just
reading one of the Zune threads over at The Green Button
and a user
commented that licensing might be the reason why the Zune doesn’t syncing HD recordings.  The idea being if they didn’t license a Dolby
Digital decoder, then they couldn’t convert the audio.  My train of thought went….

Damn, probably right. 
Another feature lost to licensing

Wait, doesn’t Vista Home Premium and Ultimate include Dolby
Digital decoders?

Yeah, but then you would have to limit syncing of HD content
to Home Premium and Ultimate.  Stupid footnotes
no one ever reads.

Oh, but Media Center is only included in Home Premium and Ultimate.

Dang, why doesn’t Zune support syncing HD recordings then?

Short Bits: Zune Roundup

If you didn’t hear, the new Zunes were released yesterday
along with updated firmware and software
for v1 Zunes
.  Ian Dixon posted his
thoughts on the new
Zune Software
, along with his results on syncing
recorded TV to the Zune
.

Long Zheng posted the best advertisement
that I have ever seen for the Zune
. 
If Microsoft is smart, this style of ad is what will help make the Zune.  The print
ads also excite me
and are very well done. 
No doubt, these ads and concepts are much better then the
first new one, which sucks at best.
If Microsoft can keep this up, the Zune
will be more of a iPod competitor.

Still some big issues with Zune though.  Doesn’t sync HD content (ATSC), of course
doesn’t sync CableCARD content at all, no Smart Playlists (as the ratings
changed
), some
album art issues
, they removed the EQ apparently, and I’m sure there is
more.  Big one for me, as I’ve been talking about Media Center integration is not really so when you compare it to other players.  Media Center integration just means that the Zune Software imports analog recordings.

Walt
Mossberg says it is still no iPod
.  CNET gave it a 8.3 out of 10.  More on Gizmodo
and Engadget.

This Zune is what the first should have been, and I’m
actually looking forward to the v3 Zune.