Short Bits: TV Library, DSM-750, Scripts

Andy has released a version of TV Library that doesn’t include an expiration timebomb.  While not completely polished, TV Library is a quick and easy TV cataloging plug-in done in MCML.  Download it here, and read more about the plug-in here and here.



Buy.com is set to have the D-Link DSM-750 Extender for $260 once they get it in stock.  That’s not a bad deal considering the MSRP ov $300+.



I doubt that Microsoft can be successful with new scripted shows specifically for download on the Xbox 360, but it is an interesting concept.  In a time where the big broadcasters can’t get a successful series from big name writers and producers, does anything think Microsoft can with like (??) talents like Peter Safran.

HP Keeps Computing Personal with Digital Storage First and Customizable PC Lineup



PALO ALTO, Calif., March 31, 2008 - HP today unveiled new customizable desktop PCs that offer a wide range of personalized features and options to fit the needs of every consumer.
 
The company also announced the availability of a digital storage device, the HP Media Vault mv2120, which is designed to store, protect and share digital media, as well as advanced monitors and accessories to enhance the digital lifestyle.
 
Whether desiring a faster processor for casual gaming or more hard drive space for storing photos, consumers can mix and match the options that appeal to their individual interests to create a dream PC with HP’s new customizable desktops.
 
For the ultimate entertainment experience, HP offers the HP Pavilion Elite m9200t customizable PC. The m9200t features the HP Easy Backup button to quickly back up files as well as a variety of options including up to a 1 terabyte (TB)(1) hard drive and a Blu-ray DVD writer.(2) Extra storage options include two built-in drive bays for backing up photos, music and videos. This PC is ideal for anyone who wants power for the most demanding PC tasks and high-end home entertainment.
 
The new HP Pavilion a6460t customizable PC is ENERGY STAR® qualified and features an 80 PLUS power supply to help consumers save money and lessen their impact on the environment. In addition, the a6460t offers powerful computing and captivating entertainment options, with an available Intel® Core(tm) 2 Quad Processor,(3,4) wireless LAN card(5) and a TV tuner(6) to watch, record and pause live TV.
 
For those seeking a high-productivity PC at a superb value, HP offers the enhanced HP Pavilion a6400z customizable PC. The a6400z can be configured for as low as $299(7) with a 1.8 GHz AMD Dual-Core Processor,(3) NVIDIA GeForce 6150 graphics cards, 1 gigabyte (GB) of memory and a 250 GB(8) hard drive. Additionally, every HP Pavilion PC includes tools to make it more fun and convenient to work with digital photos and video clips.
 
The Compaq Presario line of retail desktop PCs also has been updated to include the Compaq Presario SR5450F, which offers a front-panel 15-in-1 memory card reader,(9) 2 GB of memory and Intel Pentium® Dual-Core Processor(3) for under $500.(7)
 
HP Media Vault mv2120 Keeps Digital Content Secure and Accessible
 
Consumers are living increasingly digital lifestyles and accumulating rising amounts of digital photos, music, videos and other content. In fact, Coughlin & Associates Inc. estimates that by 2013 the average home will require 9 TB storage capacity, of which 5 TB will be needed for commercial digital downloads of music, videos and photos.(10)
 
To make it simple for consumers to protect, share and connect to their digital content and Internet entertainment(11) – from home or on the go – HP offers the HP Media Vault mv2120. This is the first in a new category of affordable, easy-to-use products for the central storage, content sharing and backup of all computers on a home or small business network. The mv2120 can be set to automatically back up important media and digital files weekly, daily or continuously – as often as needed.
 
This pioneering product also offers some of the features found in the HP MediaSmart Server, including Photo Webshare, iTunes server and remote access. With Photo Webshare, consumers can create a photo-sharing website on the Media Vault, and with iTunes server, they can centralize their iTunes music library for playback on any computer running iTunes on the network.
 
Remote access grants designated users enhanced security for accessing important files on the network from any Internet-connected computer, even while outside of the home or office. Additionally, the mv2120 offers exceptionally low power consumption and a smart energy-saving drive spin down feature.
 
The mv2120 ships with 500 GB(8) capacity and can benefit individuals and small businesses with fewer than 10 employees. HP also recently introduced the HP Media Vault mv5100 Pro series, available in 1 TB and 1.5 TB(1) capacities, which is specifically targeted to small businesses.
 
New Vivid Color Monitor and HP Elite Autofocus Webcam
 
To accompany its new desktop PCs, HP introduced the HP w1707 Vivid Color 17-inch diagonal flat-panel monitor. This sleek monitor offers a high-quality widescreen picture with a BrightView panel and more viewing area for computer games, spreadsheets and web pages.
 
HP also announced the new, elegantly designed HP Elite Autofocus Webcam, which makes it fun and easy to chat face-to-face over the Internet, record videos and snap high-resolution photos. With up to 12-megapixel still photo resolution using a 3-megapixel core sensor with autofocus, the webcam lets consumers stay in touch with friends and family.
 
Pricing(7) and Availability
 
The following specifications and prices for the HP Pavilion customizable desktop PCs are estimated U.S. street prices and depend on the configuration ordered. They can be customized direct from HP via www.hpshopping.com or through kiosks located in retail outlets nationwide.



  • The HP Pavilion Elite m9200t customizable PC is currently available starting at $799.
  • The HP Pavilion a6460t ENERGY STAR PC is currently available starting at $549.
  • The HP Pavilion a6400z customizable PC is currently available starting at $299.


 The following prices for the Compaq Presario desktop PC, HP Media Vault mv2120 and Monitor are also estimated U.S. street prices. They will be available direct from HP via www.hpshopping.com or at retail outlets nationwide.



  • The Compaq Presario SR5450F is expected to be available April 6 starting at $459.
  • The HP Media Vault mv2120 is currently available starting at $299.
  • The HP w1707 Vivid Color Monitor is currently available at $180.


The HP Elite Autofocus Webcam is expected to be available April 6 at Best Buy outlets nationwide for an estimated U.S. street price of $99



About HP

HP focuses on simplifying technology experiences for all of its customers – from individual consumers to the largest businesses. With a portfolio that spans printing, personal computing, software, services and IT infrastructure, HP is among the world’s largest IT companies, with revenue totaling $107.7 billion for the four fiscal quarters ended Jan. 31, 2008. More information about HP (NYSE: HPQ) is available at www.hp.com.
 
(1) For hard drives, TB = 1 trillion bytes. Actual formatted capacity is less.
(2) As Blu-ray is a new format containing new technologies, certain disc, digital connection, compatibility and/or performance issues may arise, and do not constitute defects in the product. Flawless playback on all systems is not guaranteed. In order for Blu-ray titles to play, they may require a DVI or HDMI digital connection and the display may require HDCP support. Don’t copy copyright-protected materials.
(3)  Dual/Quad/Triple is a new technology designed to improve performance of certain software products. Not all customers or software applications will necessarily benefit from use of this technology.
(4) 64-bit computing on Intel architecture requires a computer system with a processor, chipset, BIOS, operating system, device drivers and applications enabled for Intel 64 architecture. Processors will not operate (including 32-bit operation) without an Intel 64 architecture-enabled BIOS. Performance will vary depending on hardware and software configurations. See www.intel.com/info/em64t for more information.
(5) Wireless access point required and is not included. Availability of public wireless access points limited. Wireless Internet use requires separately purchased Internet service contract.
(6) Availability of signals limited by the strength and accessibility of the originating TV signal, location and other factors. Performance issues may arise and do not constitute defects in the product.
(7) Estimated U.S. street prices. Actual pricing may vary.
(8) For hard drives, GB = 1 billion bytes. Actual formatted capacity is less. Up to 10 GB (for Microsoft Vista®, Windows® XP and XP Pro) and up to 12 GB (for MCE) is reserved for system recovery software.
(9) Supports Smart Media, xD, MultiMedia card (MMC), Reduced Size-MMC (RS-MMC), MMCplus, MMCmobile, Secure Digital (SD), miniSD, Compact Flash 1, Compact Flash II, Microdrive, Memory Stick (MS), MS PRO, MS Duo, MS PRO D.
(10) John Coughlin and Jim Handy, “Digital Storage in Consumer Electronics 2008,” January 2008 (p. 12) www.tomcoughlin.com/Techpapers/Brochure%20CE_Storage_Report,%20010208.pdf.
(11) Internet access required.

Okoro Media Systems Launches New High-End Media Centers with Solid State Drive Technology

Okoro Media Systems, manufacturer of Digital Entertainment Systems for the high end audio video market, is pleased to announce the availability of the ZX series of media center PCs. The ZX series represent Okoro Media’s new “Extreme” line of Digital Entertainment Systems. Each ZX model utilizes Intel® Quad Core processors, high speed solid state hard drives, and an exceptional visual experience using the latest in NVIDIA PureVideo HD technology. The ZX series will also be the first Digital Entertainment System available that allows OMS customers to choose any automotive color they desire as a standard feature.
 
“We now have a stylish Digital Entertainment System for our customers in any automotive color they want. This will allow them to customize the unit to fit their décor or color match it with their favorite car. We strive to give our customers what they want and ultimate customization is a popular request. ” says Christopher Curry VP of Sales and Marketing.
 
The ZX series uses Solid State Drive (SSD) technology which is a major leap from the standard hard disc drives used in other media centers. The OMS SSD have no mechanical parts increasing overall reliability, performance and are more “Green” because they consume very little power. The ZX series is also Okoro Media Systems’ first line to be available in any color using a high quality automotive finish usually only associated with exotic cars.
 
The OMS-ZX100 is the first model available in the ZX line and comes standard with the following features:
 
ZX100 Digital Entertainment System
Intel Core™2 Extreme Quad Core Processor QX6850 3.0GHz
3 Gigabytes of Memory
NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GT HDMI output
32GB High Speed Solid State OS Drive with 1TB for Media Storage
Blu-ray and HDDVD Playback
Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate Edition
Availability in ANY automotive color
 
For more information about the ZX series please visit www.okoromedia.com

TV Wars: Media, Money and the Battle for Canada’s Airwaves

This came to one of my e-mail accounts the other day, looks very interesting considering the issues I know Canadian’s are having.



ichannel Documentary Special

Tonight, while Canadians settle down in front of their TVs, few will realize that a fierce battle is being waged over who will control what they get to see in their living-rooms in the future.

It is a battle that pits big cable, satellite and telephone companies against the broadcasters, producers and Canadian talent. Oligopolies against small independent broadcasters…Canada against the US…and private interests versus the public good.

It is a war over Canada’s airwaves.  Who really owns them?  Who should be policing the types of channels we can access?  And just how independent, diverse and Canadian should our television universe be?

TV WARS: Media, Money and the Battle for Canada’s Airwaves is an investigative documentary special that delves into Canada’s most important cultural industry, and how that industry will fare in the future.  Will Canadian values, opinions, ideas and stories survive if the Canadian broadcasting system is controlled by the cable, satellite and telephone companies, who not only own the means for television distribution, but also many of the channels available to Canadians?  In an era of media ownership concentration, will there be any room for an independent voice in the brave new TV world?

Find out Wednesday, April 2 at 8pm and 11pm, and Sunday, April 6 at 9pm (ET).

Only on ichannel.













AverMedia Releases QAM Plug-in for Bravo Hybrid PCIe

AVerMedia has released beta QAM plug-in/driver that work within Media Center for their Bravo Hybrid PCIe tuner card.  Much like the existing beta QAM plug-in for the AVerTV Combo PCIe x1 M780, this will enable your Bravo Hybird to tune unencrypted QAM from within Media Center.









You can download the beta drivers and plug-in from AVerMedia’s FTP site at ftp.aver.com/Bravo.  Username is beta, password is betatest.  There are drivers for both 32 and 64-bit, but remember these are beta drivers so backup your system before you try anything!



Fiji Media Center Beta Inches Closer

We have been waiting for Microsoft to open the beta for Fiji, the suspected codename for the next version of Media Center for well over a year now.  I first posted about it in March of last year, with invites first opening just a month after that, and now it appears we may finally have taken a step forward.



Users (who shall remain nameless, because I edited them out) at The Green Button are reporting that they have received e-mails from Microsoft Connect.  If true, this would be the first step to finally getting something in our hands to play with (under NDA of course).



This release will bring DIRECTV support among other unannounced features.  I had expected it to include HD DVD support, but I wouldn’t count on that any more.  Other features have been kept under tight wraps, though I’ve got a few in mind that I’m rather sure will be there.



As the beta has still not officially started, anyone have predictions for what features will be added?

Update: Engadget HD points to a user who leaked their invite for the DIRECTV beta (bad move, considering Engadget published their first name!).


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D-Link DSM-750 Extender Now Available

We knew it was on the way, but it looks like D-Link is now shipping their DSM-750 Extender.  D-Link has the price of $329.99, but if you can wait a few more days several other retailers should be getting stock in with some listed it at as low as $250.

The DSM-750 doesn’t have an integrated DVD drive, but it does have a local media playback interface with D-Link’s MediaLounge.  For the most part this means it works just like the Xbox 360 Dashboard.  Additional formats are supported using MediaLounge, but it is disconnected from the Media Center experience.

Among other features it has HDMI (1080i), Wireless-N, and more.  Grab the user manual here (PDF).  Performance is going to be on the same level as the Linksys Extenders. (ftp://ftp.dlink.com/Medialounge/DSM750/Manual/dsm750_manual_100.pdf)

Short Bits: On10, Media Center Show, More

On10 has video interviews with Autonomic Controls as well as Cannon PC that were posted this week.  Cannon PC has even stepped up and now is a Microsoft OEM so they can offer CableCARD.



Ian Dixon has a new Media Center Show with Charlie Owen and special guest Ted Singh of Embedded Automation.  Ted is on with a short interview about their new in-wall touchscreen, and Charlie as always is on with development news and platform highlights.



I’m trying out some new things in regards to authoring HD DVD and Blu-ray Discs that I hope to post on later.  For instance, did you know that you don’t need an HD DVD or Blu-ray Burner to burn HD content?  You can actually use standard DVD+R or DVD-R and get HD DVD or Blu-ray compliant video that will playback on standalone players.

Short Bits: Life|ware, Harmony, MyNetflix

Interesting how Mike Seamons leaves Exceptional Innovation and their focus turns to everything but Media Center.  Life|ware now runs on a RTI T-2C RF remotes, so you can have an XPe Life|controller and not even use Media Center as a part of Life|ware.

This is actually a great move, the advantages of home automation and lighting control comes in the various control form factors.  I don’t want to turn on a display everytime I want to control my lights, and in fact the one thing I hate about the light control that I’ve adopted (INSTEON) is a lack of controllers (though it is now improving over the past month or two).  This is also one of the key advantages behind Sideshow remotes (which have never shipped).

Missing Remote has an article on Harmony remotes, by far the best remote to improve the ease of use of any HT equipment.

Anthony just released a new version of his MyNetflix plug-in.  Version 2.2 (beta) brings search functionality with a virtual on-screen keyboard and the ability to select the streaming bitrate.

QuiiQ Slashes Prices on QuiiQ Movies

Last week I wrote about QuiiQ Movies, a new movie cataloging and management application for Media Center and the overwhelming response was “$100+, no thanks.”

Well, it appears the guys at QuiiQ were listening and today dropped their price of the Base package to only $30.





I still haven’t had time to give it a shot, but a few early reviews have come in with relatively good news.  I think if QuiiQ can really show the market that they are committed to the market by providing frequent updates and bug fixes then this could be a good challenger for My Movies.