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!).

image

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.