Short Bits: SDV, HP TocuhSmart, Media Center Show

Missing Remote has had several great articles and review
this week including an article
on SDV and what it means to your CableCARD PC
.  In addition to that Mike reviewed
TVTonic for Media Center
and D-Link’s
DSM-330 DivX Connected Extender
(non Media Center Extender).

Ian Dixon got one of the new HP TouchSmart panels to play
with and
gives his first impressions
and an
unboxing video
.  If you haven’t had a
chance to use one of these new panels yet I’d run out and try and find one
locally setup in-store.   It is a great
PC and the fact that it doubles as a touchpanel makes it even more worth the already
cheap $1200 price tag.

On this week’s Media Center Show Ian had on newcomer
to the Media Center scene Ben Drawbaugh of Engadget HD fame
.  Covered in the show are various topics on
home automation and Media Center Extenders.

mControl Adds Text to Speech Driver

Adding to the long list of mControl add-ins, drivers, and
plug-ins is
their text to speech beta driver
that allows the Microsoft Speech API to
make your Vista machine speak text as part of a macro.  The speech commands are specific to Windows
Vista, so the client will not work on MCE 2005 (the controller part of the
driver should work on MCE 2005 however).

Source code and documentation are also
included in the download

Open Media Library Beta Released

No doubt one of my favorite Media Center plug-ins to watch
has been Open Media
.  The new MCML plug-in started
as a clone of Niveus Media’s Movie Library
and then shifted into a huge
open source project with several developers
behind the effort.  All of that hard work by those developers has
resulted in the first beta
release available for download now
which looks great!  Downloads are available for 32 and 64-bit.

Features include…

  • My Movies XML support
  • VIDEO_TS playback
  • ISO using Daemon Tools
  • Codec based playback support
  • DVD Library Manager support
  • Extender support
  • UI based setup (importers, daemontools settings, etc)
  • Metadata editor
  • Much more

Samsung’s MediaLive: the Ultimate HDTV Accessory, Bringing Digital Content from the PC to the Big-Screen

Samsung Electronics America Inc., the leader in the U.S.
digital television market, lets consumers view PC-content on a Samsung HDTV with
the retail launch of the companys MediaLive adaptor.
Samsungs MediaLive delivers digital content (including
HD content) in real-time from Windows Media Center on a PC running Windows
Vista Home Premium or Windows Vista Ultimate operating systems to the big
screen of a Samsung HDTV via a wireless or wired home network. From photos,
music, feature films, home movies, and live and recorded TV programs, Samsungs MediaLive is the ideal plug-and-play complement to most
2008-model Samsung HDTVs.

“The PC is quickly becoming the hub for entertainment
in the home and Samsung’s MediaLive gives consumers the freedom to enjoy and
manage movies, photos, and music on the bigger screen of an HDTV,” said
John Revie, Vice President of Visual Display Marketing at Samsung Electronics
America. “Samsung’s MediaLive opens up a constantly expanding world of
content for consumers, adding yet another connectivity option to the latest
Samsung HDTVs.

Easily connected to an existing wireless or wired Internet
connection, Samsung’s MediaLive allows PCs running Windows Vista or Windows
Vista Home Premium to stream a personal movie, photo, music, and video
collection to any 2008-model Samsung HDTV in the home with an HDMI-CEC
connection. With the ability to display content at up to Full HD resolution and
support for a range of video, audio, and image codecs such as AC3, H.264, JPEG,
MPEG2, MPEG4, WMA, and WMV, consumers will be able to enjoy an impressive
variety of video and audio files using Samsung’s MediaLive. Instead of crowding
around a 15-inch PC monitor to share their latest music or movies, users can
transfer the same PC content in real-time and share it on a 50-inch HDTV with a
group of friends. One PC can stream content to up-to five Samsung MediaLive
boxes connected to a TV through a home network – providing total access to
entertainment from most 2008-model Samsung HDTV’s in the home.

Beyond streaming personal entertainment, Samsung’s MediaLive
gives consumers access to a wide range of entertainment options including online
services such as Vongo, MovieLink, Showtime TV, XM Radio, and FOX Sports, as
well as the ability to browse through top news stories from Reuters and NPR.
Additionally, in the U.S., Windows Media Center features the Internet TV beta
program, which offers access to viral videos, news stories, movie trailers,
sports clips, cast interviews, movie concerts and more. For access to live and
recorded TV through the Samsung MediaLive, a simple TV tuner can be connected
to the PC, turning it into a powerful DVR with the ability to watch and record
favorite television shows and movies. In conjunction with FOX Sports, consumers
are able to access SportsLounge to quickly view up-to-date sports scores,
statistics and schedules – a perfect tool for any fantasy sports fan.

Microsoft is pleased to be working
with an industry leader such as Samsung, which shares our commitment to
expanding TV entertainment options through Windows Media Center, said Ron Pessner, General Manager of the Connected TV
Division at Microsoft Corp. Were
seeing the industry recognize the value of delivering these types of integrated
solutions that allow consumers to extend pictures, music and more from their
Windows Vista Home Premium- or Ultimate-based PC to the TV.

Employing the simple-to-navigate user interface and
integrated electronic program guide of Windows Media Center, content browsing
and playback is easily controlled using the arrow and enter buttons available
on either the included MediaLive Simple Remote, or the Samsung HDTVs remote control.

Using the included mounting bracket, the compact device can
be easily mounted to the rear of select Samsung flat-panel TVs for a
clutter-free home theater setup. Operational commands are sent to the MediaLive
via the HDMI-CEC port for a high quality, single-cable connection to the HDTV.
The device connects to a PC via a RJ45 connected LAN cable, or wirelessly
through a built-in 802.11 a/b/g/n receiver.

The Samsung MediaLive will be available in August 2008.


Online Content                

  • Windows Media Center
    online media content providers


  • WMA, MP3, AC3


  • WMV, MPEG2, MPEG4, H.264
  • HDMI-CEC output
  • Replay
  • Down & Play of recorded TV program In PC
  • AV Streaming with PC (Server)
  • AV Streaming with PC (Client) – WMV, MPEG2 file Streaming


  • JPEG
  • Zoom in/out, Rotation

Input and Output                            

  • DC Power
  • USB 2.0 Slave
  • USB 2.0 Host
  • Ethernet (RJ45 LAN cable)

Works With

  • 2008-model Samsung HDTVs 450 series and higher, LCD, Plasma
    and DLP

Dimension (W X H X D, mm)                       

  • 270 x 48 x 155


  • 1.8 kg

Estimated Selling
Price                                 $200

Availability                         August 2008

*Subject to change without notice.

About Samsung
Electronics America, Inc.

Headquartered in Ridgefield Park, NJ, Samsung Electronics
America, Inc. (SEA), a wholly owned subsidiary of Samsung Electronics Co.,
Ltd., markets a broad range of award-winning, digital consumer electronics and
home appliance products, including HDTVs, home theater systems, MP3 players,
digital imaging products, refrigerators and washing machines. A recognized
innovation leader in consumer electronics design and technology, Samsung is the
HDTV market leader in the U.S. Please visit for more

Short Bits: Batch DVD Rip, mControl ISY

So you have a Sony DVD Changer that doesn’t include the
ability to stream to Extenders.  What do
you do?  Forget keeping the discs in the
changer and just
batch rip them using Casey Chesnut newest project /dvdMassRip

Embedded Automation has just
released a beta driver for Universal Device’s ISY-xx controllers
.  Currently supported are the ISY-26 and
ISY-99i INSTEON controllers, and the driver has been designed so that UPB and
Z-Wave ISY controllers.

Heatwave Weather Plug-in Makes a Comeback

Years after developing
the world’s first native Media Center plug-in
(in MCE 2005 nonetheless,
thus using unsupported methods), James at MCExtended is back
with Heatwave for Vista
.  Just about
everything you would expect is included in the new weather plug-in, and it also
includes some extras like overlaying a transparent version of the plug-in over the
currently playing video just as Media Center does with the Guide.

can download it here


Short Bits: Media Center U, Media Center Show, SideShow, More

I’ve been extra busy the past week and have kind of skipped
covering everything that I wanted too, but now I’m back!

out part 4
and part
of the Media Center University sessions at EHX.  In these two sessions Todd Rutherford from
Microsoft covers everything from online streaming and downloading of content to
controlling Media Center in a whole home environment.

In last week Media Center Show Ian
Dixon and Ted Singh covered Embedded Automations upcoming mPanel touchscreen

I’ve got a post coming on SideShow later, but to get a glimpse
of that you
just have to see some of the new SideShow gadgets just released by Ikanos
.  AccuWeather, Live
Messenger and System Health.  Now yet
again if we could get some more SideShow hardware this stuff would really take

Now so much Media Center related, but TechCrunch has a great
post about building the perfect web tablet. 
Their idea is for the community
to develop a target $200 touchscreen tablet
and then they are going to get
some prototypes made up.  I’ve been
waiting for the exact same thing, but I’m not sure they are going to meet their
$200 price point just yet.  Nonetheless,
it is something to watch out for and maybe participate in.

Microsoft Releases Home Server Power Pack 1

After what seems like an extremely long wait Windows Home
Server Power Pack 1 has been released. 
If you have automatic updates enabled on your server then Power Pack 1
will be downloaded directly, but if you can’t wait for that then
the download is up here

Power Pack 1 includes several new features and fixes, most notable
Vista x64 support and a fix to the nasty data corruption bug.  Other features include Home Server Shared
Folder backup, improved remote access, and power consumption/performance improvements.

Hot on the heels of Power Pack 1, HP has also released their
Server Update
which adds a few additional features.

Read more on We
Got Served
and the Windows
Home Server Team Blog

CableCARD to Get Relaxed DRM

It has always been hard to stomach the DRM variations that
CableLabs has set up between OCURs and UDCP devices like TiVo’s.  TiVo
gets the ability to have non-DRM recordings if the content provider hasn’t
flagged the broadcast at all whereas Media Center with CableCARD has to protect
everything no matter what.  This discrepancy might is ready to change.

recently unwrapped an update to the OCUR specs in which they appeared to have removed
the “Requirement to Protect Output of Content with No Protection Flags.”

Hard to say whether you will need the Windows
Media Center TV Pack
to take full advantage, but based
on what S1Digital is planning to ship
it would appear that at least
at first the TV Pack will be required.  There will also have to be a
Digital Cable Tuner update that would most likely allow shows not marked as
copy protected to skip the WMDRM process within the tuner.


More on Fiji/Media Center TV Pack

Lots of stuff going around on Fiji, and while I can’t say as
much as I’d like too I can say that no single person has put all the pieces
together yet.  Word is that Fiji final name is indeed Windows Media Center
TV Pack, and useless a separate product pops up out of nowhere I’d consider
that pretty concrete.  Microsoft let that bit slip themselves by releasing a few knowledge
base articles
specifically about the TV Pack.

HD runs down what they expect
to be in the update, and Brent Evans covers
more of the news
from a few different sources
as does Mary Jo.

Now, I still can’t say much about it because of various
different NDAs, but I can say there are still pieces missing from people
accounts of how this is going to work and/or what is included in the
update.  Good or bad however, I can’t say so you will have to wait.  Microsoft
has hinted
that the official announcement for Fiji will come at CEDIA in

On to what I can say, this beta has been a disaster if you
look at it with an outside perspective.  I am very disappointed on how
many people are leaking stuff, and if you thought a two year wait for a public
beta was long for Fiji I’d suggest you not get your hopes up about testing
anything else related to Media Center in the future.  Based on the
disregard of the testers I wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft cut out a public
beta until everything is finalized for the next release.  You can thank
your fellow beta testers for screwing you out of a possible opportunity. 

I’m also very disappointed at the collective attitude of The
Green Button.  Not because Fiji might be OEM only, not because it might be
missing DIRECTV support, not because of any included or missing feature but
instead because of the childish name calling and activity that has gone
on.  The Green Button used to be a community that pretty much moderated
itself, but of course the second I get busy at work all hell breaks loss and
people turn into name calling teenagers.  You can all do better, and I
expect to see it.

Just because Microsoft bought The Green Button does not mean
they will reply to all threads about unreleased and/or unannounced
software.  Everyone needs to realize this.  Microsoft employees have
been being more active in the forums, and considering this ownership transition
is just starting it will take time for things to change.  Those who insist
on flaming and name calling any member, Microsoft employed or not, will not be
welcome at The Green Button.

I will have more on Fiji when I can talk about it, but sadly
at this point all I can say is above.