Category Archives: 2242

Going Beyond The Enthusiast Market

Charlie Owen, a former Media Center team member wrote a post this
week about Media Center expanding its marketplace, specifically
going from
the current enthusiast market to a more mainstream market
.  Charlie analysis comes to the pretty simple
answer of It’s
possible, but highly unlikely at this point.”

I had previously come to this conclusion, but to me
the real question is “
will Microsoft attempt to develop for the
enthusiast market?”  Lucky for me,
Charlie replied to my comment with exactly what I was expecting

Charlie: “No. That’s because they have never done so. The enthusiast market is
always a subset of the overall market any product targets. Put another way:
Where the goal is making a profit you wouldn’t sacrifice a broad market
opportunity of 100 for the narrow enthusiast market of 10. Making a
Microsoft-sized profit is different than making a profit if you were a much
smaller company.”

In other words the future for Media Center is one or two
options.  Option 1: Microsoft stops
development of Media Center (very unlikely).  Option 2:
Microsoft transitions Media Center to a market which has the possibility to
create a “Microsoft-sized profit.” (Hint: TV on your PC)  Re-quoting
myself
from early this year, the days of Media Center being billed as the
do-it-all center of your home are over.

My opinion continues to be that Microsoft will focus more
and more on the Xbox
360 as the center of the home
.  The
benefits of the Xbox 360 over Media Center are almost endless from a business
perspective.  The massive amount of end
users (an unquestionable 30 million, with 20 million of them being Xbox Live
subscribers) means content providers are going to flock to the platform.  Microsoft can sit back and rake in yearly
recurring revenue from these 20 million Xbox Live subscribers along with the
massive amounts of licensing accessories and the Xbox 360 brand.  Media Center on the other hard makes
Microsoft absolutely no money as it is a part of the standard Windows SKU (eg.
No one except members of The Green Button ever purchased a Windows license just
to get Media Center).

There are still people holding out hope for Media Center to
become a platform for the home.  The
recent announcement that Dish
Network will not be shipping
their tuner anytime soon didn’t
surprise me one bit
.  Why would Dish
bother to continue with Media Center when it is pretty clear Microsoft is
moving away from the consumer they thought they were buying into?  This same concept is at play with Media
Center Extender’s.  There is still some
hope that Toshiba
will be releasing an Extender, but I think the concept
that most people miss is that whether it gets released or not means little in
the grand scheme of things.  If
Microsoft’s heart is not in providing a platform for the home, you can really
know going into your purchase that you’re going to end up disappointed at some
point.

The biggest question mark might be Windows Home Server.  For years I have said the concept of
including Media Center in Windows Home Server is pointless
and does nothing to expand the current market
.  If HP ditched Extender’s and CableCARD due to
poor sales, why exactly would they have the least bit of interest in shipping a
Media Center+Home Server box?  If OEMs
are not interested, why is Microsoft going to develop it?

Most people underestimate the OEMs when talking about Media
Center.  OEMs are really responsible for
Media Center from start to finish from a customer’s perspective.  HP and Dell have shown they have little
interest in Media Center by either discounting CableCARD PCs, killing off
Extender’s, and even in HPs case killing off their HT-styled z-series Media
Centers.  Dish
Network
and DIRECTV
are just as important and have shown that they are increasing less interested.

Microsoft’s latest attempt to make a market for Media Center
has been the custom integrator channel, and some have big
expectations
for what Microsoft might have in store.  Sadly most of the possibilities have already
been proven false, and based on what I’ve been told from those in the industry
interest in Media Center in the custom channel is dropping fast.  I’m interest to see how much longer Microsoft
attempts to push into the market.  With
their partner OEMs such as HP, Linksys, Dish Network pulling out these leaves
the custom OEMs like Niveus Media and Life|ware to pick up the slack.  Unfortunately there is only such much they
can do.  If Microsoft’s commitment in the
channel falls it might be the end of the custom market experiment.

So once again the question is what’s next.  Recently there have been some great new
bloggers
show up in the Media Center community with some great
suggestions.  I’m done with
suggestions.  Microsoft knows exactly
what we want, let’s not pretend they don’t. 
The issue is it is no longer in their best interest to pursue most of
it.  What’s next?  Who knows. 
All I want at this point is for Microsoft to publicly provide a roadmap
for what Media Center is to become.

Media Center Gets "PCTV" Marketing in Microsoft Store Mockups

It has been
my theory
that Microsoft is slowly ditching the concept of using and
promoting Media Center as a whole home entertainment experience and moving to
the “TV on your PC” concept which they have been actively promoting over the
past 6 months.  This concept is something
that most Media Center enthusiasts don’t want to believe as it turns Media
Center into a product that most current users have no interest in.  What better way to find out the future of
Media Center than looking at how it could be presented in the upcoming
Microsoft retail stores.

Gizmodo
got their hands on some leaked mockups
of the retail experience, and while
Microsoft’s PR is pushing the leaked images as “early
prototypes and concepts of our retail store plans” I think it will further key
us in on the future of Windows Media Center.

The images, which are presented in on
Gizmodo show Media Center being marketed
as “PCTV” with such usage scenarios as “watching the Today Show while checking
emails during breakfast” and “watching American Idol while on the blog.”  Other key features in the mockup include PC
as a PVR, watching Internet TV, and managing all media in one place.



The mockup of the retail experience is
driven by what look to be PC monitors or small screen HDTVs.  A theater setting or living room with Media
Center as the center piece doesn’t look to be in the picture if this mockup is
to be trusted.  Also missing in the
mockup is any mention of Media Center Extender’s.


I have no doubt will we see things that are not clearly
outlined in the leaked images, however I do believe the marketing material for
Media Center is what we will end up seeing. 
Notably missing from the mockups are large displays for Xbox 360, Zune,
and even Home Server.  I’m not sure Home
Server will get a large amount of square-footage designated to it, but I do expect
Zune and Xbox to have their place (both Zune and Xbox are outlined
in the product offerings mockup image
). 

What’s your opinion, will the marketing for Media Center be
focused on whatever PCTV is, or can we expect Media Center being pushed as the
10-foot experience that we really want?

VidaBox vAutomation adds Powerful, Semi-Automatic LiteTouch Lighting Integration

Westbury,
NY – March 11th

– VidaBox is proud to announce support for LiteTouch®, an innovator in
residential lighting controls, on their vAutomation™ control and integration
platform.  All of the standard lighting controls can be integrated onto a
single VidaBox TouchClient™ or vPad™, providing the convenience of whole house
lighting control from any location.

“Not only did we develop a driver for LiteTouch®,” says Steven
Cheung, President of VidaBox LLC, “but we’ve created a semi-automatic,
integrated solution where virtually no programming is needed.  First,
every lighting station and button can be configured within the LiteWare
software. Next, by running a special program we’ve developed, this
configuration is then exported for use by the CQC driver, and presented on our
vAutomation templates.  These custom templates automatically generate
scene keypads with LED status feedback, along with scene buttons for each
LiteTouch® station.  This solution makes it extremely easy to set up
LiteTouch® on vAutomation™ touch interfaces without any programming.”

“We are excited to work with VidaBox in providing an excellent whole home
automation solution,” says Kevin Davidson, Corporate Training Manager of
LiteTouch, Inc.  “VidaBox provides a simple interface and a powerful
platform which allows LiteTouch to maintain our focus in providing the very
best and the most reliable lighting control solutions in the world.”

“By choosing LiteTouch® and VidaBox vAutomation™,” Cheung continues,
“dealers can offer a tightly integrated solution that allows lighting
control to be added easily, without any complex programming.  This
tremendously minimizes installation time without sacrificing quality. 
Combined with integrated support for media centers, audio servers, and other
smart home technologies, the vAutomation™ platform provides a truly all-in-one,
complete solution.”

vAutomation support for LiteTouch® is available now.  For more details and
information on this innovative automation platform and VidaBox’s comprehensive
line of media servers, extenders, and complete entertainment and control
solutions, please visit their company website at http://www.vidabox.com, or contact them at
516-730-7500.  For more details on LiteTouch and their lighting solutions,
please visit their company website at http://www.litetouch.com.

About VidaBox LLC
VidaBox LLC is a digital entertainment and controls solutions company focused
on manufacturing premium media centers, audio servers, and integrated home
control & automation solutions.  VidaBox is on a mission to create
user-friendly, stable high-performance Media Center systems that work right out
of the box and integrate seamlessly with multizone audio and smart home
technologies.  For more information, visit www.vidabox.com
or call 1-516-730-7500.

About LiteTouch Inc.
LiteTouch lighting control products offer real-world benefits including
convenience, security, time-savings, safety, energy conservation and design
aesthetics. “Experience Lighting Control”, an online tour detailing
many of these benefits is available at LiteTouch.com LiteTouch, a lighting
control industry leader for more than two decades, is headquartered in Salt
Lake City, Utah.

VidaBox Launches the Affordable RoomClient:SE Media Server

Westbury, NY – March 4th – VidaBox has launched the
new RoomClient:SE system, an entry-level, Vista-based media server. 
Starting at $2248, the RoomClient:SE stores movies, pictures, music, and more
for on-demand access via an on-screen, remote controlled interface.  Cover
art from movies and music titles are automatically downloaded along with every
archival.  Complete with 1080p upscaling and full Dolby Digital and DTS
support, it’s designed to deliver a stunning entertainment experience without
compromising quality.

“The RoomClient:SE is the perfect entry-level unit,” says Steven
Cheung, President of VidaBox LLC. “It has all the features and
capabilities of our larger systems, such as storage and playback of DVDs,
music, pictures, video, and TV – all in a compact-sized form factor. 
What’s even better is that integrators can expand upon the RoomClient:SE at a
later time by offering their clients various upgrades, such as more storage,
additional extenders for Blu-ray support, etc.  The RoomClient:SE strikes
a great balance between being feature-rich, easily expandable, and affordably
priced.”

Based on Vista Media Center, it includes enough storage for about 150+
unencrypted DVDs, 900+ hours of TV, or tons of music and pictures. 
Multizone AV distribution can be done by adding other VidaBox extenders, making
the system flexible and expandable.  Integration of IPTV and other
internet-based media on the RoomClient:SE interface provide access to a myriad
of content out of-the-box.  The addition of third-party applications to
provide and add more features make the RoomClient:SE an even more appealing
choice for dealers and consumers alike.

“Integrators and tech-savvy customers can even add support for Netflix’s
‘Watch Now’ feature on our systems,” Cheung continues. “Media
Center-based third-party apps like these allow clients to access and choose
from thousands of movies instantly.  With its vast multimedia storage
& playback capabilities and great price point, the RoomClient:SE is an
excellent choice for any AV project.”

The new RoomClient:SE is shipping and available now.  For more details and
information on the RoomClient:SE or other VidaBox media servers, extenders, and
complete entertainment and control solutions, please visit the company website
at http://www.vidabox.com, or call
516-730-7500.

About VidaBox LLC
VidaBox LLC is a digital entertainment and controls solutions company focused
on manufacturing premium media centers, audio servers, and integrated home
control & automation solutions.  VidaBox is on a mission to create
user-friendly, stable high-performance Media Center systems that work right out
of the box and integrate seamlessly with multizone audio and smart home
technologies.  For more information, visit www.vidabox.com
or call 1-516-730-7500.

Microsoft Focuses Media Center Marketing, Platform to Follow

The first sign of a business in trouble is when you must reinvent
yourself to stay alive.  Microsoft
might
not actually be reinventing Media Center, mostly becasue you can’t
reinvent something that you never actually defined a market for in the
first place, but they are finally attempting to delineate where they
see Media Center competing in such a growing marketplace (and that’s
not a
good thing for most reading this).

Media Center started as a method to watch TV on the PC.  Essentially it was marketed to college
students to cut down the number of devices in their dorm.  Then it grew up and Microsoft focused on getting
Media Center off the PC and onto the big screen.  Media Center 2004-2005 and Extenders helped
drive this concept.  Media Center was the
star of CES keynotes of the past focusing on the next-generation home.  Much of this is outlined in the Evolution
of Windows Media Center
that Microsoft just finished.

The video might have a few hidden messages that are hard to
catch, but I think they define Media Center’s future and show that
Microsoft has finally attempted to focus on a specific market.

image
(Microsoft presented this image at WinHEC)

 “TV on your PC” is
Microsoft’s new marketing talk for what Media Center is and does (hear
it from Media Center marketing PM Ben Reed here
~30 seconds in) .  Not whole home connected entertainment, not
Media Center in your living room, not Extenders, not high-end theaters, but “TV
on your PC.”  In other words, the days of
Media Center being billed as the do-it-all center of your home are over (except
for the custom market).

For the first time, Media Center officially has a market,
and while that is good news that Microsoft has finally defined who they are
developing for, it is bad news for most reading this post as you can now be
sure Media Center will never be the platform you have dreamed of.

Thinking about it, the signs have been developing over the
past months.  The lack
of Media Center at CES keynote
makes perfect sense if it is being billed as
just a way to watch TV on your PC.  No
need to make a big deal about that.  Microsoft
touting touch screen support in Windows 7 half has to do with them putting way
to much emphasis on touch in Windows 7 in general, but also helps them show off
using a kitchen PC for watching TV on. 
Why exactly do I need this in a product that is meant to be controlled
with a remote?  This was recently questioned on The
Green Button
and Engadget
HD’s most recent podcast
.  Mouse
clickable seekbar in Windows 7, yet again a sign of Media Center moving onto
the desktop and away from the TV.

I think Microsoft will continue to focus on the CEDIA
channel as well, which most likely means my fears of Microsoft developing new
cool features that are only available to OEMs is going to come true.  Niveus Media and Exceptional Innovation (Life|ware)
will likely see the majority of the attention. 
Smaller Media Center OEMs will start to fade away after being ignored by
Microsoft who hasn’t grasped the concept that all of the smaller OEMs serve the
exact same high-end customers as Niveus and Life|ware (examples include support
for 10
Extenders, 8 CableCARD tuners for only Niveus/Life|ware
).  I think we will see Microsoft heavily market
an appliances-like
device to these OEMs
(unclear if the functionality will be avaiable to the
masses, but I don’t see it marketed to them).

If there is a plus side (hard to think of it as
that) to this it would be in the form of much lower expectations.   Hopefully
I’m wrong, but this change could end Media Center as we know (or think we know)
it today.

Random Notes from Microsoft’s CES Keynote

Media Center

  • 10 million Media Center users a month
  • Average Media Center session time is ~90 minutes

Xbox 360

  • Xbox LIVE membership that has grown to 17 million active
    members.
  • Xbox 360 has sold 28 million consoles sold to date
  • More than $1 billion spent on Xbox LIVE since the launch of
    the Xbox 360
  • Xbox 360 has largest game attach rate
  • Xbox LIVE Primetime channel brings together the best of TV and
    gaming in an interactive way.
  • Primetime will create scheduled programming, offer interactive and social features.
  • Average Halo player playing 150 hours on Xbox LIVE
  • Two new Halo titles this year.  Feb 28th release for Halo Wars.  Halo 3 ODST in 2009.
  • Since NXE launch, downloads of video content up 60%
  • Over 45 movie/TV studios providing content on Xbox LIVE
  • Over 60 millions song downloads on Lips and other music games.

Mediaroom

  • Mediaroom platform has reached nearly 2.5 million subscriber
    homes worldwide (250% growth over last year)
  • Mediaroom Anytime lets you watch previously aired content
  • Mediaroom adds interactive third-party application support (BBC Top Gear as an example)

Windows Mobile

  • Windows Mobile is getting new Internet Explorer with Adobe Flash support
  • Lots of new phones shown
  • Microsoft/Netflix will offer software that enables Windows Mobile
    customers to update and view their Netflix movie queue.

Windows 7

  • Windows 7 is up on MSDN/TechNet.  Public beta on Microsoft.com on Jan. 9

Other

  • Ford Sync will get updated with TellMe support
  • Zune Social is up to 2 million users

Niveus Media and ADI Serve Up Premium Home Entertainment

Available through ADI,
the Niveus Media Server – Vail Edition provides a no-nonsense, high-performance
entertainment experience.

Milpitas, CA –
December 30, 2008
– Niveus Media has teamed up with ADI to distribute the
Niveus Media Server to custom electronics installers across the country. Now
available at ADI branch locations, the Niveus Media Server – Vail Edition is an
energy-efficient entertainment server designed to store, aggregate, and
distribute HD content throughout the home.

With support for movies, music, photos, and much more in its
slender frame, Vail is packed with advanced technologies to deliver stunning
in-home audio and video reproduction. A CES Innovations 2008 Design and
Engineering Awards recipient, Vail is based on Windows Vista® Home Premium
featuring Windows® Media Center. It is equipped with an optional Blu-ray Disc™
drive, 250GB of storage, and proprietary Niveus technologies including the new
Niveus Movie Library movie management interface!

Through Vail, digital photography and video collections are
securely stored and accessed throughout the home; CD collections are merged
with downloaded audio tracks to create a uniform and all-encompassing music
library; and Blu-ray Disc™, DVD, and digital movies from leading content
providers such as VideoGiants, are aggregated in the Niveus Movie Library, an
attractive and intuitive movie management interface.

As Niveus’ first energy-efficient media server, Vail Edition
offers remarkably low power consumption at less than 180W. Niveus engineers
were able to integrate the industry’s finest components into Niveus’ most
compact media server, at just over 2 inches in height and 17lbs in weight.

Suitable for rack mount installation or living room
placement, Vail is engineered with a silent active cooling design for cool and
quiet (less than 30db noise) performance. For seamless integration into the
home network, Vail is built with the proprietary Niveus ConvergencePanel™
high-performance audio and video ports.

All Vail Editions sold through ADI are bundled with an
exclusive HDGiants content package, including 1 HDNet film and credit towards
the purchase of MusicGiants downloads. Dealers will have the opportunity to
earn recurring revenue on all the content that a customer purchases.

“The ability to store, control and stream High Definition
content has become extremely important, and the Niveus Media Server – Vail
Edition provides an excellent solution to do so,” said RJ Hirshkind, Senior
Product Manager for A/V for ADI. “This technology will help dealers build
advanced home theaters that can manage HD video, music, photos and more.”

For more information, please visit www.niveusmedia.com.

Okoro Media Unleashes Intel i7 Core Media Centers

Okoro Media Systems, manufacturer of digital entertainment systems for the high
end audio video market, is pleased to announce the availability of the Intel’s
new i7 Core processing technology to our high-end 2009 Digital Entertainment
Systems. Keeping with our mission of bringing the latest in cutting edge
technology, our i7 Core series machines will continue to bring unprecedented
3-D gaming performance and will provide better performance for streaming movies,
and music to multiple zones.
 
“Our customers expected us to push the envelope with systems that can provide
the greatest performance when they are playing the latest Blu-ray movies in
1080p with TrueHD audio, while recording multiple HD channels and extending
content to multiple zones. With the integration of Intel’s i7Core  technology in our  line of premier Digital Entertainment
Systems, we can provide our customers with unparalleled video performance.”
says Christopher Curry VP of Sales and Marketing.
 
The following systems are based on Intel i7Core technology:
OMS-TH550
OMS-GX100
OMS-GX300 
The upcoming
RK200 & RK300
                                                         
image

During this 2008 festive season, Okoro Media Systems wants to make your
holidays even brighter with some complimentary gifts to enhance your Digital
Experience. We want to help you with those “Stocking Stuffers”.
 
With every purchase of a BX series or system that is upgraded with a Blu-ray
player we will add the critically acclaimed box office smash hit – The Dark
Knight Blu-ray movie to your order, as a gift from us.
 
We want to continue the gift giving by adding an additional 5% promotional
reduction to the listed MSPR price of the following OMS Models: TH550, BX300,
BX100, GX300, GX100, and ZX100.

The complimentary Blu-ray movie Batman- The Dark Knight and the 5% discount
will be valid until Sunday, January 11th, 2009.

For more information, please contact Okoro Media Systems at 877-539-4788 or
visit www.okoromedia.com.

Okoro Media Systems Now shipping 2009 LX100 CableCARD Media Center

Okoro Media Systems, manufacturer of Digital Entertainment Systems for the high
end audio video market, is pleased to announce the availability of the 2009
OMS-LX100 Digital Entertainment System. The new 2009 LX100, part of the “Low
Profile” Digital Entertainment Systems series, is built on a combined Intel and
Nvidia energy efficient platform. The OMS-LX100 features cool and quiet
operation, 7.1 LPCM HDMI support, and low power green operation.
 
“Customers have really enjoyed our LX100 series for years. Now by working with
our various technology partners, we are now able to offer this next generation
unit to our customers at a very nice price point. This is all part of our
company mantra of providing next generation options across all of our product
lines. We want to offer our customers the best Digital Entertainment System
that is going to work well in their specific home theater setup.” said
Christopher Curry, VP of Sales & Marketing.

The OMS-LX100 is priced at $1725 and is now shipping with the following
standard specifications:
   
Dimensions: 17.00″ Width x 
4.13″ Height x 16.13″ Depth
 

  • 65watt Dual Core Intel Processor
  • 8-channel LPCM audio via HDMI
  • 4GB RAM
  • 500GB low power HD storage
  • DVD Burner  
  • HDMI, DVI, VGA, Display Port output
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • Choice of ATI Digital Cable Tuner or Dual NTSC/ATSC/QAM tuners

For more information about the 2009 OMS-LX100 Digital Entertainment system,
please visit www.okoromedia.com.

Okoro Media Systems Introduces New 2009 Low Profile Media Center

Okoro Media Systems,
manufacturer of Digital Entertainment Systems for the high end audio video
market, is pleased to announce the availability of the 2009 OMS-SX100 model.
The OMS-SX100 is an “Ultra Low Profile” Digital Entertainment Systems based on
AMD’s energy efficient Athlon X2 platform. The OMS-SX100 features
cool and quiet operation, 7.1 LPCM HDMI support, 1080P Blu-ray
playback and low power green operation. The 2009 OMS-SX100 Digital
Entertainment System can also handle the needs of customers with
limited space with its 2.7 inch ultra low profile frame. Coupled
with the OMS Slim Blu-ray drive, the unit is Blu-ray profile 2.0
compliant and can decode 5.1 Dolby Digital and DTS along with
7.1 Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio formats. 
 
“Since the release of the low profile series in 2006, Okoro Media Systems
has been working on delivering to our customers the next generation of
ultra low profile systems. Our customers want a powerful machine that can
manage their media, playback Blu-ray titles as well as being green. We
feel that the SX100 will give them a feature packed Digital Entertainment
System in a thin and elegant form factor. ” said Christopher Curry, VP of
Sales & Marketing.
 
The OMS-SX100 is now shipping and has the following standard specifications:
 

  • 45watt Dual Core AMD Processor
  • 8-channel LPCM audio via HDMI
  • 2GB RAM
  • 500GB low power HD storage
  • DVD Burner 
  • HDMI, DVI, VGA output
  • Windows Vista Home Premium

The following options are also available:

  • OMS Slim Blu-ray Drive
  • 4GB RAM upgrade
  • 1TB low power HD upgrade

Coming soon CableCARD and SAGETV HDPVR models and other additional
upgrades. 
 
For more information about the OMS-SX100 Digital Entertainment system, please
visit www.okoromedia.com.