Category Archives: 6525

Short Bits: Power DVD, Sage TV, Updates

Engadget
HD got some shots of PowerDVD 9,
or rather what we now know is the extent
of the “native”
Media Center Blu-ray integration announced CES
.  Native is a bit of a stretch as I figured it
might be.  Instead of native playback we
now have a native MCML UI that launches PowerDVD (a la Play Movie, TotalMedia,
etc).  It’s a start, I guess.  I’m not really that impressed with what is
being offered.  On the plus side, word is
video decoding is pretty top notch which is good to hear.

If I can ever find time I’ve got to do an in-depth Sage TV
review.  Why?  Because not only have I been impressed with
them more and more over the past year but they have also just
added Blu-ray streaming to their Extenders
. 
That’s a huge step forward that a lot of people are looking for.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, Media
Browser
is one of my favorite new plug-ins. 
I don’t do a lot with ripped DVDs, but an add-in that automatically
finds cover art and metadata about my ripped content without me doing a single
thing is a beautiful thing (did it just based on folder names).

Microsoft released the February update for Media Center a
few weeks ago.  Big item here is a fix
for CableCARD machines that was introduced way back in October.

February
2009 Cumulative Update for Media Center for Windows Vista

February
2009 Cumulative Update for Media Center TV Pack for Windows Vista

Media Center Gets Blu-ray, Just Not From Microsoft

I’ve talk about Microsoft and Blu-ray more
times than I can count
and it never fails I end up saying they will not be
the ones to build Blu-ray support in Windows. 
My thoughts have officially come true with yesterday’s announcement that
Microsoft is outsourcing Blu-ray
support in Windows 7 to Cyberlink
.

According to the press release, PowerDVD “automatically
integrate with Windows Media Center to enable full Blu-ray playback capability
on PC equipped with the appropriate hardware.” 
The extent of that integration remains to be seen, but I’m hoping for
full integration using Media Foundation and PVP (aka real integration).  That’s a lot of wishful thinking on my part, what we will likely end up with is Media
Center launching PowerDVD in a Play Movie-esk way.

I guess this is a good start and I’m interested to see what the
product will look like but I’m not getting my hopes up too high just yet for it being the perfect solution.

CyberLink to Demonstrate PowerDVD with Microsoft at CES 2009

TAIPEI, Taiwan – CyberLink Corporation is pleased to announce that
PowerDVD will be utilized by Microsoft Corp. in a demonstration of their newest
version of Windows Media Center, for Windows 7. This demo will be shown in the
Microsoft booth (7144), in the Central Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Additional demonstrations of the forthcoming version of PowerDVD will be
available to PC and Consumer Electronic manufacturers and members of the press
by appointment, in CyberLink’s private suite in the Hilton Hotel.

CyberLink has been working closely with Microsoft to support
many of the advanced capabilities of Windows 7. PowerDVD Cinema mode has been
designed to automatically integrate with Windows Media Center to enable full
Blu-ray playback capability on PC equipped with the appropriate hardware.
PowerDVD Cinema mode integrates seamlessly with the advanced user experience
that Windows Media Center provides and allows consumers to be able to use a
remote control to select and watch Blu-ray titles from the comfort of their
couch. PowerDVD also provide a great user experience when launched directly
from Windows, with new and exciting ways for everyone to browse and enjoy
movies and video files on any Windows desktop or laptop PC.

TrueTheater™ HD, one of the new video technology CyberLink
will demonstrate in PowerDVD, provides the capability to up-sample videos and
transform standard definition video files, or DVD titles into high-definition
quality. This would allow users to enjoy DVDs today in high definition quality.

“We are proud that PowerDVD is Microsoft’s choice to support
Blu-ray Disc playback for Windows 7,” said Alice H. Chang, CEO of CyberLink.
“PowerDVD is the leading DVD, Blu-ray Disc and AVCHD movie player software
application, chosen by top-brand PCs and optical disc drives purchased by
consumers and businesses around the world. We are excited to demonstrate the
smooth integration and the incredible sights and sounds of Blu-ray disc movies
for Windows 7 at the coming CES.”

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.

Chances Latest Xbox 360 Blu-ray Rumor is True?

I’m a few weeks behind on this one, but those pesky Xbox 360
Blu-ray rumors came back into the spotlight early this month.  Spotlight might actually be the wrong word to
use, as the usual tech blogs didn’t even bother to cover the rumor.  I’ve made it quite clear over the past year
that I
don’t think Blu-ray for the Xbox 360 makes sense for Microsoft
, but X-bit
Labs hears different
. 

According to the October 8th article Microsoft is
working with Toshiba-Samsung Storage Technology Corp (TSST) to manufacturer
external Blu-ray Disc drives for the Xbox 360. 
According to the article the target price is would be $100 – $150 with
an unknown release date.  Microsoft
yet again denied the rumor
with “We have no plans to integrate Blu-ray into
the Xbox experience.”

Interestingly I’ve actually heard more information behind
the scenes (read: non Microsoft behind the scenes) about this rumor than any
other.  Some are saying they have
word from retailers that the product is a-go, but I’m hardly going to believe
that when the source article doesn’t have an expected release date and nothing
from TSST has leaked out.

The only opinion I have to add to this is that with the recent
Xbox 360 price cuts
Microsoft could compete with Sony head-to-head by
offering a Blu-ray Drive, but I still fail to see why they would want to.  I’ve said several times in my other posts
that the Xbox 360 would benefit from a price cut (and fixing RROD issues) more
than it would from getting Blu-ray, and I
think that was proved a few weeks ago.
 
The “it has Blu-ray” factor of the PlayStation 3 has kind of died down,
and Blu-ray is hardly busting into the market and likely will not move much in
the next few months given the current global economic outlook.

Vista SP2 Doesn’t Support Blu-ray Playback

Due to a poorly worded article over at CNET I’ve seen a few
dozen people getting excited about Vista SP2 bringing “support
for Blu-ray drives,”
but everyone should take a quick step back and realize
Vista SP2 will add “support
for burning Blu-ray data discs”
but nothing involving Blu-ray Disc movie
playback.

So far Vista SP2 is basically a collection of previously
planned “Feature Packs” including the Storage
Feature Pack
(where Blu-ray burning comes from), and the Wireless Feature Pack.  My guess is that Microsoft is worried the
press behind Windows 7 is going to kick Vista sales to the curb so they want to
make sure they are keeping it current.

VidaBox RoomClientHD Supports Blu-ray & DVD Streaming in Full 1080p

New VidaBox
RoomClientHD™ supports Blu-ray & DVD streaming in full 1080p with HD audio
support – all in a miniature, palm-sized package

Westbury, NY –
September 29th –
VidaBox is proud to announce the new RoomClientHD™, a
2″ tall, palm-sized media extender that provides Blu-ray & DVD
streaming support for full 1080p and lossless audio codecs.  Designed to be easily hidden behind any HDTV,
this breakthrough extender allows any room to get instant, on-demand access to
any content stored on a VidaBox media server.

“We’re thrilled to finally offer an ultra-compact
Blu-ray extender that dealers and customers alike have been asking for,”
says Steven Cheung, President of VidaBox LLC. 
“Current Blu-ray players & extenders are the size of typical
DVD players or set-top boxes, and may have slight unpleasantries like fan noise
that stopped many installers from putting the equipment directly in the viewing
area.  By combining advanced hardware
design and our in-depth experience with Blu-ray streaming, we’ve been able to
create the RoomClientHD, answering the prayers of integrators and customers
alike.

Blu-ray streaming starts with a VidaBox server, such as the
new RACK24 system with up to 22.0TB of storage, where thousands of DVDs and
hundreds of Blu-rays can be stored.  From
here, extenders like the RoomClientHD can be installed to pull the content via
standard CAT5e/6 cabling.  No complicated
setup needs to be done, as the extenders are preconfigured to automatically
detect the VidaBox server on the network, making multizone installs a
plug-n-play process.

“With only a 6″ x 6″ footprint, installers
can cleverly hide the 2″ tall RoomClientHD behind most HDTV panels,”
exclaims Cheung.  “With hardware
support for full 1080p and new HD audio codecs like DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD, the
RoomClientHD sets a new standard for high-end media extenders that provide a
full set of features without any compromises in quality or experience.”

The RoomClientHD is available now, and comes with an option
for a built-in Blu-ray disc drive for convenient local playback.  For more details and specifications on the
RoomClientHD™ and VidaBox’s comprehensive line of media servers, extenders, and
complete entertainment and control solutions, please visit the company website
at http://www.vidabox.com, or see them at
International CES in the North Tower Suite H22-121!

About VidaBox LLC

VidaBox LLC is a digital entertainment and controls
solutions company focused on manufacturing premium media centers, 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.

Niveus Media @ CEDIA: Movie Library, 8 CableCARD, 10 Extenders, Home Server

Niveus Movie
Library Goes Primetime!

Version 1.5 is
enriched to offer high-res cover art (including Blu-ray) and support for a
wider catalogue of movie sources, such as disc-in-drive… and more!

Denver, CO – CEDIA
Expo 2008 – September 4-7 – Booth #850 –
Designed exclusively for Niveus Media customers, the Niveus Movie
Library is a robust movie management tool that aggregates an entire movie
collection into one distinct and intelligent interface. Upgraded to accommodate
a growing number of movie sources, Niveus Movie Library 1.5 now features:
disc-in-drive support; a 10’ interface for backing up movies to the Niveus
Media Server; and expanded metadata with high resolution cover art (including
Blu-ray!).

“Niveus Movie Library 1.5 represents the original vision of
this product,” states Tim Cutting, CEO and Co-Founder, Niveus Media. “Coupling
our new storage server, Cargo, with the enhanced Niveus Movie Library, our
customers can now back up, download, store, and access their entire movie
collection through the easy-to-use Niveus interface.”

Read
Full Press Release

Niveus Supports Ten
Extenders and Eight CableCARDs From One Niveus Media Server

Simultaneous HDTV
viewing, recording, and distribution in up to eleven zones!

Denver, CO – CEDIA
Expo 2008 – September 4-7 – Booth #850
Niveus Media is invigorating the
whole-home TV viewing experience by announcing that select Niveus media servers
will simultaneously support up to eight digital cable (CableCARD) tuners and
ten Media Center Extenders. Announcing availability concurrently with the
introduction of the 2009 Niveus media server line, boasting impressive
enhancements in processing and performance, Niveus now doubles the capabilities
of the Niveus Entertainment System.

“Niveus has nurtured the digital cable functionality and
compatibility since early 2007 and is proud to be one of the first to support
both eight CableCARDS and ten extenders,” states Tim Cutting, Niveus CEO and
Co-Founder. “By doubling the performance of the Niveus Media Server, we can now
support even the largest installations.” 

Read
Full Press Release

Niveus Media’s
2009 Media Servers Boast Progressive Processing Power and Enhanced Multi-Zone
Capabilities

Featuring HDMI 1.3,
next-generation Intel processing, specialized Seagate hard drives, and upgraded
cooling solutions for impressive multi-zone performance.

Denver, CO – CEDIA
Expo 2008 – September 4-7 – Booth #850 –
Niveus Media unveils its 2009 line of
media servers, enhanced to provide an incredibly robust entertainment
experience in as many as eleven independent zones. All Niveus media servers,
including the passively cooled Summit Series’ Rainier and Denali Limited
Edition and the rack mountable Pro Series, have been upgraded to incorporate
bleeding-edge technologies for the most powerful Media Center performance.

 “To accommodate the
variety of installation applications and performance demands, we’ve upgraded
all of our media servers to offer Niveus Authorized Dealers the preferred range
of configurations,” states Brian Paper, Vice President Operations and
Co-Founder of Niveus Media. “With a selection of form factors, processing
power, audio and video solutions, and storage capacities, Niveus has a superior
solution for today’s multi-zone scenarios.”

Read
Full Press Release

Introducing The
Niveus Storage Server – Cargo Edition,  
Powered By Windows Home Server

Store and protect
unlimited HD content with up to 16TB of scalable storage, remote accessibility,
and seamless integration with the Niveus Movie Library.

Denver, CO – CEDIA
Expo 2008 – September 4-7 – Booth #850 –
Niveus Media introduces the Niveus
Storage Server – Cargo Edition, a powerful storage device based on the
Microsoft Windows Home Server platform, designed for the custom install
channel. Featuring up to 16TB of scalable storage, Cargo provides a seamlessly
integrated and flexible storage solution for the perpetually growing HD digital
content market.

As Niveus continues to enhance movie integration with the
increasing functionality of the Niveus Movie Library movie management interface
and availability of VideoGiants Collections premium movie packages, it has
become essential to offer a robust storage solution that can house a user’s
expansive HD movie collection. Cargo is the ultimate add-on to the Niveus Movie
Library, enabling secure storage of thousands of movies, complete with expanded
metadata and high-resolution cover art.

Read
Full Press Release

Short Bits: Life|ware & Niveus at CEDIA

This edition ripped straight from CE Pro…It seems Niveus Media is done with pushing their
recently developed Niveus EDGE Extender.  The might have been Xbox 360-based Extender (sans gaming) is out and the HP MediaSmart
Connect is in
.  Interesting turn of
events for something that must have taken a lot of time and money to complete.

Niveus is also updating their Movie Gallery adding support
for better metabase, higher resolution cover art, and a 10-foot disc ripping
client which
seem popular these days
.

Life|ware
is also set to make a splash at CEDIA with
a new iPhone control application
that can be programmed directly using
Life|ware’s programming tools.  Exceptional
Innovation will also be launching a new media server
that integrated Media
Center (CableCARD as an option), a 5.1 surround-sound amplifier, and ZigBee controller
all into a single server.  Models with
dual CableCARD will likely run just under $4,000.

Short Bits: Storage Pack, CE Pro, Media Center Show, More

Microsoft is planning to release a Storage Feature Pack for
Windows that will
include Blu-ray mastering support among other things
.  Sadly this is
still very far from Blu-ray
Playback support which has its own set of issues
.

CE Pro has had a number of Media Center posts gearing up for
CEDIA.  Julie says that Microsoft’s
focus at CEDIA will be the custom integrator channel
and not so much on the
OEM only TV Pack.  I know a lot of people are waiting for CEDIA because
they think Microsoft is going to drop some big news about DIRECTV being
included or something like that, but that is not going to happen.  Everyone
knows what is in the TV Pack
, and there are not going to be any
surprises.  On the same topic it looks like Microsoft and partners might
be planning
a “Media Center Integrator Alliance
,” which I’m sure we will hear about in
the next two weeks.

Ian Dixon has
had Ed Bott
and Scott
Bahneman, CEO of MusicGiants
on The Media Center Show.  I was able to
catch a few minutes of the Ed Bott interview when it was on live and agree with
a lot of the concepts that he was talking about.  After CEDIA I will have
more posts on the TV Pack.

Not sure how much I’ve highlighted some of the newer Media
Center blogs that have popped up over the past few months, so here are a few
that everyone might be interested in (sorry if I missed any).  Olcay
Buyan’s Blog
, My Network Project, and Entertainment 2.0.