Xfinity for iPad VOD Streaming Launches

Posted Posted in Apple, Connected Home, iPad, iPhone, Technology

Quality Video on Demand content (as opposed to live streaming of on air shows which may be coming down the road), including HBO, Cinemax, Stars, and a few other networks is now available for Comcast customers. It’s really a ton of content, and it looks incredible and works perfectly. To get the premium content, you need to subscribe to those channels, obviously.

Comcast promised this was coming, and they’ve done a great job. This really rounds out my options for viewing content wherever I am.  Does it replace Netflix on my iPad? Not yet. But the two complement each other nicely. Comcast promised more and better “TV Everywhere” and they are delivering on that promise.

I fired up the updated Xfinity app that showed as an update and here is a walk through:

First, iPad users will see a new Play Now button. This is the key to streaming to the iPad.

xfin1

(more…)

Connecting Multiple IP Cameras to Windows Media Center

Posted Posted in Connected Home, Media Center, Networking, Windows 7, Windows Media Center, Wireless Streaming

After publishing a piece on how to connect an Internet enabled camera to WMC, iPhones and iPads yesterday, I received a couple of emails basically saying, “great, but I want to monitor more than one camera in a master view like stand alone IP surveillance software”.

I thought about this for a bit and then tested to see if an HTML page could be hosted locally, placed in the C:ProgramDataMicrosoftWindowsStart MenuProgramsAccessoriesMedia CenterMedia Center Programs folder with the appropriate MCL and PNG file. The answer was yes, and this now opens the door to more customizations.

Further, I thought that the still images needed to be refreshed. Not much value in watching an image on the screen that just sits there. I fired up Microsoft Expression Web and created a page and added in a META REFRESH tag to reload every xx seconds (I used 30 seconds as the interval). While tables should not be used for layout on a page designed to be viewed in a real web browser (a deprecated means of coding), a nested table structure proved perfect for display inside Windows Media Center. I specified the Segoe UI font and ended up with something that looked pretty decent and worked.  Here is the view inside Windows Media Center:

mycameras

(more…)

Netflix Coming to Canada, Eh?

Posted Posted in Media Center, Networking, Windows 7

Some of my Canadian friends might be pleased to hear that Netflix intends to cross the border officially later this year. You can pre-register now if you are interested at http://www.netflix.ca.

Update: if you are a Rogers customer, this may have triggered lower usage limits. CBC news is reporting that Rogers is lowering their download limits.

Here’s what you’ll see if you access the site from a Canadian IP address.

netflix

CBC news has posted info, including the fact that this will be streaming only (no DVD’s by mail). “English only to start, French to follow over time”.

I don’t know if Media Center access to Netflix for Windows 7 Canadian users will be turned on at launch, but am trying to find out.

One comment, if you are a HD snob (and I have no qualms admitting that *I* am), the content is pitiful. And the content for PC’s and Mac’s (a subset) is shameful.

D-Link DSM-750 Media Center Extender (FAR better than Linksys!)

Posted Posted in Media Center

I”ve just setup a production DSM-750 Medialounge Media Center Extender. This new extender streams everything over Wireless 802.11n Draft 2.0 (using a DGL-4500 in 5GHz mode) including High Definition Live and Recorded TV from a Vista Ultimate x64 box with two DCT (OCUR) tuners.

Some unboxing and setup images can be found at one of my websites.

Out of the box, the DSM-750 blows the dinky Linksys DMA 2100 out of the water. Solid construction and a nice looking peripheral that doesn”t look like cheap plastic in my living room. The DMA 2100 has no optical SPDIF (RCA flavor digital SPDIF only) and worse, does not see Atheros based 802.11 Draft 2.0 N SSID”s and probably some other brands. The DMA 2100 only has two antennae. D-Link has all the ports and three antennae, which really helps with wireless connectivity .

dsm750003

D-Link integrates network setup with Extender setup and it is a real easy task to get up and running. While I admit to having had experience with a beta engineering sample, the engineering sample was wired only without the 802.11n dual band capability. I was really impressed with how well it worked and how integrated it was. D-Link has tons of experience with something like 6-7 previous versions in the Medialounge wireless media player line. This experience shows.

The Linksys takes forever to connect to the host Vista machine while the D-Link connects seamlessly and far more rapidly.

In my opinion, if you have a choice between the Linksys DMA 2100 and the D-Link DSM-750, the D-Link is well worth the wait. Linksys was first to market, but the race is not always to the swiftest.

My Velocity Micro x64 & Vista MCE & CableCARDs=Happy Together

Posted Posted in Media Center

Some of you may remember that back in December 2006, Microsoft and AMD shipped me a Velocity Micro Cinemagix Pro Cinema Entertainment System.

This AMD Athlon X2 system with an ATI x1950 dual DVI card, 2 gigs RAM and huge hard drive was a wonder. Microsoft installed Windows Vista x64 Ultimate and Office 2007 and I was in, well, computer heaven. It was exactly the box I”d spec out myself. Perfect in every way. And certainly the fastest computer I”d ever had in my home.

It was perfect then, but today it is more than perfect. It returned last week after visiting the Velocity Micro factory where it received a BIOS upgrade and a tune up. Why send it back for a BIOS upgrade? The only thing missing was Digital Cable Tuner compatibility (to use CableCARD technology to view and record high definition TV). That feature was not available at the time I received this computer, but IT IS NOW.

To use CableCARD technology with Windows Media Center in Windows Vista, you need five pieces:

1. A machine with a certified (by CableLABS) DCT BIOS
2. A video card with HDCP compliance
3. A monitor or TV that is HDCP compliant
4. A Digital Cable Tuner (formerly called OCUR device)/DCT (or two if you want to watch and record at the same time)
5. A CableCARD from your local cable company.

Velocity Micro is offering this amazing machine with either an internal or external DCT. (You can add a second tuner as well).

I”ve got two external DCT”s attached to this machine and I”m in, well, high definition TV heaven.

If you”ve been waiting for the ability to watch and record high def TV on a kick-ass machine, run, don”t walk to Velocity Micro and customize one of these. Even if you aren”t into high def,this is one great computer.

Technorati tags: CableCARD,Media Center, MCE, Vista