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Tag: HTPC

Media Portal 1.9.0 pre-release now available

Posted by Alan at 7:40 PM on August 13, 2014

media-portal-logo

There is little question that Microsoft is allowing Media Center to languish — an anguishing proposition for HTPC users, many of homes utilize the software to power the home theater. There are alternatives, of course. XBMC is a popular option, as are a couple of various Linux distros. But if you’re plan is to stick with the Windows OS, and XBMC just isn’t for you, then Media Portal may be the way to go.

The open source software has just hit version 1.9, at least in pre-release form. In other words, it’s passed beta status, but the organization doesn’t quite think it’s ready for prime-time. There isn’t a lot that is new, but things have been fixed up, and a couple of features were added.

For this Pre Release we’ve put our focus once more on Bug fixing and improved stability. However, there are a couple of new features. Skin designers will like the new <oninfo> and <onESC> functions. There are enhancements to the video resolution logos that will give you more information about the video you are watching. There is a new sort method in My Videos called Name with Duration. There are several improvements to logging, and a significant number of bug fixes”, the announcement reads.

A full list of the changes can be found on the Media Portal Blog.

VidaBox vCase3 $50 Coupon Deal

Posted by Alan at 5:28 PM on April 6, 2011

If you are a Home Theater PC fan then you probably know the name VidaBox.  They are a high-end manufacturer of HTPC’s, media servers, and accessories.  In addition to that they also sell a few components for DIYers.  One such component is the vCase3, which is a PC case that enthusiasts can use to build their dream system in.

The vCase3 is sleek component that fits perfectly into a media rack.  Despite it’s size it has space for 3 HDD’s which allows users to pack in up to 9 GB (by current standards).  The HDD storage is rubberized and suspended to cut down on noise.  The front panel contains 2 USB ports and a card reader.  It has space for a Blu-Ray drive (full size, not slim) and takes as standard ATX power supply.

The regular price is $239, but right now they are offering a coupon code that gives a $50 discount.  You can visit the vCase3 site and when purchasing the box use the coupon code SPRING11.

Vidabox Liiv Controller LC-200 Coming Soon

Posted by Alan at 1:00 PM on January 12, 2011

Vidabox, one of the top-of-the-line Media Center manufacturers, put out a press release today about a new product they are calling the Liiv Controller.  It will be officially shown for the first time at the Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) show which will be held from February 1-3 in Amsterdam, but we have a special early look.

So what is the Liiv Controller?  Quite simply it’s a box, which looks similar to any stereo component, that allows you to control your home media from an iPad.  Now, we aren’t talking about an iPad remote control app here, this is a lot more sophisticated.  The LC-200 is a rack-mountable component that integrated into your home theater and works with Media Center.

It allows you to control, browse, and play any media right from your iPad.  You can control up to 4 separate zones with 6 separate IR control so that you can handle your TV, Audio/video receiver, DVR, Blu-ray/DVD player, as well as other components.  It has 2 RS-232 Serial Ports, 2-way iPod playback controls, is remotely manageable, streams internet radio, and uses vAutomation 2.0 which allows you to program and configure it from any web browser, including the one on your iPad.

There is now pricing available at this point but a release date has been slated for sometime in the second quarter of 2011.  This is one that you’ll want to take a long look at if it lives up to its hype and if you are a home theater/automation geek.

The Future Of OTT TV Apps

Posted by tomwiles at 11:10 PM on December 29, 2010

I’ve been experimenting for some time with connecting computers to televisions, along with a variety of other set-top boxes. I’m now at a point where I’ve begun to draw a few conclusions.

Are we there yet? The short answer is no. We’ve still got a long way to go.

After living a while with Apps on an Android smartphone, along with apps on an iPod Touch, it has become clear to me that the best apps running on these sorts of hand-held devices give a great, slick, quick-access media-consumption experience.

Apps running on Internet-connected TV’s or set-top boxes are going to be important in the future. However, so far what we have available today is a somewhat frustrating experience.

I’ve got a Mac Mini set up as an HTPC/DVR with an Eye TV USB HD tuner. The Eye TV software fails in a living room setting because the text within the application is too small to be easily read from across the room even on a big screen. I’ve also got the Boxee app installed on the same machine. Boxee does have a growing list of apps. However, many of the currently available Boxee apps still often fall short of genuine usefulness.

I want a software interface that I can read and interact with easily from across the room without having to deal with it as if it’s desktop software. I want software apps that are powerful, easy to use, and give me a consistent experience from one app to the next. If I’ve specified I want only videos, then the software should serve me up ONLY videos, with no audio podcasts mixed in.

The trouble with OTT content is that one size doesn’t fit all. The perfect app should allow me to cherry-pick my favorite Internet video content sources and turn them all into a single channel or series of channels.

The ideal OTT/set top box content delivery system is going to incorporate a system of apps much like either the Apple IOS app store, or the Android app store where the customer can choose from thousands of content gathering and/or content delivery apps. Like my Evo Android phone or my iPod Touch, I will be able to customize MY particular set top box with precisely the apps that I want without someone trying to steer me towards content that someone else wants to push towards me against my will. My iPod is my own, with my own selection of personal content. I want my TV to work in exactly the same manner.

Tech Serendipity

Posted by tomwiles at 8:07 PM on October 19, 2010

Sometimes things no one ever thought of simply seem to come together. Services and devices end up being used to do things the individual inventors and designers couldn’t have imagined.

For some time now, I’ve been thinking about attaching one of the new Mac Minis to one of my TV’s and utilizing it as a home theater PC as well as an over-the-air DVR to record high definition digital broadcasts from the local TV stations. A late Sunday afternoon trip to my local Best Buy and a Mac Mini was mine.

I sat the Mac Mini up with Eye TV and a USB HD tuner attached to my outdoor antenna. Depending on how I have the antenna rotated, I can receive upwards of 17 or more HD and digital broadcast channels. Of course, keep in mind that the Mini is on my home network, so I’ve got complete remote access in a number of different ways.

The Eye TV 3.4.1 software has easy iPhone/iPod/iPad/Apple TV file conversion, so I’m easily able to convert the files to the format of my choice.

A thought popped into my head. What if I converted the files to the iPhone format and put them into my Dropbox? I also have the Dropbox app for Android installed on my Sprint HTC Evo phone. Since I have an 8 gigabyte SD card installed with the possibility of going all the way up to a 32 gigabyte card if I wish, could I synch the exported iPhone files from my Dropbox on the computer to Dropbox on my phone?

To my surprise, I don’t even have to synch the exported iPhone videos to my phone – once they are synched to the Dropbox server, all I have to do is open the file from Dropbox on my phone and the file immediately starts streaming. If I’ve got a decent 3G Sprint cell signal, the video plays perfectly without a glitch.

So, I’m taking multiple different technologies, and using them in a way no single inventor or designer ever envisioned. I can record local TV programming from home, export it as an iPhone format file into my Dropbox folder, and stream the files to my phone. Pretty phenomenal stuff if you ask me.

For sure, there are other ways to accomplish the same end result, particularly if one has adequate bandwidth. For situations where bandwidth is limited and more variable, this solution works surprisingly well.

What Will GoogleTV Mean for Media Center?

Posted by Alan at 6:42 PM on July 13, 2010

What will the impending release of Google TV mean for Windows Media Center?  We have heard everything from set-top box killer to another Boxee to a complete failure.

In short, it probably won’t mean much to the Media Center community right off the bat.  But, that could change as time goes by.  And not just for Media Center users, but for all HTPC enthusiasts in general.

The SDK is expected early next year and I would imagine that many Media Center developers will begin projects soon after that.  What will those projects look like?  I have no idea.  But, I have no doubt it will be ported into Media Center in short order.  It probably will run on your current HTPC hardware.  The only required “upgrade” may be to an HTML5-compliant browser.

It may not be a competitor to Media Center, but instead, a partner.

I think the biggest question, at the moment, may surround Bing.  Yes, Bing.  In case you haven’t noticed, they have recently added a LOT of interesting media features.  Try searching for a TV show and you will find links to sites where you can watch episodes of the show, such as Hulu, the network website, etc.  You’ll also find episode guides, links to purchase the DVD’s, and all sorts of other relevant information.  But the big one is the links to watch episodes.  If this can be packaged up and added into Media Center then it may do what Google TV will do and beat them to the punch.

But, I doubt that is all that Google TV will be.  We won’t know for a while yet, but I suspect Google may have one or two surprises in store.  And, with it being open-source, developers can added a lot more surprises.  It can only mean better things for HTPC enthusiasts.

GNC-2007-12-11 #324

Posted by geeknews at 3:39 AM on December 11, 2007

I have made the announcement on when I will do the 24 hour Marathon show. Set your calendar it will be Dec 21st

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