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Get Your Media Center Update

Say goodbye to those pesky audio errors and not being able to find your tuner when you Autoplay a DVD. Microsoft's released a cumulative update for Vista's edition of Media Center . While it's not exactly comprehensive, it does address some key issues. 

The Media Center update also sports a few new features: improved Online Media caching, additional support for Online Media, and support for Video Playlist Media Extenders. Be aware that the update will require you to reconfigure or update any third-party firewalls to avoid connection failures to your home network.

Media Center for Commuters

Spend all your time in the car? Thanks to an innovative, new mobile media solution from HiPe PC, you can be stranded on the Garden State Parking Lot and entertain yourself without ever honking your horn.

The Driv-N is an in-dash PC unit that runs Windows Vista Home Premium, including the full Media Center application. Sporting a host of cool features - internet, Bluetooth, voice commands, GPS, GSM, WiFi, and more - this spiffy device can be networked to your home PC for quick, easy downloads and file sharing.

All it needs now is a coffee maker.

Blu-ray Seeing Green

In less than a year, HD-DVD manufacturer, Blu-ray Disc, has met the million sales milestone. With monthly sales projections rising since January, Blue-ray's already published around 70% of the HD-DVD titles sold during 2007s first quarter. 

Blue-ray has strong support in the entertainment industry due to its enhanced security features. Seven of the eight major studios are releasing increasing numbers of titles through Blue-ray.

Will TiVo Make it Back Across the Pond?

TiVo's had some problems in the past, but it looks like a deal may be in the works to bring TiVo's service back to the UK. Distribution problems have kept TiVo from introducing any new boxes across the pond, and that doesn't look like it'll be changing anytime soon.

But TiVo's recent partnerships with Comcast and Cox Communications will enable the company to offer the TiVo software and services on integrated cable boxes. Based on this development, it's looking likely that a similar agreement could be in the works with Freeview boxes in the UK.

Former CEO Mike Ramsey indicates that at this point talks are still in the preliminary stage, but with TiVo's focus on growth, don't be too surprised if we see an official agreement in the near future.

Akimbo Makes OnHollywood's Top 100

For the second year in a row, Akimbo's made the OnHollywood 100. A true pioneer of VOD, Akimbo offers an aggregate of specialty and mainstream video content. With an ever-expanding list of more than 15,000 titles, Akimbo's certainly not offering slim pickings. Based on innovation, market potential, customer adoption, media buzz and investor value creation, the OnHollywood 100 is truly an honor Akimbo's earned.

Your Palm Just Got Cooler

SlingMedia has heard our cry, fellow Palm lovers, and they're well on the way to answering our call. With the release of a new beta specifically for the Treo700P, the SlingPlayer is already being heralded by InfoSync as an attractive alternative to the mobile TV options already out there. Yes, it's still a beta, which means there are kinks to be worked out. But the possibility of someday being able to watch Pulp Fiction or Entourage on my Palm TX already has me drooling.

Slingbox it Straight to Your PC

If you're one of those people with more rooms than televisions, all you need is a PC to watch the shows on your DVR. How's this possible? The Slingbox. Connected to your DVR, this handy little device tosses those programs you can't live without straight to your PC, or even the internet. Check out Business Week's technology section for some great tips, and an interesting discussion, on using the Slingbox to enhance your entertainment pleasure.

Microsoft Wants YOU!

Microsoft is looking for a few, good Windows Media Center junkies to test their new beta. This is your shot to tell Microsoft exactly what you want. There's no guarantee that you'll get it, but at least you'll have a chance to be heard, right? That alone is worth the five minutes you'll spend signing up. If you have questions about the beta test process, check out The Green Button.

But beware: with approximately eleventy-bazillion people aching to jump on that bandwagon, it may seem like a long shot but we think it's worth your time. Pop over to the Media Center site, fill out the short survey, and if you're chosen they'll let you know by May 31st. And, hey, if you're chosen, be sure to come back and let us know how it goes!

Apple Files for Patent

After years of rumors, it looks as thought Apple may finally give us that media center we've been hearing about.

Offering up a flexible, modularly controlled architecture, Unwired View reports that Apple's proposed media center would be accessible through a variety of Apple's already existing product lines. Each device -- such as iTV, Video iPod, and the iPhone -- would connect to the central controller through various software and hardware interactions. The software, designed to be intuitive, will allow each component to remain independent from the rest.

The patent application, filed in 2005, went public last week, offering potential consumers a quick glance at what could be Apple's first true foray into the land of media centers.


Akimbo Branches Out

Slated for debut on April 16th, the internet video service provider Akimbo's latest offering targets those of you running Windows XP- or Vista-based platforms.

Part of a joint venture with Sonic Solutions, Akimbo's user interface will be integrated into Sonic's upcoming release of Roxio Venue. Plans are already in the works to allow video burns of downloaded content to CSS-encrypted DVDs this summer.

Although MovieLink won't be available on PC versions of the software, the variety of downloadable content is still impressive. Along with a host of other features, Akimbo offers: cable television shows, music and concert videos, special interest, games, ethnic content, and even some HD programs.

Best of all? The new PC service won't require a monthly subscription, installation fees, or set-up charges.

TiVo Makes the Grade

New York Times tech columnist, David Pogue, did a bang-up job yesterday with his piece on TiVo. Pointing out that your TiVo isn’t just a video recorder anymore, Pogue outlines all of the cool features and capabilities TiVo now offers, then gave out the grades. While it's not a perfect list of As, his analysis does hand TiVo the kudos it so richly deserves. Check out the full article for a comprehensive list of features, and find out how they stack up against TiVo’s competitors.

Get Free Stuff from TiVo and Amazon Unbox!

As part of an aggressive new marketing campaign, TiVo and Amazon have banded together to give you more for your money. With Amazon Unbox’s paid service, you can rent, or even purchase, movies (and more!) online, then download them directly to your TiVo. Check out the service by April 30, 2007, and you

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Next-Generation Omega Does Double Duty

Fast Forward Video, Inc.'s (FFV) next generation Omega Deck digital video recorder is set to hit the market later this year, sometime in Q3. Intended for broadcast and film production applications, the double-duty DVR records in both HD and SD video, and allows upsampling to HD.

Offering near-perfect image quality thanks to its high-quality JPEG2000 wavelet compression (up to 100Mb/s), the Omega HD delivers clean images which are nearly indistinguishable from the original. Available in single or dual tuner models, users can store multiple HD and SD video files, edit video, create loops and clips, and insert graphics. Other key features include an intuitive front panel touch screen, standard 2.5" SATA drive, simultaneous playback and record, and RS-422. The Omega HD is also compatible with Grass Valley REV® Pro removable media.


Source: DMN Newswire

HP Exits the MCE Race

HP announced that it will no longer be developing their Media Center line, although they'll continue to manufacture Touchsmart and MediaSmart TV products. The company, having been an active part of the M from the beginning, cited multiple difficulties with the development of their MCE systems. Lack of affordability was a primary motivator for HPs exit from the market segment. The company also cites lack of retail support, difficult to use hardware, and overly-complex software as contributing factors.


Source: Digital Trends

Cablevision Seeks to Deploy Network DVR

Cablevision Services has been laying the groundwork to deploy a network-based digital video recording system that would record your favorite television show inside the cable network, and deliver them upon demand ... in contrast to the existing local storage model. 

In response, Twentieth Century Fox Film, Universal City Studios, Paramount Pictures, Disney Enterprises, CBS, ABC, NBC, and others have banded together to sue Cablevision, claiming that such technology would violate copyright laws.  A New York federal judge has ruled that this favor of the TV networks and Hollywood studios, but Cablevision is considering appeal.

It seems like only a matter of time before such Video on Demand services become available, as long as providers like Cablevision can navigate the legal pitfalls.

TiVo2DVD for UNIX/Linux users

Earlier this month a new project was created on Sourceforge called TiVo2DVD.  This promising project, currently offering version .1.0-1 as of March 8, creates and executes the series of commands required to access, format, and burn television shows directly from a Series 2 TiVo directly to a DVD.  The software even support processing multiple shows at once, to a DVD with menus.

As the man page says:
tivo2dvd is a command-line script which automates the process of fetching television programs off of a Series II Tivo device, processing them, and burning them to a DVD.

To use TiVo2DVD you must have the prerequisites installed: perl, curl, Net::Tivo, tivodecode, transcode, mjpegtools, and tovid.

There are RPM installation notes for FEDORA Core 6 available from the website.  If what was just written is greek to you, you should probably move along as this project is for TiVo and UNIX geeks!

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TiVo Announces Results for Forth Quarter and FY 2007

TiVo reported financial results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended January 31, 2007.  Tom Rogers, CEO of TiVo said, “Fiscal 2007 was marked by a tremendous amount of progress in differentiating TiVo from generic alternatives and aligning TiVo with numerous companies to weave TiVo solidly into the future of the media world.”

Some of the highlights of the release:

·   Service and Technology revenues increased 22% year-over-year to $57.4 million in the fourth quarter

·   Net loss was $18.7 million in the fourth quarter, compared to a net loss of $21.1 million in the year-ago quarter

·   Adjusted EBITDA loss was $14.2 million in the fourth quarter, compared to a loss of $19.9 million in the year-ago quarter

·   TiVo-Owned subscriptions increased 16% year-over-year to end the year at 1.7 million

·   Amazon Unbox on TiVo officially launched and now broadly available

The Webcast will be archived and available through March 13, 2007 at

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HDTV confuses consumers

 The Leichtman Research Group recently conducted a survey which discovered that close to one-half of the 24 million households with HDTVs don't actually watch high-definition programs because they haven't obtained the necessary hardware from their cable, phone or satellite operators. 

What's worse is that half of those viewers totalling 6 million do not even realize they are NOT watching HD!   In that case... I have a Sharp Aquos 52" 1080p LCD HDTV to sell you!

Source: WSJ 

DVR Owners Skipping Commercials? Not so much...

DVRs and the ability to easily skip TV ads have many experts thinking these devices will be the end of the 30-second commercial as wel know it.  According to the Nielsen Company, people with DVRs are watching roughly two-thirds of all ads.

One of the reasons, according to the New York Times online (February 16, 2007), is that people with DVRs watch around half the shows at their scheduled start time, so they have to sit through the ads.  The shows being watch live include news and sports.

If people watch the shows later, around 40% are still watching the ads.

Nielsen has also found that younger people generally skip more ads and time-shift more of their viewing than older people.

Mvix MX-760HD HD Wireless Media Center Firmware Source code Distribution

MvixUSA has released the Mvix MX-760HD HD Wireless Media Center firmware source code for free distribution under the GNU General Public License (GPL). Lately, MvixUSA and Unicorn Network Total Solution have taken some heat from users wanting access to the source code citing GPL violations. An email was even sent to the GPL Violations project.

After speaking with MvixUSA last week about the GPL issues, MvixUSA alluded to the fact that a solution was forthcoming and that they had been working with their lawyers to determine their responsibilities as distributors of the product without having access to the source code which was created by Unicorn. In addition, MvixUSA mentioned the importance of satisfying their customers while living up to the end of a contractual agreement with Unicorn.

Mvix MX-760HD Firmware WPA Fix Released

Mvix released a new firmware for their popular MX-760HD product yesterday. Mvix's MX-760HD is a hi-def 802.11g multimedia center that plugs into your network and allows you to play all your digital content directly on your TV.

The firmware (v1.1.17) enables WPA, which stands for Wi-Fi Protected Access, a far superior protection mechanism than WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy).

Check back for a review of this wireless hi-def multimedia center.

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