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November 29, 2014

PVR Wire

TiVo and Amazon to let you buy stuff from the comfort of your couch

by Brad Linder, posted Jul 22nd 2008 10:58AM
TiVo Amazon products
Amazon and TiVo are teaming up to make short work of the infomercial. Well, that's not exactly how the companies are promoting the new "Product Purchase" feature. TiVo customers will be able to order items from Amazon using their TV, TiVo, and remote control. No web browser or computer necessary. And no need to place your order in the next 15 minutes to get a free bonus gift.

Users will see links to products popping up in various parts of the TiVo interface. For example, if you're looking at a listing for a late night talk show, you might find links to buy books, CDs, or DVDs from that night's guests.

The advantage of ordering from TiVo is that you can make impulse purchases while watching a program, while recording the rest of the program in the background for later viewing. Of course, as anyone with a penchant for picking up candy and trashy magazines in the grocery store checkout lane can tell you, it'd be nice to have the choice to opt-out of the service in order to avoid impulse purchases.

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PVR add-on for PS3 to begin European rollout in September

by Brad Linder, posted Jul 18th 2008 7:04PM
PlayTVIf you were hoping to get your hands on a Sony PlayTV add-on for the Playstation3 this summer, it looks like you might have to wait just a bit longer. Sony's Davide Reeves says the accessory will be available in the UK on September 10th and will roll out to other European markets by December.

The PlayTV is a €99 box that you can add to Sony's video game console to turn it into a personal video recorder. Users can watch live high definition, digital broadcasts or record programs to a PS3 hard drive for later viewing.

Thanks to a recent software update, PlayTV owners will be able to record a TV program while using their PS3 to play video games.

There's no word on a US launch date. Since the US uses different broadcast standards than Europe, you won't be able to use a European PlayTV in America. But gamers in New Zealand and Australia should be able to pick up a PlayTV early next year.

[via EngadgetHD]

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Microsoft ships Windows Media Center TV Pack update - to OEMs only

by Brad Linder, posted Jul 18th 2008 9:04AM
Windows Media Center TV Pack
As reported last week, Microsoft has been working on an update for Windows Media Center that adds support for international users and removes the restriction on the number of TV tuners you can use. The update, which has often been referred to by its codename, Fiji, has been veiled in secrecy. Now it looks like there's good news and bad news.

The good news is that Fiji has shipped. A Microsoft knowledge base article refers to a "Windows Media Center TV Pack," which was released on July 16th. The bad news is, the update was released to OEMs, not to end users. In other words, there's no way for you to download and install the update on your Windows Vista Home Premium or Ultimate computer. You'll have to wait until Microsoft either issues a wider release or until you purchase a new computer with the software preloaded.

[via Geek Tonic]

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Amazon to launch video streaming service

by Brad Linder, posted Jul 17th 2008 10:01AM
Amazon Unbox
Amazon is rolling out a new video service today that will either replace or compliment the Amazon Unbox video download store. While Unbox customers have to wait for a video to download before they can begin watching, Amazon Video on Demand will let you begin watching as soon as you've placed an order.

The New York Times reports that Amazon is launching the service for a limited number of customers today, with a wider release scheduled for later this summer. The Amazon Unbox web page has a little button asking for volunteers for a new beta program, so I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that beta=video on demand.

According to the article, videos will be available for rental or purchase. And once you've purchased a video, you'll be able to watch it from any computer. No software installation necessary. In other words, it sounds like the new service is browser-based.

On the one hand, this means Amazon Video on Demand will be compatible with Windows and Mac machines (I'm not going to hold my breath for Linux support), which is great. But it's also nice to be able to save a copy of a movie on your own computer for archiving. What happens if Amazon kills the service in two years. Does that mean you lose your online video library which you've paid for? I'm hoping that Amazon still gives users the option of downloading movies, even if not everyone will need to use that option.

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TiVo rolls out software update, adds YouTube support

by Brad Linder, posted Jul 17th 2008 9:03AM


TiVo has started sending out new system software to Series3 users who signed up for priority updates. The general TiVo using population should get the TiVo 9.4 software soon. And thet means support for:
  • YouTube video playback
  • The ability to play or delete an entire folder (in other words, you can watch programs in order without hitting a button on your remote)
  • Jump forward by 24 hours in the program guide
  • Pull up the program guide from any screen, whether you're watching live, recorded, or downloaded video
  • Easier toggling of closed captioning
  • Review your thumbs up and down ratings
Blogger Dave Zatz (who recorded the video you see above), has confirmed that the TiVo content uses the H.264 codec. That means there's pretty much no chance that TiVo Series2 users will ever see support for TiVo, since older TiVo models can only support MPEG-2 video.

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Microsoft adds Netflix, NBC, Universal videos to Xbox Live Marketplace

by Brad Linder, posted Jul 14th 2008 3:27PM
Engadget
Microsoft has announced plans to expand the internet video content available to Xbox Live users. Probably the most exciting new feature (although also the most predictable) is a partnership with Netflix that will let Netflix customers stream video using an Xbox 360 starting this fall.

Netflix currently lets users stream selected content using a web browser or a dedicated set top box developed by Roku. You won't need to pay any additional fees to watch Netflix videos. But you will need a Netflix subscription. Microsoft says the Xbox 360 will be the only video game console to support Netflix videos, but I wouldn't be surprised if what Microsoft is really saying is that the Xbox 360 will be the first video game console with Netflix support.

Microsoft has also announced that customers will be able to purchase and download videos from NBC and Universal. Titles will include Battlestar Galactica, The Office, Monk, The Mummy, and the Bourne Supremacy. The videos will be available in high definition. Microsoft says there are now over 10,000 movies and TV shows available through the Xbox Live marketplace.

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Australian TiVo commercial is attractive, unoriginal

by Brad Linder, posted Jul 14th 2008 12:32PM


TiVo launched an advertising campaign in Australia recently to promote the release of the first TiVo set top boxes in that country. And at first glance, the ad looks pretty cool and creative. At least until that little light bulb goes off in your head. You know, the one that says "haven't I seen this ad before?"

As Gizmodo Australia points out, you probably have. Because it's practically identical to an ad that Apple used about a little while back to promote the iPod Nano.



I don't know about you, but I can't imagine this being a coincidence. The two commercials are just too similar.

[via Zatz Not Funny]

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Could the Netflix Player by Roku be used as a MythTV frontend?

by Brad Linder, posted Jul 11th 2008 8:57AM
Netflix player by Roku naked
Roku, the company behind the $99 box that lets you stream Netflix movies over the internet to your TV has released the source code for the set top box. And the hacking has already begun. Some folks have already reported they can access the box via telnet.

MythTV News raises an interesting question: Could the Netflix Player be a cheap frontend for the Linux-based MythTV media suite? MythTV's backend software requires a full computer with a decent CPU, hard drive, and RAM to run. But it might be possibel to shoehorn the frontend software, which lets you access media stored on the backend, onto a less powerful device.

As Dave Zatz points out, the software used on the Netflix Player is signed. What that means is that modified code will not run properly, and the box should automatically revert to the last good version of its software if it encounters hacked or modified code. But it is at least theoretically possible to send software updates to the box, and to update the bootloader. And that means it's possible that someone might be able to find a way to run MythTV or other software on the Netflix Player. Just because a platform is locked doesn't mean it can't be unlocked. Just look at the iPhone.

[via eHomeUpgrade and Hack A Day]

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Kodak wants in on your living room

by Brad Linder, posted Jul 10th 2008 6:26PM
Kodak
Kodak, like pretty much every other electronics company out there, has its sites set on your living room. The company has announced a new Theatre HD Player which is designed to hang out by your television sit and connect to the internet for easy access to the online Kodak Gallery.

The $300 Theatre HD Player will also be able to handle video from sites like YouTube, audio from RadioTime, and images from sites not owned by Kodak, including Flickr. As the name would suggest, the box supports HDTV (720p). It also comes with a gyroscopic remote control which you can use a bit like a wireless mouse.

The box will also let you display images stored on a PC, memory card, or any USB storage device. You can even plug a Kodak EasyShare digital camera right into the Theatre HD Player to show your images on your TV screen. Of course, plenty of cameras also come with A/V cables that let you do pretty much the same thing, but it's nice not to have to carry a specialized cable around.

The Theatre HD Player should be available in September.

[via Crave]

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TiVo offers refurb TiVo HD for $180

by Brad Linder, posted Jul 9th 2008 11:27AM
TiVo HD refurb
When TiVo launched the Series3 video recorder, the first model capable of recording HDTV, the unit received a lot of rave reviews -- and a lot of complaints about the high $800 price tag. A while later, TiVo released the TiVo HD which is basically a stripped down model that sells for just $300. But if even that seems like too much money for you, TiVo's got a heck of a deal going on right now. You can pick up a refurbished TiVo HD for just $180.

The TiVo HD can record up to 20 hours of HD video or 180 hours of standard definition television. Of course, you need to factor the price of a monthly, annual, or product lifetime service plan. Those subscription fees quickly add up and wind up costing more than the unit itself. But it's always nice to save a few bucks up front.

[via TiVo Blog]

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Windows Media Center H.264, DirecTV support coming later this year

by Brad Linder, posted Jul 9th 2008 10:03AM
Wi ndows Media Center update
There's good news and less good news and then some more good news on the Windows Media Center front. The good news is that Microsoft will be releasing an update soon, the bad news is that it won't include support for things like the H.264 codec or the upcoming DirecTV tuner. The good news (again) is that EngadgetHD reports those features are on their way, they just won't be ready by the end of July, which is when Microsoft plans to issue the next update to Windows Media Center.

A tipster also sent EngadgetHD a few screenshots of the upcoming update, which adds a few new features like the ability to use as many TV tuners as you want, and to use a combination of tuner types such as NTSC, ATSC, QAM, CableCARD, DVB-T, PAL, or DVB-S. The update includes additional features for international media center users, such as support for ISDB-T and BML standards in Japan, and DVB-T and DVB-S in Europe.

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Acer Aspire X1200 PC is cheap, tiny, and could be your next HTPC

by Brad Linder, posted Jul 8th 2008 6:31PM
Acer Aspire X1200
Who says home theater PCs have to be expensive? Sometimes all you need is a PC that's small enough to look good next to your TV, cable box, and video game console, and powerful enough to handle HD video. It looks like the Acer Aspire X1200 might just fit the bill. And this tiny (10.6" x 4" x 14.4") computer has a starting price of just $450.

The low end model is available today and packs an AMD Athlon X2 dual core CPU, NVIDIA GeForce 8200 graphics, 4GB of RAM, a 320GB hard drive, a 16x DVD burner, a 14-in-1 card reader, and Windows Vista Home Premium. For a few bucks more you can get a faster CPU.

Or if you're willing to wait until July 13th you can get a $700 model with a 500GB hard drive and a 22-inch "widescreen LCD display." There's no word on what the resolution for that display will be, but $700 is a pretty decent price for a home theater PC packing Windows Media Center functionality as well as the bundled CyberLnk PowerDVD and Arcade Live software. Of course, you'll need to pony up some cash for a TV tuner if you want to watch or record live TV.

[via Engadget]

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Elgato release Macbook Air-friendly HDTV tuner

by Brad Linder, posted Jul 8th 2008 1:28PM
Elgato
So you want one of those newfangled TV tuner dongles that will let you watch HDTV on your laptop, but you've got a Macbook Air with a funny USB port that makes it tough to plug in most standard USB devices? No problem. Elgato's new EyeTV DTT Deluxe tuner sports a new ultra-thin design and fits into the low profile Macbook Air USB port.

The EyeTV DTT Deluxe is a digital-only tuner, which means you cannot use it to pick up analog signals. At the moment it's only available in Europe, which means you can grab DVB-T or Freeview signals. No word on a US launch date. The European version will set you back about €79.95 or £69.95.

[via Gizmodo]

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XBMC for OS X gets a new name: Plex

by Brad Linder, posted Jul 7th 2008 4:03PM
PlexThe media center software suite formerly known as Xbox Media Center is now available for the Xbox, OS X computers, or pretty much any PC that's capable of running Windows or LInux. But the XBMC name still makes it sound like an application for the Xbox only. So the folks working on the OS X version decided to rebrand their port. Meet Plex.

The team plans to roll out a rebranded version over the next few days, and will set up domains at plex2.com, plexsquared.com and plexsquare.com. Plex.com, like most four letter domain names, was already taken. The new software will also get a new skin soon. In the meantime, all I can really show you is the new logo.See it? That's it in the corner.

[via Automated Home]

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It's official: TiVo will hit Australia on July 29

by Brad Linder, posted Jul 4th 2008 2:37PM
TiVoIt's been a long bumpy road, but TiVo will finally be available in Australia by the end of the month. TiVo and the Seven Network officially announce the coming availability of the set top box this week. As expected, Australian customers will be able to pick up a TiVo for $699 at Harvey Norman and Domayne stores. If the price seems a bit high, keep this in mind: There will be no monthly subscription fees for basic service.

But it turns out that many of the features that make TiVo stand out in the US won't be available at launch in Australia. There will be no support for networking features. That means you can't connect to the internet to download music and movies. And you can't hook up your TiVo to a home PC to access your photos, music, and videos on a TV set. In other words, basically what you get is the same TiVo service US customers had 4 or 5 years ago, but with support for high definition video.

Seven may eventually add networking features via a software update, but the company would charge for such additional services.

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