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October 13, 2015


HTPC makers add Blu-Ray ripping/management software

by Brad Linder, posted Mar 14th 2008 2:01PM
Niveus Movie Gallery
High end home theater PC makers Niveus and VidaBox are treading into shady waters by adding features that either enable or compliment ripping HD-DVD and Blu-Ray discs. Now, in theory there's nothing wrong with using software that can rip video from a disc, if it's a disc you own the rights to, like say your wedding video. But generally speaking, renting a movie from NetFlix and then ripping it is a no no.

But that hasn't stopped VidaBox from adding the option to rip high definition movies to its media center computers. The software won't play encrypted video streams, but if you've got third party software that can rip encrypted movies, VidaBox's software will let you watch your videos.

Niveus is taking a different approach, by developing a new media management program that will let users watch any video saved on their computer, whether that video is a recorded TV show or a ripped DVD or Blu-Ray disc. Because the Niveus Movie Gallery doesn't inlcude any ripping software, Niveus reps are confident they won't run into any legal troubles.

Niveus's software also has a nifty feature that displays ripped high definition movies when you're using your main computer but hides them from view when you're using a Media extender device. That makes a lot of sense, since ripped high definition videos will tend to be huge files that might not play very well over a network connection. The Movie Gallery application also has a recommendation engine that will show similar titles you might want to watch. Niveus plans to release a beta version of the application in a few weeks.

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Using PowerDVD to watch HD DVDs and Blu-Ray discs in Media Center

by Brad Linder, posted Feb 21st 2008 9:53AM
Media Center HD button
Someone should really come up with standard keyboard shortcuts for media programs. Because it would make life a whole lot simpler when you're trying to configure a remote control to work with your computer's various media players. But until that day comes, Missing Remote has some tips on configuring Cyberlink PowerDVD to work properly with Windows Media Center and a standard Media Center remote control.

PowerDVD is the software that comes with many DVD, HD DVD, and Blu-Ray drives. And it works pretty well if you're sitting right in front of your computer. But if you've got a computer running Windows Media Center, you probably want to be able to sit on the couch and watch your movies with the aid of your trusty remote control. Unfortunately, Windows Media Center won't automatically recognize PowerDVD and add an option to launch the program to your menus. Fortunately, There's a third party plugin that'll do the trick. It launches PowerDVD when you click the button, and when you close PowerDVD you're returned to Windows Media Center.

So far, so good. But if you want to actually use a remote control with PowerDVD, you'll find that a standard media center remote doesn't work properly with Blu-Ray discs. You could remap all the buttons on your remote using software like LM Gestion, but you really just need one or two keys to be fixed. So Missing Remote has posted a configuration file that should work for most users.

Or as one user points out in the Missing Remote forums, you could also try ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre instead of PowerDVD. It works perfectly well with a Media Center remote control. But it also costs a good $90. And you'll have to figure out how to add a button to your Windows Media Center menus.

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Sony dropping DVD, adding Blu-Ray in Japanese PVRs

by Brad Linder, posted Sep 14th 2007 11:00AM
Blu-Ray recordersSony's convinced that Blu-Ray is the future. So much so that the company is dropping support for DVDs in all future personal video recorders it releases in Japan. The comapny also announced 4 new Blu-Ray recorders for the Japanese market, capable of recording up to 16 hours of high definition MPEG-4 video per 50GB disc.

While the earliest TiVo models were able to store fewer hours of programming, 16 hours doesn't really cut it these days, so of course, each of Sony's new machines also has a hard drive, ranging in size from 250GB to 500GB.

While dropping DVD recording support might seem like a big move, there's less competition for high-def optical disc recorders than standard def right now. And if Sony is seen as an innovator early on, they could establish their position as a market leader when the rest of the world realizes DVDs are about as cool as VHS tapes. Unless of course, the rest of the world prefers HD-DVD.

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Alienware unveils Hanger18 HD media server

by Brad Linder, posted Sep 6th 2007 6:30PM
Alienware HD media serverIf Alienware's $2000 Hangar18 media center left you wanting more, the high end gaming and HTPC computer maker has got something for you.

Alienware took the wraps off of its new HD Media Server system at the CEDIA tech show in Denver today. This rack-mountable system comes packed with up to four terabytes of storage, 1080p output via HDMI, 7.1 channel audio, Blu-Ray and CableCard support.

No pricing or availability has been announced, but Alienware is gearing this system toward high-end home media center installers. So even though at first blush it doesn't look like much more than a rack-mountable Hanger18 media center with a bit more storage potential, we suspect it's going to set you back significantly more than $2000.

[via Engadget]

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HiPe upgrades its horribly named eMage-N media center line

by Brad Linder, posted Sep 4th 2007 6:00PM
HiPe eMage-NHome theater PC makers HiPe are updating their eMage-N line of high definition media centers. No, they're not changing the silly name, just offering up a few more features.

For example, you can now get native HDMI output, and a combo Blu-Ray/HD-DVD player.

HiPe is also offering a wireless LTB Q-bean microphone headset for issuing voice commands to your PC. HiPe's eMage-N HD systems start at $1199, but the sky is the limit with options including DVD changers, LCD/Plasma televisions, 12.1 inch touchscreens for the computer case, and up to 15 terabytes of storage space.

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Harmon Kardon shows off ridiculously powerful media center

by Brad Linder, posted Sep 4th 2007 5:01PM
Think your home theater PC is pretty cool because you can record two high definition shows at the same time? Harmon Kardon is displaying an HTPC at IFA that can handle 8 simultaneous HD recordings.

Gizmodo managed to get a few details and snap a few pictures of hte DVC600, but we've got more questions than answers at the moment. Here's what we know. It will support Blu-Ray playback, sport custom Unix-based software, and cost between 3,000 and 4,000 Euros (or about $4,000 to $5500 US).

What we don't know is if the DVC600 will be available in the US, or what kind of high definition inputs it supports. Are you going to need to line up a series of HDTV antennas if this puppy ever hits the US, or will there be CableCard support?

We're probably putting the cart in front of the horse here though. Odds are this dreamy machine will only be available to Europeans with cash burning a hole in their pockets.

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Sony Vaio LT all in one PC packs Blu-Ray and CableCard

by Brad Linder, posted Aug 27th 2007 4:29PM
Sony Vaio LTThe Vaio LT HD is hardly the first all-in-one PC we've seen from Sony. But it does pack a few things we haven't seen before from one of these PC-in-a-monitor style computers:
  • A Blu-ray burner
  • ATI Digital Cable Tuner (for CableCard)
The Vaio LT also includes an impressive set of specs, inclduign a 22-inch 1680x1050 pixel wediscreen display, a 2.2GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive, 802.11n, and an ATSC/NTSC TV tuner.

There's also a standard definition version that loses the Blu-Ray and CableCard features. Both models should be available in October, with the HD version weighing in at about $2900 and the SD model running about $1900.

[via CNet]

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Inteset Media Center PCs sport HD-DVD and Blu-Ray

by Brad Linder, posted Jul 27th 2007 3:50PM
Inteset media center
Can't decide whether to go for delicious HD-DVD or filling Blu-Ray support in your next media center PC? If you've got enough money burning a hole in your pocket, you don't have to decide. Inteset is offering an optional combo drive in its Maximus and Denzel media server PCs.

Both machines include CyberLink's PowerDVD Ultra software, 1080p output, and 7.1 channel surround sound. There's also the usual array of inputs and outputs including DVI, VGA, component, S-video, USB, Firewire, and antenna inputs for the HDTV and standard def TV tuners.

Inteset doesn't list the price on their website, so you know these puppies don't come cheap.

[via Engadget]

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Organize ripped HD movies with My Movies 2.31

by Brad Linder, posted Jul 10th 2007 12:00PM
My Movies
Windows Media Center provides a 10-foot interface for recording, organizing, and watching television programs. And what Media Center is to TV, the My Movies plugin is to DVDs. The popular program which lets you organize your ripped DVD collection is constantly under development, and the recently released public beta of My Movies 2.31 includes a number of nifty new features, including support for ripped HD-DVDs and Blu-ray discs.

Now, we're not going to bother telling you how to rip or download those movies, because that would be illegal. But here are some more updates in My Movies 2.31:
  • Add HD-DVD and Blu-ray metadata (such as cover art, disc IDs, etc) to your library and associate it with ripped movies
  • Use My Movies data in Media Center's "DVD library" if you prefer the default interface
  • Movie information now includes aspect ratios and sound track information

[via FloppyHead]

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Buy a VidaBox Magnum or send your child to college

by Brad Linder, posted Jun 22nd 2007 11:58AM
Vidabox Magnum
Sometimes you've just got to have the best. And so when Vidabox announced their new Magnum line of home theater PCs, our eyes lit up a bit.

This little monster includes an AMD 6000+ dual core CPU, up to 4GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA 8600GTS video card. Oh, did we mention support for Blu-Ray, HD-DVD and CableCard? You also get up to 9TB of storage.

To top things off, that 12'1 inch display on the front of the box. Yeah, it's 1080p. We have no idea why you'd need 1080p on a front panel display that's really more of a secondary display since you'll probably be putting the Magnum under your ginormous flat screen TV anyway.

So what's the catch? The Magnum's starting price is $7,999. That's right, the base configuration costs more than a lightly used car. When Vidabox mentioned on its website that you should call for pricing, we knew the Magnum wouldn't be cheap, but wow. Just wow.

[via Engadget]

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Okoro updates its HD media center PC line

by Brad Linder, posted Jun 8th 2007 10:00AM
Okoro 2007 BX seriesHigh-end home theater makers Okoro Media Systems has introduced its 2007 BX series with support for both Blu-ray and HD-DVD.

The BX100 and BX300 will both sport a single optical drive that can play back either high definition format. The thing is, this is the sort of thing that drives up the price significantly on already expensive machines. And while it's too early to tell whether Blu-ray or HD-DVD will go the way of Betamax, you're taking a gamble by plopping down $3000+ on a machine simply because it supports both high def formats.

Of course, if you could peek into your crystal ball and determine that three years from now there'd be a much wider selection of videos available on one format or the other, you'd still probably have to pay $2000+ to get a machine today that has support for Blu-ray or HD-DVD and:
  • 2GB of DDR2 memory
  • Windows Vista Ultimate
  • 500GB to 1TB of storage
  • HDCP output via Nvidia 8500GT graphics board
  • Analog and ATSC HD TV tuners (times two on the pricier BX300)
So if you've got to be on the early adopter cutting edge, why not shell out a bit extra and get a dual format drive that may or may not be obsolete in a few years?
[via Engadget]

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Are you ready for a Debbie Does Dallas reality show?

by Bob Sassone, posted Feb 28th 2007 5:23PM

DebbieI saw Debbie Does Dallas years ago. It was purely for, um, journalistic research purposes, I assure you.

If you haven't heard, Vivid is remaking the movie (remaking a porn flick...let's think about that for a second), and Showtime is also going to have a reality show to find the star! Showtime, with good reason, is a little nervous about the show. Of course, I wonder if this nervousness is really just more hype for the show (Debbie Does Dallas...Again) itself. The reality show will have several porn stars trying to become the next Debbie.

So if people on Survivor have to eat bugs and the people on Project Runway have to actually make clothing to become a designer, won't the people on this show have to...well, I'm sure you can imagine. And imagine you will.

The show starts on March 9 at 11pm.

[via TV Tattle]

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SlySoft AnyDVD HD beta rips HD-DVDs

by Brad Linder, posted Feb 15th 2007 2:17PM
HD-DVDRemember the other day when we told you that hackers had cracked the AACS copy protection scheme on HD-DVD and Blu-Ray discs? Remember how I said it probably wouldn't take long for someone to wrap the hack into an easy to use GUI?

Well, SlySoft is already out with a beta version of AnyDVD HD, a program designed to remove copy protection and region codes from DVDs and HD-DVDs, allowing you to create a backup copy of your disc. Sure, it's not legal in the U.S., but SlySoft's not an American company, so there you go.

AnyDVD HD beta only works with HD-DVDs at the moment, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Blu-Ray support added soon. The final version will likely carry a hefty price tag. AnyDVD runs $49, meaning you can expect AnyDVD HD to run at least as much.

[via Engadget]

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HD-DVD and Blu-Ray DRM cracked

by Brad Linder, posted Feb 13th 2007 11:23AM
HD-DVDMaking (illegal) backup copies of movies you purchase on HD-DVD and Blu-Ray discs may have just gotten a little easier. Just a month after the first HD-DVD rips began showing up online, it looks like members of the Doom9 forums have found the holy grail of DRM stripping: a universal processing key used by every HD-DVD and Blu-Ray disc. Up until now, the only way to get past the AACS copy protection was to find a specific key for each individual movie you were trying to extract.

In other words, ripping a high definition disc just became almost as easy as ripping a DVD. In the short term, you can probably expect to see an explosion in high definition films torrents available online. In the long run, we can only hope someone will wrap this hack into a nice little GUI and create an easy high-definition disc backup utility that anyone can use.

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How will porn affect your TV on DVD?

by Brett Love, posted Jan 14th 2007 2:03PM
Cheyenne Silver - PenthouseYou may end up with that season five Lost set, the one where we finally find out what the big idea was, on HD-DVD because of what the adult industry is deciding today. Steve Safran has an interesting post up over at Lost Remote talking about how the porn industry may swing the format war between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD.

Steven Hirsch from Vivid Entertainment is quoted talking about the troubles they have had in trying to adopt Blu-Ray, saying "It was difficult, and (Sony) tried to block us." This is not unlike the VHS/Betamax battle where the adult industry's choice helped promote the adoption of the VHS technology. While it operates completely off the radar of many consumers, the adult industry has a lot of power where technology is concerned.

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