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October 7, 2015


Better Viewing Through Technology

by Stephanie Earp, posted Oct 6th 2009 11:00PM

I have a confession to make. Last week, I got satellite TV.

Yeah, you read it right. Last week.

Before that, I was subsisting on what my antenna and my wireless internet could bring into the house, and running up a large bill at the local video store. (Seriously - it's what some people spend on groceries.) And I call myself a TV columnist. What a fraud.

Here's the truth about me - I'm cheap. I'll spend hundreds of dollars on a handbag (or DVD rentals), but I've always balked at the monthly fees for a decent cable or satellite package. Because that's the catch, right? Satellite isn't all that expensive, but good satellite costs a fortune, with all those picky packages. If I want to watch 'Dexter' as it airs, I'd have to get pregnant, make sure it was a boy, gestate for nine months, and then hand him over. Am I right, people?

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Jimmy Fallon shows off the Dave Matthews GPS

by Bob Sassone, posted Jun 4th 2009 4:22PM
This sketch probably started in the writers room because a.) Jimmy Fallon does a good Dave Matthews impersonation, or b.) it gives them a chance to make a joke out of "Satellite." Or maybe both. Either way, it's pretty funny. Introducing the Dave Matthews GPS!

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The recession: bad for cable...good for the Internet

by Richard Keller, posted Feb 7th 2009 9:03AM

Hulu racked up an increase of viewers late last year as more people turned away from cable.As we all know, and are probably tired of hearing because it makes us so damned depressed, the recession is hitting everyone hard. Businesses are closing left and right, people are losing their jobs, and unemployment rates are hitting levels not seen since the days of leg warmers, headbands and tainted Tylenol. It's bad enough that even if people still have a job, their employers are taking extensive belt tightening measures to make sure they are prepared for the worst.

One of the things being eliminated from families' budgets during this belt tightening is their cable or satellite hookup. With costs that can total over $100 a month, families are just not ready to dump that kind of cash on something they feel doesn't have any value. That doesn't mean they are going without television (especially after the DTV switchover) and turning to a simpler life of canning vegetables, making quilts, and attending square dances. Rather, they are switching off their hi-def flat screens, turning on their computer flat screens, and getting their TV fix over the Internet.

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Is ESPN teaming up with The NFL Network?

by Allison Waldman, posted Jun 22nd 2008 10:33AM
NFL Network logoIf you're a pro football fan and you don't get the NFL Network, chances are you know about the stalemate between the NFL Network and cable operators, like Time Warner. Because of their inability to strike a compromise, eight NFL games last season which The NFL Network broadcast, were unavailable to many cable customers, causing much hue and cry.

Well, it looks like there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. ESPN is talking with The NFL Network about a broadcasting partnership, that according to The Associated Press. If a deal is done, NFL Network games in 2008 could be seen by just about everyone, not just those of us who are satellite subscribers.

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DISH Network 722s: Combined PVR, satellite receiver, and Slingbox

by Brad Linder, posted May 17th 2008 3:26PM

Sling Media logoDISH Network is working on a new set top box that will work as a satellite receiver, personal video recorder, Slingbox, and SlingCatcher. The move isn't particularly surprising. Why would EchoStar have purchased Sling Media if the satellite network didn't plan to release an all-in-one set top box. But this is the first time we've heard the company talk about an actual product.

The announcement came during a recent DISH Network team summit, and Satellite Guys has a writeup with some of the highlights from the event. Here's what we know about the upcoming 722s so far:

  • Support for Clip + Sling, which lets you send short video clips over the internet to friends
  • Redesigned user interface including a program guide with channel logos
  • New UHF remote control with a touchpad
  • Front of the unit has a touchscreen and no buttons
  • 1 TB hard drive, half of which will be preloaded with HD movies
  • Integrated web browser for accessing a handful of web sites
  • Also works as a SlingCatcher, letting you watch internet video on your TV

No word on pricing or availability yet. If you don't feel like signing up for DISH Network, you can get all of these features by buying handful of boxes from Sling Media. But the idea of getting a single multi-function box is pretty compelling. If DISH can keep the price down on the 722s or even offer it for free with a subscription, the new box could be a major selling point for the company in its battle against DirecTV and the cable networks.

[via Gizmo Lovers]

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Hauppauge to intro device that captures 1080p video without CableCard

by Brad Linder, posted Jan 10th 2008 5:53PM
Hauppauge logoWant to capture high definition television on your home theater PC, but don't feel like shelling out $1000 or more on CableCard tuners that only work with Windows Vista? Hauppauge is preparing to launch a $250 box that will capture 1080p video from a cable or satellite box and automatically transcode it to H.264 video for storing on your PC.

The Hauppauge HD PVR connects to your set top box's component or "YPrPb" output, so what you're capturing is an analog signal. You'll need to use an IR blaster to let the USB TV tuner change channels.

When you combine the analog source with the fact that your video will be compressed, it's safe to say that you won't get the same kind of video quality with the HD PVR as you would with a true CableCard tuner. On the other hand, the HD PVR is going to be a lot cheaper than the competition. And while CableCard tuners only work with Windows Vista Media Center, Hauppauge has a good track record of putting out TV tuner cards that work with everything from BeyondTV and SageTV for Windows to MythTV for Linux.

[via Brent Evans]

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DirecTV PC tuner details

by Brad Linder, posted Jan 8th 2008 11:55AM
DirecTV HDPC-20
One of the biggest problems with building a PC-based personal video recorder is that it's kind of a hassle to record TV programs if you have a satellite dish. With analog cable, over the air HDTV, or even with unencrypted digital cable channels, all you have to do is plug a cord into your PC's TV tuner card and you're ready to start recording live TV. But with a satellite dish or most digital cable boxes, you need to set your computer close to your set top box and run an IR blaster cable to act as a virtual remote control, flipping channels on your box every time your PVR wants to record a new program.

If you've got cable, you can get around this by using the incredibly overpriced new CableCARD tuners that will let Windows Vista Media Center users turn their $1000 computers into $3000 HD PVRs. But there's still no way to record satellite TV directly to your PC. But it looks like that's about to change.

Earl Bonovich at the DBS Talk forums has managed to snag a couple of high resolution screenshots of an upcoming DirecTV PC tuner. DirecTV's been working with Microsoft to create a Windows Media Center capable tuner for a while now, but this is the first time I've seen any pictures. No word on pricing or availability.

I know the images above are kind of hard to read, so we've printed the text after the jump.

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How to choose a TV tuner for your home theater PC

by Brad Linder, posted Jan 2nd 2008 9:59AM
HVR-1600Once upon a time turning your old PC into a homemade personal video recorder was a snap. All you had to do was buy a TV tuner card for about $100, plug in an analog TV cable, and use some free or commercial software to start recording shows. But the TV landscape is a bit more complicated these days, and if you have digital cable, HDTV, satellite TV, or other newfangled doohickeys hooked up to your TV, you might not even know where to begin.

Missing Remote has put together an excellent primer on choosing the right video source for your PVR. For example, if you want to record over-the-air HDTV using a digital antenna, you can use pretty much any modern TV tuner. But if you want to record the unencrypted HDTV signals your cable company sends out as well as standard definition digital cable channels, you're probably going to want something a bit more specialized, like Silcon Dust's HDHomeRun for the HDTV, and a second tuner with an S-Video port and an IR blaster to record and change the channels on your digital cable box.

Of course, there's a lot more to building a PVR than choosing the right TV tuner. You also need to choose the right software package, make sure you have enough hard drive space, and make sure your video card can support your display. But in end, your video quality is only going to be as good as your TV tuner.

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2007 Satellite Award nominees announced

by Jason Hughes, posted Dec 1st 2007 10:21AM

Variety reports the 12th Annual Satellite Awards will be handed out on December 16, 2007. The awards cover film, television, DVD, and new media. These appear to be the first major awards to involve television series from the new season, and include multiple nominations for both Chuck and Pushing Daisies, including nods for lead actor and series, comedy or musical. Other new show nominations include Patricia Heaton (Back to You) and Anna Friel (Pushing Daisies) for lead actress, comedy or musical, Glenn Close (Damages) for lead actress, drama and Mad Men for drama series.

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NBC fall TV pilots coming to Video On Demand systems

by Richard Keller, posted Aug 29th 2007 9:30AM

The pilot of NBC's Chuck is coming to a VOD near youSchool is back in session, the U.S. Open has begun, and another Bush appointee has resigned. You know what that means, don't you? It means that the new fall TV season is fast approaching. With it comes the push by the networks to promote the crap out of their new shows. Okay, so they've been promoting the crap out of them since the end of the last television season, but now it's going to start to get annoying. I'm talking about last-week-advertising-before-elections annoying.

NBC will lead this charge by making the pilots for their upcoming fall shows available on cable and satellite Video On Demand systems (known as VOD henceforth). Partnering with NBC in this venture are cable companies Comcast, Cox, Charter and Time Warner and the satellite services DirectTV and DISH Network. The pilot episodes of Chuck, Bionic Woman, Life and Journeyman, as well as a 30-minute fall preview special, will be available on September 10th.

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Cable tops Satellite in PVR penetration

by Brad Linder, posted Jul 17th 2007 6:00PM
Motorola PVRNot that we knew it was a race, but apparently cable television providers have overtaken satellite companies as the top distributors of personal video recorders in the US.

Cable companies have 52% of the PVR market, compared with 38% for satellite providers. Telephone providers and standalone units like from companies like TiVo account for the rest.

The survey data was collected by the Carmel Group and was gathered from over 4,000 people in 2005 and 2006.

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Rutgers players on Oprah today

by Anna Johns, posted Apr 12th 2007 2:18PM
oprah winfreyOprah is changing up her scheduled programming today in order to interview members of the Rutgers women's basketball team. The women were the subject of a racial and sexist slur by radio host Don Imus recently. On his show, Imus inexplicably called them "nappy-headed hos" after they lost the NCAA women's championship game. As a result, he was suspended by CBS Radio and has been fired by MSNBC.

Today, coach Vivian Stringer and ten players will appear on Oprah via satellite. It's only the second time they have spoken out in response to Imus' April 4th comments. Yesterday, the coach and several players said they found Imus' comments to be hurtful and insensitive.

Does Imus also deserve a live-via-satellite interview with Oprah?

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What are your Top 15 channels?

by Anna Johns, posted Mar 24th 2007 12:01PM
channelsAccording to this report in the NY Daily News, the average household gets more than 100 television channels. Even with all the choices, viewers pretty much stick to about 15 channels. Obviously, that grouping of channels varies by viewer. I'd be interested to know what the most popular channel on television is and what is least popular (probably cable access or C-SPAN).

That number actually sounds about right to me, although I would say my range is more like 20 channels. I've listed my Top 15 below, in order of most-watched... what are your top channels?

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New Hauppauge WinTV-HVR 4000 launches at CeBit

by Martin Conaghan, posted Mar 12th 2007 10:22PM
HVR 4000Hauppauge has emailed me to say they're launching one of their new hybrid TV cards at CeBit this week.

Basically, they're billing it as "the world's first quad mode tuner."

It's capable of receiving all UK TV broadcast formats, including analog, Freeview digital, satellite and High Definition (HD) satellite.

It should be available mid-March, at around £180, and comes in PCI format.

The card is packed with the usual Hauppauge features, and will undoubtedly drop in price as the year rolls on -- but you should expect this kind of card to be the standard for a PC-based TV tuner/PVR in the UK in the very near future.

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Meet the Press for Idiots - VIDEO

by Adam Finley, posted Feb 25th 2007 2:00PM

tim russertOut of all the late night hosts, Conan O'Brien is far and away my favorite. I'm not quite old enough to have enjoyed Letterman and his hipper days at NBC, and Leno's populism doesn't quite do it for me, but Conan came along during my high school and college days, and the humor of Late Night is perfect for a weird guy like me riding in the caboose of the Generation X train.

I'll admit Conan isn't always perfect, and I wish sometimes he'd get rid of that whole "If They Mated" segment, which I never found all that funny, but he still comes up with some great material, such as the clip I've placed below. Actually, I only wanted to show you the first part of the clip, a preview of a series called Meet the Press for Idiots, but the following segment featuring God trying to bond with Jesus is pretty funny, too.

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