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April 23, 2014

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Hulu + Windows Media Center = true Internet TV

by Brad Linder, posted Oct 29th 2007 12:58PM
Hulu on MSN
I don't even have a beta invitation to Hulu yet, and already I can tell you that the new online video service from NBC and FOX is a game-changer. Sure, you can't download episodes and burn them to DVD or carry them with you on your iPod. But because the service provides free ad-supported streaming episodes of a bunch of series you actually want to watch, Hulu could make a serious dent on iTunes, Amazon, Joost, and other services that let you watch videos on your PC.

And since Hulu is partnering with online video sites like AOL and MSN, you can already watch quite a bit of Hulu content today, even without a beta account.

But there's one thing you can't easily do with Hulu -- yet. And that's watch the videos on your TV. But something tells me that's about to change very quickly. When Microsoft launched its new "Internet TV" component for Windows Vista Media Center last month, we were impressed by the technology but a bit disappointed with the content options.

The only videos available were from the MSN Video site. That means it's a bunch of clips from popular programs, user-generated content, and a handful of music videos and concerts. There was a grand total of one TV series with full length streaming episodes available. And while I love me some Arrested Development, I was really hoping for a bit more.

As of this morning, there are 80+ series available on MSN Video. Not all of the shows are from Hulu. There's also some CBS programming, including 18 billion different versions of CSI. There's no way to access these shows from the Windows Media Center interface yet. But I'm guessing it's only a matter of time before these episodes start showing up in MCE.

Update: I just got an email from someone at MSN Video PR, and it appears Hulu content will not be available through Internet TV. I suppose NBC/FOX don't want to cannibalize DVD sales, but this is still pretty disappointing news.

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Ricavision begins shipping new media center remotes

by Brad Linder, posted Oct 17th 2007 3:00PM
RicavisionIf you're in the market for a new Windows Media Center-compatible remote control, it looks like you can pick up a new Ricavision remote for $30. Actually, you can get the remote for $7, but if you want a Bluetooth/RC6 infrared receiver too you'll have to find $30 in your couch cushions for the bundle.

We first heard about these new remotes from Ricavision way back in February, so it's good to see that they're finally shipping. But it would also be nice if Ricavision would get around to shipping the high-end Sideshow remotes they promised last year.

Sideshow is a new protocol that lets devices like internet tablets and remote controls interact with Windows Vista machines to display things like program guides, music playlists, and weather forecasts on an LCD display without turning on your PC monitor. Somehow we suspect Ricavision's Sideshow-enabled remote controls will cost a bit more than $30.

[via Chris Lanier]

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TV Toolbox for Windows Vista Beta2 released

by Brad Linder, posted Aug 20th 2007 9:30AM
MCEDev TV Toolbox beta2MCEDev has released a new beta of TV Toolbox, a Windows Media Center application for editing recorded shows using your remote control.

TV Toolbox lets you convert DVR-MS files to other video formats or perform basic video editing tasks without getting up from your couch. The latest beta includes a number of bug fixes and updates including:
  • Fixed a problem that caused TV Toolbox to hang on startup
  • Fixed a problem with file name generation
  • TV Toolbox refreshes list of recordings when grouping changes or application restarts
  • You can now create rules to convert any recordings created by Windows Media Center when the files include a certain keyword
Even if you had no problems with the first release, this is a recommended download since the first beta will expire at the end of August. Beta2 will expire at the end of September.

[via Aaron Stebner]

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TiVo Desktop 2.5 released with Vista and DivX support

by Brad Linder, posted Aug 8th 2007 4:50PM
TiVo Desktop 2.5As expected, TiVo Desktop 2.5 has been released. Make that 2.5.274381 to be exact.

Here are a few of the updates in the latest version, some of which are long overdue:
  • Compatible with Windows Vista
  • Apple iPod has been added to the list of supported portable devices, and converted files are added to your iTunes library
  • Supports transfer and playback of XviD and DivX (4.0 and up) files
  • Adds the ability to convert previously transfered files
Now if TiVo could just come out with a patch that enables Windows Vista to startup and shut down properly we'd be all set.

[via Zatz Not Funny]

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Microsoft releases Vista Media Center update

by Brad Linder, posted Jun 27th 2007 8:00AM
Vista Media CenterMicrosoft has released the June 2007 Cumulative Update for Media Center for Windows Vista. If they'd waited any longer they would have had to change the title, and really, who wants to download the July 2007 cumulative update?

You can get this operating system update through Windows Update, or you can download the 32 bit or 64 bit installers from the web.

What goodies are wrapped up in this update?
  • Fixed: Windows Media Center does not correctly configure a combo TV tuner that supports both ATSC and NTSC signals
  • Fixed: When you resize the Windows Media Center window, video playback may stop
  • Fixed: No audio during DVD or Live TV playback after waking your computer from sleep
  • Several fixes for the Media Center Extensibility Platform
  • Update to the Digital Card component to provide better support for interaction between the digital cable tuner, the CableCard, and Windwos Media Center
  • Includes April 2007 Cumulative Update
[via Missing Remote]

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Are your Windows Media Center plugins up to date?

by Brad Linder, posted Jun 16th 2007 11:40AM
Media Center MailOne of the coolest things about Windows Media Center is that you can plugin a ton of 3rd party applications to add the ability to do things like read RSS feeds, check your email, or even make video phone calls. OABsoftware has updates its line of Vista Media Center plugins that do just those things.

All of the plugins have been updated to work with Windows Vista. You can also use Media Center RSS Reader and Media Center Mail on an media extender.

OABsoftware has also released a new Vista-compatible applications called Media Center Outlook. The plugin lets you access all your MS Outlook information including your calendar, contacts, tasks, notes, and emails.

[via Aaron Stebner]

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Customize your Vista Media Center Theme

by Brad Linder, posted Jun 4th 2007 12:29PM
MediaCenterFXBlue's supposed to be a nice calm, soothing color. But what if you want a bit more passion in your Windows Vista Media Center interface?

MediaCenterFX is designed to give you a boatload of options for changing the way Vista Media Center looks and sounds. You can download custom themes or design your own.

You can change everything from the background colors to the sounds that will play on different actions. You can also tweak image sizes and background animations.

The latest version of MediaCenterFX is in alpha, but you can sign up to test the product at the MediaCenterFX forums.

[via Chris Lanier]

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Big Screen Photos 2 in action - VIDEO

by Brad Linder, posted Apr 26th 2007 10:15AM
big screen photosNial Ginsbough is working on version 2 of his Big Screen Photos application for Vista Media Center. Big Screen Photos lets you browse Flickr content using Windows Media Center's 10 foot interface. And the update looks pretty cool.

The program is written in Media Center Markup Language, and looks like it should fit right in with the overall Media Center interface. There's basic 4-way navigation, but the new version also includes some 3D zooming, reflections and blurring.

There's also a nifty feature that lets you browse photos based on their geographic location. You can zoom in on a map of the earth to find photos from different areas.

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Microsoft seeking beta testers for new Windows Media Center

by Brad Linder, posted Apr 18th 2007 7:30AM
Vista Media CenterSure, Vista Media Center's only been officially available for a few months. But onwards and upwards. Microsoft is already prepping the next version of Windows Media Center, and the company is looking for beta testers.

You have to fill out a series of questions in order to apply. Microsoft will notify those selected as testers by May 31st. Basically, they're looking for users who are able to provide feedback.

While this may seem like a great opportunity to play with tomorrow's technology today, keep in mind that there's a reason this is a private beta. Don't expect every new feature to work all the time. And don't expect your PC to record every show you tell it to. I wouldn't recommend signing up and installing the beta software on your primary PVR.

The point might be moot, because Microsoft is looking for a limited number of beta testers, and odds are you won't be chosen anyway.

[via Missing Remote]

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HP to drop media center PC line

by Brad Linder, posted Mar 27th 2007 5:17PM
HP mediasmartCE Pro reports that HP is exiting the digital entertainment center business. What does that mean? Basically that one of the first companies to offer a Windows Media Center PC that looked good in your living room is going to stop packing computers into A/V style cases.

Sure, you'll still be able to buy an HP machine that will work as a media center. After all, any computer running Vista is a media center, and if you throw a TV tuner into it, it's a PVR.

But the company's going to focus its living room strategy on its MediaSmart LCD televisions with digital media adapters. These are sort of like a proprietary version of Microsoft's Windows Media extenders, allowing users to access videos, music, photos, and web-based content on their TV set.

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MCE and Sky+

by Martin Conaghan, posted Mar 12th 2007 9:55PM
MCE and Sky+I've been absent from the pages of TV Squad and PVR Wire for a few weeks, partly due to a combination of personal circumstances and downright laziness, but also because I've been up to something I should have done a long time ago.

In short, I built myself a Windows Media Center PC.

I know, I know -- it's something I should have done a long time ago, especially given that I've been writing about MCE on PVR Wire for over a year.

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MCEMailbox - MCE plugin spotlight

by Brad Linder, posted Mar 12th 2007 10:01AM
MCEMailbox
MCEMailbox isn't the only program for checking your email using Vista Media Center's 10 foot interface, but it is a pretty slick option.

MCEMailbox lets you check POP3 and secure POP3 mailboxes. The add-in checks for new mail at regular intervals and sends you a notification when a new message arrives. You can also access the program directly and view the contents of your inbox, which you can sort by date, subject or sender.

I've never been sure that a 10 foot interface is ideal for reading email, RSS feeds, or really any content that's ext heavy. That said, as someone who works from home, it'd be awful nice to be able take a break for lunch, watch a movie, and not feel like I have to keep pausing it to check and see if I have new email that requires immediate attention.

[via Ian Dixon]

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Wow that was quick: WebGuide gadget is here

by Matt Crape, posted Feb 21st 2007 11:33AM
WebGuide 4.0 Vista Sidebar GadgetNot even 2 full days ago, Brad wrote about how we can expect to see a Vista Sidebar Gadget for WebGuide 4.0. But at the time no there no date set in stone as to when it would be available to download.

Well at some point within the last 24 hours or so the creator of WebGuide4, Doug Berret, posted the release version, which can be obtained from his website.

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HP Pavilion Vista PC could have problems with Media Center extenders

by Brad Linder, posted Feb 15th 2007 11:40AM
HP Pavilion M7775 Here's a cautionary tale about all that crap that PC makers load onto a computer before shipping it to retailers.

A user over at The Digital Lifestyle forums reports that he went and purchased a new HP Pavilion M7775 PC runnings Windows Vista, figuring he'd be able to use his Xbox 360 as a Media Center Extender. After all, that's what he'd been doing with his old PC running Windows Media Center 2005.

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Aufero lets you download torrents from your couch

by Brad Linder, posted Feb 13th 2007 5:02PM
Aufero

Aufero is an information gathering application written for use with Vista Media Center. Oh yeah, and it has a BitTorrent Client written in. The program's still in development, and there's no download available yet, but here's what Aufero's meant to do:
  • Navigate and view information about movies, previews, trailers, reviews, and torrent files using your remote control.
  • Manually download torrents.
  • Manage library of downloaded media.
  • Create a wish list of videos you'd like to download, and schedule automatic recordings as soon as that video is available.
  • Notifications when a video file is downloaded.
[via Chris Lanier]

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