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October 10, 2015


Hauppauge HD-PVR delayed

by Brad Linder, posted Mar 30th 2008 4:27PM
Hauppauge If you've been waiting to get your hands on the new HD-PVR from Hauppauge, you might have to wait a little bit longer. Brent Evans reports that the device, which had been targeted for a late March launch has been pushed back and is now scheduled for a May or June release.

The HD-PVR will be able to capture HD video from any component video output and compress it in real time to H.264. In other words, you can using your existing cable or satellite box to flip channels, and record HDTV without getting a CableCard tuner for your PC.

Evans has also learned that Windows Media Center will not support the new device at launch, but that you should be able to use the HD-PVR with a Windows Media Center machine by this summer. But we'd be surprised if the device isn't supported by third party media center software like SageTV, BeyondTV, and MythTV.

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MceFM: Last.FM plugin for Vista Media Center

by Brad Linder, posted Mar 22nd 2008 9:01AM
MceFM is an awesome little plugin for Windows Vista Media Center that lets you stream music from Last.fm. If you're not familiar with Last.fm, it's an online music recommendation service combined with a streaming radio service. All you have to do is type in the name of an artist or song and Last.fm will dig up music by that artist and then find similar songs you might like and start playing one song after another.

In order to use MceFM, you'll need to have a Last.fm account, but accounts are free, so that's easy. The plugin isn't much to look at. You can enter an artist name and MceFM will connect to Last.fm, find your music and set up a playlist.

One of the coolest features of this plugin is that you can find music similar to songs and artists already on your computer. Just locate a track in your music library and then click the More button on your remote (or hit the Ctrl+D keys on your keyboard to bring up the context menu and select More), and you can search Last.fm for similar music.

[via Ian Dixon]

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Yougle 0.4.0 brings YouTube, Flickr to Vista Media Center

by Brad Linder, posted Mar 18th 2008 9:02AM
Yougle 0.4.0
Yougle developer Steven Harding has released a major update to his Windows Media Center plugin which lets you access online video and image sites like YouTube, Soapbox, and Flickr. Yougle 0.4.0 includes a slew of new features including an improved menu layout, improved parental controls (and an option to enable adult video channels if you're not worried about that kind of thing), and a slew of other updates, including:
  • Yougle 0.4.0 automatically saves your data more frequently so you don't have to worry about losing your saved filters or other information in the event of a crash
  • New content sources have been added
  • Google Video has been removed from the list of sources, due to problems with playback
Youtle 0.4.0 beta is available as a free download.

[via Ian Dixon]

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MyNetflix plugin for Media Center adds full-screen viewing

by Brad Linder, posted Feb 27th 2008 5:37PM
MyNetflix 2.1
Anthony Park has added the ability to stream Netflix Watch Now videos in full screen mode to his MyNetflix Windows Media Center plugin. But that's just one of more than a dozen updates available in MyNetflix 2.1 beta. Others include:
  • Added the ability to pause and play videos using a media center remote control
  • Added a "select episode" screen that shows up when you select a TV series
  • There's a new indicator to let you know the program is busy (and still working) when looking up data
MyNetflix 2.1 is available for download as a public beta.

[via Ian Dixon]

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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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mcePicasa brings Picasa web albums to Windows Media Center

by Brad Linder, posted Feb 17th 2008 1:05PM
Windows Media Center makes it easy to browse any photo collection stored on your PC using a remote control and a 10-foot interface. But what if your pictures are stored online, not on your PC? Media Center plugin mcePicasa lets you login to your Picasa Web albums and view your online photo albums from the comfort of your couch.

Installation couldn't be easier. Just download the setup file, run it, and when you next load Windows Meida Center you should find a Picasa icon in your More Programs menu. Click the icon and you can enter your Picasa username to access your web albums.

In my test, mcePicasa only managed to locate one of my Picasa albums, even though I have several different folders. The current release is just an Alpha, so hopefully the kinks will be worked out eventually. The program is also open source, so if you know your way around Windows Media Center plugin development, you can lend a hand and help make mcePicasa better.

[via Ian Dixon]

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More ways to stream Netflix videos on your Media Center PC

by Brad Linder, posted Feb 14th 2008 5:27PM

MyNetflix isn't the only Windows Media Center plugin for watching streaming movies from Netflix. Well, not for long anyway. NetflixMC is an upcoming plugin that will work with Windows Vista Media Center and Windows XP MCE. MyNetflix is Vista only.

NetflixMC lacks some of the features of MyNetflix, like the ability to manage your queue. Pretty much all you can use NetflixMC for is finding and viewing "Watch Now" movies from the Netflix web site. But the application's slick interface makes up for its limited feature set. Not to mention that it's nice to see a developer who hasn't forgotten about Windows XP users. Most of the cool new applications I've seen in the last few months have been Vista specific.

Independent developer Ryan Gray is also working on a Netflix Watch Now plugin for MeediOS, an alternate media center for computers running Windows. You can check out a video of his MeeFlix plugin in action after the jump, or read more about it at the MeediOS forums.

[via Chris Lanier and Missing Remote]

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Media Center plugin tells Facebook contacts what you're watching

by Brad Linder, posted Feb 13th 2008 4:01PM
Facebook Media Center
If you're the sort of person who doesn't do anything without updating your Facebook status first to let all of your friends know that you're eating dinner, heading to work, reading a book, or updating your Facebook status, have I got a Windows Media Center plugin for you.

Developer Jussi Palo whipped up a little Facebook application that will automatically update your Facebook status to reflect what you're watching with Windows Vista Media Center. If you're watching a program called "News," your status will be set to ".. is watching News." If you're watching a DVD or listening to music, that will show up too.

In order to run install the Facebook Media Center plugin you'll need to download an executable file to your Windows Vista machine, run the installer, and reboot your system. Then you need to login to Facebook. Everything else happens in the background. Unfortunately you're login information won't be remembered, so you may have to login to Facebook every time you restart your PC.

[via Ian Dixon]

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MyNetflix plugin for Windows Media Center adds "watch now" feature

by Brad Linder, posted Feb 11th 2008 11:03AM
Anthony Park has released a new plugin for Windows Vista Media Center that lets you watch streaming videos from Netflix. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. MyNetflix also lets you manage your Netflix queue, browse movies by genre, new titles, top 100, or pretty much any other criteria, view your history and recommendations, and browse and play "watch now" videos.

MyNetflix is the evolution of the streaming plugin I told you about a few weeks ago. Developer Anthony Park has picked up on the work started by Ryan Hurst, and added the pretty MCML interface that makes MyNetflix look like it really belongs in Windows Vista Media Center.

MyNetflix is available as a public beta. As such, don't be surprised if not everything works perfectly. But development on the project has been pretty rapid, so I'd expect any major bugs to be stamped out pretty quickly. And of course, make sure to submit your bug reports to Park.

Incidentally, there's also a new plugin for SageTV that lets users of that media center suite browse and view Netflix videos as well.

[via Chris Lanier and Brent Evans]

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Niveus releases Media Center Companion software

by Brad Linder, posted Feb 3rd 2008 1:57PM
Niveus Media CenterNiveus has publicly released its Media Center Companion software for Windows Vista Media Center, which lets you control Windows Vista Media Center using a second PC as a virtual remote control.

I first looked at the MCC software back in October when it was in beta. At the time, I was pretty certain Niveus was going to slap a price tag on the final version, but it turns out it's still free.

The Niveus Media Center Companion comes in two versions. The basic version is available for anyone with Windows Vista, while the full version requires a Niveus branded computer. The full version includes controls for media extenders and television features. But the basic version will let you control your picture and music libraries. Probably the coolest feature is the on-screen remote control that essentially lets you control your entire Windows Vista Media Center system without buying a separate remote. You know, if you happen to have a spare computer lying around.

The software comes in two parts: a server which you set up on your Windows Vista computer and the companion software which can run on any Windows XP or Vista machine. It's great for laptops or UMPCs.

[via Chris Lanier]

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Coming soon: Watch Netflix online video using Windows Media Center

by Brad Linder, posted Jan 27th 2008 12:58PM

Sure, Netflix is great if you like waiting for DVDs to show up in the mail or if you don't mind watching online video using a web browser. But I kind of like watching movies on a TV screen. And while I've got a computer permanently plugged into my TV, the last thing I want to do is pull out a keyboard and mouse and open up a web browser to watc my movies, when I've got Windows Media Center and a remote control.

Fortunately, it looks like someone's developing a Windows Media Center plugin that will let you watch Netflix videos without a web browser. Development is still in the early phases, but the promise is that you'll be able to find available movies and stream them in full screen mode all without visiting Netflix.com in web browser. When it's complete, the plugin should let you login to your Netflix account, browse and search Netflix "watch now" movies, and possibly even add DVDs in your queue for ordering the old fashioned way.

[via Missing Remote]

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How to add Windows Live Messenger to Windows Media Center

by Brad Linder, posted Jan 11th 2008 1:03PM
Windows Live Messenger in Windows Media Center
Windows Media Center makes it easy to access your movies, pictures, and audio from the comfort of your couch via a remote control. But sometimes you want to use the PC in the living room to do a few things that you normally do in the office like read RSS feeds or even chat with friends. That's where plugins like Media Control come in.

The Media Control Plugin for Windows Vista Media Center was originally designed to add ffdshow support for playing media encoded with codecs that Windows doesn't necessarily like. But the latest version of the software also adds Windows Live Messenger integration.

You'll need to do some registry editing in order to enable Live Messenger to show up in Windows Media center, as s well as configuring the addin. But in the end you'll get to chat with your friends while watching Godzilla movies on a Sunday afternoon without lifting your butt from your couch. You know, assuming you've got a wireless keyboard for your media center PC.

[via Chris Lanier]

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Entertainer: Upcoming media center suite for Linux

by Brad Linder, posted Jan 10th 2008 1:57PM

While there's no shortage of applications that make it easier to access your media on a Mac, PC, or Linux computer, there's always room for one more, right? Entertainer is a newcomer to the Linux media center world, and while it's more of an Apple Front Row replacement than a Windows Media Center clone, it certainly looks like a promising application for home theater enthusiasts.

Entertainer is not available for download yet, but according to the project web site the software will let users manage movies, downloaded TV shows, music, images, and RSS feeds. There's no support yet for recording television programs from a TV tuner, which makes Entertainer a bit less functional than MythTV or Windows Media Center. But digital TV recording is something the developer says will be added down the road.

[via Digg]

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Control your Media PC with the Logitech diNovo Mini-Keyboard

by Brad Linder, posted Jan 6th 2008 10:55AM
Logitech diNovo mini-keyboard
Logitech is showing off a new miniature PC keyboard at CES that looks like a nice replacement for the standard media center remote control. The $149 diNovo mini-keyboard features a full QWERTY keypad, a ClickPad that can be used like a mouse, and page up and down keys for scrolling through your Windows Media Center menus.

The keyboard connects your your PC via Bluetooth 2.0 and supports a range of about 30 feet. There are also hotkeys for launching frequently used applications like media players and web browsers. Of course, there are also fast forward, rewind, stop, pause, play, and volume buttons. The mini-keyboard should be available in February.

If you've ever been frustrated at the limits of a traditional remote control when paired with a media center PC, the diNovo mini-keyboard could be a good solution. But I'm still a bit skeptical. Part of the appeal of a standard remote is that it doesn't take long to get used to the key placement so that you can use the remote without looking. But I can't imagine touch-typing on a keypad this small, which means you'll have to look away from your monitor/TV to perform certain functions.

Veronica Belmont of Mahalo Daily shot some video of the keyboard in action from CES. Check it out after the jump.

[via Engadget]

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How to import your BeyondTV library into SageTV

by Brad Linder, posted Jan 2nd 2008 1:27PM
SageTV metadata importThere's a dirty little secret in the PVR world. Once you start using a personal video recorder, you're pretty much locked into continuing to use that recorder until you watch all of your recorded programs or decide you can live without them. That's because it's quite difficult to transfer your TiVo recordings to your generic cable company PVR.

Things should be a lot easier if you're using a PC-based PVR with software like BeyondTV, SageTV, or Windows Media Center. After all, your recorded shows are already on your hard drive, how hard could it be to try watching them with a new piece of software?

While you can certainly watch SageTV recordings in BeyondTV and vice versa, things get a bit complicated if you want to sort them by chronological order or view program descriptions. Fortunately, long time BeyondTV user Brent Evans has put together a comprehensive solution for importing your BeyondTV metadata into SageTV. That way users who might want to switch software packages can. Or better yet, users who want to test out SageTV without losing all of their recorded shows can do that too... and can still go back to BeyondTV if they like it better.

The whole operation isn't exactly user friendly. You'll need to download several applications built by members of the BeyondTV and SageTV community, export your BeyondTV data, convert it to a SageTV friendly format, and then import it into SageTV. But in the end, it'll all be worth it when you can see the cast of your cherished saved recording of Howard the Duck.

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