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]
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.
While you can use it to play videos, music, and photos stored on your PC, the MediaSmart Connect has a few other tricks up its sleeve. You can access online radio and video streams using Windows Media Center. And the MediaSmart Connect has 2 USB ports and an HP Pocket Media Bay for additional stroage which lets you access media stored on a hard drive.
The box supports a bunch of formats including MPEG2/4, DiVX, XViD, DVR-MS, WMV, WMV-HD, MP3, WMA, AAC, JPG, BMP, GIF, TIFF, and PNG. You can connect it to your home network via an Ethernet port or over a wireless 802.11a/b/g/n network.
The MediaSmart Connect should be available for preorder later today for $349.
[via The Windows Experience Blog]
Here are some of the issues addressed:
- Improvements for recording teleivion programs on systems with analog TV tuners
- Fixed a bug that sometimes caused a blank screen to appear when switching between full screen and windowed modes while playing a video
- Empty removable media devices should no longer be displayed in the galleries
- Solved a memory leak in extender sessions
- Regional fixes for Chinese media center users
Raise your hand if you'd kind of forgotten that CinemaNow existed. Go ahead, don't be shy. While Apple, Amazon, and Netflix have been making headlines for distributing digital movies and TV shows over the last year or so, CinemaNow's been doing this for ages. Along with MovieLink, CinemaNow was one of the first digital distributors to sign deals with major Hollywood studios. (MovieLink had a bit of a leg up, since it's co-owned by several of those studios).
CinemaNow's not resting on its laurels. The company today launched a partnership with Microsoft to bring CinemaNow content to Windows Media Center. That means you can browser and purchase or rent videos using a remote control and a 10 foot interface. CinemaNow has over 3400 feature films, 3000 TV episodes, and 2900 music videos in its library.
If you don't notice the CinemaNow icon in the "more TV" section of Windows Media Center right away, try going into settings and forcing Windows Media Center to download updates.
CinemaNow isn't the first company to launch an MCE application. MovieLink and Vongo have had a position in the Showcase section of Windows Vista MCE for some time.
It's not clear at this point whether media extender support will be included in a future release, because it's possible that the solution he came up with only works on his particular system and it's not clear if it can be automated.
For anyone who got lost in the first paragraph, a media center extender is a set top box that connects to your main Windows Media Center computer over a home network. So if you have one PC that you use to record and store TV, you can place extenders in other rooms in the house that will let you watch recorded TV shows and other content. In other words, some people don't have a PC in their living room, they just have an extender box, which is why it's pretty significant that someone figured out a way to stream Netflix videos over one.
- 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
[via Ian Dixon]
The Linksys Media Extender normally runs $250, while the version with a DVD player goes for $300. But if you use the promo code MSFTDEAL when you checkout, you can get the former for $150 and the latter for $200.
In case you're not familiar with Media Center Extenders, basically you can plop one of these boxes down by your TV set and hook it up to your home network via a wired or 802.11b/g/n connection. Then you can access all sorts of content stored on your Windows Vista PC elsewhere in the house. That includes live and recorded TV programs, photos, and music.
[via Chris Lanier]
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]
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]
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]
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]
But what if you could turn your PDA or cellphone into a SideShow device? We've been hearing for ages that Microsoft plans to add SideShow features to Windows Mobile devices, but it looks like Ikanos Consulting has beat them to the punch. The company is beta testing its Go Gadgets software that lets you use any Windows Mobile 5.0/6 phone or PDA as a SideShow device. That means you can use it as a remote control, or if you're away from home, you can schedule TV recordings, check a grocery list, or access other features on your home PC.
Ikanos is also developing an iPhone compatible version of its software. While turning an Apple product into a Windows SideShow device might sound a bit crazy, it actually makes a lot of sense. Ikanos is developing a web-based service for interacting with Windows Vista SideShow. And since Apple's vision for the iPhone was all about web-based software applications, all Ikanos has to do is ensure that their service works well with the iPhone's Safari browser. The iPhone application isn't available for download yet, but you can grab a beta of the Windows Mobile by emailing Ikanos at beta _at_ ikanosconsulting.com.
Check out a video demonstration of the Windows Mobile software after the jump.
[via Mobility Site]
Sure, you can pick up a low end PC for less these days, but... yeah, I've got no but. That's just a lot of money any way you slice it. Still, if you've got $274 burning a hole in your pocket, you can preorder Ricavision's new VAVE100 SideShow remote control.
What makes the VAVE100 so special?
- Universal learning remote control capable of controlling over 20 different devices from 50 feet away via IR
- BlueTooth enabled with support for audio streaming
- 2.4 inch 240 x 320 pixel LCD display
- Windows Media Center support
- SideShow support (meaning you can use it as a secondary display for a Vista PC
[via Chris Lanier]
But very few hardware makers have really taken advantage of SideShow. We don't see it in many media center remote controls, which is where it would really come in handy for a PVR nut.
But the::unwired suggests that we could be seeing a whole lot more SideShow action soon if Microsoft develops a SideShow application for Windows Mobile. Suddenly your phone or PDA could turn into an awesome remote control for your Windows Media Center. You'd be able to play music, schedule recordings, or perform other basic actions without turning your TV on.
There've been inklings that Microsoft was going to launch a Windows Mobile version of SideShow since May. But now that Microsoft has released a new SideShow SDK that features support for QVGA screens and Bluetooth (read: features that many Windows Mobile devices already have), we wouldn't be surprised if a full release was just around the corner.
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