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August 31, 2015


EMUCenter 0.5: playing games with Windows Media Center

by Brad Linder, posted Oct 30th 2007 2:58PM
EMUCenter 0.5
Last time we checked in on Steven Harding's EMUCenter application for Windows Vista Media Center, it was still pretty rough around the edges. But EMUCenter 0.5 seems like a pretty polished interface for launching all of your old school games on a Windows Media Center machine.

The plugin lets launch emulators such as MAME and KEGA using Media Center's 10-foot interface. You'll need to figure out how to get the games on your own. Here are a few of the updates in the latest version:
  • Now you can close your emulator from EMUCenter. Previously you could only launch applications.
  • Faster, smoother movement between games
  • Choose different appearance for different games or systems
  • Search for games by name
  • MAME automatic update now downloads in-game art
[via Ian Dixon]

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Remove commercials with Lifextender

by Brad Linder, posted Oct 15th 2007 5:00PM
Life is short, so why would you want to spend 18 minutes out of every hour watching commercials? Lifextender is a new application that automatically removes commercials from TV shows recorded using Windows Vista Media Center.

Sure you can already do this manually or by using a program like DVRMS Toolbox. But Lifextender is super simple to use. Just install the application and it will automatically scan your recorded TV folder on a regular basis. When it finds new recordings it will analyze them and check for commercials, then go to work creating a new file with no commercials and replacing your original file.

I'm always a bit skeptical of these applications. I use BeyondTV as my primary PVR application at home. It includes a SmartSkip feature that automatically detects commercials and marks them for easy skipping. But it does not delete them. And that's a good thing. Because while BeyondTV does a pretty good job of finding commercials 75% of the time, it often misses them, or misidentifies parts of the program as commercials. If you automatically delete the "commercials," you'll save space on your hard drive, but you also might lose chunks of your TV shows. Fast forwarding is a lot faster.

[via Chris Lanier]

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Add Joost to your Windows Media Center menu

by Brad Linder, posted Oct 9th 2007 4:30PM
Joost MCEOne of my main complaints with Internet TV platforms like Joost, Babelgum, VeohTV, and Vuze is that while they work great when you're sitting in front of your PC, they're kind of a hassle on your TV. And let's face it, I'd rather watch video on my TV than on my notebook PC.

Joost is probably the easiest IPTV service of the bunch to navigate with a remote control. And now thanks to a member of the Green Button community there's an unofficial Joost button for Windows Vista Media Center.

All you have to do is download and unzip the file and the batch installer file. It will add a Joost button to the TV + Movies menu of Windows Media Center. The button will also show up in the programs menu. When you click the Joost button Joost will open up. We know, it's surprising, but true. When you close Joost your Windows MCE interface should come back up.

This isn't the first time we've seen a Joost plugin for MCE, but the new Joost button is a bit more attractive than the old version.

[via eHomeUpgrade]

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Niveus releases media center companion software

by Brad Linder, posted Oct 4th 2007 11:00AM
Niveus Media Center CompanionWant to scare the heck out of your kids? While they're watching TV in the living room go ahead and open up your laptop in the office and start changing the channels on them. While I'm pretty sure this isn't what Niveus had in mind when they created their Media Center Companion software, it's certainly what I'd do. If I had kids.

The Media Center Companion lets you control access data like cover art, TV recording details, and photo thumbnails on any PC in your house. You can also use your second computer as a remote control for your media center. For example, if you want to play music from your media center without turning your TV on, just fire up the companion software on your laptop and select your playlist.

Niveus Media Center Companion is sort of like the grown up version of the company's Pocket Remote software.

Up until now, Niveus only made the companion software available to customers who had purchases Niveus media center PCs. But now the company has released a public beta version of the software that should run on any machine running Windows Media Center. The program is free while in beta, although we suspect Niveus will slap a price on the software when it's officially launched.

[via Missing Remote]

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Sync your Zune with Windows Media Center

by Brad Linder, posted Oct 3rd 2007 2:00PM
ZuneWhen I first heard that Microsoft was going to launch its own media player last year, I just kind of assumed it would work seamlessly with other Microsoft products, like I don't know, Windows Media Center.

But it turns out that if you wanted to watch recordings you'd made on your computer on your Zune, you had to jump through a few hoops to convert your recordings to WMV and export them to your Zune. Now that Microsoft has announced the specs for the next generation of Zunes, it looks like the company has finally added support for synchronizing the little guys with Windows Media Center.

This makes the Zune into a pretty useful portable media player for MCE users. Rather than spending time converting each video you want to watch, you can just automatically keep the last few day's worth of recorded programs synchronized with your device so that when you get stuck on the train you'll have plenty to watch. Of course, if you're stuck for more than 5 hours you're out of luck, because while you can get 20 hours of audio playback on a Zune, the battery tops out at about 5 hours of video playback.

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Microsoft releases software update for new media extenders

by Brad Linder, posted Oct 1st 2007 6:00PM
Windows Vista updateAlthough none of the new media center extenders announced last week have actually been released yet, Microsoft has issued a software update that will enable their use with Windows Vista machines.

The update is available for Windows Vista Home Premium and Windows Vista Ultimate users. There's no word on what the update actually entails, but Microsoft describes it as enabling support for "new types of Windows Media Center Extenders, such as digital televisions and networked DVD players."

That certainly makes it sound like there's no reason to download the update if you're using an Xbox 360 right now. But if you have a chance to try it out, let us know if you notice any changes in the Xbox 360 extender interface or performance.

[via Jason Tsang]

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HP announces media extender feature for MediaSmart HDTVs

by Brad Linder, posted Sep 28th 2007 3:00PM
HP MediaSmartNiveus, Linksys, and D-Link have all announced extenders for Windows Vista Media Center. In other words, you can keep your PC in the office, configure it to download internet video, record TV shows, or do whatever you like. Then you can slap a smaller, quieter, cheaper box by your TV set and enjoy all of your digital media without moving the PC into the living room.

But if you've already got a DVD player, TiVo, and video game console sitting by your TV, the last thing you want to do is spend another $300+ so that you can plug yet another box into your TV.

HP may have the answer in the form of a combination TV/Media Center Extender. The company has announced that starting early next year, HP's 42 and 47-inch MediaSmart LCD HDTVs will be able to perform as full-fledged Windows Vista Media Center Extenders. In other words, you connect your TV to your home network and you can access all the media on your PC, as well as internet video using the Windows Media Center interface.

Of course, a MediaSmart TV will set you back a few bucks more than a typical media extender box. But if you're in the market for a new HDTV anyway, it might be worth taking a look at the HP models. Oh, and the best bit is that if you've already got a MediaSmart TV you won't need to buy a new one. The extender features will be available as a downloadable software update.

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D-Link announces DSM-750 media extender

by Brad Linder, posted Sep 27th 2007 9:30AM
D-Link DSM 750
Anything Linksys can do, D-Link can do better too. The same day Linksys announced its first "version 2" media center extender, D-Link followed suit with its DSM-750.

The DSM-750 is the newest member of D-Link's MediaLounge line. It includes the same software interface for streaming content from the web or from your networked PC to your television set. But unlike earlier MediaLounge products, the DSM-750 is designed to work with Windows Vista Media Center, meaning you can access recorded shows, online video, and just about anything else on your PC.

The new box will set you back $350. At that price, you might as well just go ahead and buy an Xbox 360. It'll act as a media extender, and I understand you can also play games on it.

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Microsoft launches Internet TV for Windows Media Center

by Brad Linder, posted Sep 27th 2007 8:59AM
Microsoft Internet TV
Microsoft is rolling out the public beta of Internet TV for Windows Vista Media Center tomorrow. If you've got a machine running Windows Vista Home Premium or Windows Vista Ultimate, a new option should pop up inside of your media center interface, cleverly titled "Internet TV."

Windows Media Center already includes an online showcase section with access from content providers like Comedy Central, VH1, and MTV. But for the most part, those sites already have video content on their websites, and have simply designed a Media Center interface for accessing that video with your remote. Internet TV beta is a whole new platform for watching online video.

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Linksys announces new media center extenders

by Brad Linder, posted Sep 26th 2007 1:03PM
Linksys DMA 2100 and 2200A few weeks after Niveus showed off its first "V2" media center extender, Linksys is following suit with its DMA 2100/2200 devices for Windows Vista Media Center users.

While Windows Vista has been around since the start of the year (and even earlier if you were in on the beta), so far the only media center extender released that works with Vista has been the Xbox 360. If you didn't want to buy an expensive video game console just so you could watch content from your office PC in your living room, you were out of luck.

But with Niveus, Linksys, and several other companies set to offer new extenders, things are looking up. We're expecting a few more product announcements during Microsoft's keynote tomorrow at the Digital Life Expo.

As for the Linksys boxes, the DMA 2200 includes an upscaling DVD player, which could make it a nice all-in-one box to stick in your TV cabinet. Both the DMA 2100 and 2200 will be available in November for an undisclosed price.

[via Engadget and Big Screen Blog]

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TVTonic brings QuickTime support to Windows Vista Media Center

by Brad Linder, posted Sep 20th 2007 8:01AM
Waveexpress is releasing an updated version of TVTonic for Windows Vista. The big news is that the upgrade adds support for native QuickTime video playback using Windows Vista's Media Center interface.

TVTonic is an application that works in conjunction with Windows Media Center to download and stream internet video using a 10-foot interface. In other words, you can watch video podcasts like RocketBoom in your living room.

You can download and watch pretty much anything that has an RSS feed, but TVTonic also has an index of 358 video channels. And almost all of them use the QuickTime format, which means if you're using Windows Vista Media Center, up until now you could access only a limited number of channels. Not only does the new version of the software support QuickTime playback using the TVTonic application, but you'll be able to watch QuickTime movies stored in your "My Videos" directories.

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