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July 24, 2014

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Windows Media Center H.264, DirecTV support coming later this year

by Brad Linder, posted Jul 9th 2008 10:03AM
Wi ndows Media Center update
There's good news and less good news and then some more good news on the Windows Media Center front. The good news is that Microsoft will be releasing an update soon, the bad news is that it won't include support for things like the H.264 codec or the upcoming DirecTV tuner. The good news (again) is that EngadgetHD reports those features are on their way, they just won't be ready by the end of July, which is when Microsoft plans to issue the next update to Windows Media Center.

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.

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AVerMedia to make TV tuners for Mac

by Brad Linder, posted Jun 10th 2008 2:52PM
AVerMedia TV tuner for Mac
AVerMedia has been making TV tuner cards for Windows computers for ages, but the company has yet to release a product that's compatible with Mac software and hardware. Now TG Daily reports that the company is preparing to enter the Apple peripheral market.

The upcoming USB TV tuner will be compatible with the Apple iRemote and comes bundled with software for playing and recording programs. It will support analog and DVB-T standards.

There's no word on how much the AVerMedia tuner wll cost, but it should be available during Q3 of 2008. It's likely that the company will try to keep the price low, since AVerMedia is known for making low-cost TV tuners for computers running Windows.

[via Electronista]

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Beyond TV 4.8 gives you more control over your recordings

by Brad Linder, posted Mar 21st 2008 2:56PM
BeyondTV 4.8
Snapstream has released an update to its Beyond TV personal video recorder software for Windows. Beyond TV 4.8.1 doesn't have any spectacular new features like CableCard support, but it does have a few useful tools for configuring, scheduling, and playing TV recordings. Here are a few highlights:
  • Frame by frame playback (hit pause and then use the arrow keys)
  • Save searches and have Beyond TV email you next time a program fitting your criteria is on
  • Receive warning notifications via email
  • Create user accounts and establish different access levels for each
  • Recording stats screen (shown above) with detailed system info
  • Sort your library of recorded shows by name, original air date, or date recorded
  • Speedier recording scheduler
Beyond TV 4.8.1 is available as a free upgrade for existing customers. A full version of the software will set you back $70.

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BeyondTV 4.8.1 beta released

by Brad Linder, posted Feb 16th 2008 9:53AM
BeyondTV 4.8.1
Snapstream has released the first public beta version of BeyondTV 4.8.1. And while you won't find a ton of major new features in the latest build, there are roughly a billion (give or take a few billion) minor updates in this release.

For example, you can now give different users different levels of access to BeyondTV. Say you don't want your spouse or kids deleting your favorite shows? Just don't give them access to the file deleting option (and try to endure the dirty looks they give you when they realize you've limited their access).

There's also a new keyword based recording feature that you can access using the Web administration feature. In other words, while you can't create keyword based recordings using the main application window yet (some might call these "wish lists,") you an login to your account using a web browser and set up automatic recordings for any program with the word "news," or "knitting," or what have you.

You can also now do frame by frame playback of recorded shows, receive email notifications of errors, and display your recording statistics like how many hours of TV do you record per day.

Keep in mind, this is still a beta release, and as such there's a long list of known bugs, and perhaps a few unknown ones. You'll need to sign up for a beta account to try out BeyondTV 4.8.1 beta. Once you're registered, you can download the software from Snapstream's beta site.

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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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Microsoft combines IPTV, HD-DVD, and Media Center divisions

by Brad Linder, posted Dec 24th 2007 3:29PM
Vista media CenterMicrosoft is a big company. And while I'm not trying to imply that one arm might not have known what the other was doing, any company with a lot of arms is bound to flail them occasionally. So it's kind of nice to see that Microsoft is combining several related departments into a new Connected TV business group.

On the other hand, you would have thought that a company that is focusing as heavily on digital technology for the living room would have already had a strategy for coordinating its various entertainment divisions. But until a few months ago, separate teams were responsible for IPTV, HD-DVD, and Windows Media Center developments.

I think that's the sort of discoordination that leads a company to launch a new software feature called "Internet TV" that is essentially just a 10-foot interface for MSN Video while Microsoft had a team of people working on providing actual TV through Internet protocols. I'm not saying that Microsoft should deliver IPTV solutions for free to Windows Vista Media Center users, but if you're going to call something "TV", perhaps you should provide more than just 3 seasons of the brilliant but canceled Arrested Development. Otherwise, just call that ta what it is: Internet Video.

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Media Portal II Preview released

by Brad Linder, posted Dec 18th 2007 8:57AM
Media Portal II
The team behind the Media Portal have released the first official preview of Media Portal II. Last month, we heard that the developers were planning a complete rebuild of the open source media center application. While users might not notice many new features or changes in the interface, Media Portal II is built to be much more developer-friendly. The new structure should make it easier for members of the Media Portal community to write updates, or create new plugins.

Media Portal II also has anew GUI and skin system making it easier for people to develop custom skins that can completely change the look and feel of the application. This is still a preview release, and lacks some major functions. For example, while you can use Media Portal II to access movies, pictures, weather, or music, there's no TV component right now. You can't watch or record live TV. Of course, if you have previously recorded shows in your library, you can use Media Portal II to watch them. But I wouldn't recommend replacing your current media center software with Media Portal II just yet.

[via floppyhead]

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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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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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Microsoft hires developer of WebGuide, sets program free

by Brad Linder, posted Sep 6th 2007 10:00AM
WebGuideFor years, developer Doug Berrett has been toiling away at an application that really should have been developed by Microsoft. WebGuide provides a slew of ways to interact with your Windows Media Center PC on the go, whether you want to remotely schedule recordings or stream recorded TV shows.

Well, it looks like Microsoft noticed Berrett's work, and the company went and hired him. While this is great news for Berrett, it's also good news for you. Because it means that WebGuide is now available as a free download. No more $18 fee to register your software.

Berrett will be working with the Media Center team to push Media Center "into the high-end custom installation market," which means he won't be offering updates to WebGuide anymore. But he did push out one final release yesterday. Updates for Windows Vista and Windows XP MCE 2005 editions include:
  • Updated "now playing" screen to not update the progress bar as often in full screen mode
  • Fixed login text entry on Xbox 360
  • Added auto-redirect to mobile pages for mobile devices
Congratations Doug!

[via Missing Remote]

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Big Screen Movies for Windows Media Center

by Brad Linder, posted Jun 10th 2007 12:07PM
Big Screen Movies
Niall Ginsbourg of Big Screen Headlines/Contacts/Weather/Photos fame is at it again, this time with Big Screen Movies, a replacement for Windows media Center's DVD library view.

The Media Center add-in is similar to the Big Screen TV Shows application Ginsbourg first previewed in December. But while the TV Shows program has been held up by copyright concerns (Ginsbourg's trying to determine how to let users access series and episode data without breaking any laws), Big Screen Movies will be ready when it's ready, which is why it's code-named "fatlady."

Big Screen Movies gives you more control over the metadata available (cover art, descriptions, actor info etc) for your video collection. It also lets you browse your offline DVD collection. Windows Media Center only shows you info about your DVDs when you insert them.

The software is not yet available to the public, but it looks like you can expect a beta release of Big Screen Movies long before you'll ever get your hands on Big Screen TV Shows.

[via Aaron Stebner]

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PVR Wire interview with Microsoft's Mark Schwesinger

by Martin Conaghan, posted Feb 2nd 2007 10:25AM
Windows VistaWell folks, you've seen the ads, you've heard the hype -- and some of you have probably already bought the software.

Of course, I'm talking about Microsoft's Vista -- and if you're a PVR nut like me, you probably picked it up to try out the Media Center features built in to Vista Ultimate.

We went one better than that, and decided to have a chat with Mark Schwesinger, Program Manager for the Media Center PVR team at Microsoft. Here's what Mark had to say about Vista, Zune, MCE and Apple...

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Why Bill Gates left The Daily Show so quickly - VIDEO

by Anna Johns, posted Jan 31st 2007 2:27PM
bill gates; the daily showAfter his plug for Vista interview with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show on Monday night, Bill Gates practically sprinted off the set and out of the studio... before the director had a chance to cut to commercial. I interpreted it as his uber-geekiness/social handicap kicking in. I mean, this guy doesn't do talk shows or even watch talk shows! He's too smart for such things.

Well, I was wrong.

Last night on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart showed what really happened. I should've known. Video is after the jump:

[Via Digg]

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Things I Hate About TV: Video on the web

by Brett Love, posted Oct 8th 2006 1:44PM
Microsoft failure to play
I'd imagine that, for most of you, I don't even really need to go into details on this one. Just reading the phrase 'video on the web' probably conjures plenty of your own experiences fighting with technology to get your dander up. Why? Why does it have to be so damned complicated to put a video file on the internet?

Now, part of my frustration with this comes from the fact that I'm one of 'those guys.' I loathe Windows. I could go on and on about the evils of Bill and the Gang, but that is probably a post for another site. It does bring up one of the most frustrating things we run into when we link to content from the various networks. Requirements to play. You need Windows XP, or Media Player 10, or Flash 6, or IE, or Quicktime, or to stand on your head and chant the namshub of Enki. Good grief, it doesn't need to be that hard.

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iPod users shut out of FOX's new download service

by Anna Johns, posted Aug 14th 2006 2:24PM
fox logoFOX is launching a new video service on its IGN and MySpace websites called Direct2Drive, where television programs and movies will be available for download. Television programs such as 24, Prison Break, and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia can be downloaded within 24 hours of airing on the network. The cost for each episode is the industry standard $1.99. Movies, such as X-Men, The Omen, Garfield, and Thank You For Smoking will be available for download on the same day that the DVDs are released. The cost for a movie is $20.

The catch here is that all the video can only be downloaded and played on computers or devices that run Microsoft Windows Media Player. That means iPods are shut out. FOX probably chose the Windows technology because 1) more people stil use Windows machines; and 2) copyright protection. The service will limit playback to two Windows computers, each with one portable device.

Considering most television downloads have been through iTunes... do you think FOX is on the right track here?

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