Media Center Not Needed in Windows 8

Thu, Jan 19, 2012

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In about a month, the next version of Windows 8 will be released as a beta to the public.   This version is expected to include Windows Media Center, which was missing from previous iterations of the software.

With the new Metro UI, I am hoping Microsoft finally kills Media Center. Doing so would break down the development walls that surround Media Center.  Right now, there is no compelling reason to develop software for the Media Center Platform in Windows 7.  The Metro UI in Windows 8 could change that.

Microsoft should just provide tuner/DVR support in the Metro UI along with a television guide.  Everything else should be filled in by third party developers.  Take Media Browser, the great plugin for Windows Media Center that helps manage a movie collection.  If a Metro version of Media Browser is released, who needs a plugin for Media Center?

The Metro UI seems like it could still work as a 10 foot interface.  The Xbox 360 is a perfect example of this.  The only question I have is how does the Metro-fied version of Xbox Live fit into the overall media center experience?  It is not clear if the Xbox Live interface is actually the new Media Center interface.  Once again though, tuner/DVR capabilities need to be added.

The Metro UI is clearly being developed as a tablet interface.  Windows 8 is aiming to make Windows based tablets relevant. Television could actually end up being the killer app for tablets. No one, not even Apple, has perfected television on tablets.  Windows 8 has that potential.

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HD Homerun Prime Initial Impressions

Thu, Sep 8, 2011

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My HDHomerun Prime arrived in the mail last week.  I pre-ordered in May and once the tuner hit the streats, it took about 3 weeks for Neweeg to send me one. 

HDHomerun Retail Packaging

If you are going to use Windows Media Center as your DVR, a cablecard tuner is a “must have.” Over the last 10 months, I have been using a Ceton cablecard tuner in my main HTPC.  The tuner worked well, except for a hiccup trying to make it network accessible.  I actually had to send my card back to Ceton.  In fairness, the networking process was stull a beta at the time. 

I have made the switch to the Prime because I have three computers I use to watch TV, all connected to a wired network.  One is connected to my Epson projector and serves as my main media center.  The other is my desktop I use as a general computer with a 24 inch Dell monitor.  The last computer I have is a nettop connected to my Toshiba 42 inch LCD in my den.  The nettop is primarily used as a streaming box since it cannot support the size of a tuner. 

HDHomerum Prime Set-up

The Prime, which is almost the same size as the original HdHomerun QAM tuner (see picture to the right), was setup without a hitch, especially since my cablecard had already been activated by Verizon (note: Verizon does not tie your card to a specific device so you can smply switch it to a new tuner).  The setup process involved installing the Silicondust HDHomerun software and then setting up the tuner in media center.  Simple. photo-2

Pros and Cons

The only issue I have run into is the fact that my Dell monitor does not support HDCP. 

The advantages of the HDHomerun Prime include:

1) One cablecard can be used for 3 seperate streams to three different locations.

2) Smaller computer cases can be used without worrying about the size of the tuner.

3) Ipad 2 support through Elgato.  Unfortunately I have the original ipad.  No dice.

4) You are not reliant on one media center to be always on. 

5) Low power consumption at less than 10 watts.

If the network capacibility of the Prime does not interest you, a cheaper option is the upcoming Happauge cablecard tuner that has two tuners (compared to 3 for the Prime) and costs about $140.

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Ceton InfiniTV Not Able to Record Super Bowl

Tue, Feb 8, 2011

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About 2 months ago, I finally received a Ceton digital cable tuner card.  I used to own an ATI DCT but Verizon updated some Fios security setting  rendering that tuner card useless.  Since ATI no longer supports their DCT, I was out of luck until my Ceton Card arrived [...] Continue Reading…

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NHL GameCenter Live Now Available on iPad

Thu, Jan 13, 2011

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The NHL has become a real trend setter for watching sports online.  Through NHL GameCenter Live you can watch up to 40 games a week in HD.  Pretty impressive.   GameCenter ia available on a lot of platforms including Boxee, PS3, and Roku.  Today the NHL announced one more way [...] Continue Reading…

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How to Find New Releases for Netflix Watch Instantly

Wed, Jan 12, 2011

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Netflix has a great plugin for Windows Media Center.  In my opinion it is th best interface for Netflix’s Watch Instantly catalog.  The onlt drawback is it can be difficult to browse for a movie without being overwhelmed.

Netflix really needs to add a “Most Popular” view in their Watch [...] Continue Reading…

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Handbrake 0.9.5 Now Supports Blu-ray Folder Structure

Tue, Jan 11, 2011

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A new version of the popular video conversion tool, Handbrake, was released recently.  While there was a slew of additions and fixes, the most notable new feature is the support for Blu-ray folder structure. No decryption support is provided so you still need AnyDVD HD.  This new feature basically [...] Continue Reading…

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Boxee Makes Deal with CBS

Fri, Jan 7, 2011

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It seems like Boxee is making a push to be relevant in the set-top world. We all know that  content is king when it comes to internet video.  With that in mind, Boxee announced today that they signed an agreement with CBS.  From EngadgetHD:
The New York Times is reporting [...] Continue Reading…

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DIY Boxee | Initial Thoughts

Wed, Jan 5, 2011

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Last week I installed Boxee on my desktop computer.  I just wanted to check it out and see how it compares to Media Center.  Overall, I liked it. Clean interface that was fairly intuitive.  Here are some positives:

Easy set-up though the need for a password was kind of odd.
Easy [...] Continue Reading…

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Zotac Zbox | A quick review

Sat, Jan 1, 2011

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About 6 months ago I purchased a Zotac Zbox to serve as a secondary htpc.  I have a fairly large movie library and I wanted to access that library and stream Netflix to my 40 inch LCD I have in my den.  Instead of buying a media streamer like [...] Continue Reading…

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Using Dropbox to Manage Multiple Media Centers

Fri, Dec 10, 2010

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About a week ago I started using Dropbox to sync files between multiple computers at work and at home.

DropBox is a great way to manage multiple media centers.  For someone like me, who runs Windows Media Center on 3 computers, making sure the latest files for Media Browser etc [...] Continue Reading…

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