Archive | March, 2005

FCC Extends Set-Top Box Deadline for CableCARD

Posted on 18 March 2005 by

Taken directly from slashdot article: FCC Extends Set-Top Box Deadline (for CableCARD)

“The FCC today announced that it was once again rolling back the date (PDF!) for the eventual ban of “integrated set-top boxes” distributed and leased by cable companies to consumers, from 2006 to 2007.

The move was a slight nod to the cable providers, who wanted the ban removed altogether, and a minor setback to the consumer electronics industry, who would have preferred that it stay on schedule. The ban would prevent the largest cable companies from integrating their digital content security devices with their navigation devices, allowing consumers to ‘mix and match’ the navigation or DVR set-top-box of their choice with a standard CableCARD security interface device.

Currently, most digital cable set top boxes combine these two functions, meaning that digital cable customers who want DVR functionality must rent one from their cable company. By preventing the cable companies from leasing them to end-users, the FCC
hopes to foster competition in the set-top-box market and allow more consumer choice. A statement from FCC Commissioner Johnathan Adelstein (PDF) was released simultaneously. The battle has been carefully watched by all the major players in the entertainment and electronics markets, including Microsoft, which had previously weighed in on the side of the consumer electronics camp (pro-deadline), but then later agreed with the one-year extension.”

rampy commentary–> DAMMIT DAMMIT DAMMIT DAMMIT DAMMIT!!! WTF?! ARG! *sigh*

Hauppauge WinTV PVR Tweak Tool

Posted on 17 March 2005 by

Amontillado a shspvr forum regular and compiler of the very useful hauppauge registry tips and tweaks, has posted an easy to use hauppauge wintvpvr tweak tool. Now you can use a simple gui instead of editing DWORDS in the windows registry and the like.

“With the Hauppauge Tweak Tool several advanced settings can be changed that are not accesible with the normal software.

There are four sections:
* “Wintv2k” contains settings for wintv2k (the hauppauge software). These settings can apply to several models
* “250/350” contains settings specifically for the pvr 250 and 350 cards. Some of the settings only affect wintv2k, but most affect some third party software as well .
* “150/500” contains settings specifically for the pvr 150 and 500 cards. Some of the settings only affect wintv2k, but most affect some third party software as well.
* “150/500 advanced” contains more 150/500 setting, advanced settings as temporal/spatial filtering (Motion blur) can be found here. Some of the settings only affect wintv2k, but most affect some third party software as well.”

Comcast & TiVo Together At Last

Posted on 15 March 2005 by

Looks like TiVo’s self-predicted path to profitability might not be hyperbole after all…

Deal will put TiVo system on Comcast DVRs
PVRblog coverage: Comcast and TiVo seal the deal
TiVo Press Release
Yahoo news story
Thomas Hawk coverage
TVHarm me with Harmony coverage

I immediately wonder if this relationship will make it easier for TiVo to get to a bidirectional CableCard standalone HDTV going. Or even a single tuner cableCARD HDTV standalone unit. I hope that is the case. Although on the flipside, TiVo getting cozy with content providers and cable companies could end up being a bad thing for consumers. Should be interesting none the less..

SlashDot discussion on TiVo Comcast deal

Alex Rowland’s excellent breakdown of the tivo/comcast deal Why Comcast + TiVo is Actually Bad for TiVo (Sorry)

Web and WAP based scheduler for TV recording

Posted on 15 March 2005 by

Did you ever go on a trip and forgot to program your PVR ? You can now go to the nearest internet cafe or use your mobile phone and schedule any program you want to record.

The program that makes it all happen is called WebShifter and you can download the latest version at
WebShifter was originally for ShowShifter (hence the name WebShifter), but a beta version was released today with support for command-line based TV recording software. Support for other recording software will be added soon.

WebShifter is not only a scheduler, it also has an integrated XMLtv based TV guide and a file browser that allows you to download or delete your recordings.
WebShifter has a 30-day trial period, but you can request free extended trial keys from the author as long as the program is still in the beta stage.

Mac Mini vs Mini-ITX

Posted on 12 March 2005 by

ExtremeTech article: Mac Mini vs Mini-ITX

We at ExtremeTech decided to look at how much tiny PC can you build for about $800, and pit it against the cute new Mac. We had some choices of similar-size machines, though more will be forthcoming when Pico-BTX motherboards arrive in earnest later this year. Does a Mac mini make sense on your home network or for a less technical friend? Or would a similarly priced and sized Windows machine be a better bet? Let’s find out.

Also of interest in the mac mini vein intel flaunts mac mini knock off zdnet article on intel’s mac mini clone and inquirer: Intel demonstrates would be Mini Mac killer

(and why yes I do feel a little dirty for linking to one of those free gratis sites, but a mac mini would compliment the free ipod nicely)

VIA ships dual-processor mini-ITX board

Posted on 11 March 2005 by

VIA ships dual-processor mini-ITX board (also on Slashdot)

The VIA DP-310 with two 1ghz eden-N processors looks pretty cool. My one concern is whether the two processors would generate more heat, or if two small fans would be too loud for a media center application. I’m definitely stoked about the new CN400 media chipset and want see how well the MPEG2 and MPEG4 accelleration really works. I only see a DVI port, I wonder if there will be some sort of dongle or header for svideo.

Also of interest is this General Micro Systems 2.3 GHz mini-itx system dubbed the P620 Hawk

TiVo to Aim for PC Desktop (?)

Posted on 11 March 2005 by

TiVo to Aim for PC Desktop

TiVo bullish on the future, “PC experience”

Of course, the big question is how TiVo is going to stay strong as the competition heats up. The CableCard mandate is something that TiVo takes seriously, and they are developing products that will support CableCard, including the existing unidirectional specification. Nevertheless, Ramsay noted the a number of “large monopolies” were doing their best to inhibit CableCard use for companies such as TiVo, but the company is hopeful that the law will be maintained in favor of competition, rather than in favor of the cable companies, who would like to use CableCard technology to lock customers into their own PVR solutions.

What really piqued my interest were brief comments about a TiVo-branded service on the PC. The company didn’t say anything beyond the fact that they are looking into this, but it would fit well with their broadband plans. The goal is clear: adding value to their service is the only way to differentiate the company from the competition. “Wherever” people want to watch is important to the company, and they want to embrace choice. They know that the PC platform is going to continue to play a big role in home entertainment, but they’re not yet talking about what this means in the long run.

I’m not holding my breath on the TiVo-branded service on the PC (after all this conference call is designed to keep the investors interested, and excite the fanboys, not necessarily reflect the reality). It would be pretty cool if they expanded their offerings in such a way to utilize the PC as content delivery or retrieval mechansim, but i’m not holding my breath after the delayed and then somewhat half-baked TiVo to Go implementation.

The CableCard technology and legislation is going to be paramount, IMHO, to TiVo’s future success. I’m also hoping they can make the breakthrough/headway so that legitimate PC based CableCard technology can follow in it’s footsteps.

Check out TVHarmony’s condiment flavored take on the TiVo come PC experience

Also worth reading is the venerable Thomas Hawk’s take on the subject TiVo Pauses Company Costs and Growth: My thoughts on the TiVo Fourth Quarter Conference Call

Plextor ConvertX PVRs Now Support Linux

Posted on 08 March 2005 by

Plextor just released an open source (GPL) Linux SDK for their very cool ConvertX PVR USB tuner/encoder product

This is great news for Linux PVR users who want to use an external device (linux support for the other major external tuner/encoder the Hauppauge wintvPVR USB2 was a little sketchy) or want hardware based MPEG-4 encoding in their MythTV or Freevo homebrew PVR. The ConvertX supports Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux!

The full press release is available here

Slashdot on Plextor PVRs Now Support Linux

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SageTV 2.2.7 Released

Posted on 08 March 2005 by

SageTV has launched SageTV version 2.2.7. official announcement thread characterized the 2.2.7 release as following:

Version 2.2 is mostly a maintenance release. It’s composed mostly of bug fixes and performance enhancements, with a few new features. Here’s what’s different since version 2.1:

-Many bug fixes
-Many performance enhancements
-Random playback/access in Playlists
-Improved unicode support
-Improved standby support
-Transparent menus with Overlay

GAM Got All Media Goes Commercial

Posted on 03 March 2005 by

GAM: Got All Media has gone commercial GAM used to be the TV tuning/PVR plugin to use with myHTPC back in the day. Now it’s a stand alone full fledge standalone media center application. According to HTPCnews, “The big fluff that surrounds GAM is that fact that it supports a large range of capture (HD and SD) cards.”

read more for a list of GAM features.
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