Archives For HTPC

SagetvLogo170SageTV is dead; long live SageTV.

As the story goes, Google acquired the DVR software company SageTV back in 2011 … with the engineers and software getting to work on Google Fiber. Fast forward a few years, and the beloved-though-abandoned consumer software may be getting a new lease on life. From the amazingly-still-operational SageTV forums:

Google has agreed to open source the SageTV platform! This isn’t happening today…but will be happening in the near future (i.e. months, not years).

Beyond timing the other logical question is why? And I’m surely not the only one wondering if this foreshadows Google’s consolidation onto the thricely reimagined Google TV Android TV for operational efficiency and given the growing number of cord cutters who could benefit from over-the-top apps. Beyond Fiber, it’ll be interesting to see if there’s enough talent in the Sage community to move the open-sourced software forward… or if there might be some commerical products out there, like an Amazon Fire TV or Roku, looking to integrate DVR capabilities that might leverage this upcoming treasure trove.

Fellow tech enthusiast and DC neighbor Joel Ward continues his role as a Features contributor here at Zatz Not Funny. Beyond ZNF, Joel can be found at Joel Explains It All and @joelsef on Twitter.

In our crowd, just a few years back watching OTA and cable on your computer was all the rage. Platforms like Windows Media Center, SageTV, and SnapStream BeyondTV allowed you to attach a tuner to your PC, watch and pause live TV and record shows. I was all about Windows Media Center, and with the advent of Windows 7 it was available in every edition of the OS (well, except Home Basic). Instead of needing to buy a “Digital Cable Ready PC” like with Windows Vista, Windows 7 allowed WMC to view encrypted cable via a CableCard with the right tuner attached to any PC. Who needed a cable box anymore?

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sage-googletv-dvr

GoogleTV‘s biggest drawback, and an initial source of confusion, given the desire to capture “Input 1” has been its lack of DVR capabilities. And it appears Google is prepared to address that shortcoming via their just announced acquisition of SageTV, the makers of HTPC DVR software and CE extenders. As announced on the updated SageTV site:

Since 2002, we’ve worked to change the TV viewing experience by building cutting-edge software and technology that allows you to create and control your media center from multiple devices. And as the media landscape continues to evolve, we think it’s time our vision of entertainment management grows as well. By teaming up with Google, we believe our ideas will reach an even larger audience of users worldwide on many different products, platforms and services.

Many existing SageTV customers appear rightfully apprehensive about the acquisition. Perhaps exacerbated by the immediate shuttering of the SageTV storefront and excision of all website product info. However, the Sage team is fired up – and who can blame them? I’m hopeful they and Google will do the right thing by keeping the guide data flowing for the HTPC userbase. However, I suspect SageTV as a brand will cease to exist as Google immediately puts their new employees to work porting DVR concepts and code to various Android platforms. And it may not be as difficult as you imagine given Sage’s work on those aforementioned extender devices… which are Linux-based, running embedded Java (according to SageTV guru Brent Evans). Both Google and the landscape are different, so I expect this relationship to bear fruit in a way Yahoo’s acquisition of Meedio never did.

(via Engadget)

9to5 Mac reports that Apple’s Lion operating system preview seems to be missing Front Row, the fullscreen multimedia software experience. Now there could be a very simple explanation. Perhaps Front Row is being reworked (sporting the new Apple TV look?) and isn’t quite ready for inclusion. Or, like the new for-fee Facetime software, Apple may intend to charge for this functionality through the recently launched Mac App Store.

Yet, there’s a very small subset of folks like us who will actually use a computer as a television media center. So it’s also quite possible Apple has decided to move on. And they wouldn’t be alone, as Microsoft no longer emphasizes their fine PC-based Media Center DVR (with Netflix) experience. Regardless, Apple dropping the previously bundled IR remote surely hasn’t helped uptake.

Postscript: Regarding my Apple TV, it’s been handed off to a pal who has jailbroken the streamer and is running XBMC with mixed results, which we hope to write up in the near future.

allvid-cable-gateway

The AllVid battle lines between the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) are being drawn. AllVid is a possible replacement for and enhancement of CableCARD technology being discussed by the FCC and now a group of companies from the electronics industry that have formed the “AllVid Tech Company Alliance.”

The Alliance was created to provide a unified voice for consumer electronic companies to lobby the FCC and NCTA to create a more open cable “AllVid” home video gateway solution to supersede the existing and limited CableCARD regime. AllVid Alliance founding members including Google, Sony Electronics, TiVo, Best Buy, Mitsubishi Digital Electronics, Nagravision and SageTV.

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XBMC is a highly customizable and powerful media center application that can run on computers and a number of other devices. In fact, the project started its life as Xbox Media Center, thus the acronym. But my how XBMC has grown in recent years. Last night the developers announced that the app has been ported to run on devices with Apple’s A4 chip. That includes the Apple TV2, iPad, iPhone 4, and 4th generation iPod touch.

You’ll need to jailbreak your iOS device in order to install XBMC, since it’s not available from the App Store. But if you do that, you can effectively turn a $99 Apple TV into a powerful media center capable of 1080p HD video playback. This will let you stream videos from computers on your home network without relying on Apple’s AirPlay service, handle almost any video codec you can throw at it, use XBMC skins, and run add-ons.

The version for the iPad supports drag-and-drop loading of photos, videos, and music from your computer. The XBMC developers say you can also run the app on the iPhone 4 (and presumably the 4th generation iPod touch), but that it’s “frustrating to use.”

You can find instructions for installing XBMC on an Apple TV2 or iPad/iPhone at the XBMC wiki.

This post republished from Mobiputing.

ipad-wall-mount

The iPad makes an ideal touch-screen interface for a high-end custom home theater room, home automation setup, or home security system. Yet for many of these applications there’s a need for a wall mount solution so it fits in aesthetically and with a good way to power the device. Vidabox, LLC, a well-known media server and integrated control systems company offers an elegant solution to meet this need with their new VidaBox iPad mount ($159) and iPower charging station.

I have the florentine silver iPad Mounting Frame in my home to check out. And it’s made from excellent quality materials that will look stunning in your high-tech home. The frame allows you to semi-permanently mount your iPad onto a wall and transform your iPad into a seamless home automation touch-screen.

Installation was very easy. The frame is delivered assembled. You detach the top of the frame by unscrewing the two hinges. Slide the iPad into the frame and then connect the iPad cable through the rear cutout of the frame. Ideally you’ll likely want the iPower add-on available separately from Vidabox.

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ceton-usb1

Looks like the HDHomeRun Prime may see a little competition later this year via Ceton’s newly revealed USB CableCARD tuner. The InfiniTV 4 USB is surely the most handsome and compact external CableCARD device to date. And given my penchant for small form factor PCs, this is a more practical solution than Ceton’s PCI CableCARD tuner (which is actually pretty hard to actually acquire from what I’ve heard). Unfortunately, Ben Drawbaugh wasn’t able to lock down a ship date or price from the Ceton folks.

Related, while the big CES splash anticipated from Microsoft didn’t happen, Windows Media Center embedded (with CableCARD!) was indeed spotted on the show floor. MC and CC will live to fight another day. Although I doubt many will pony up the estimated $500 – $700, versus rolling their own solution or taking the easy way out by renting a cable box.