Posts filed under ‘Entertainment’

iPad + WHS (Vail) + Air Video + Recorded TV = Internet Streaming

Air Video (Free) for the iPad just made my non DRM’d MCE Recorded TV mobile.  A few simple hoops to jump through and a couple of gotcha’s, but for me, well worth the effort. I’m streaming recorded TV over 3G.

Ingredients:

Vail (WHS2) Beta

Apple iTunes x64

Air Video (Free from the App Store)

iPad

DVR-MS Recorded TV files

Well, Vail is in public beta. I’m disappointed that there isn’t any Media Center functionality (i.e., whole home networked Media Center), but at least I’ve got a slick way to stream my unprotected recorded TV (and other video formats) while away from home.

I’m going to be purchasing the full version of Air Video. This one’s a keeper and then some. I set up the free version today and I’m, well, wowed.

Air Video streams quite a number of file formats natively, and can convert some (but not all) in real time and stream. That includes dvr-ms (but not, unfortunately, wtv). I’m looking for a slicker way to automatically convert my wtv files to dvr-ms, but for now, I right click a wtv on a W7 machine and then select convert to dvr-ms. Enough for a demo and to know that this is one app I’m going to be using alot. The Free version of Air Video only allows 3 files in a folder, so for now, I’ve divided a few files up accordingly and stored them on my Vail machine. That was the hard part. Or at least manually distracting.

In order, I

1. Installed iTunes x64 (this includes Bonjour – if you already have iTunes without Bonjour, you will need to install it)

2.  Downloaded the server side software. Configured it by specifying the folders

3. . Downloaded and installed the Air Video Free server software from iTunes on my iPad

4.  Specified the server on the iPad in Air Server Server settings.

5.  Started watching streaming recorded TV over 3G (also works at home on WiFi)

Note: If your router isn’t UPnP, you will need to forward TCP Port 45631

airvideo1

You can see you can play in real time with Live Conversion. This worked perfectly for me. You can also convert and queue up various titles.

airvideo2

Full screen in landscape view on my iPad is totally watchable.

June 5, 2010 at 9:01 pm Leave a comment

Looks like Netflix MCE HD is Rolling Out

Fired up a machine that never had Netflix installed previously (W7 x64 Ultimate) and installed Netflix. I’m streaming Stargate Continuum in HD 3800/3800 (screen shot below) over 802.11n 5GHz wireless to me 1920 x 1080 Sony “laptop”. No HD icon, but it is definitely HD.

netflixMCE-HDsm

May 16, 2010 at 10:42 am Leave a comment

iPad + Comcast + myDVR

This has been one of those strange weeks where nothing has gone as planned but has ended up in the right place. Through some strange alignment of the planets, I’ve ended up with the beta of Comcast’s myDVR, which lets you schedule recordings on the web (and a whole lot more) through Fancast on your Comcast DVR. Comcast has had an iPod app for a while, and updated the version yesterday to be more iPad friendly (yes, push now works for notifications). Most markets don’t have this rolled out yet. And no, this is not the app Brian Roberts showed off at the Cable Show this week for the iPad.

The current iPad/iPod app really made me sit up and take notice. It’s really  slick. And it works as advertised. I had created a favorites list of channels that I record from all the time (movies mostly) and can easily access my favorites lineup and schedule recordings on either of my two Comcast DVRs, make changes, and everything syncs up quickly with the schedule on the physical boxes. Way to go, Comcast. (Microsoft, if only you could think a little more outside the box and offer this kind of functionality for Windows Media Center. You once had MSN Remote Record and blew your chance at evolving from that very early start. Yes, there are third party apps, like Remote Potato, but it doesn’t come close to the elegance of the Comcast app. And with what Brian Roberts demo’d, I’d say that Comcast has won the slingfest…)

The Comcast App does more than Video, it does email, voicemail, and on the iPad, this is quite usable for me.  First, I went to http://www.fancast.com to activate the myDVR application. Since I’ve used the Fancast site before, I’d already specified my channel lineup.

To get to the schedule, just tap The Guide.

ipadcomcast1

  The Guide is very readable on the iPad, and of course you can rotate the iPad for a landscape view. You can select several predefined views within the app, but I find it best for me to use the Favorites list that I created on the iPad.

ipadcomcast4

Anything previously scheduled will show as a red dot. And you can select a scheduled show to make changes from this screen.

 ipadcomcast6

I’ve scrolled on to the next day and decided to record Mamma Mia.  I can schedule, set reminders and view other show times.

ipadcomcast7

If I want to change to my other DVR, I just tap Record On DVR and can make the change. And I can record on both if I so desire.

 

ipadcomcast9

Once I’ve decided to record, I get a message indicating that the request has been sent to the DVR.

 

 ipadcomcast11

As promised, when I view the guide on the iPad, within a few minutes, I can see that it is a confirmed recording.

ipadcomcast3

If I select the show, I can make changes.

 

ipadcomcast2

And if it is a show/movie/series (yes I can setup series recordings too) that I want to tell someone else about, Comcast provides a link that opens an email message, pre-populated, with the summary above for you to address, maybe add a few comments, and send.

All in all, this is really slick. Far better than scheduling on the actual DVR (in my opinion).

I don’t know when it will be available in various Comcast markets, but it is slowly getting rolled out.

May 15, 2010 at 3:07 pm Leave a comment

Intel Wireless Display is a Happy HTPC Experience

Intel’s Wireless Display fills the big gap in my Windows Media Center home theater experience.
This technology, first demo’d at CES 2010, may be one of the bigger successes in the HTPC and networking arenas as new computers (currently only laptops) hit the market with the Intel 2010 i3/i5/i7 processors. In a nutshell, I can use a laptop computer with an Intel i5 processor, Intel’s embedded graphics chip, Intel’s 6200 WiFi adapter, and a Netgear Push to TV bridge.

So why is this such a big gap filler for me? My current home theater setup includes V2 Media Center extenders connected to the three HD TV’s in my home, with the Media Center desktop residing in my loft home office. What I can’t get with this set up (without buying a PC and connecting one to every television) are all the Internet based Media Center extra’s such as Internet TV and Netflix.  Problem solved. With WiDi, I’ve got a nice, light (4.2 pound) 13.3 inch widescreen laptop to use anywhere in my home, around town, or on the road AND I’m able to display all of these Media Center extras. I gain the ability to browse the web and display anything I want on my TV’s.

The technology is nearly idiot proof. Connect the Netgear device via the included HDMI cable. Hit the special button on the laptop keyboard and enter a 4 digit code after your device is found. All the networking setup is handled without user intervention. WPA2security is configured via WPS (wireless provisioning services) behind the scenes to secure the Personal Area Network (PAN) connection between the laptop and the PTV device. An ICS connection to the Intel internal WiFi is also established behind the scenes. You won’t see this in any of Windows 7’s GUI’s or discover it with netsh, but it is present. In fact, while the 6200 Intel NIC is a/b/g/n capable, when using WiDi with the Netgear device, it is not possible to connect to the 5GHz radio in a dual band router. An error message is returned stating only 2.4 GHz is supported. Some additional good news, even in my overly saturated 2.4 GHz environment of 19 different SSID’s, I had absolutely no interference.

ready

My 52 inch TV, Netgear PTV attached via HDMI, waiting for a connection

 connected

WiDi equipped Laptop, connected and ready to rock and roll

The quality is awesome. My recorded (via cable card and OCUR/DCT) content looks great. (All the DRM rules apply here.)

mce-hd-tv

Some HD Recorded TV..

stargate-atlantis-hd

Stargate Atlantis in full HD, via WiDi

Internet TV (the missing piece in my home theater experience) in Windows Media Center looks good.

ITV-MCE

Star Trek content, Windows Media Center Internet TV

startrek-ITV-MCE

Streaming Star Trek from Windows Media Center via WiDi.

Anything I want using the Media Center interface is streamed to the connected TV, music.. pix… videos..

mcemusic 

Music – WMC via WiDi

Anything displayed on your desktop can be streamed. Want to read email? Use Windows Live Messenger? Participate in newsgroups or forums? Browse the web? Yep, it’s in there.

browsingweb

Windows 7 – Everything and anything over WiDi

And for me, there is another huge gap filler. My main beef with Windows Media Center Internet TV is the lack of HD content. With a 52 inch state of the art 1080p TV, can you blame me for wanting HD streaming? Here’s the good news. If one of the networks or other source offers an asset in HD for streaming, WiDi handles it effortlessly. As shown earlier in this post, Windows Media Center Internet TV offers a large amount of CBS content, including (at least at the present time) all three seasons of Star Trek, the original series. Inside Media Center, only SD is available, but I can navigate to the CBS website and view the remastered Star Trek original series in glorious full screen HD.

Needless to say, I’m a very happy camper these days.

Clubhouse Tags: clubhouse, media center, Media Center Windows 7, windows media center, WiDi, Intel Wireless Display, how-to, Tip

January 22, 2010 at 4:47 pm Leave a comment

Windows Media Center Dual Tuner and Set Top Box Setup

This article was originally written for Media Center Edition 2005 for the Microsoft Windows XP Expert Zone Community. With the launch of Windows 7, Microsoft is apparently retiring the older content. The information below has been useful to users of all versions of Windows Media Center and while the interface is slightly changed between different versions, you can use the steps below for assistance even if you are using Vista or Windows 7.

So, what can you do with two tuners? You can watch one show on live TV and simultaneously record a different show on another channel. Or you can record two shows at the same time (or two that overlap with different starting and/or ending times). Dual tuner support encompasses watching live TV using a Media Center Extender device while another family member is watching live TV on the host MCE 2005 machine (or while recording a different show on the host MCE 2005 machine).

Dual tuner usage in MCE 2005 requires both TV provider sources (channel lineups) to be identical. For example, you can configure two set top boxes (STB’s) or two cable out of the wall connections, but you cannot use one set top box and one out of the wall cable connection or one satellite and one antenna connection. The reason for this is pretty simple. Windows XP Media Center 2005 utilizes a single program guide source and uses the “first available tuner” to complete each task that requires a TV tuner. The rules for Windows 7 tuners really have not changed that much and are listed here.

Tip: If you have two different set top box models from the same provider, you can use them as long as they both receive the same programs on the same channels. For example, you can use a Motorola/General Instruments DCT5100 and DCT6200 set top boxes to configure dual tuner support.

As you read the rest of this article, you’ll find the following information:

1. Obtaining and Installing a Second TV Tuner

2. Configuring or Adding IR (infra red) receiver hardware with dual set top boxes and dual IR emitters

3. Configuring MCE 2005 to support dual tuners

Obtaining and Installing a Second TV Tuner

All Media Center computers from major computer makers such as Hewlett Packard, Gateway, ViewSonic, etc. included a single TV tuner card in previous versions of MCE. Media Center 2005 computer models and beyond may include single tuners or dual tuners and in some cases, no tuners.  To help insure that any additional add-on hardware not originally supplied with Media Center Edition computers is compatible, Microsoft opened a Designed for Windows XP Media Center Edition Logo Partner List web site and the Windows Logo’d hardware site.  If you are adding a second tuner, be sure to select hardware that is certified.

I have been using MCE 2005 on a Gateway 901x Media Center pc which, like many other MCE computers, has no expansion slots. And like computers from several other manufacturers, it has only a single IR (infra red) receiver built into the computer chassis that supports only a single IR emitter. The IR emitter is required to control the STB (set top box) from your cable or satellite provider. If you have two STB’s, you would need two emitters.

Adding a USB external tuner is easy for most people and can be done in a very short amount of time.  Microsoft supplied me with a Hauppauge WinTV USB 2.0 tuner and provided (beta) MCE2005 compatible drivers. External USB TV tuners are externally powered, so in addition to an available USB slot, you’ll need an available AC power outlet or socket on your surge protector.  A different option for advanced users proficient in adding and removing internal pc expansion cards is to install an internal PCI tuner. This will involve removing the computer case and in cases where there is no PCI slot, removing an existing card, such as the internal modem card. (This won’t be an option if you are a dialup user and no free PCI slot is available). Again, be sure to select a TV tuner from the Logo Partner List web site. I’ve also tested a two internal tuner configuration on the Gateway 901x by removing the internal modem card and installing a second internal PCI TV tuner.

To install your new second tuner hardware:

  1. Power off your Media Center computer and all peripherals.
  2. Install the TV tuner hardware following the manufacturers instructions and connect the USB cable if you are installing an external tuner
  3. Turn on your equipment
  4.   Windows XP should automatically discover your new hardware.
  5. When prompted, insert the driver CD in your CD drive and let Window’s Plug and Play install your new hardware or follow the manufacturer’s steps to install drivers.

When completed, power off your computer and connect the cables and emitters to your STB’s.

Configuring or Adding a dual emitter capable USB IR receiver

If you are using dual set top boxes, you will need to use two IR emitters to enable MCE 2005 to change the channels. One end of each emitter is inserted in a port on the IR receiver; the other is placed over the IR window on each STB. If your Media Center Computer included an external USB receiver, you may already have hardware that supports a second IR blaster. For example, the first generation Media Center computers from Hewlett Packard, such as the HP 873n, shipped with an external USB IR receiver that can control two STB’s. Other computers, such as the Gateway 901x, are equipped with only a single internal chassis based IR receiver. Microsoft has engineered MCE 2005 so that an external USB IR receiver that supports dual tuners can be transparently added to any Media Center computer, whether or not an internal IR receiver is present.

If you need a new USB IR receiver to use dual IR emitters, you may be able to purchase a kit from Newegg.com or eBay. You’ll receive the IR receiver, the IR emitter cable, and a Media Center remote control. If you already have an IR receiver that supports dual emitters and can’t find an IR emitter cable locally, SmartHome offers several IR emitters on their web site. When you have all the required hardware, setup the IR receiver.

  1. If you have an emitter cable plugged into an internal chassis based IR receiver, remove it and plug it into the external IR receiver.
  2. Plug the emitter cable for the second STB into the second port in the IR receiver.
  3. Attach the other end of the emitter to the STB by placing it over the IR window (use a flashlight to find this).
  4. Verify that the second STB is connected to the second tuner using the proper cabling.

Configuring Media Center Edition 2005 for Dual Tuner Support

Once you have all the hardware installed and connected, you’ll need to spend about 15 -30 minutes configuring or reconfiguring your Media Center 2005 computer.

Don’t be daunted by the large number of individual steps outlined below. If you follow them carefully, configuration will be easy.

 

The steps are listed below:

  1. From the Media Center menu, select Settings, TV, Set Up TV Signal. Acknowledge the region.
  2. Select Configure my TV signal  automatically (Recommended)
  3. Windows checks each of your signals automatically and compares them.
  4. A confirmation is displayed confirming that two cable STB’s were successfully detected.
  5. Verify again that both STB’s are set on channels that you know you can receive. (For best results, don’t select the same channel on both).
  6. Select your type of provider (Cable or Satellite)
  7. If you’ve previously configured your system (for example, configured with a single tuner) a window will display with choices for modifying channel change settings or reconfiguring all set top box settings. Select Reconfigure all set top box settings.
  8. To identify the first STB (Cable Box A in the wizard as shown below), use the controls on the set top box itself (not the remote) to change the channel up or down. Try the other STB if the channel does not change in the Media Center inset window.

identify first stb 

9. If you have a cable or satellite company provided remote control for your STB, chances are that Media Center can identify settings automatically. (Note: If you don’t have a remote control for your STB, select NO remote control. A list of STB manufacturers will be displayed. Select each codeset until you find the correct one. Tip: If automatic identification in steps a and b below fail, select Back and use manual identification. Do not select Cancel.)

a.       When prompted, press and hold 0 on the set top box remote (not the Media Center remote control). Tip: If you are too close to the IR receiver, you may have a problem with the signal being recognized. There is a “sweet spot” approximately 3-7 feet away that is optimum for performing this automatic configuration.

b.      When prompted, press and hold the Enter button. Important: your STB remote may have both an Enter and OK button. Be sure to use the Enter button.

10.  Put down the STB remote and pick up the Media Center remote control.

11.  Select the number of digits corresponding to the highest channel you receive.

12.  Specify whether or not you need to press Enter on your STB remote to change channels

13.  Use the Media Center remote and if your service has 3 digit channels, enter a 3 digital channel number that you know you can receive.

14.  If the channel does not change, select the Try Next IR Emitter button on the Media Center menu as shown in the image below.

next emitter

15.  Verify that the channel changes correctly. You can try several channels you know you receive to be sure, even though you are only prompted to do this once.

16.  Determine whether the speed to change channels on the first STB is Fast, Medium, or Slow by pressing the page up/page down keys on the Media Center remote six or more times. Media Center will attempt Fast, Medium, and then Slow as you step through this portion of the wizard. When you are successfully able to change channels, select The channel changed correctly.

set ir speed

17.  Next, the wizard assists you in configuring the second TV tuner. To identify the second STB (Cable Box B in the wizard), use the controls on the second set top box itself (not the remote) to change the channel up or down.

18.  The wizard guides you through configuring the second STB repeating steps 9-16 above.

19.  The final sequence specifies and downloads the Program Guide. You should be connected to the Internet while performing these steps.

20.  Select Yes to using the guide and accept the Guide Terms of Service.

21.  Enter your zip or postal code.

22.  TV signal providers in your area will be displayed. Select your provider.

23.  The Program Guide for 14 days will download. This can take up to 20 minutes. You’ll be notified when complete.

For additional assistance, I recommend you visit the forums on http://thegreenbutton.com.

Clubhouse Tags: clubhouse, media center, Media Center Windows 7, windows media center, how-to, Tip

October 13, 2009 at 9:20 pm Leave a comment

Ferrari F80 Meridian Entertainment System

March 2, 2007 at 12:00 pm Leave a comment

Xbox 360 as an Extender Rocks

I’m really enjoying the Media Center Extender functionality of my new Xbox 360. Last night I was watching Crimson Tide (one of my favs) on the MCE Always Ready computer in my bedroom. Couldn’t keep my eyes open so paused it and grabbed eight hours sleep. This morning, I finished watching the movie with morning coffee in my living room. Resumed from right where I’d left off. Here you can see that I’ve selected the Media Blade on my Xbox 360 and the connection is automatically made to the host MCE 2005 machine. I select Crimson Tide from the list and am offered the option to Resume (yeah!). The quality is stunning streaming over my wireless network.

Access Media Blade Contacting MCE Host
Resume Movie Watching Crimson Tide

December 19, 2005 at 11:08 am Leave a comment


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