The Media Center Blog

Your source for Media Center related help, tips, deals and more!


Need to Access Your Media Wirelessly on the go?

If you haven’t yet looked into wireless Internet services, it might be time to do so. With more and more people – individuals, stores, businesses, etc. – joining the wave of wireless users, the ability to access the Internet while mobile or in remote areas is becoming something that is not just a luxury, but that is almost expected of people these days. If you’re still unsure how wireless Internet works, or whether it is the right thing for you to try, one good place to look for reassurance is ClearWirelessInternet.com, where a number of different aspects of wireless service are explained and offered. But if you still need convincing, read on.

At its core, the Internet is a system of communications. It seems like so much more to us, but if you really break it down, you can see that this is really all it is. For example, the news has always been brought to us through newspapers and magazines, and then television shows – now, more and more people are accessing it through the Internet. The news is communicated differently now, through online articles and video clips. This is the same with many other forms of information; vast amounts of knowledge always transferred to us through books are now available on search engines, encyclopedia-style websites, etc. And, of course, there is what we actually think of as communication, where emails, instant messaging, and video chatting have largely taken the place of post mail and even phone calls in many cases. The point is, communication is always getting faster – it benefits us to be able to contact each other and communicate ideas as quickly as possible; and wireless Internet now brings us the most efficient form of communication and connectivity in existence.

With a good wireless Internet package, you can now access the entire Internet from just about anywhere – you may be in your car stopped at a red light using a smart phone, in a café using your laptop, or practically anywhere else, and you will be able to go online, check your favorite websites, email your colleagues and instant message your friends. These days, so many people are beginning to realize the benefits of this increased connectivity and the efficient impact it has on business, friendships, and just general communications, that people without wireless access are beginning to fall behind in some, small ways. The gap will only widen as more and more people begin to invest in wireless Internet access. It truly can change your life for the better, whether you use it for business, school, or even just fun.

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Looking for a Cheap Linksys DMA2100 or DMA2200?

So you’ve decided that you want a small form factor Media Center Extender but you don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for a used extender on Ebay? You may have come to the right place, as long as you have a little patience that is. The answer…Craigslist.

A few months ago I decided I wanted to use a 17″ Dell LCD TV that was just laying around my house collecting dust. The best solution for me since I didn’t want to run cables was to try and find a cheap Linksys DMA2100 or DMA2200 extender. After realizing I wasn’t going to be able to get a cheap one on Ebay, I set out to search Craigslist up and down.

As you probably know, searching Craigslist up and down can be somewhat of a daunting task. That’s were Searchtempest comes in. Searchtempest allows you to search all of Craigslist and then compile the results into a single list.

To start your search, go to Searchtempest and put your zip code in the box provided.  Then slide the little red dot underneath the zip code area all the way over until it says “Up to ANY miles from zip/postal code” above the bar. Then you will need to plug your search term (”DMA2100″ for example) into the “Has these:” box in the “Keywords” section and click the big red “Search Now” button. This should bring up a list of all the cities on Craigslist sorted by distance from your zip code. However, if you click on the “Show all results in a single list” option that shows up just above your first city search results, it will provide those results in a single list so you only see results for whatever you searched for. Your search page should look something like this:

By searching Craigslist for an extender, I was able to find a DMA2100 listed for just $50. I offered the guy $65 to cover shipping and PayPal fees and he was glad to ship it to me. Since then, I’ve seen a few more offered around this price and one was even cheaper. If you’re not in a big hurry, you might just be able to get a good deal like I did.

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Seagate 1.5TB Hard Drive with Docking Station Only $86.99 Shipped!

EDIT: Looks like they’ve changed the price to $99.99 for this deal. Still a decent deal if you need more hard drive space and could use a dock to go with it.

In the market for a hard drive? Even if you’re not right now, you might not want to pass up this deal. Newegg is offering up the Seagate Barracuda LP ST31500541AS 1.5TB 5900 RPM hard drive along with a Thermaltake BlackX SATA Docking Station for just $86.99 $99.99 shipped! To get the deal, click here and then go to “Combo Deals” on the left side of the screen and click “View All” and it’s the fifth deal down. Hurry, this probably won’t last long!

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Finally! HD Recorded TV on my ZuneHD!

So I had all but given up on putting my HD Recorded TV on my ZuneHD once I found out that it didn’t work. Then I came across an article in Google Reader titled “Syncing Windows Home Server, Zune and Windows Media Center!” and I got all kinds of excited. However, when I read the title my initial thought was “yeah well that does me no good if I can’t sync HD content” and then I read a little further. Turns out all you have to do is install an AC3 codec, which is provided by the author Joel Burt. So I installed the provided codec and set up Chuck and Storytellers: John Mayer to be archive using Windows Home Server and voila…it worked! I was able to watch Chuck (since I missed it last night due to other shows) on my ZuneHD! Thanks Microsoft for providing a workaround! Now I’m even MORE happier with my ZuneHD and I will be able to get more use out of the Media Center additions that came with Windows Home Server Power Pack 3!

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CES Media Center Roundup

Looking for Media Center news from CES? Look no further. Here’s all you need to know about the big Media Center related news at CES.

“Ceton Corporation today announced details of the upcoming launch of the Ceton Digital Cable Quad-Tuner card, the world’s first four-tuner digital cable solution for Windows 7 PCs with Windows Media Center. The first version of the Ceton Digital Cable Quad-Tuner card will be available as a PCI Express Low Profile form factor for installation in desktop, tower and slim entertainment PCs. It will be available for retail purchase by the end of Q1 2010 at a suggested retail price of $399.”

Ceton Announces Launch of World’s First Digital Cable Quad-Tuner PC Card

“Hey, TGB! Had a few minutes to chat with Ceton’s Jeremy Hammer to talk about their forthcoming tuner…”

A few minutes with Ceton’s Jeremy Hammer…(video)

“We caught up with Gary Hammer from Ceton this morning and snapped some pictures of the low profile quad CableCARD tuner that will be the first version to reach consumers. The card includes a little RG6 dongle so that it’ll fit in either a full or low profile PCI-E slot and will be available late in the first quarter for $399 — an exact date wasn’t given, but we believe this means March 31st.

Hands-on with the low profile Ceton quad CableCARD tuner

“The original ATSC/QAM HDHomeRun was love at first sight for us three years ago, so we were very pleased to learn that the crew over at Silicon Dust was working on a network based CableCARD tuner. The dual tuner model in development will require just one CableCARD and one coax input, but will allow you to record two HD shows at once, and all for $249 — less than the single ATI CableCARD tuner sells for today.”

HDHomeRun developing a dual CableCARD network tuner for $249

“When we first learned that SiliconDust was going to release an HDHomeRun that supported CableCARD, we were concerned that our favorite features wouldn’t make it into the product. So we dropped by the booth and checked out the development board (pictured above) to learned more about the plans — this is a dual tuner test board, despite the fact it looks like it has three. The best news is that you’ll be able to share a tuner with multiple Media Center PCs, which is really cool.”

“HDHomeRun’s CableCARD implementation lives up to the brand

“Silicon Dust’s Jason Ludka discusses the prototype for their forthcoming networked CableCARD tuner in this short video. Check the Silicon Dust website just after CES for details on how to apply for their upcoming beta.”

A few minutes with Silcon Dust’s Jason Ludka…(video)

“During the Microsoft keynote, Ballmer mentioned that customers of IPTV providers like AT&T U-Verse will be able to watch TV on Windows 7 PCs, but he glazed over the how. The how is Windows 7 Media Center — according to the press release that is available after the jump — and there’s no special hardware like a tuner required.”

Windows 7 Media Center gets Mediaroom support

“Several folks have hit the @thegreenbutton on Twitter asking for more details about the Media Room 2.0 / Windows 7 Media Center integration announced during Microsoft’s keynote on Wednesday night.

Microsoft’s John Hargarve demos in in the video below.”

Media Room 2.0 – Windows 7 Media Center integration demo…(video)

“You couldn’t miss the green button on two remote controls in the CES Innovations award showcases outside the central hall at CES 2010. Here are demos of each…”

Two Media Center remotes win CES Innovations awards…(videos)

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HDHomeRun with CableCARD coming soon!

File this one in the surprising news category. It appears as though Silicondust is in the process of making a CableCARD tuner for Windows 7! With all of the news regarding the failure of CableCARD, the last thing I was expecting was a CableCARD HDHomeRun but it’s awesome news! In a postasking about the possibility of an HDHomeRun with CableCARD, a member of Silicondust replied “We are quiet because we are busy” and posted the following screenshot.

Hopefully the price is right (close to $300) so more people can get in on CableCARD for Windows 7. I currently have two ATI CableCARD tuners but would definitely consider replacing those (and freeing up some desk space) for a networked CableCARD tuner I could put in the basement with my other HDHomeRun.

More details of the tuner should come at CES.

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HP MediaSmart EX470 Windows Home Server now only $229.99!!!

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I just posted yesterday that Newegg was offering the HP MediaSmart EX470 Windows Home Server for just $251.99 and it’s gotten even better today as that same item is now just $229.99! Just add it to your cart and enter promo code EMCMLNP36. But hurry, this promotion expires 10/29!

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HP MediaSmart EX470 Windows Home Server for $251.99 Shipped

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Newegg is offering up the HP MediaSmart EX470 Windows Home Server for just $251.99 with free shipping. Just add it to your cart and use coupon code HP1X191. This is the lowest price that I’ve seen on this model although please note that it is refurbished. If you’re considering adding a WHS to your Media Center setup, be sure to check out what the upcoming Power Pack 3 can do for your Media Center PC!

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New ATI Firmware to Bring Tuning Adaptor Support Along With Less DRM to OCUR Tuners!

Finally! According to Chris Lanier, the next version of ATI OCUR firmware that we’ve been waiting so long for will not only include less restrictive DRM, but also support for the tuning adaptor that will allow OCUR (CableCARD) tuners to work with Switched Digital Video.

Fortunately for me, my cable company has not yet implemented SDV so I haven’t really been concerned about the tuning adaptor. I know a lot of people have been affected by it (including Andres), so I’m sure they are all ecstatic to hear this news. I’m more excited to finally get recordings that can be played on other PCs and carried over to a clean install of Windows 7!

Here’s to hoping that this actually gets released fairly quickly! Come on ATI, get with it already!!!

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Samsung EcoGreen F2 1TB Hard Drive with Rosewill Dock for $79.99 with Free Shipping

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Newegg has the Samsung EcoGreen F2 HD103SI 5400RPM 1TB hard drive on sale for $79.99. This is already a pretty decent deal but they are also throwing in a Rosewill 2.5″ and 3.5″ SATA to USB 2.0 Hard Drive Dock for FREE! The dock normally goes for $39.99. Both items will be shipped free as well.

To take advantage of the deal, click on the link for the hard drive above and then scroll down and look for “Combo Deals” on the left hand side of the screen. Click “view all” and it will be the 3rd one down in the list. Just click “Buy This Combo” and you’re on your way to getting a sweet deal on a 1TB hard drive and dock!

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