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DishNetwork PocketDish Portable PVR

May 26, 2005

Echostar — the DishNetwork folks — are to introduce a portable player this summer.

Based on the AV 700 from Archos (who Echostar recently invested in), the device will hum up to a DishNetwork PVR and download content via USB.

The PocketDish will download a full-length movie in less than 10 minutes from an EchoStar DVR, say people who know details of the product. It will feature hard-disk drives with up to 40 gigabytes of storage. That’s far less than a conventional DVR, but is enough to store 180 hours of standard TV content or 25 hours of TV recorded in the ultrasharp, high-definition format.

EchoStar’s PocketDish will be a spinoff of the Archos AV 700, say industry sources. That device uses Linux software and has a 7-inch screen, but isn’t sold in the U.S.

If this truly arrives as a Linux based product, it’ll be interesting to see what happens when the tweaks get ahold of it…

(via Engadget)

More Broadcast Flag FUD from the MPAA

May 26, 2005

Dan Glickman, CEO of the MPAA has on his hipboots and is spreading it deep over on CNET with “Why the broadcast flag should go forward”.

Without proper protections, it will be increasingly difficult to show movies, television shows or even baseball games on free television.

Free television? What’s that? I don’t know of any free television.

Let’s see — there’s the stuff I pay for by watching ads and buying products (broadcast TV), there’s the stuff my tax dollars and donations pay for (PBS), there’s the stuff I pay a monthly fee for and still watch ads (basic cable/sat programming), and the stuff I pay for and don’t see ads on (premium cable/sat programming). Oh, and home shopping, infomercials, and tithe-TV.

Nothing free there, unless it’s hiding under a rock.
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Windows MCE 2005 Power Compress Plugin

May 26, 2005

Power Compress is yet another plugin for MCE 2005 that will let you transcode a program from the native DVR-MS format down to a much more storage-friendly file.

Although there are several free alternatives out there (this one will cost you $20), Power Compress one looks pretty slick, with a nice MCE-centric interface and the ability to automatically schedule compression to run in the background.

Power Compressâ„¢ is the Windows XP Media Center Edition (MCE) plug-in everyone has been waiting for! Power Compressâ„¢ makes it easy for you to convert your recorded TV shows from DVR-MS to Windows Media format. All your recorded video files can now be converted into a format that is up to 10 times smaller than the regular MCE format! More space on your hard-drive means more movies, more music, more sports, more TV shows and just flat-out: more FUN!!!

Well, we’re all about more fun here… I’d have even more fun if it put it in a little more open format than Windows Media, though — I’m still waiting for something like this that does formats I can view on non-MS players. I’m tempted to try it anyway, but for $20 and no try-before-you-buy, I’m likely to end up waiting until some of the reviews are in.

(via Chris Lanier)

Ricavision PLIX EMC 3200HD Media Center Edition PC

May 26, 2005

If you’re looking for the “Three Ps” of Media Center Editions setups (Pretty, Pre-built, and Price-is-no-object) you might want to look at the new Ricavision PLIX EMC 3200HD Media Center Edition PC. eHomeUpgrade has the story.

The company actually has two models out now, but the one that caught our attention is the PLIX EMC 3200HD Media Center PC (retail $2,499). The 3200HD comes in a gorgeous jet-black enclosure, sporting a bright blue LCD, front panel volume control knob, a concealed fontside hot-swappable 2.5-inch 80GB slim hard drive for removable data storage, 3.2Ghz P4, 200GB of internal storage, and is equipped with a dual tuner NTSC and ATSC (over-the-air HD) card capable of 1080i resolution. But if over-the-air HD is not your thing, the slightly less powerful $1,999 EMC 3000 is steal for what it comes packaged with.

It’s pretty, but I still have trouble figuring out what market these boxes are going after. You can buy a pretty substantial standalone HD PVR for less than $1K — the more functionality you add beyond that, the more it seems that you are going after the serious tweak market — which are the people who’d probably be most inclined to build their own.

Don’t get me wrong, I like my MCE 2005 box, but most of the value to me over what I’d get from, say, an HD Tivo with Home Media, is the ability to dink with things with impunity in the OS underneath — and if I do that, I might as well roll my own.

Still, it is a way pretty box…

How to buy good coffee

May 25, 2005

So you’re tired of drinking the Folgers, but you’ve found out that buying “exotic” coffees is something of a crap-shoot? Or perhaps you’ve learned the hard way that “expensive” doesn’t always mean good…

What you may need is INeedCoffee’s new General Guide to Buying Coffee.

It’s not comprehensive or in depth by any means, but it will give you a general idea of the kind of taste you should expect from various regional varieties of coffee.

There are also some good head’s up tips for “gotchas” –

So last time I went down to the store and bought some nice fancy Kona coffee, however it tasted no better than the regular coffee I have been buying over the years.

Coffee regulations in the United States only require manufacturers to specify that they are selling 100% coffee. This allows coffee manufacturers to blend 10% of an expensive type of Kona coffee with a much cheaper grade and advertise is it as Kona Coffee. This not only soils the reputation of Kona coffee, but it is a very dishonest trick. Therefore when you buy international coffee, make sure they specify that it is 100% from the country and crop advertised.

Congratulations, Corwin

May 24, 2005

I’d like to take just a minute to congratulate my son Corwin on the occasion of his high schoool graduation.

I know it was tough, and it wasn’t what you wanted to be doing, but I’m damn proud of you.

Way to go!!!!!

Multiple HD Tuners for Windows MCE

May 24, 2005

This rocks — the folks over to TheGreenButton have figured out how to get multiple HD tuners running in Windows Media Center Edition 2005.

Now all we need is a source for lots and lots of cheap disk space :-)

(via Chris Lanier)

Windows Media Show: Orb Networks

May 23, 2005

Ian Dixon has a new Windows Media Center Show podcast, where he interviews Joe Harris, VP of Marketing from Orb Networks.

Orb allows you to stream digital content from your MCE system to other ‘net connected devices.

He also talks about opportunities for working on a digital TV project at Microsoft Ireland.

Advertising in the new age of TV

May 23, 2005

Mark Pesce is back on Mindjack with his followup to last week’s article on “the new laws of television”.

In this installment, Mark shares some ideas as to how advertisers could take advantage of the changing face of TV distribution and consumption — even for an audience without access to broadband.

He also includes “Four Rules” for content producers to survive in this brave new world, the most important (and the most likely to be ignored) being “Do it or Die.”

If you ignore the coming era of hyperdistribution, we can write you off right now. You’re in the same boat as a producer of radio plays in the 1950s; the most successful of those individuals established careers in television, but others ended up bitter and unemployed. We have to deal with the world as it is, not as we’d like it to be. The clock can’t be turned back on BitTorrent. In the new, “flat world,” where any program produced anywhere in the world is immediately available everywhere in the world, the only sustainable edge comes from entrepreneurship and innovation. Yet broadcast television has become a self-contained world, inside a comfy plastic bubble, breathing its own air, which – after half a century – has gone noticeably stale. It’s ready to be shaken up.

P2P by Mail – Peerflix Co-Founder Interviewed

May 23, 2005

The F-Stop Blues has a great interview with Peerflix Co-founder Billy McNair.

Peerflix is essentially a “peer-to-peer” Netflix — each DVD is assigned a value in the Peerflix system (typically 1, 2 or 3 “peerbux”); you list the DVDs you have, and the ones you want. When someone wants one you have, you mail it, and receive peerbux that are used to order DVDs on your want list. Peerflix maintains the system and trades, provides mailers, etc., and charges you $0.99 for the trade.

Even though the system is still “in beta”, it’s had a lot of media attention and growth over the past few months…

Peerflix currently has nearly 30,000 DVDs available on the network and that number is growing by the thousands each week. The availability of a growing number of titles across a wide spectrum of genres makes the Peerflix service more and more valuable and useful to our members each day!

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